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Posts Tagged ‘new zealand’

I have been slacking a little on the updates. Probably because this blog was a way for my family who doesn’t have Facebook to see all my pictures of my trip and so far, I’ve managed to show most of my family pictures. However, I did promise myself I’d keep updating this so I have a well-rounded journal on my trip. So here goes!

I last left off in the middle of New Zealand so I’ll continue with that! One of my most favourite things of my entire trip was the Franz Josef glacier hike. It was unbelievable. This is a glacier that sits right next to a tropical rainforest and is one of three in the world to do so. The other one is about 5km down the road from it and the third is in …Brazil? I believe.

The glacier itself is about 12km long, running up a gorge. Of course, it has, in the many thousands of years it’s been there, been the one to carve out this valley. It has, at some points, been as long as 15km. Every year it gets about 80 feet of precipitation falling on it, which is quite a lot. So much so in fact that the average time it takes the ice to move from the top of the glacier to the end is only an 8-year cycle. That’s pretty fast for a glacier.

With the Franz Josef glacier, you can choose from 3 hikes. One is an hour hike, one is a half-day hike and the other is a full day. Of course, everyone wants to do the full day hike. So it’s important to book ahead, weary travelers! Luckily, because we traveled with Kiwi Experience, they have a certain number of spots set aside so we only need to decide the day before whether we want to do it or not. But anyone not traveling with a tour, I would recommend booking your tour as early as possible to guarantee spots.

The full day hike is an 8 hour event. Now, only about 6 of those hours is spent on the actual glacier but it still seems like a long time to be standing on ice. Fear not, it goes by quickly! In the morning, you get a quick little video of the hike and the rules, then get your gear. Not sure if I mentioned it but you get hat, gloves, coat, pants, boots and crampons (the little metal that goes on the bottom of your boots so you don’t go flying on the ice). All you need to provide are non-jean pants or shorts and 3-4 layers on top. You should be good to go then!

Our guide’s name was Jason. He was very …interesting. Young – only 18 so I’m pretty sure he was the youngest of our group! He enjoyed telling dead baby jokes, which I was very amused about. But he was good at his job and made sure we were all safe. There are ‘features’ – as they call them – on the glacier that the guides like to wind the group’s way up to and around. These features only last a week or two, on average, before they fall or melt away which means if your friends do it at another point in time, they will most likely see the glacier from a different viewpoint than you. It’s neat.

Anyway, enough ramble about the hike. I highly, highly recommend it. It honestly was one of the best things I did in the 6 months I was away. It’s a little expensive ($100 or $150 NZD I believe) but definitely worth every penny. Onto the pictures!

Also, I promised my friend I’d do a shout-out on a blog for him. He’s never had one before! But I can’t mention his name so I’ll just call him Hockey Boy. Hey, Hockey Boy! SHOUT OUT!

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So as I wind my way through part of the world, I’ve taken some pictures I really, really like. And I thought I’d like to share with you, my dear readers (grand total of 7 now, aha), my favourite ones every once in a while. I envision this kind of post continuing long past my return to Canada, so I think you can look forward to fresh new content for some time now. Holla!

Some may have been shown here before but some may not. It’s like a surprise with every post, hurray!

Franze Josef Feature

Decided to start with a picture from New Zealand because I feel bad I haven’t put up my awesome Franz Josef glacier hike pictures yet. So this is one of them. There are others because this was a kick-ass thing to do!

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I did the 8 hour glacier hike today and it was amazing. So, so amazing. I can’t wait to post the pictures so you can see how gorgeous it is.

Luckily, they provide you with mitts, hats, pants, coats, boots, socks and crampons (hehe crampons). So that was good. I didn’t freeze my butt off on the ice. Although about 1/4 of the way through I did manage to sink both feet into some shin-high ice water. I spent the next 5 hours in 3 pairs of soggy socks, and wet boots. Super luckily, I have no blisters to report!

