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Dunedin - Day 77

Amazing Albatross

We were in need of a shower (don't worry, I'm not saying each time we've had a shower, so we are pretty clean I promise!) so when we arrived in Dunedin this morning we found they had a local swimming baths and went there. Moana Pool is a big place with a large standard swimming pool, diving pools, baby pool, a fun pool and a spa pool. There was a school gala going on in the main pool - although we did wonder whether it was a national meet considering the size of New Zealand?! - so we swam in the fun pool, rode the waves when they machine turned on and zipped around the wave tunnel on floats. You wouldn't think we were 27 and 29! But then we relaxed in the spa pool, which is quite grown up I think!?!

After lunch, we met Mary at her hotel room and we were so jealous of the massive bed in there! It's definitely life's little luxuries that you miss when on the road! Mary had a free afternoon, but before we started our exploring of Dunedin together, we stopped off at the isite to book mine and Andrew's Milford Sound trip for a few days time - we tried to get on the same time as Andrew's mum but it was all booked out by their coach trip.

In Dunedin, there is an albatross colony out on the Otago Pennisula - I didn't know until we got there but I definitely wanted to try and see them. At the isite we were told that if its a windy day we might see them flying around from the car park at the albatross tourist centre, but if not there are tours where you have a better chance to get a glimpse I think.

A short drive out to the Pennisula, with lots of twists and turns in the road though, we got to the car park. Almost as soon as we got out of the car, this bird with enormous wings flew right around the tourist centre. We didn't even have the camera ready at this point so I was disappointed when we waited for a while and didn't see any more.

At the tourist centre they told us the last tour had gone, so we went back outside and waited longer. It was a windy day after all. We didn't have to stand too long before they came flying again, as many as three at once, swooping around the tourist centre. It was just awesome to see, they are so graceful, it really was spectacular. The pictures don't really do it justice but again I am hoping I can edit one or two when I get home.

We then drove up, down and around more windy roads to try and see some seals and sea lions again at Allen Beach. We had to jump over a couple of turnstiles and walk down to the beach to get to the right spot but we were either too early or too late because there wasn't any there :( It was a very pretty beach though and the drive was lovely too.

There were no DOC campsites in Dunedin so after dropping Mary off to get ready for the evening, we found a holiday park close by. It was freezing cold and so windy, being close to the sea, and getting ready for a nice dinner was difficult on two counts. One, the darkness and coldness in the van when getting changed and trying to put some mascara on to attempt a less dishevelled look. And two, the freezing cold outside when deciding what to wear when the choice is; sparkly flip flops (cold) or converse trainers (dirty), a button down vest (cold) or a tshirt (scruffy) and a 'north face' coat (not 'going out for dinner' wear) or a trespass fleece (not 'going out for dinner' wear plus scruffy). I decided on the sparkly flip flops and button down vest, plus the coat with a jumper and my butterfly sarong as a scarf for the journey to the restaurant because it was that cold. It's definitely impossible to pack everything you need for each occasion and weather type when you only have a backpack, but I think a black cardigan would have been really handy...I think I might do a post about what I should have taken once we return home.

Mary, Andrew and I went for dinner at a place called The Reef, which was recommended to us for good seafood. Andrew had steak and prawns, and Mary and I had the same dish - silver trumpeter and sole (because they didn't have two portions of trumpeter left, we shared) with a tomato and prawn bisque, roast potatoes, salad and crumbed calamari - which we ate with a bottle of New Zealand Pinot Noir called Kopiko Bay. It was delicious! I don't know if it was just really good, or whether it was made tastier by the fact we hadn't eaten out in the evening for a while!

We had a great dinner, chatting and catching up, Andrew's mum is really enjoying her trip around New Zealand, which were really happy about. We walked back towards Mary's hotel and stopped on the way for a drink in a craft beer pub - Andrew's choice of course! It was a nice place though, right on The Octagon, and it was a nice end to a lovely evening.

What was less lovely was returning to the camper van. Despite us sleeping inside it completely, rather than with the tent attachment, and fully clothed in our now very familiar thermal wear, we were absolutely freezing...again!

Well, you can't have everything!

Posted by staceywaugh 05:24 Archived in New Zealand Tagged birds food camping albatross Comments (0)

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)

Auckland - Day 57

Dizzying Day in Auckland

21 °C

Today I woke up after about 10 hours sleep, feeling a little better. Exciting we bought cereal and real milk (it's not the same in South America), which tasted amazing for breakfast! We watched some breakfast TV, where again they had a very informal style. The female presenter almost told the male presenter to grow some balls plus they had a heated discussion about wedding etiquette and they were allowed an opinion - that would be allowed on UK news TV! After 9am the programmes turn to mostly adverts, with constant repetition of the same three or four products, which makes it seem a bit like a shopping channel. Subsequently, Andrew really wants a Ninja 3 in 1 blender and a Total Gym, like Chuck Norris and Olivia Newton John use!!

We headed out into the city again, for our only full day in Auckland. Andrew wanted to go to the fish market, so we went to the marina, silo park and the wharf area. There were some pretty impressive boats there! I hate to think how much they cost.

