A Travellerspoint blog

One rugged Shore Line

Cruisin' Down the West Coast

all seasons in one day 21 °C

Leaving Nelson we headed for Westport on the west side of the South Island in the rain. This is crossing the interior of the country through mostly mountainous terrain. Everyone knows that the hills can be covered with sheep in the land of the Kiwis, but I wasn’t aware that there were deer farms.

Cruising along, we came across a collection of old cars at a motorway rest stop. These weren’t your typical 50-60’s cars, but 1900-20 vintage. Most all in pristine condition. It was a rolling museum. Have a look at the pics.

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Getting to the coast, we stopped at a seal colony at Carters Beach. At this time of year, the pups had just been born and they were playfully romping in one of the natural pools under the close supervision of their mothers. Way cool!

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We also came across this flightless bird whose name eludes me right now. I'll have to look it up and add it here.

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Further south, we came to the Pancake Rocks at Panakaiki. This is one of those geological formations that were created by sediment building up over millions of years and then becoming exposed as the ground lifted. The sea then worked its continuous action to erode this over the next few million years into what we see today. The ZLand parks people do a fantastic job making it accessible and the facilities and walking paths were outstanding.

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Posted by Ali-Mike 22:21 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Abel for tramping

Scenic Views from Abel Tasman National Park

sunny 22 °C

The unwitting George from the B&B kitted us (we unloaded his fresh fruit and cookie bowls) for our tramp (that's Kiwi for 'hike') through the Abel Tasman National Park near Kaiteriteri. Don't think he minded (we hope). How should we best describe George? Hippie from the 60s complete with tidied shirt, shorts and long tangled hair? Or new age business man hinting at our future? We may never know but his heart was in the right place.

For us, the park would be accessible by boat. To get to the boat, we needed a dingy. This required us to remove our shoes and wade out from the beach, holding our backpacks over our heads (OK... it was only ankle deep). Another dingy landing was needed to get off the boat once we arrived at our chosen beach. Hiking through Abel Tasman National Park is something that everyone should do at least once in their lifetime. The photos that we took simply cannot do the park justice. We even got to cross a suspended swinging bridge. We had to wait our turn however since the bridge was limited to only five people at a time. Murrette, fearful of heights, did not enjoy the swinging once we started across. Hey - isn't that what we expect the bridge to do? After all, it is called a SWINGING bridge, isn't it? So for all my effort to add some realism, I get a biff and a schmuck from Alison.

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We arrived on the beach at our Bark Bay water taxi pickup point about an hour ahead of schedule. What should we do? Simple... find a stretch of beach and catch some rays. What we did catch was sand flies. Lots of 'em. They didn't really bother Gavin, Murrette or I choosing to feast on Alison, she being an imported sweet delicacy for them.

The boat ride back to the car park was via a water taxi, and our young driver was eager to demonstrate his prowess at boat handling. We were planing right for a submerged reef when at the last moment he turns the boat and looks back at everyone with a devilish grin to catch our reactions. In other words... showing off. Of course we were doing everything to discourage his behaviour with shouts of 'Air!' Another biff and schmuck for me.

BTW: Still turning on the windshield wipers when making a left turn.

Posted by Ali-Mike 22:17 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Driving On Water

Ferry to the South Island

rain 22 °C

With Murrette confessing that she had gotten us all up earlier than needed because she feared Alison and I might be late risers (hey… it was jet lag!), we arrived at the ferry dock for our transit to the South Island. An hour and a half early. But we were at the front of the line. You know, first on first off. Not. When we finally proceeded on to the ferry hours later, we were the last to roll into our spot - at the end of the line. Last on, last off. With the winds howling, and the waves crashing, we headed to Picton, on the South Island. The ferry was large and spacious and the ride remarkably smooth. This isn't just some little puddle jumper variety of ferry - no this had lounges, food courts, viewing deck and even a feature movie theatre. The ride over was 3 1/2 hours and flew by. The scenery as we crossed Cook Strait was awesome with the sun coming out for our arrival in Picton. It promptly departed and the skies dumped on us as our Lexus rolled out of the belly of the ferry.
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From there we had a choice - down the east coast or the west coast. Not having a clue, Alison and I proxied our vote to our hosts Gavin and Murrette who promptly high tailed in the direction of Nelson. Along the way, we came across this fence where it appeared wayward young lassies discarded their bras. Had to take the picture.
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Arriving in Nelson, our next task was thrust upon us, this being to find suitable accommodation for the night. Stopping at the local visitor center in Nelson revealed a line up that was practically out the door. This was at 6pm and the odds were that these other weary travelers were searching for the same thing we were - a place to toss suitcase down in. Taking a number that was in excess of 20 from the number displayed above the lone travel assistance agent, I noted that the self serve reservation terminals weren't being used. Apprehensively, I approached, fearing the worst. I punched in a complete area search for whatever accommodations might appear for the four of us. Instead of the expected "Sorry, no matches found" message, salvation appeared in the form of a single listing. Our host's cell phone was dialed before the screen had finished loading and the proprietar of the B&B, George, indicated that he'd just posted this last minute availability and we snagged it. Pretty good too. Way too cool and way too easy.
The year of Mike continues!

