A Travellerspoint blog

Arthur's Pass to Franz Josef Glacier - Day 73

This shall be known as the day after the coldest night of our lives.

18 °C

Well, last night was freezing. Literally. The window screen on the van was frozen when we woke up and it was only 1 degrees, so it must have dropped below zero during the night. All night we kept waking up because we'd turned and moved into a freezing (not just cold!) spot or uncovered a thermal-clad arm from the two duvets we were under. I felt so sorry for the people in tents. We made some porridge for warmth and everyone on the campsite gathered together to share hot water for drinks to try and get some warmth.

We drove through Arthur's Pass this morning, which had some really beautiful scenery along the way. It was almost worth freezing for!

At the dramatically named Deaths Corner, we stopped to see some Kea, which are apparently slightly destructive - they can chew all the rubber from around your windows - but they were really friendly, sitting on the fence in front of us, and cute.

The next big stop would be Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, so this took us through a small town called Hokitika, where we needed hot food. This came in the form of an enormous sausage roll.

After yet another unsuccessful attempt to get some photos uploaded - we did get our camper and first hostel booked for Australia though - we travelled towards the glaciers.
IMG_3361.jpg IMG_3356.jpglarge_IMG_3357.jpg

We stopped for the day at a campsite by a peaceful lake. The sun was shining and it was lovely and warm when we arrived, but as soon as the sun went behind the trees it was really cold again. Another night in the thermals!

Posted by staceywaugh 05:21 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes mountains lakes birds food roads arthurs_pass Comments (0)

Blenheim to Kaikoura and Arthur's Pass - Day 72

Seeing seals, eating Crayfish and being cold...

We have a really tight schedule for the South Island in order to fit in everything we want to see so we hit the road early this morning to head to Kaikoura, as we've read there are sea lions and seals just before you get there at Ohau Point.

On the road we saw vineyard after vineyard, I have never seen so many! I guess we are in the Marlborough region though.

Just before Ohau Point, Andrew thought he saw something on the rocks on the beach and he was right! We stopped on the side of the road, looked down and there were sea lions (I think they were sea lions?!) on the rocks, only metres away from us.

Then Andrew said "There's one in the grass" and again he was right. Just a few strides away from us, I don't know how we missed it in the first place, was an enormous sea lion puffing his chest out. I was a bit scared to have a wild one so close at first but they were obviously used it.

We were about to carry on to Ohau Point, when we saw a seal in the grass a short way from our car!

At Ohau Point there were so many seals and sea lions, bathing on the rocks and beach and swimming in the rock pools. They were so cute but so far away compared to the last ones we saw.

Back in the car we were going to head straight to Kaikoura, but we saw more seals and stopped again. We were so glad at this point that we hadn't gone on the buses here. As Jay from the Inbetweeners would say, caravanning "gives you the sense of freedom you don't get with other holidays"! There were two seals on the rocks on the beach and then right in front of me, maybe a metre or so away, was a cute little seal in the grass!

And just on the rocks below, these gorgeous little fellas...I was in love with them!

We also stopped at another place along the way and saw a huge colony of them again.

After the excitement of the seals, we were on the road and it had started to rain a little, when we saw Nin's Bin on the side of the road and thought we'd see if there was any prawns for dinner. There wasn't, but there was big crayfish which you could take away or eat there cold with lemon or warm with garlic butter. It smelled so good, we couldn't resist! We got a small crayfish with garlic butter for $50 (about £28) but it was well worth it. The man in shop cooked them all and his dad and brother caught them. The cooking area was just a couple of stoves and somewhere to cut the fish, it's amazing how little you need to make delicious food when it's this fresh.



By the time we'd eaten it had stopped raining and view from Nin's Bin was really pretty too.

We stopped in Kaikoura and had a wander around, a pretty typical New Zealand town really. But we were there to go to an isite to book our glacier trip. After lots of debating we decided to do a half day walk on Fox Glacier. The Franz Josef Glacier trips all had heli-hops, which would have been so cool, but they were more than double in price and we thought it would be good to just even walk on a glacier. So that's booked up for 2 days time!

