A Travellerspoint blog

Extra information

Since we set out on the road in our motorhome we have stayed (with the exception of Queenstown) in camp sites operated by the Government/conservation department which have a charge of around $10 per person per night and generally have basic facilities, toilet maybe cold showers, or freedom camp sites which are free, these ones have no facilities at all other than a parking spot.
Most of both these type of sites are set up 4 or 5 miles outside towns are private and are generally in very scenic areas.
Conor has done a fantastic job finding the most suitable sites for our needs.

We learned that some or most of these sites are managed/hosted by volunteers who check that everyone who stays pay their money and respect the site.
The volunteers are people with a very keen interest in the environment and conservation.

If country life is not your thing the privately owned fully serviced sites in towns are available.
The country has a huge network of walking trails, one third of NZ is national parks much of it mountainous and the trails are really well laid out and maintained and very well signposted.
One can do anything from a five minute walk to a 10 day or longer treck, flat, uphill, mountain or a mixture of everything. Depends on your interest and fitness level.
No matter where you go the scenery is breathtaking.

There are many advantages to using a motorhome rather than hotel/Motels.
No pre booking necessary so one can travel as little or as much in a day as suits the mood.
Sites are very well located.
The freedom to eat at very scenic locations, no restaurant queues.
No packing and unpacking as one moves from place to place.

Posted by helencosgrave 21:06 Comments (0)

Nelson Lakes Park

This morning, Sunday Nick, Conor and I walked up the Skyline Walk at the Matakitak Reserve while Layla set off up the road for a run, the birdwatching isint her passion so each to their own. We had a nice climb up through the forest which was lovely and shady as the sun was particularly hot today.

Very odd black bark beech trees, something to do with insects eating and killing the bark.
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Spotted a Kerri pigeon and a few Weka and even though she wasn't looking Layla spotted a Muscovy duck and even took a photo for the proof. This particular duck is of Mexican origin.

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We drove into Murchison, a very small town but they had a boules tournament on as well as a children's dressage tournament. Not a bad place at all.
Continued on to Nelson Lakes National Park and found our camp site for the evening.
Now this is spectacular, most beautiful setting on lake
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Had a lovely barbecue, a stroll a chat and an early night.
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Posted by helencosgrave 16:25 Comments (0)

West to East

]The small village of Ross was our first stop this morning. The village exists because of gold mining here back in the 1860's. St Patrick's Church is a very pretty church still in use for Sunday Mass twice a month, the gaol and a few other sample timber houses dotted around give this a touristy feel.
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A 45 minute walk around the area lead us past old mine shafts, a miners cottage and the cemetery. The very young age profile of the few graves we saw was scary. Mostly Irish too.
We had a coffee in the very quaint Flossies Coffee House, a ramshackle place, overgrown orchard, apple and pear trees laden with fruit, lead into the house, grapes hanging from roof, an odd place but the coffee was good and the owner an Australian of Irish descent complained of the brutal summer weather.
The glorious sunshine today was very welcome but sure too late for his vegetables and crops that normally keep him very self sufficient.
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we stopped again a few miles further on in Hokitika, a nice town with a war memorial from 1900's, had lunch at Cafe 39, the usual shopping for groceries, most of the shops were closed, seems like Saturday is a day off in Hokitika
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On again to our next stop some 70 km further along. We visit another gold mining historical ghost town at least that's what Lonely Planet says. The town was deserted since 1951 when the mine collapsed.
Now this time they have taken the ghost thing a step too far.
Some 17km's off the beaten track, up a very narrow winding road we arrive at the town, What! Where is the town? This is a joke.

One is meant to use ones imagination as the 'town' is non existent. On a he map the light blue squares show where the houses used to be and the darker blue squares show the ruins. Fireplaces seems to be the best and only surviving parts of any of the buildings. The rugby pitch gold posts still exist..
The old post office (now a visitors centre) minus the visitors book and information leaflets. I'm writing to lonely planet about this one.
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We did stop at this old school house and the name of course meant we must stop for a photo.
Inside this one room school the desks are still there complete with inkwells, a real trip down memory lane. The declining numbers on the roll - only 4 in 1947 - the school was doomed.
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A few miles further on we arrive at Slab Hut Creek, a great little camp site by the river.
One is allowed pan for gold here, the river is a very odd amber colour but adequate for cooling ones wine.
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An absolutely delicious Red Thai Curry cooked by masterchef Layla.
A perfect ending to a 'gold mining' day. No more mines for these guys.

