After a pleasant 3 weeks on the North Island, we headed off to the South Island to enjoy yet more coastline and lazy days on the beach. NZ weather continued to be kind to us and we even managed a few more dips, this time in the Tasman sea.
The ferry (that dropped us off) at Picton Harbour.
We made Nelson our base for a week, and rented a lovely little cottage, minus all the faux leopard print accessories (sadly, for Andyb had become quite attached).
Our cottage at Glenduan, near Nelson.
Glenduan Beach, 2 mins from the cottage
Sunset at Glenduan beach
Reflection at Glenduan beach
The closest beach to go for a dip was just past the centre of Nelson. We took the kids (with their buckets and spades) for a couple of days of fun in the sun. Kenny collected some specimens from the sea and ate them for tea (Andyb politely declined) and Mags spat them out as they tasted mouldy. Kenny ate them, and was fine (after 2 days in intensive care).
Lisa & Andyb's footprints, after a dip in the sea at Tahunanui Beach, near Nelson
We all spent a day in Abel Tasman National Park - one of the most scenic places we have seen in the whole of NZ. Mags & Kenny chose to while away the day on a water taxi, exploring the coves and wildlife of the park, whilst the misers chose a one way fare, and a 6 hour, 22 km walk back to the beginning of the park. Because it was Autumn, the place was less crowded, and we even managed to have a beach to ourselves whilst we went for a dip in the sea.
Lisa & Andyb's beach
Split Apple Rock, Abel Tasman
The West Coast
We had to endure the eyesore that is the west coast, in order to get to Franz Josef. The 3 of us had to view this for endless hours from the car window. Kenny was spared the sight as he mostly read his book!
The west coast, around Paparoa National Park
Franz Josef Glacier
The Bruntons are becoming rather partial to glaciers! At Franz Josef, we were also lucky not to need a guide to get up close. Whilst you thought glaciers were formed due to metres of snowfall compacting to make ice that accumulates to such an extent that it flows downhill under it's own weight, THIS glacier was actually formed from the tears of Hinehukatere. She loved the mountains, and enticed her lover, Tawe to join her on them. He tried, but sadly fell to his death. She cried (probably due to guilt) so much her tears formed the glaciers. The Maori call them "Ka Riomata o Hinehukatere" or "the tears of the avalanche girl". A much more satisfying explanation than all that boring scientific stuff. We hope she receives a cut of the profits the locals make from the glacier; which is alot judging by all the helicopter flights and guided walks we witnessed!
Lisa at Franz Josef glacier
Franz Josef glacier
Lisa and a rainbow near Franz Josef glacier
Next stop was Mount Cook. This is quite an isolated place, but VERY busy! We couldn't even find accommodation for all of us in the same place. The weather held up and we had a fine walk up the red tarns track, which offered great views of the glacial U shaped valley below, as well as towering Mount Cook.
Lake Paringa, just a toilet stop on our way to Mount Cook, we might have stayed longer to eat lunch, but instead we became lunch for a posse of sandflies and thus, we had to make a quick exit.
Mount Cook U shaped valley
....and Mount Cook in the distance
Akaroa on Banks Peninsula
We dropped the kids off in Christchurch for their last few days before buggering off to Singapore. We wanted to go and see the hector dolphins at Akaroa. These are the one of the rarest, and the smallest dolphins in the world. They are very cute. Andyb attempted to swim with them (Lisab expertly captured the moment when the dolphins swam near, blink and you miss it!) Although the swim wasn't overly successful (most days the dolphins will hang around for a while with the humans) we saw about 50 of them following a fishing trawler, catching an easy breakfast, as they eat all the smaller fish that escape the nets. It was a great sight, Lisab wasn't expert enough to capture the moment - and footage is all a bit of a blur. Hence, David Attenborough hasn't made the call (yet).
After a night in Christchurch to say a sad farewell to Mags & Kenny (we had enjoyed their company for 4 weeks) we set off for Oamaru to see some penguins. It was weird to have no snoring in the back of the car, and the Nissan Bluebird fell silently empty without them (our luggage was also rolling around in the boot - minus Mag's twenty odd pairs of shoes that she had packed for EVERY eventuality - all those shoes, yet one day she managed to climb out of the car in her slippers - having forgotten to change them when she went out). In the early evening, the yellow eyed penguins make their way back to shore, after a day's fishing. We got some good views of them returning home, and saw a few pairs in their (love) nests. Later on in the evening, we went to see the little blue penguins come home to their burrows, after it goes dark. The centre offers a grandstand for viewing, with special sodium lights that allow us to see the penguins, but the penguins still believe it is dark, as they can't visualise orange or red colours. It was good to see them waddle ashore in rafts of about 15. Some even waited behind for their friends to return before setting off together up the path to their dens. We have no photo's of little blues, as photograhpy wasn't allowed (sudden sounds scare them).
Yellow eyed penguin
Two yellow eyed penguins
Moreaki Boulders where Lisab made Andyb get up at 6:30 and drive 45mins to take this photo
We stopped off on the Otago peninsula, mainly to view the Royal Albatrosses. This is the only mainland nesting site (of any albatross) in the world. We were very lucky to see 3 chicks, and 2 adult birds making a fly past the hide, (where we were situated), showing off their 3 metre wingspan at close quarters.
Taiaroa head at sunset
Royal Albatross chick weighing in at 6.1kg and only 3 months old!
Wildlife around every corner in NZ.
Andrew dragged Lisa (kicking and screaming) to the dump that is Milford Sounds. Think somebody taking you to see Haslingden rubbish tip (hee hee). We were in awe at the sights as we cruised the fjords. Andrew wasn't in awe of the pesky sandflies that bit him, and Lisa wasn't in awe at the biting wind that cut through her clothes (which included windproof soft shell, gloves, hat and pashmina scarf!) We have been travelling for over 6 months, taking many a photo, and have just realised that our camera has the facility to take black and white pictures - so we took advantage. Expect many more.
On the Milford road, we took time out from driving towards Queenstown, to walk a short part of the Routeburn track to Key Summit. Lisa moaned all the way up, cause she wasn't really in the mood for a walk, and Andyb hadn't even brought her any pic n mix. She was pacified by the splendid views at the top though.
View from the top of Key Summit after a relatively easy (so says Andyb) 45mins walk
Queenstown is the "adrenaline capital of the world" apparently, but we had a quiet time, walking and enjoying the autumnal colours. We think we have travelled NZ at a great time - we've had fantastic weather, enjoyed quieter places, and the trees are spectacular at this time of year.
Glenorchy (LOTR territory)
Just to prove, it's not always blue sky in NZ
(Yet) another B/W photo, this time of the church of the good shepherd at Lake Tekapo
Although we weren't brave or cash loaded enough to try out the adventure sports on offer, there were some young fools that gave them a whirl. We went to watch some of them at Kawarau Bridge (the home of the original bungy jump in 1988) get a dunking. You have to tilt your head to watch, as we can't work out how to rotate the video.