Moving on, we drove to the beginning of Arthur's Pass and took in the scenery along the way...

We stopped at a campsite called Craigieburn. It was still light when we arrived but already very cold so we were dressed for winter in thick socks, hats, fleece and big coat. There was no getting warm though.

We're now in bed both wearing long sleeved thermal tops and leggings, two pairs of socks and a hat. We can see our breath inside the van!

Posted by staceywaugh 05:34 Archived in New Zealand Tagged mountains food crayfish seafood vineyards seals sea_lions arthurs_pass Comments (0)

Wellington to Picton & Blenheim, South Island - Day 71

Windy Wellington

16 °C

After staying in another paid for campsite last night called Camp Wanui, which was cheap at sixteen dollars and close to Wellington, we drove in Wellington and had a look around. It's not called Windy Wellington for nothing! We only had a time for a walk around the harbour area, but being overcast and very windy, we didn't mind too much.

The ferry from Wellington to Picton was a steady and easy 3 hour journey. We went out on deck when it wasn't raining to look at the scenery and there were some lovely rainbows.

At the other side we travelled a short distance towards Blenheim for our camp site by the sea, and on the way we saw some more funny post boxes - this time with faces and made from the outboard motor of a boat?!

It's noticeably colder here on the South Island, and because we want to keep tent on the back rather than sleep in a stuffy van, we have decided to wear our thermal leggings and long sleeved tops to sleep in...I hope it's not too cold to sleep!

Posted by staceywaugh 05:42 Archived in New Zealand Tagged bridges buildings boats rainbows post_boxes Comments (0)

Driving to Wellington - Day 70

On the road in New Zealand

20 °C

We woke up, after managing to fall asleep over the noise of a caravan park party, showered and got on the road. We had around 8 hours to drive today to get to Wellington.

There's not a great deal to say about the drive itself, it was long and samey, so ill take this chance to tell you a few things about being on the road in New Zealand.

1. The Radio.
The Good. Much like the television programmes, they are allowed to say anything they want on the radio here. I don't even feel comfortable saying what one female presenter said on air, because I am not sure its an appropriate abbreviation for a group of people (this bit, of course, is not the good bit of their freedom of speech!). It's also often really funny though, as again they're allowed their own opinions and will argue amongst themselves and speak over callers. One of our favourites so far has been a radio programme with a psychic and callers - 'Yeah, I'm calling because me and my husband are having problems and I need to know whether its worth fighting for', Psychic replies, 'What I'm getting is, you and your husband are in a struggle, you keep on saying what he's done wrong and he is telling you what you've done wrong, and you need to stop that' - ridiculous!

The Bad. Now maybe we have a rubbish radio in our Spaceship van, but we've spoken to other travellers here and they've found the same. There is NO solid signal almost anywhere! You scan for a station, if you're lucky you'll get it and then when a few minutes later when a good song is on it will start to crackle, or most often you'll get a crackly station right from the beginning. Why pick up a crackly station on auto scan?! Radio crackle is the number one annoying sound for me in the world too, so we've had the iPod on, a lot. I am sick of every song we own.

2. Signs. From the brilliant to the ridiculous.
The road safety signs or advertisements are genius and much more hard hitting than in the UK. No pictures, as its difficult to get them on the drive, but my favourite was this - Drink DrIvE.

Absolutely everything is signposted. So much so I'm surprised the cows in the fields don't have 'Daisy the Cow' name tags. For example, you'll drive down the road and there's a yellow sign saying 'Tui Creek' and you will see nothing but grass. It must be the world's tiniest creek or completely hidden from view, but they'll name it anyway!

The road names are very literal too, such as 'Cemetery Road' - leads to the cemetery -, 'Harbour View Road' - has a lovely view of the harbour -, and 'Big Flat Road', which I can only assume would have been big and flat.

