A Travellerspoint blog

Lake Tekapo

Maori for 'Kodak moment'


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Lake Tekapo is situated in the "County of Stars" and the town is dedicated to it, there are few street lights just to ensure visitors and the locals get the best view of the universe. I don't think anything I could write would do justice to the night skies, so i'll let my lens do the talking:

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Now don't go thinking that its just beautiful at night, the daytime offers stunning views of the turquoise lake meeting the mountains and a "peak" of Mount Cook in the far ground. The best place to view is from the Church of the Good Shepherd on the shoreline, with a postbox window behind the altar offering views of the lake as you pray. If my church looked like this, I'd consider actually going!

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Top Tip: If you find yourself in the area, there's a great Japanese restaurant with views of the lake. Check out the Kohan Restaurant for great food with great views.

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Posted by Where's Willy 23:47 Archived in New Zealand Comments (2)

Queenstown to Christchurch for $1

Relocating cars across New Zealand


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Most countries you visit on holiday you'd typically visit one, maybe two places. New Zealand is somewhere people go to travel and hiring cars or camper vans is very popular. I remember a statistic from last time I was here that 60% of vehicles in NZ are rentals. Now most people start at the top and work their way down meaning a build up of rental cars in the south. When you rent a car most will be a bit clapped out as they will have driven the length of the UK in 10 days constantly for the age of the car. Most will have way over 200,000 km on the clock.

We'd heard about this and a quick google for 'relocate cars NZ' bought us a number of sites where we could log in and relocate an old banger for them, we went with transfercar.co.nz You get a set number of days and kms to get to you location. Insurance is covered, all you need to pay is a $1 admin fee. We put ourselves down to help out the rental companies.

24 hours before hand we got our confirmation, we had 48 hours to get a 5door hatchback or bigger from Queenstown to Christchurch. This would cost over $100 on the bus and we where quoted $220 from another hire company. You can drive the car anything up to 900km (the journey is just under 500km) and you get a tank of petrol free, return it empty.

Dropping mum and dad off at Queenstown airport for their return flight to Brisbane, we strolled over to the Budget desk to pick up the keys to our clap out of a car. Going through the paper work I checked the insurance was included in our $1

"I'd bloody hope so, it's $50,000 of kit you have there"

What? For our measly $1, about £0.55 in real money we had a Toyota Highlander; a 7 seater, V6, 4WD with heated seats, leather trim, cruise control and even 4 cup holders! As the kiwis would say, "sweet as".

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This thing is an absolute beast! Perfect for the scenic drive throught the mountains of south island to Lake Tekapo then onto Christchurch.

We even considered sleeping in it, it's that large. I'm gutted that we'd already booked our other car and couldn't do another relocation! It's going to feel like a Mini Cooper after this bad boy!

Posted by Where's Willy 23:17 Archived in New Zealand Comments (2)

Fox Glacier

Ice hiking - a blog by Wee Willy Wifey

rain 2 °C
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So Sunday found us packing up the car early and heading out to Fox Glacier on the west coast. I've never seen a glacier before so another big tick in the box! 3 hour car journey there and back with a 4 hour guided walk in the middle - just your regular Sunday really!

On the drive there we stopped off at the Blue Pools about an hour from Wanaka. Conscious of time and eager to see the promised 'most beautiful blue pools in the world', we legged it down the trail as should take 15 minutes there and back from the main road. Overall they were a little underwhelming and most definitely green not blue! Still, a nice break from the car. I also should learn not to comment on every lake we pass ( i.e. "ooh there's a great reflection just there") as it makes Will want to pull over at every lookout grabbing his camera on the way!

So arrived at Fox about lunchtime, checked in and were given our 'boarding passes' (they decided to be fancy, 'ticket' would have done just fine). After a quick bite to eat, we got our gear on and headed to join our guide to learn and start walking Fox Glacier. The glacier is currently 13km long, relatively short as a few hundred years ago it was 43km, stretching a whopping 10km into the sea/ocean. We walked up into the valley before strapping on our crampons and stepping out onto the ice. Staff go up every day to carve new paths into the ice so we followed a flight of steps cut into the glacier!

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After a few steps we discovered a 'Moulin Bleu', a small natural cave in the ice with a glacier stream inside. 'Moulin' in french means 'windmill' hence the Moulin Rouge!

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A new crevice had also opened up so we followed this through:

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At this point we had the delight of experiencing west coast rain for the second time - views before the rain started were glorious:

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However once the rain started it was rather less so!

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Still had a brilliant time walking on the ice! And Will had almost too much of a good time when he nearly fell off the ice!