Tomorrow we head to Wanaka Lake. Not exactly sure what’s on the go there but I plan on just maybe getting a hike in and relaxing. Then the next day it’s off to Queenstown! The day after we get there I’ll be doing a Lord of the Rings tour, because yes, I am a giant nerd and then a day trip to Milford Sound. I hear it’s absolutely lovely. Someone on the trip talked me into it, despite the $160 price point.

After that it’s white water rafting with hopefully Kelly, then we get into Christchurch the day before our flight leaves. We will probably sleep overnight in the airport as our flight leaves at 7am, meaning a 5am check-in. It doesn’t make sense to pay for a hostel just to wake up at 4am and leave. So we’ll be camping out overnight airport-style. Should suck but I’d rather that and save $30. See? My inner backpacker has finally been awakened! Hurrah!

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Well, we made it! The flight was fairly uneventful. Got in late, up early. Christchurch at night was beautiful – so quiet at night which was a lovely change from the ever-busy Sydney. Reminded me of home. ❤

I swam with dolphins yesterday. It was a pretty amazing experience – they come so close, I so thought I was going to run into one of them a bunch of times. Unfortunately, my dolphin experience ended early as I realized I? am not meant for the sea. Yep, seasickness does me in every time but I’ve never been that violently ill, I think. Lovely.

Otherwise, it is beautiful out though a lot of my time has been spent on busses. I am looking forward to a couple of days off in Franz Josef.

Oh, and I bought a new camera. Because I’m a balla like that. It’s red and I think I am in love.

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So, as I gear up for my trip to Alice Springs, Ayer’s Rock & Melbourne this weekend, I have my eyes on the adventure that lies beyond. Probably the thing I am most excited to do is visit New Zealand. It started out innocently enough (ha!) with my huge nerdiness on the LOTR movies and wanting to see the beautiful landscape they used as the backdrop to Middle Earth. But beyond that, everyone who has been there has told me how amazing it is there which only increases my excitement and desire to go.

So, Kelly and I will be flying out January 25th, 2009 to land in Christchurch, New Zealand. From there, we’ll spend a night together in a hostel (note to self: still need to book) and the next morning, bright and early, I will head out solo on a hop-on, hop-off bus tour. I booked the trip with KiwiExperience, based on a friend of a friend’s advice and I’m looking forward to it. Those who know of it say it is one of the best, so it should be good fun.

This is the trip I have booked, which is called the Southern Round-Up. Time dictated I wouldn’t have time to do both islands, sadly, so I went with the southern island, as I hear it has the most to offer. I’m not too depressed about missing the northern island, as there’s so many things on the southern island I want to see but I am a little sad I will not be able to visit The Shire. Oh, my geekiness knows no bounds.

The Southern Round-Up tour map:

The KiwiExperience Tour

The KiwiExperience Tour

From the KiwiExperience website, I will be experiencing the following tour (bolding activities I would like to do):

CHRISTCHURCH TO KAIKOURA
We travel across the northern Canterbury Plains towards Kaikoura arriving there around midday. Kaikoura used to be the South Island’s best-kept secret. Kaikoura means to eat Crayfish (kai – to eat, Koura – Crayfish), actually the full name is Te-Ahi-kai-koura-a-Tama-ki-te-rangi These days its the Whales, Dolphins, Seals and the fish and chips that Kaikoura is becoming ever more popular for.  Experience Dolphin Swimming, Whale Watching, Seal Colony walk or chill out at the hostel situated just up from the beach.

KAIKOURA TO PICTON
We head north and take in the last of the dramatic Kaikoura coastline. It’s a spectacular drive, and we may take the opportunity to stop for a close look at the seals that lay about on the rocks all day long.

PICTON TO NELSON
We meet the Cook Strait ferry in Picton and travel via Havelock, and Pelorus Bridge over to Nelson, New Zealand’s sunniest city. A great place in summer to jump off the bus and explore the Abel Tasman National Park on foot or kayak.

