So after 2214 miles we’re finally saying goodbye to our Spaceship and heading to the north island. Its been fun, so heres what we’ve been up to for the second half of our journey around the South Island.
So after leaving the over crowded campsite we made our way to Franz Josef town itself. Had to leave early (we got caught out in Milford Sound so didn’t fancy missing this, especially with the cost of it), so we had time to make tea and coffee and talk to our parents. Claire’s plan for the day was chilling out and writing the last blog – my day was going hiking on Franz Josef Glacier itself! Took a short helicopter flight over to the glacier – this was probably the most impressive part of the day – seeing the sheer size of the glacier from above was stunning. Amazing to see the detail in the ice. The time on the ice, however, wasn’t amazing. I think I expected a lot more from it and to see more blue ice caverns. Still, it’s always weather dependant and depends on what’s been happening with the ice recently. It was good to just be walking over the glacier and we did see a fair bit of blue ice. The biggest problem was this woman who just couldn’t get the fear of walking on ice out of her head, despite the massive spikes on our crampons. I think we might have missed out on some stuff because of her. Annoying, but oh well.
The West Coast
This was a pretty uneventful part of our trip – the west coast of the island sees the most rainfall in all of New Zealand, so we saw a lot. We travelled through Hokikita, Goldsborough, Greymouth, and Westport. Sure they would have been much better in the sun, but they were pretty gloomy days. With a brief stop at the pancake rocks and blowholes (sans blowholes, the tide was out) we planned the next steps of our trip around the north of the island.
We stayed in the small town of Kaiteriteri to catch a cruise up the coast of the Abel Tasman National Park. Where we stayed didn’t allow any Wicked Campers, apparently because of offensive messages. Interesting we weren’t told about this at all at any point in the booking process and only know of the ban because of a small sign in the window. Think I’d be annoyed to turn up in one and be turned away late at night!
Abel Tasman itself was a beautiful coastline. We thought we were going to get quite wet with the clouds, but the sky cleared and appeared to follow us on our trip north. It turned a potentially grey trip into a nice sunny trip, where we got sun and blue skies all the way. We even spent time on the top deck of the boat. It was a great way to see the park, especially if you didn’t fancy the 5 day hiking/kayaking route (even if it did look pretty good..). We saw penguins, sea lions, and birds very similar to Milford Sound. We also had a brief stop at the far end of the park, which had a surreal section where on one side you had grass and forest, and 5 meters away was a golden sand beach.
On our way to Nelson we took time to stop at some places along the north coast. Ruby Bay is a lovely but very windy view of the coast line. Rabbit Island is a unique gem that isn’t on many tour guides, happened to drive there due to the name being the same as the island we stayed on in Cambodia! The beach was beautiful with sand that cracked under your feet. The water was so warm I would have swam (wind was cold so we didn’t). Would love to have spent a day here but we didn’t get here until around 5pm. We also tried exploring Bell Island and Best Island hoping for the same luck, however Bell was a sewage plant and Best was a golf course, so we didn’t do much there!
Before we know it we’re out and about on a wine and beer tour. Nelson is well know for their beer and wine – we passed miles upon miles of vineyards and fields of hops on our way into Nelson. We did stop at a coffee shop and were introduced to the Jaffa – a small mini chocolate orange sweet (think orange Smarties, but bigger and with a harder shell). Quite nice – we’ll make sure we have more of these in future. The wine tasting was lots of fun, both of the places we went to gave us a mixture of red and whites from their winery. The first place gave us the equivalent of two glasses each and it was gorgeous. The white was lovely (but can get just as good at home), but the red was a unique mix of Merlot (Claire’s favourite) and lighter reds to make it less heavy. Had to have a bottle of that! In second place the owner obviously had a sweet tooth so the wine wasn’t too much to our liking, tasted too sweet and a bit cheap. But he is very popular locally!
Beer tasting was ok, the first was a pub and the second was a garage. The pub had a range to try, but they were just generic beers really. Not option to buy anything unique or distinct. The second place had a lot more unique drinks, and Claire had mostly cider and some “unique” lemonade mixers with tequila and alcohol. They didn’t taste strong which apparently is the point!
Finally we stopped at a liquor distillery which we weren’t meant to but was amazing. Taught us all about making the alcohol. We tried gin, rum and flavoured liquor. Gorgeous! Ended up buying a Champagne topper and Christmas liquor. When we were talking about gin being popular in places like London and Brighton, the lady gave us a free bottle of gin. Feel a bit bad as I think she thought we were in the pub market but oops! Overall a great day though.
Before leaving Nelson we quickly popped into the World of Wearable Art and Classic Cars museum. Strange mix but in a way something for everyone. The wearable art was beautiful and a fashion show with it would be amazing. Felt a bit like we had stepped into a Hunger Games movie. It was interesting to think of it as art and not clothes, which makes more sense when you see some of them. I liked the way that they tried to separate the wearer and the art. Interesting concept, I liked that.
The cars were great too, lots of big, classic American cars. Though it was weird to see some of the older cars with Nazi symbols on them.
On our way to Christchurch we had a couple of days travelling through Pelorus Bridge (thought it looked liked something out of the hobbit film, turns out it was), Nelson Lakes (where we tried looking for Kiwis (the bird, not the fruit), but it was during the day so there was none), and spent a final night at Deer Valley campsite. We also ended up in Hanmer Springs, a beautiful town that is popular with skiing in winter. It was good to have breakfast there as Deer Valley was bloody cold! Quick note about food in New Zealand – the portions are massive! You will always get more than you expect.
Our first day in Christchurch was spent going on a Segway tour, which was brilliant. I want a Segway. But at 17,000 NZD (£9500) its a bit pricey.. After spending 45 minutes learning how to use them we went on a 2 hour tour around the city. Interesting to see the city and how damaged it still is, but also how much rebuilding is going on. There’s construction work everywhere you look and roadworks everywhere. Saw a number of empty spaces filled with “space filers” or art. The broken cathedral, the Cardboard Cathedral, the 185 Chairs, Re:start shopping centre, Spanish street etc. A great tour and the guide knew a lot. Highly recommend it!
On our final day we took to jet skis again. There was meant to be no wind, but for some reason there was quite a bit so the waves were pretty difficult to tackle, and the constant splashing of the waves meant we could barely see anything. So the guy took us back to a sheltered bay where we could play around a bit. I was wondering why it felt so weird riding back, turns out we were riding on the crest of the waves to this sheltered bay. Pretty cool to have surfed a jet ski! I managed to get up to 81kph there (which felt pretty quick) and got plenty of chances to donut the jet ski.
And thats it for the south island! We’re well into our trip in the north now, and already had issues (mainly with wine bottles). Until next time!
P.S We have a second tree!