Two weeks in the South Island

I am already back in Plimmerton, Wellington. I flew back from Christchurch on the 10th of May and have been working for a couple days, getting back into the swing of things. It's been a bit chillier here but no where near as cold as it was in the South Island (or back home, got to teach these Kiwi's something about Scottish weather. No one believes me!). And I have also realised I have been in New Zealand for five months! Scary how time flies. I am having a blast here, but it is getting quieter with the tourist season over and all (plus everyone will be going south for the ski season) so I am beginning to miss home. Just the little things like going out to the pub with my friends and going to the movies with the folks. And unlimited internet. That seems like a distant dream right now.

Anyway I am getting off track, I am about to summerise the whole trip day by day so it could take a while to upload some pictures so bare with me.

26th April Wellington - Picton - Nelson

So I got up at stupid o'clock to get the train at 6am ish. Jumped on the ferry at 8am and.. passed out. What, I was tired okay! So I only got a couple of pictures coming into Picton but the weather was awful. So got off and jumped on the bus, which drove two hours or so to Nelson via Blemnam. That freaked me out a bit because thats on the way to Christchurch and I thought I was going the wrong way! But thankfully it goes a bizarro way round. Meh oh well. Got to Nelson and found my hostel which was called the Shortbread Cottage. Very nice, small hostel with limited space but that was fine with me as it made it more cosy and comfortable. 

27th April Abel Tasman

When I got to Nelson, I pretty much went straight in to book a bus and cruise to the Abel Tasman national park.  So jumped in the bus at 7am and passed out as per usual. I don't know what it is about me falling asleep in moving vehicles all the time. Only when I'm not driving though. So I got there and I was told that the sea conditions were too rough to go on the tour I booked (missing the seals, huge bummer). But I did get half the tour I was suppose to.. while paying the same price. I don't really get that but never mind eh. They could have called to tell me before I jumped on the bus for two hours to get there. But never the less, it was a fun, bumpy ride, and I had a nice walk up the hill's and valley's. Even got a secluded small bay all to myself with spectacular views. So over all a nice day.

28th April Nelson again

I was meant to do a bone carving course today but sadly the man running it was ill and had to cancel. So I just spent the day wandering around Nelson, spending money! I got my mum some unusual beads the day before from the biggest bead shop I have ever seen! So I had to get something for dad, wouldn't want him to feel left out now! And I found the perfect thing, a pint glass with a picture of a drunk Kiwi, saying bottoms up. Perfect. I even thew in a hat for good measure. With a bobble. And I heart New Zealand all over it. I'm just so thoughtful. Then I wrestled for a good fifteen minutes to get it in a suitable box so it would arrive home snug as a bug. Much to the locals frustrations. But I have heard it was worth it, as they didn't break! :)

29th April Bus to Paikakariki 

So I was up again at stupid o'clock to hop on the bus to see the Paikakariki Rocks. I got there around mid day and walked what was suppose to be 500metres, but felt like a couple miles. Liars. But it was a lovely sunny day so it was fine. I dumped my stuff at the Paikakariki beach and walked back up to the Pancake rocks (loving the name). They were like nothing like I have ever seen as far as rock formations grow. It looked like someone just stacked slate together, it's the only way to describe it. Cliff's like the roads as tall as multi's and covered with lush vegetation. It looked like something out of Jurassic Park, it was perfect setting for a prehistoric world. There were not many houses here and I can't remember how far the nearest town was, but if you want solitude I guess this is the perfect place.

One of the blowholes, sadly the high tide fell into 9pm that night and there were no street lights down the road so I could't see them in action. But hey, something to see next time I come back.

I stopped off in the gift shop and bought a small ceramic bowl fused with glass that reminded me of a lagoon. It was so pretty. It was made by a man called Mike Jephson. I tried to find information about him on the internet but it seems like the website isn't working. The website is www.punakaikicrafts.co.nz and hopefully they will have it working soon.