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Posted by Where's Willy 23:11 Archived in New Zealand Tagged fox_glacier ice_hiking Comments (0)

Milford Sound

It rains in New Zealand..............a lot!

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New Zealand is often referred to as 'the land of the long white cloud'. Never is that truer than in Milford Sound, where the clouds sit so low you can virtually touch them..... Well it's very foggy and raining!

A 5 hour drive from Queenstown with nothing but a pie shop in Te Anau in between, this cloud factory will often see around 250mm of rain in a single day. With 200 rain days a year, you're pretty destined to get wet. Despite the weather the place is simply stunning and well worth the journey to what Rudyard Kipling once described as the "eighth wonder of the world" and it's tourism trade has been dining off it ever since.

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Mum and Dad decided to join us for the trip and endure their first stay in a backpackers. There was, after all, little choice, there are only two accommodation places in the sound. Inspired by the promise of shared bathroom facilities and a kitchen with pans cleaned using only a running tap and someone's hand, Mum couldn't wait to get settled in. With a full suitcase packed for one overnight stay, including slippers, pillow slips from the Ritz Carlton (we convinced her not to bring the whole pillow) and a bottle of Gin, it was clear she was preparing for a mud shack.

The drive to Milford Sound is worth it in itself, from Wanaka through the Crown Range to Queenstown followed by the lake roads through the valleys to Te Anau and finally the ascent into the mountains past and the 1.2km Homer tunnel popping us out into the sound. And thats not including the numberless viewpoints along the way each offering its own desktop background photo opportunity.

Now when there are mountains there'll be winding roads down and through the valley. luckily for us Mum once met the late Colin McCrae and showed off her rally skills as we descended into the sound.

A pleasant surprise greeted us 50km in 3 mins later, as we fell out of the car green faced and clinging to the floor for stability. The hostel is large and immaculately clean with a huge lounge and cooking area. Mum put away her Hilton advantage card and smiled. We were given the keys to our one room freestanding porter cabins with balcony doors onto a view of the mountains. Though bizarre, the rooms were really comfortable and provided a sound nights sleep irrespective of the rain on the tin roofs.

We decided to take a quick jaunt into town to see what Milford Sound had to offer. 1 minute 14 seconds later we were done. Milford Sound consists of four things; the lodge, the airport for scenic flights (with views seemingly of nothing but cloud), the harbour and the Blue Duck Pub....it would have been rude not to pop in for a handle or two!!! With an estimated 500,000 to one million visitors per year it's quite amazing that this world famous site is sustained by two lodges a pub and a ferry port but it all comes down to why you go there and that is the sound itself.

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As you pop out of the Homer tunnel you are met by a view down the valley of low level cloud Forrest and onto the fiord land itself. The valley is flanked by near vertical granite rock faces that are only broken up by the countless waterfalls that cascade down from their snow covered peaks that hidden by the rising clouds. A photographers dream, of only it weren't for the fear of your camera drowning in the deluge rain!

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We took the 9am scenic ferry out of the harbour with Real Journeys. To say the scenery is dramatic would be a severe understatement. The nights rain had caused endless breaks in the rock face to pour out water. Unlike other mountains which may feed water into one large waterfall, Milford Sound has continuous lines of small waterfalls creating the effect of a rock face not unlike a barcode between the black granite and the white water.

A set of four larger waterfalls form the 'four sisters' which the captain described as 'casual waterfalls' as had there not been over night rain, there would be no waterfalls. The wind flies down the sound and whips the water up creating the illusion of the waterfalls almost hitting a u bend and heading back towards the sky.

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Down and out onto the Tasman sea before returning via a small seal colony but unfortunately no sign of dolphins (dolphins don't like rain!) or penguins that can normally be spotted in the sound. There is an option to do a nature cruise of the sound to see the penguins and seals up close. Eavesdropping on the captain discovered that in the 10 years he'd been driving scenic cruises, he'd never seen a penguin. Not one. Not even a chocolate one wrapped in a humorous joke telling wrapper!

Still many a Kodak moment and breathless scenery even in the pouring rain. Only seven more world wonders to go! Now just to drive the 5 hours back! Sit tight!

Posted by Where's Willy 23:04 Archived in New Zealand Tagged milford_sound Comments (0)

Wanaka and Queenstown

A little corner of the world


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Wanaka

Sunday morning saw an early rise and a test of Australian homeland security. Luckily for the safety of passengers departing from Sydney Airport, the security force discovered the offensive bag packed with dangerous materials (Natalies wash bag) and successfully prevented a viscous attack of oatmeal and shea butter body wash. Threat disarmed!

