A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand

Our time in New Zealand is over already!

We have now driven the length of North Island

sunny 20 °C

We got the boat from Picton to Wellington, which was an experience in itself. Sailing through lots of glorious little islands was just pure bliss, add to that a lovely Irish couple who convinced us (it didn’t take long) that 11.30am is an appropriate time to have a bottle of champagne- it was a great trip!

Wellington is actually the capital of New Zealand (hands up who knew that.. nope? Me neither) which is more for geographical reasons than anything else. But nevertheless, it’s a great place to wander around, rest your head, eat good food, and it has a museum of cultural and modern art which I reckon you could spend a lifetime walking round, and still never see it all.

We decided to drive right up the centre of North Island all the way up to Tuapo which is a lovely little town that sits on a massive still lake. The lake is so big, it looks like sea, but it’s actually 1,200ft above sea level - bit confusing! There’s a big beautiful waterfall that comes from the lake, which is pretty fierce, and we were able to go to see it up close, by jetboating to the bottom of it- much fun! By complete coincidence, we were able to meet with my gorgeous cousin who I hadn’t seen since I was little, and don’t even remember.. she remembers my red welly boots though!
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Some interesting stuff: NZ it actually situated on tectonic plates and because of this, there is massive geothermal activity in the area causing bubbling mud pools, massive craters, and HOT steam coming out of the ground and drains by the road in several places- especially around Tuapo- it’s amazing to see.. but admittedly, in some places where the sulphur smell is so strong, you start to feel very sick very quickly.

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Some stuff which some may find interesting.. and I struggle, but it makes Mike giddy with excitement: We have driven right past Mount Doom which is actually an active volcano- looking very ominous as it was a dark cloudy day. We also were able to go through a place.. where orcs fought.. or something.... I’ll get mike to fill in this bit.. my Lord of the Rings knowledge stretches as far as “YOU SHALL NOT PAAASS!!” and “my precious” I’m afraid..

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Another effect of the plates are glorious caves- we were able to go stomping around, down and through a couple which were massive and millions of years old.

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Our time in Auckland was spend catching up with my cousin again, taking in some sights, and preparing for the next leg of the trip. We have had an amazing time in New Zealand, and can't wait to come back one day.

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We are so lucky that we missed the devastating earthquake in Christchurch on Tuesday, it really is sobering to think that we were there just a few days ago. The country has really clubbed together- people further north are offering their homes to those who were airlifted out and everyone is doing everything they can. It’s extremely sobering, the whole country is absolutely devastated, even radio presenters who are helping people locate clean water and fuel are heard crying on air regularly. It really is a dark time for this beautiful country, we just hope they will continue to find survivors and that families can have their loved ones returned to them.

Posted by lesleymw 12:15 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Our first few days in New Zealand

Driving around the South Island

semi-overcast 15 °C

We’re only been in New Zealand for a few days, and already understand why so many Scots move here! It has all the best parts of Scotland (green everywhere, mountains, Scottish people (yup, everyone is either Scottish, or descendents), good bars with good drinks (we even found the “Flying Haggis” which not only serves haggis, but also Tennents! , Scottish place names (St. Andrews, Aviemore, Glenorchy to name but a few), and Lord of the Rings and Narnia scenery every corner you turn) and none of the worst (here, they actually have a summer, they see sunshine on a regular basis, blue water as apposed to silver, and a large Cadburys factory which hands out chocolate like.. well.. sweeties!)
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We spent the first day in Christchurch, wandering around and taking it all in and getting used to the cold! It’s essentially a big town or wee city, depending on how you look at it, which just added to it's charm.
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We then took a scenic drive past Lake Tekapo (wow.. I don’t know how to describe it, apart from WOW- a lot of the lakes in this area have a cloudy blue colour, caused by the surrounding glaciers) to Dunedin, which is Kiwi for Edinburgh. Here, it is so Scottish that they have a huge statue of Robert Burns in the centre, and kilt and Scottish souvenir shops dotted around the place.

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We took a drive to Queenstown which is the Adventure Capital of the World- and we can see why it definitely is! Everywhere you look, people were jumping off of things upside-down, flying above the mountains with paragliding gear.. but it’s also the most beautiful town, surrounded by mountains and water- it’s like paradise for thrill seekers! Unfortunately we weren’t able to do much of the activities on offer (they cost an arm and a leg) but we were able to take a cable car to the very top of the mountain and luge (basically a four wheeled push bike) back down!

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We also spent some time in Glacier Country which was mind-blowing. Frustratingly, we weren’t able to climb into them- it was recommended that I shouldn’t be in the cold for too long. But a silver lining was that we were able to hike right up to the foot of the glaciers, and still be close enough to watch lumps of ice bigger than us floating down the river. And to make up for it, we went into the biggest ice bar in the country, where literally everything is made of ice (seats, glasses, table, bar) for some scrummy cocktails.

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Before we knew it, it was time to get the ferry into the North Island, it really was a flying visit, but we’re already planning a trip back here!

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Posted by lesleymw 00:45 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

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