Sunday, August 16, 2009

More NZ

After all the excitement during our first week in New Zealand, we slowed the pace a bit. We spent 2 days in Christchurch and really liked it there. One day we just wandered around the city, which was really pretty. The next day we took a spin to a little town over the mountain. On the way there we went through a tunnel which was fine, but on the way back we took the scenic route. It was probably the narrowest, windiest, road I've ever been on and it just wound its way along the ridge of the mountains, with steep drop-offs on either side. Obviously, we barely got the van out of second gear we were crawling along so slowly.
From there we went to Mt. Hutt and got in a days skiing there. We were lucky that it snowed the day before and there was some great powder on the slopes. Unfortunatley it was closed the following day because strong winds meant it they couldn't operate the lifts. :(
So we motored on to Dunedin then. Just outside the city of Dunedin there's a peninsula called the Otago Peninsula that's reknowned for its wildlife. We tried in vain to spot a sealion, penguin or albatross, but the weather was terrible and apparently they're much harder to catch a glimpse of  in the winter.
To make up for the disappointment we decided that we'd treat ourselves to a visit to Cadbury World. We loved it, it was like being Charlie in Willy Wonka's factory. We loved it. We got to see Easter Eggs being made (They spend 6 months making easter Eggs from June-January and they're all scoffed in one week!). We got to see how they make Curly-Wurlys. We loved it. Oh, and we got loads of free samples too. Did I say we loved it. At the end of the tour we hit the gift shop hard, needless to say it was all chocolate products and we nearly made ourselves sick for the next 2 days. But we still loved it.

Unfortunately there's no photos allowed inside the factory

After our chocolate binge, we went to Te Anua for a cruise on the Doubtful Sound. It started off with a trip across the Lake as far as the West Arm Power Station. There we went 2kms underground to see how they harness the power of water and turn it into electricty. It was actually quite interesting. From there we took a bus up and over the mountains via the Wilmot Pass (took the photo just for you Robert if you're reading.)

Then it was on to the sound itself, well technically it's a fjord but anyway, we spent about 2 hours cruising along admiring the clouds, I mean spectacular scenery.

Next stop was Queenstown. We squeezed in another day skiing there and did some jetboating too. Got to meet up with Hoggy and spent a few nights in Winnie's, the bar he's running. It has this retractable roof that you open when it gets too warm and they serve the most delicious pizzas ever.
After Queenstown, it was on to a little place called Wanaka. We were hoping to ski there but the weather didn't oblige. We went to an quirky little place called Puzzling World and passed a few hours there. Our two favourites things were the Perspective room and the Gravity Room. In the perspective room I got to be a giant while Fossie was made fun sized, all using optical illusions. Apparently they used the same technique in Lord of the Rings for the Hobbits. The gravity room had me totally confused and off balance. I have no idea how they did it but you go into this room that with a sloped floor and whatever way the walls and everything else are lined up I really struggled just to stay standing. It was so wierd. (You can't really see it in the photos though!)

This was one of the optical illusions there. From far away the lines seem slanting but they're actually straight.

Wanaka had the coolest cinema too. For seats they have cozy couches and armchairs, and even this old Morris Minor with a sofa fitted inside it.

Like the Opera House, they had an intermission for your meal. You ordered before the film started, went out at half-time for your dinner, and if you weren't finished then you could bring it in to the 'theatre', with a tray for your lap. If that wasn't enough to impress, they served the most devine homemade cookies (still hot from the oven) and homemade icecream to top it off. Yummmmm! Oh and the film was good too, we went to see The Reader.

From Wanaka we drove as far as Fox Glacier. There was this lake there that had amazing reflected views of Mt. Cook and Mt. Tasman.

But the whole point of going to Fox was to walk the Glacier. It was a bit of a trek before we got onto the ice - up 800 steps to be exact. I was having second thoughts at that stage but it I soldiered on. Nedless to say I was gald I did. We had such a great day. Got to go into some ice caves and through some crevasses. It's amazing how much the glacier changes all the time. Apparently it moves about 90cm everyday, and our guide was telling us how one day a there might be a cave or arch or whatever and the next day it might be gone. In some places he had to carve steps into the ice for us because the path from previous days was gone. It was defintely an experience that won't soon be forgotten.

So now it's just under 2 weeks until we fly to South America. Can't beleive how fast the time is flying by, but we're loving it all,
Jan and Paul

1 comment:

  1. Please tell me that there is a huge parcel (the biggest yet!!) on the way back to Ireland full of presents from the Cadbury Factory!!! I wish!
    I cant belive all the different landscapes, terraines, weather etc., that you have experienced in a few short months. We have really just had rain since ye left!!!! Gotta love Ireland!
    I love the picture of the mountain reflected in the water. I see you still haven't lost your eye for photography. Hope to get a copy of that when you get back. Your dad is doing a real good job of taking photos in your absence. He is only keeping your post warm for you for when you get back.
    Love to both of you.