Our second private jet ride (a whole 40 passengers on a 200 seater plane) over the Tasman Sea and the incredible snow topped mountains of south west New Zealand to land in Queenstown. I'd highly recommend flying into Queenstown if you get the chance as the views out the windows as you descend through the mountain valleys and turquoise meltwater lakes is just fantastic.

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Being one of four planes in the entire airport also makes it a lot easier to run back to your seat when you leave two litres of Baileys in the overhead locker! Passing through security with slightly less disruption (and toiletries) than in Sydney, picking up some gin in duty free (rude not to) saw us into the excited arms of Mum, Dad and our long time family friends Maura and Gordon who have retired to Wanaka.

On the way over to Wanaka we stopped by to see the age old New Zealand tradition of throwing yourself off a bridge at Kawarau bungy. Having done a bungy when I last visited, which incidentally cured my fear of heights, I thought I'd never go near one again. Watching this however spurred me on.......

Maybe later in the trip. Natalie is yet to be convinced!

Over the hills and far away we made a second pit stop at the Cardrona Hotel, an old mining stop, for a pint of New Zealand's best and a plate of chippies and we were soon in Wanaka, exactly 8 years to the day on from when I first visited. Good to know fashion (at least my fashion sense) hadn't changed in that time!

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The view from Maura and Gordon's deck speaks for itself as to why they retired here. Waking up to this view in the morning for the rest of your life is pretty much winning the game of life! Every morning and throughout the day the same view but always changing from the weather rolling over the mountains. It's honestly hard to have a conversation at their table without being distracted at the view from the window!

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On Monday we took a somewhat speedy walk up the beautiful Clutha river with my parents, Maura Gordon and a very excited dog by the name of Indie. It's just hit Autumn here and the leaves are turning, think you'll agree its more than a good chance to open up my lens again:

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Very pretty indeed. Wound the walk down the only way we know how; with a pint (Matsons Black - needs to be tried!), some chippies and even some Bluff Oysters! A new experience for Mrs Adams Jnr, one she is not rushing back too!

Queenstown

On Tuesday Natalie and I took the car over the Crown range to Queenstown, the adrenaline capital of New Zealand (and probably the only place to claim itself as an 'adrenaline capital'). Passing straight past the office for the bungee jumps, we opted for a shotver Jet boat down the shotover canyon, created by an earthquake some 300 years ago. The jets have a breakneck 700 horsepower that can throw the boat into spins of over 360 degrees and skimming over just 9.5cm of water. The drivers are particularly fond of rock faces, driving so close your seat cushion disappears. Squeaky bum time indeed, but way more than a lot of fun!

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Back into Queenstown and the smell and the queue of the world famous Fergburger stretch long down the street. I didn't go last time I didn't make it to Fergburger and have been plagued by it ever since as EVERYBODY else I met who made it to Queenstown on their gap year always asks three questions

1. Did you do a bungee? I did the Nevis Bungee, all 134m of it
2. Did you go to the World Bar and have a cocktails served in a teapot? Also a big tick
3. Did you go to Fergburger? A disappointing no followed by questioning as to why I left the queue when drunk to get a subway instead!

It had big expectations to live up to....

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....and boy did it live up to those expectations, not only was this, maybe the best burge I've had in my life but it was bigger than Natalie's head!! Now I know what you're thinking, Natalie does have a small head but it's still a human head and last I checked burgers did not come in that size!

Rolling out 20 minutes later we decided to put our newly gained gravitational pull to good use and try out the Skyline Luge which sits a gondola ride up the Skyline Luge. Don't let this thing deceive you it is very fast and a lot of fun, perhaps even more than the shotover jet! I soon adopted racing lines that'd make cool running proud and took Natalie at the chicane which apparently was "dangerous and you're not allowed to bump into other lugers!" Whatever! Feel the Rhythm, Feel the Rhyme, get on up, its luging time, Coool Runnnniiiiinngs!

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Walking in Wanaka

A day back in Wanaka and after numerous recommendations from Mum and Maura, we packed a picnic (mainly consisting of champagne, wine and crisps. We're not animals after all!!) and headed up into Sticky Forest for a view over Lake Wanaka and the mounatains. A fantastic afternoon in the Sunshine and took some pictures the New Zealand Tourism Board would be proud of:

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Posted by Where's Willy 19:15 Archived in New Zealand Tagged queenstown new zealand wanaka luge fergburger shotver_jet Comments (0)

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