The wharf buildings are really cool, they look like barns with enormous sliding doors, and would be a great place to go for dinner or a drink after work.

The fish market was quite small and boutiquey - I think Andrew was expecting a big wholesale type of place - but it would be lovely to come and shop if you lived here. We bought some chips from the chip shop next door but were disappointed when we found they were oven chips :( It was quite an overcast day, but down by the marina we made the most of it and sat out in the sun.

Yesterday we had seen the Sky Tower of course, you can't really miss it, but today on the way back from the marina, we saw people doing the harnessed walk around the top of it. Not for me!

I started to feel dizzy, headachey and light headed again once we began walking around, it was a really horrible feeling. So we ended up stopping at a pharmacy, who suggested a cheap decongestant nose spray, because of the flight pressure, and also some immune boosting multi vitamins for £34! So I took the nose spray.

Continuing on a money theme, lunch was a bit of a shock to the system after two months of relatively cheap living. We ordered two chicken burritos and it cost more than £15! And the didn't even taste that good...I started to miss London and its awesome food!

Andrew had been in pain with his neck ever since he hit his head in Cusco, so after lunch we found a massage place in one of the shopping centres and both decided on a shoulder, neck and head massage, as I thought it might help my congestion too. It hurt! And definitely was the least relaxing massage I've ever had. I guess that's what you get for getting one in a shopping centre?

We both needed some cheap trousers as we new it would be colder here, and we ended up somewhere called The Warehouse, which is the equivalent of buying jeans from Wilkinsons in England! Mine were too long (of course!) so I had to take mine up using our mini sewing kit from Muji (thanks Ben and Sneha - so handy!). I definitely needed my mum here at this point, but I managed it! Although I think they may be ankle swingers now though?! Auckland needs a primark, new look or h&m for us travellers. Andrew's breo watch finally broke on him, the digital face had been waning for a while, so he bought a replacement from a dollar shop and put the inside of it into his nicer breo wrist strap. We're getting very thrifty and handy whilst abroad!!

Aside from the marina area, Auckland feels a bit like Leeds to me. A city that's big enough to have plenty of shops, restaurants and bars but that's small enough not to get lost in it or for it to be too busy. I think it would be a really nice place to live. Just not for me as its too far from home!

Tonight we met up with a friend from Auckland who I met in the touch PR years, Bonnie, and her partner Nick. They took us to a Belgian restaurant in the Mission Beach area, which was a beautiful place. Andrew tucked into enormous green lipped mussels and Nick had a metre long sausage! It was so nice to catch up, talk about their travels around Europe, their new house and of course get advice on what to do here in New Zealand. And also really lovely to see a friendly face after two months of talking to strangers.

Even though we can now speak the language of our current country, it doesn't mean we can understand! Bonnie ordered us a Mt. Difficulty wine and said we should go to there winery when we were in Queenstown. She said they had a range called "Roaring Mig", "Roaring what?" we said, "Mig", "Mig?", "Yes, like Mig Ryan", "Ahhhhh Meg!!!". There was also a conversation about a cartoon with a girl called Jim...we'll get the hang of the accent soon!

Posted by staceywaugh 05:46 Archived in New Zealand Tagged boats food marinas Comments (0)

Santiago - Day 54

Goodbye South America!!

27 °C

Our last day in South America! Where has the last 8 weeks gone? It's been more amazing than I expected and I am more than a little sad to be leaving. But we have another few countries to go yet so we're excited too.

We were supposed to be leaving our apartment at 12 noon today but thankfully they let us keep it until we needed to leave for the airport later this evening. We made the most of the good weather and spent the afternoon by the pool.

We went to use the Internet to check our emails before we left but the cafe wasn't open - actually nothing much was open on a Sunday in Santiago - so we went to McDonalds and bought a drink so we could sit and use their wifi. We met an old couple from Gloucestershire in there who just arrived in Santiago and must have thought McDonalds was a safe bet. I bet they don't go to McDonalds much in England though! They were going on a cruise of Chile and Argentina from Valparaiso and after just coming in from a long flight (maybe around 16 hours?) they told us we were definitely doing the right thing travelling while we're young, while the we can bounce back from the jet lag and move around easily. I definitely feel we've done the right thing, we've seen and done some incredible things here, and hopefully like them, we'll be lucky enough to do more right through to our 70s!

We said goodbye to them and went for our lunch at a restaurant across the road. I can't remember the name of the place, maybe red bar, but we had some awesome hot sandwiches - I had pork, avocado, tomato and cheese and Andrew had steak and cheese - and fries with a hot pepper relish, all washed down with a beer to toast our two months in South America.

We had just enough money after that to get the tube and a bus to the airport - we had about 500 pesos (70p) left! The flight was a little delayed, but nothing major given it was a 13 hour flight anyway, then after dinner and seeing Skyfall for the first time, I fell asleep around 2am Santiago time.

Posted by staceywaugh 01:14 Archived in Chile Tagged food Comments (0)

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