Another thing I don't think we have in the UK are road signs that you read from the bottom up. There are loads painted on the road that say:
We're asking 'What does Bridge Lane One mean?!' But you're meant to read from the bottom, which just isn't natural. Another thing about the One Lane Bridges - the giveaway sign is always on the end that has the worst sight line. Luckily there aren't enough people on the road for it to be a big worry. And finally...why do highways have bridges that only have one lane anyway?!

3. Roadkill. It's everywhere. Birds and all sizes of animals. So sad.

4. Andrew's favourite thing on the road is waving at other Spaceship vans as they pass. He gets upset when they don't wave or put little effort into it, but you should see his little face light up when they give him a hearty, meaningful wave! His favourite to date has been a guy who had his arm out of window and did a 'power to the people' fist pump, which of course he has tried to copy since.

5. Whether it's due to road induced boredom or not, our Sat Nav makes us laugh. She can't pronounced words or abbreviations properly at all. The main roads here are called State Highway and then a number after, e.g. SH 1. This is pronounced 'Sh-one'. This reminded us of Wayne's World and 'Shwing' so whenever we're on SH 1 we say 'Sh-One, Sh-One'! This can be replicated with some other numbers too. She also says 'right' like Dr. Evil from Austin Powers, when he says 'Number 2, you look so handsome...and Frau, you look so...riiiighhhht.' You might have to have been there...I think the driving is affecting us a little.

Posted by staceywaugh 05:23 Archived in New Zealand Tagged driving radio on_the_road gps spaceships sat_nav roadkill road_signs Comments (0)

Waitangi & Russell, Bay of Islands - Day 69

20 °C

We picked Mary up from her hotel in Waitangi, Bay of Islands, and took the 2 minute drive to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. This is the site where Maori and Europeans signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Not that long ago really. We watched the short film about the signing of the Treaty - in which, we were sure the captain of the boat yesterday featured in one of the reenactments! - and the explored the grounds. The Treaty House, where Scotsman James Busby and his family lived, the beautifully carved Maori Meeting House, and one of biggest Maori war canoes in New Zealand.

Afterwards we drove to Kerikeri to see New Zealand's oldest stone building, The Stone Store, which was built between 1832-1836. Andrew said he has jeans older than that! I guess were spoilt for old buildings in England. It's a cute little building though in a pretty park setting, the perfect place for a picnic.

But we were moving on, for a quick toilet break in Kawakawa. There's a pun in there, because this place is home to the famous (apparently, we just knew about them as Andrew's brother had been) public toilets designed by an artist called Frederick Hundertwasser. They were really different, for toilets, and I liked the glass bottle and glass tile windows, but as we have seen the flower toilets at Barton Grange garden centre near Garstang, Lancashire, I think I was expecting something more flamboyant.

Our final destination for the day was Russell. We drove to Opua and got the car ferry across. Mary and I didn't even realise we were on the ferry yet when we started moving, it was so small!

The short film at the Treaty Grounds this morning had told us that Russell had been a rough and ready port for sailors and fishermen back in the day, but now it's a beautiful seaside town. We walked down the waterfront and chose to have fish and chips at the Duke of Marlborough, New Zealand's oldest pub. Oh and some cold beer too, of course.

Fed and watered, we walked to New Zealand's oldest church, Christ Church. The guide book said it had gun shot holes in it from a war in the 1800s, so Andrew was really disappointed when he couldn't see any.

And finally we drove up to Flagstaff Hill to see panoramic views of the Bay of Islands.

We'd had a lovely day but now we had a long drive ahead of us. It's 1st April and we have to be in Wellington for 1pm on the 3rd, which is at least 11 hours drive, as we wanted to have a good amount of time on the South Island. After leaving Mary at her hotel, to see her in another week or so, we drove for about 3/4 hours until we got south of Auckland. I don't even know what to say about the holiday park we stayed on. I don't think anyone was having a holiday there. There were messy drunk girls in the toilets trying to open a bottle of alchopop with their teeth. I don't think I need to say anymore...

Posted by staceywaugh 05:52 Archived in New Zealand Tagged art boats views maori Comments (0)

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