Posted by helencosgrave 00:44 Comments (0)

Relaxation Mode

With the spectacular ride to the glacier over we are all in relaxation mode so a wonderful breakfast compliments of Conor we set out on a wetlands walk in Okarito National Park. A lovely walk, not so much wildlife to be seen but that's ok.
Lunch and a G&T and we were on the road.
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Stopped for camper lunch and then headed north, located an amazing freedom camper site close to the beach Kakapotahi. A walk to check out the area was first on the list of things to do probably followed by a swim. The beach is unusual, black sand, lots of dead and decayed tree branches and other debris litter the beach.
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We decided to go swimming, very many pebbles and strong high waves, I personally found it difficut to stay upright. Conor and Layla fared better. With just Conor in the water, Layla on the strand, me fumbling trying to stand up WHEN lo and behold Conor spotted s shark swimming alongside him.
We quickly exited the water, unfortunately our videographer missed the drama.
Research told us the shark was a 7 gill killer shark so all I can say is PHEW.
Happy to have escaped a possible disaster we settled down, had a drink and watched the most amazing sunset.
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Great parking spot but stay out of the water.

Posted by helencosgrave 16:32 Comments (0)

Glacier Country

Our overnight stay at Lake was absolutely excellent, lovely lake side location, quite busy but sure sometimes one has to share when the prize is something special.
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The morning scene with the sun burning off the mist over the surrounding hills and lake was a sight to behold.

The road today lead us first to the lookout point for Fox Glacier and then onward to the Frank Josef.
At the helicopter centre we got in line, got our instructions, were weighed and signed away our lives and we were ready for kitting out for the trip up the glacier. Waterproof trousers, jackets, socks and boots and the all important bag containing crampons were also a must and supplied. The only item requiring purchase was sunglasses if one did not already have them.
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We lined up and got our places as to whom should be 1st, 2nd and so on into the chopper, six in total plus the pilot. These guys are masters of organisation. I had front seat and boy what an experience, we climbed up rather rapidly, the trip of just 3 minutes was super but actually better coming back down.

We had roughly three and a half hours on the glacier and it was an experience not to be forgotten. Our leader Harry was super, witty and knowledgeable and sooo full of enthusiasm, he loves his job.
We got a lesson on how to walk on the ice, in narrow crevices and up hills and down hills.
Armed with the knowledge we started off our hike down a very narrow deep crevasse which Harry told us only opened that day, it was his first time walking this pass, his enthusiasm was electric. It was a tight squeeze, a bit scary, being wedged between up to 15 metre high walls of frozen ice. But we all made it safe and well.
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We picked our way over the glacier, drank from the clear streams and one of the highlights - we crouched through a cave, the clearest blue ice imaginable.
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We learned that the landscape of a glacier changes from hour to hour and the next cave on our route had disappeared since the day before and in its place was a lake. But Harry found a way round it and we hiked back over the ice to the helicopter pad, a smashing ride back done the mountain. An amazing experience.
Layla says: the cave was like being inside a tic tac, and trekking the ice felt like Captain Oates trekking through Antarctica.
Nick says: The size and power of the glacier was evident in this deep crevasse, the towering ice with barely enough shave to fit through.
Conor: could not be reached for comment at this point he is busy cooking and eating.!
We had a welcome pint across the road, our waitress told of her experience working for Frank Josef Glacier helicopter company where she was training as a glacier guide until three months ago when the bad weather this year forced staff layoffs.
Slightly disgruntled she plans to continue her training in Antarctica.
We spent a relaxing half hour in the hot tubs (part of our package) a glorious shower , dinner in The Landing and bed almost before the sun went down.

Posted by helencosgrave 22:19 Comments (0)

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