Saturday, October 29, 2011

North by North West

We’d like to take it back a bit and share some of our pictures from before the Stewart Island Tramp. From Dunedin we drove back through the Catlins and spent some time camping and hiking around. We spent two nights at a campsite on a river and did a 4 hour river walk. Like Stewart Island it felt like a jungle, with thick trees and vines. When we got back from the walk there was another van nearby. While we were starting dinner, a guy named Pierre walked over to say hi. In honour of his french roots we indulged in some aperitifs, salami and cheese on crackers. He was a fun guy, and it was nice to chat and share travelling stories over some beer and wine.  Another highlight from the drive was a hike to Purakaunui falls. It was only a 30 min walk, but the waterfall was stunning. Unfortunately it wasn’t stunning enough for John where the trail ended, so he climbed up a steep, slippery rocky face to get a better look. Unfortunate because I inevitably had to follow him. If you don’t already know, I’m not the best when it comes to wet slippery steep rock climbs, I find it scary… it’s weird I know. Anyway the end result was John coaching me back down for 10 minutes as I overcame my fear, and perched crying on the top of the wet rocks. In the end though, John was right, the falls were fantastic from up high and it was well worth the climb.


Once back in Invercargill, we did groceries for the trip and checked out a store with a motorcycle. It was the “Worlds Fastest Indian” made popular by the recent movie with Anthony Hopkins. Pretty awesome store, as it is a functional hardware store with awesome old motorcycles and machines scattered around.


Now that we’ve caught up on everything before Stewart Island we can move on to our adventures in Te Anau and Queenstown. I’d like to preface this and say that we’ve been incredibly lucky. We arrived in Te Anau and decided to spend the night at a free DOC camp site on the Waiau river. It was a beauty of a spot and we had a great night sleep. In the morning while we were sipping our coffees a man pulled up with a sick jet boat on his trailer. John even remarked on it, saying that it was a “sweet rig”. He came over to say hi and ended up asking if we wanted to come for a ride. Our “hell yes!” was the obvious choice. Winston was his name, and he was such a nice guy, very much into fishing and hunting. He took us down the river to Lake Manapouri and on the way back we stopped twice to fly fish. Winston taught John to work the fly rod, and John caught a nice rainbow trout, in the same  amount of time it took Winston to land two. John is still learning.




When we got back to the campground he just assumed we would be staying at his place, which was really nice, and we ended up staying at Robyn (his wife) and Winston’s place for a few nights. The first night they made us the local seafood, crayfish legs for appys, then paua and whitebait paddys for dins with a giant crayfish tail. It was delicious, especially the crayfish, much better then the lobster we get at home. They kept making us dinner each night, so the only thing we could think to do to say thank you was to make a lot of pie. When we left they told us to come back and if the sea is calm they’d take us out of Milford Sound to do some sea fishing…now that would be awesome!

We left Te Anau after 3 days for Queenstown with the intention of going back to do some hikes, and also so John could do an admissions test for a school. The drive to Queenstown was a little scary. It was pouring rain pretty hard and the wind was terrific. The van doesn’t handle wind to well, so we felt the full brunt of it. The drive was still beautiful, and as we came to the mouth of the Wakatipu Lake, the mountains came into view. We arrived at Jenna and Duncan’s a little after 6pm and had a wonderful catch up session. They are such lovely people and have been so wonderful to let us stay with them. Not to mention they have quite possibly the best view in town.



The first day here, J and D took us over the lake on the Earnslaw, a coa fired steaml powered boat, to Walter peak farm, where they are getting married in four months. Again, it was an absolutely beautiful place, and we got free afternoon tea, which is always a major plus. John ate an absolutley pheonmal number of minature pankaces with jam and crème frappe, and felt a bit sick on the way home. Worth it though.


The next day we went to Wanaka a stayed over with a friend of J and Ds. We had a great dinner, and probably a little too much wine. I’m starting to learn which wines are the best, and where we should go visit. Apparently central Otago has stunning pinot noirs, so we are in a good place!
When we got back to Queenstown, John and I took the day to climb Ben Lomond. It’s a peak right behind where J and D live. We walked from their house to the trail head. The day started out pretty cloudy, but as the clouds parted there were stunning views from the top. The first part of the trail goes through the downhill mountain bike park. It is amazing, and looks like a lot of fun. They have runs for beginners all the way up to the very experiences, with jumps and a full freestyle park. We’re thinking of hiring some bikes and gear in the next few days. Once we past the tree line it was an easy walk up to Ben Lomond saddle, and we saw some pretty neat mountain goats.



The picture above with John shows Queenstown in the background. The last part of the climb was a scramble up through the rocks and snow. Not too hard, but very rewarding when you get to the top and can see perfectly in every direction. We met some really nice people at the top, a guy from Slovakia, and a couple from the UK who are working in Christchurch with the earthquake clean up.



Since the climb we’ve been doing tons of cool things. Its awesome, J and D are so active, and it just rubs off on you. I love how non stop its been. We played frisbee golf in the park with some of their friends and then spent the rest of the day in town listening to the live jazz and eating meat pies. We’ve also been out Kayaking which has been such a treat. D has started to teach John the eskimo roll. I’m going to learn after, but its super cold in these lakes so its hard to stay in for long.




Time for the REALLY exciting news. John and I heard about some labour jobs, and thought it would be good to get a little transient work. Well, actually John felt like he needed to contribute to society, and I just followed along. We showed up early in the morning, dressed and ready to go. John got work immediately, I on the other hand was told that only men do the labour jobs, and women get the “event” jobs, i.e. serving jobs. I hung around town waiting for John to finish at 5, and had a lovely afternoon reading my book in a coffee shop. I can’t say that I was too upset about not having work. John came home later with a big grin on his face. Apparently when they were told they needed to fix some tents they were referring to the ones housing the props and costumes on set for the Hobbit!! Lucky duck! John spent the day on the set and had lunch with all the production crew. This consisted of squid and all sorts of wonderful food. No star sightings yet, but who knows what opportunities might arise. After that, he did two more days installing a retaining wall at Olsen hot pools, which is basically a few really nice hot tubs with an even better view. He did such a good job we got a free voucher, so we are going to go one night for the stars and the view. John is happy to have made a bit of money and met some people, but we are trying not to lose focus on the travelling aspect of this trip, and so we will probably move on soon.

Next stop, back to Te Anau for some more hiking, but who knows when because it is so nice to be here!


  1. Lovely post - what GREAT photos!!! So lovely to see NZ in the Spring and hear of all your adventures....THANK YOU for taking the time to do the posts. It really adds meat to John's skimpy e-mails. love mum

  2. Another vivid and intriguing blog, you two. Great memories for your declining years when you'll never believe that you were able and crazy enough to do what you're doing! Yeh, youth!!! Great pics and tales. Keep them coming. Be safe and healthy and happy. Are you still playing crib???
    Love, Auntie Clair