After that, I ventured into a strange place that I only found out from, from a soldiery sign on the edge of the road. I thought it was a joke at first but I went to explore anyway. It was a cavern in the side of the cliff face and it gave me the creeps. Just looking into the slot, into the darkness was enough for me. As I was on my own I decided against venturing inside by myself as if anything happened, well I'd be screwed. Overly cautious I know but I have no idea how to even climb inside cave's let alone exploring one. Plus it had cave weta's, and in the dark with things jumping on you, not my cup of tea! I have a very active imagination.

 

At sunrise I took a long walk along the beach and admired the massive cliffs and sprawling beaches with jet black pebbles. 

30th April Bus to Fox Glacier

So back on the road again, luckily my bus didn't leave till mid day, so that gave me a while to explore one of the rivers leading through the cliffs to the sea. I overheard someone say it was beautiful so I thought why not. 

And again, I felt like I was stepping through time to a dinosaur era, untouched lush growth of plants so thick it was like a wall. The river was a turquoise blue colour so rich it looked like it was dyed and not real, but again it was just that beautiful. It makes me wonder where else looked like this, both back at home and around the world, before us humans decided it was just inconvenient and tore it down.

So, jumped on the bus again to Fox Glacier, the driver this time found it funny that I was from Scotland. He was a hoot and made the trip go faster, which is good as it was a good six hours.

Arrived at Fox Glacier at about 6pm and checked in at the Ivory Towers, which was okay. Went to explore the city and found out quickly that from end to end, it takes five minutes to walk! Very small town. 

1st May Fox Glacier Day Hike.

Before I booked this hiking trip, everyone told me that the half day hike only gets you a couple of hours on the ice. And I thought I want to spend more time on it so I picked the full day hike. And I forgot that I am terrified of walking on ice. Two years of delivering pizzas in Dundee included two winters with terrible conditions. For minimum wage I got the pleasure of walking up frozen pathways, with a foot of snow on each side, and the icing on the cake was some jackass who has been indoors all day, telling me that I am late. This also included falling over on ice a number of times. So after I got on it, I was almost frozen (no pun intended!) in the spot. At parts it was okay, but I learned balancing a camera in one hand and a walking pole in the other was not helping me very much so I put it away. 

There was a good six hour hike to as far as we could go, as the last third of the way was sheets and sheets of ice a good three metres high. We went down a ice cave type thing, that the melting water has carved out over years of flowing to the bottom. We even filled up water bottles of fresh glacier water that was just perfect, pure, untouched water. Very refreshing.

 

Top of Fox Glacier, I think it was Mount Tasman the second tallest mountain, though Mount Cook was not far away either which is the biggest.

Look at the hat! Ain't it just awesome.

Hipster crampon foot picture for good measure.

The group at the top (well ish, as you can see at the back, the walls of ice that you can't and don't want to climb!).

It was an amazing day, the sheer size of the glacier just can't be taken with a couple of pictures alone. The valley towers over you making you feel like puny ants. Plus we were quite lucky, as that day warm air was blowing down the hill instead of cold. Apparently this is very rare as you can imagine it would be cold air most of the time. 

We got back down about 5ish after setting off at half eight and getting there about 9am ish. By the time I made my dinner I was ready for bed at 7pm! Probably the most physically demanding trek I have done but worth it.

2nd May Wanaka

Again with the buses. Once I settled into the hostel I walked down to the lake, and quickly found out that my SLR Fujifilm s1000 camera gave up the goose.. in Wanaka, IN AUTUMN TIME! It was probably the most lovely setting you could imagine and it was dead. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. But all is not lost I guess as I still had my trusty digital one. I wandered about and went to the cinema. It was very similar to the cinema in Waiheke with all the old couches. There was even an interval with fresh cookies, yum! The next morning I wandered about again and had a picnic on the lake side. It was so quite and peaceful.

 

 3rd May Queenstown