NELSON TO WESTPORT
We visit the Nelson Lakes National Park for a walk in the forest and a visit to one of the more spectacular lakes in the area, surrounded by beautiful snowcapped mountains.  En route to Westport we meet the team (and Rata the dog) from Buller Adventure Tours where you can experience the best value for money jet boating and horse treking in NZ.

[Edited to add: According to the Buller Adventure Tour site, they also offer white water rafting – if that’s an option, I definitely will be doing that.]

WESTPORT TO LAKE MAHINAPUA
Today we head down the spectacular West Coast Road that stretches along the rugged Tasman shoreline. The road winds through diverse landscapes, which never cease to amaze both locals and visitors alike. Highlights include Cape Foulwind seal colony, rugged beach walks & Punakaiki Pancake Rocks & Blowholes.  Tonight your driver will arrange a group meal for you at the legendary Mahinapua Hotel known as the “Poo Pub” (a traditional West Coast Pub).  It’s an awesome evening to get to know your fellow travellers.

LAKE MAHINAPUA TO FRANZ JOSEF
Our first stop this morning is the Bushman’s Centre where you will get an insight into how people make a living on the coast with sphagnum moss growing, old timber-milling techniques, possum trapping and helicopter deer recovery.  We then head through to Franz Josef Glacier Township, nestled in the Westland National Park.

FREE DAY FRANZ JOSEPH
Today is your chance to hike on Franz Josef Glacier, rated in the top three NZ activities by Kiwi Experience passengers.

FRANZ JOSEF TO WANAKA
We start out early in order to catch the perfect mirror reflection of Mt Cook and the Southern Alps on Lake Matheson, near the village of Fox Glacier. We then cruise down the last stretch of the West Coast Road stopping at popular scenic spots along the way. Then we head into Mount Aspiring National Park and arrive in the awe-inspiring destination of Wanaka in the afternoon.

WANAKA TO QUEENSTOWN
A short but action packed drive today through to the NZ’s adventure capital, Queenstown. Highlights include Puzzling World (check out the toilets – highly entertaining), skydive over Lake Wanaka & the Southern Alps and stop in at the world’s first commercial bungy site – the Kawarau Bridge. On arrival in Queenstown you will get a chance to book all activities and re-confirm coaches at Base Travel Desk as well as get a group photo with all your new West Coast friends.  Then out on the town  – what better way to enjoy a memorable trip down the coast with a night out exploring Queenstown nightlife with all the crew to finish things off!

FREE DAY QUEENSTOWN
Queenstown is rated up there as being one of our passengers favorite spots to hang out In NZ so take the time to spend at least 3 days here Apart from being one of the most beautiful places in the world, Queenstown is New Zealand’s, if not the world’s, adventure capital. You can take advantage of the beautiful lake and surrounding walks, or get into a whole range of adrenalin pumping activities. We do recommend one activity however, the overland daytrip to Milford Sound, commonly referred to as New Zealand’s most beautiful spot, and that’s saying something!

TO CHRISTCHURCH
We head out of Queenstown, up over the Lindis Pass into the Mackenzie Country, named after James Mackenzie who was a notorious sheep rustler (or Velcro glove wearer). After dropping people in Twizel for the connection to Mt Cook, we travel through to the amazing aqua blue Lake Pukaki to see Mt Cook & Lake Tekapo for a view of the Church of the Good Shepherd, the bronze sheep dog and the milky blue colour of the glacier fed lakes. From there we have a very straight and flat run into Christchurch and will deliver you to the hostels of your choice between 4.30pm and 6pm.

So that’s the tour I will be taking!

Kelly plans on doing a more traditional bus tour, by just purchasing Greyhound-type bus tickets but I definitely wanted something that catered a little more to travellers so I could get all the neat little historical and trivia stories I’m sure our tour guide will offer. We do plan on meeting up in a few places, such as Queenstown, and I’m sure she’ll have just as much fun too.

We will be flying back to Sydney on February 7th, 2009 and may depart directly that day to the Gold Coast but we will see. That’s something for another post!

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