Posted by Ali-Mike 11:21 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Wellington

New Zealand's Capital

semi-overcast 23 °C

Today, we slept in. Hey... jet lag. Besides, we're on vacation! We heisted our hosts’ car and headed into town to check it out some more. You know... museums, parks, shopping... not - found this cool pub called the Dog and Bone and wasted perfectly good time there sampling the local brew. I should also mention that they drive on the left. We had a lively discussion with the locals - see I'd say we drive on the right side of the road in Canada and everyone knows that the opposite of right is wrong... as in the wrong side of the road. The cars are all reversed too. For instance, as we approached our parked car, Alison would follow me around to the right side thinking I was opening her door. Good for a chuckle as she starts to slide in and realizes. While driving, the wipers and signal light controls are reversed on the steering column, so making a left turn always resulted in me turning on the wipers. The sound that they made told me what the car thought of my driving - "dumb guy", "dumb guy", "dumb guy". There are lots of other examples: the water flows down the drain counter to what it does in Canada, and light switches are ON when positioned down. Amazingly, the car wheels still rotate the same way. Anyway, tomorrow we'll be heading off to the South Island.
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Posted by Ali-Mike 02:34 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

We're downunder

The blood is rushing to our head

rain 22 °C

We're downunder
10 feb
The blood's rushing to our dead

The flight from Toronto to Zland was uneventful (thankfully). Air Canada was late out of the starting blocks since the loading of the baggage occurred during a shift change. We guessed that their union insists for them to drop wherever they have wherever they are. But very civilized flight - meaning they had power plugs at all the seats so that the laptop could stay fed. Not so for us though. Vancouver airport was a model of good design. They even provide free wifi.

Somewhere over the pacific, we lost Saturday. Slept right through it - the way any wasted day should be spent. Going to Zland was about 21+ hours, but going with the time zones made it feel like a stretched day. Air New Zealand sardined us and no food for the laptop although this time, we got dinner and breakfast. We knew that there wasn't going to be power plugs on this flight, so we'd gotten a spare battery for the laptop before we'd left. Between doing some work, listening to music and watching from a vast selection of inflight entertainment choices right from the (comfort?) of our seats and of course sawing logs, the trip didn't seem long.

Getting to Auckland, we were connecting to a domestic flight to get catch up with our buds in Wellington at the southern tip of the north island. Some challenges were presented: baggage restrictions since the baggage allowance was significantly less than the international flight (the check in person looked the other way), and finding some wifi (the nice people at Koru Club at the terminal allowed us to use their elite services lounge to await our connection, provided free wifi and endless latte).

The flight from Auckland to Wellington was short, and in no time we were hugging Murrette and Gavin, and loading our excessive debris into their Lexus. We enjoyed our first views of Wellington as we drove from the airport to their house just to the north - a city that wraps itself around the bay, lots of green, and houses that appeared be perched precariously on the sides of the hills. Very pretty. So when we get to their place, we were ready for (needed?) a shower and a change of clothes (Murrete and Gavin would probably agree with this).

So we did the touristy things - the waterfront, the botanical gardens, cable car, etc. Highlight was a pod of 20-30 dolphins out in the harbour. Apparently this is not a common sight. It would appear the "Year of Mike" is still on! So, to complete the day (and end the sightseeing, we loaded into a pub and finished the day sucking back brewskis. The Kiwis don't seem to know that word. Also, I found out that fanny pack is a phrase that should only be used with close friends. Also, don’t ask for a napkin in a restaurant since that term is used to refer to a feminine hygiene product here. Anyway, the people are super nice and haven't yet wanted to run me out of their country.

Posted by Ali-Mike 02:23 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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