May 2017
  • Day281

    Milford Sound

    March 5, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    I don't have many words to write about Milford Sound - all that needs to be said is that it's up there with the most beautiful places we've visited (if not the most..) and everyone should go at some point in there lives!

  • Day280

    Doubtful Sound

    March 4, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 14 °C

    Doubtful Sound isn't technically a 'great walk', but we turned it into one! It's a notoriously difficult place to get to - and by difficult I mean expensive and long! You have to get a boat across lake Manapouri, take a bus 18km up the road, then get another boat out onto the Sound. All of which you have to do with very expensive tour companies. After extensive googling, I actually found that there's a hostel you can stay at there and the tour company do take the odd single passenger across Manapouri for the Dusky Sound track (8 days - not happening). The only obstacles left were the 18km walk and getting out on the Sound itself. A doddle, I thought.

    So we set out across Manapouri at some ungodly hour in not the most hospitable weather. After a futile wait for it to 'clear up', we set out off the road in the rain, much to the consternation of the many bus drivers taking the tours over the pass who offered us lifts constantly! Not realising this was an option, we felt like it was cheating a bit and insisted on walking. In the driving rain. Hmm. Turns out we were quite the celebrities that day though - no one seems to walk it and news of our arrival preceded us at the hostel! A fairly uneventful walk, with the exception of nearly being mown down (no exaggeration there..) by two very low flying and clearly struggling helicopters who clearly were not expecting any pedestrians on the road!

    Once at the hostel, we were welcomed by a very effusive host, Billy who over the next few days would supply with amazing food and wine. And some more wine. And another glass for good measure. Beautifully kept hostel which we had all to ourselves! What a treat.

    We got in several walks on the second day; one up the Hanging Valley track which is exactly as it describes - climbing up almost vertical faces solely on slippery tree roots was tricky on the way up and dangerous on the way back! We were rewarded with a fantastically remote waterfall which we may or may not have enjoyed in our birthday suits.

    Our aim was to persuade Billy to let us take out the boat the hostel owns, but it was being used by the school part of the hostel and he didn't seem keen. Nevertheless, on our last day, Eleanor commandeered the double kayak and we set out onto the Sound! I wouldn't say the part we were in was the silent haven of the guidebooks, what with many tour and fishing boats coming to rock our unstable sit-upon, but man does the beauty live up to the hype. The densely forested mountainsides plunge straight into the water with waterfalls flowing over rocks everywhere, all ending up in the sound. We did see some penguins, but after they flew off, we changed our minds... We did see actual dolphins though! There's a pod that live in the Sound and we were incredibly lucky to see them come quite close to us. We overstretched ourselves on the way back and the wind and waves were really against us, but we made it back with minutes to spare in time for our bus (yes we cheated on the way back..)!
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  • Day267

    Westland

    February 19, 2018, Tasman Sea ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    We encountered another of those famous New Zealand storms while in Westland - this time a cyclone. We had planned to spend a night up in Karamea, but were a little put off by the warnings posted around the caves we visited advising everyone to get to safety from a large cyclone was coming in the next day or two. We arrived in Karamea and the campsite owner advised us to either make use of her bunkhouse and prepare to stay a few days, or race down the coast to the nearest town! We called our Airbnb host, Gill and asked if she might be able to take us a night early, and fortunately she said yeeessss. We raced down the coast to make it her house before dark - Andy channelled Colin McRae and Madeleine and Eleanor tried not to be sick.. Cyclone avoided, we headed on to the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers which provided some incredible walks and a Kea!Read more

  • Day263

    Abel Tasman

    February 15, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    Our second 'great walk', but this time with a twist! We set out in kayaks from Marahau and spent the morning paddling around Adele Island and towards Te Pukatea bay which is pretty much paradise (I realise this isn't the first time I've said that about New Zealand!). We had spent a lot of time the night before preparing some lovely cooked lunches - Adele Island was where we realised we'd forgotten them and were going to be hungry for the next few days! But we battled on and a short paddle around the head and we made it to our first campsite at Torrent Bay. The tide was about as far out as you can get, so we left the boats stranded on a sand dune and paddled them over to the campsite once the tide came in. The next day was a bit of a tougher paddle to Tonga Island and we battled the wind to get back into Onetahuti. After a swim chasing fishes around, Andy and I walked off to the cafe at Awaroa lodge for much needed food while Eleanor took one for the team and stayed to load the kayaks onto the taxi. From there, a sloggish walk over the estuary and we made it to Waiharakeke bay. We couldn't quite believe how many people there were and we had to squash our tents in somewhat, but the flushing toilet more than made up for it :) The next day was a short walk to Totaranui - great for Maddie as Andy and Eleanor carried all the bags as a birthday treat! The swim at the beautiful beach at Totaranui was one of the best we've ever had! We were all shattered as we loaded onto the boat back - and were slightly disconcerted by how quickly the speed boat covered the distance we'd taken 3 days to do!Read more

  • Day258

    Kaikoura

    February 10, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    We weren't sure whether to do the albatross tour in Kaikoura, but it's probably one of the best things we did on our trip! What an amazing experience to see these giant birds up close - the largest wingspan in the world! The swell was pretty big though and Andy and I felt pretty ill... I didn't know people actually turned green until I saw Andy sitting on that boat! Kaikoura is also fascinating because of the terrible earthquake there in 2016. It actually raised the coastline by 6m in some parts and the whole community was cut off by road for several days.Read more

  • Day253

    Wellington & Putangirua Pinnacles

    February 5, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    We spent quite a lot of our time in Wellington in Te Papa museum! There's just so much to see there and we were eager to absorb as much about Maori history as possible. We have been learning a lot about the history of first nation/aboriginal peoples in the countries we've been too and New Zealand seems to have taken a different trajectory to Canada, USA and Australia. Learning about how the Maori have been treated by the British and ultimately the Pakeha is sobering, but at the same time we saw the fantastic celebrations of Maori culture on Waitangi day and hope for the future.Read more

  • Day247

    Tongariro Northern Circuit

    January 30, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    This was the first of our 'great walks' in NZ. And it was pretty great! It's a very busy hike as it traverses part of the Alpine Crossing which is immensely popular! So there were plenty of people as we headed up to Ngauruhoe, but once we turned off from the crossing, we were pretty much alone! It was a long hot slog across a desert to the first hut, but a lovely waterfall was waiting for us to cool down in. We were going to spend 3 days doing the walk, but we made it to the first hut and weren't quite expecting such close proximity of sleeping arrangements... the bunks were pretty up close and personal with all the other smelly hikers! What with only a 3 hour hike on our middle day and the poor weather forecast for the day after, we decided to get up super super early and just finish the whole 23.5km in one day...
    We were rewarded with a beautiful sunrise over Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom) and Ruapehu. It was indeed a long slog, which Maddie didn't think she'd make, but the pint at the end was worth it! And Andy got to celebrate his birthday in a restaurant, not next to a smelly hiker!
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