Sunday, June 21, 2009

Kaikoura to Franz Josef

Unfortunately for the two nights we spent at Kaikoura the weather was very cold grey and windy so the boats for the whale watching weren't going out as it was too rough. We did however get to have crayfish or lobster. We also had the best fish and chips from a little shop in the main street, lovely freshly battered blue eye cod and crumbed hoki, my favourite was the cod. I also managed to find the patchwork shop where I just had to buy a tiny bit of fabric. Kaikoura is a very pretty place with the mountains right near the ocean.
Very early in the morning (6.45am) we left for Franz Josef as it was going to be a long drive. The weather predictions were for heavy frosts so once again we had some quite interesting driving conditions, especially heading through the Lewis Pass. Very beautiful though of course.
At times it was hard to tell weather the ground was covered in a bit of snow or frost!
At other times it was more obvious.

After a short stop at Hokitika for lunch we finally arrived at Franz Josef and the amazing glaciers of Franz Josef and Fox (which is another 20 odd k's further on) amid the rainforests.

You could see the glacier from our motel.

Our first afternoon we walked to the terminal face of Franz Josef. It had changed quite a lot since we had been there in 2004 and I was a little bit disappointed. It didn't seem to be quite so spectacular as the first time we saw it and didn't have as much blue ice, it seemed to have a lot of black. The light also wasn't the best as it was late afternoon by the time we did the 50 minute walk to the terminal face.

It's hard to see the size of the glaciers from photos but if you look closely you can see people coming back from the guided hikes onto the glaciers on the right of the photo in blue and red jackets.

The next day we took the helicopter up to the top of the glacier and around Mt Cook and Mt Tasman.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I'm Beck.

Please excuse the attempt at a kiwi accent, did it give you a clue to where I have been? Yes beautiful stunning New Zealand. This was our second trip to NZ, we loved it so much the first time (2004)that when I saw a package deal in January for flights and car hire we just had to revist. The worst part of the trip was that we had to fly into Auckland so we spent the first two nights very briefly in firstly Taupo then Wellington the second night so lots of driving to be on the ferry bright and early after the first two nights. We had previously spent two nights in Auckland and parts of the North Island but we both loved the scenery of the South Island so decided to spend most of our 12 nights there.
First stop Lake Taupo where we went for a very brisk chilly walk first thing in the morning. There was quite a lot of mist around the tops of the hills.

Not far from Lake Taupo we did make a stop to visit the Volcano activity centre.
On the way down to Wellington we passed the active volcanoes of Tongariro National Park. Mt. Ngauruhoe which was I think Mt Doom in Lord Of The Rings.
Mt Ruapehu which is the highest of the North Island and I think the most active of the volcanoes.
That night we were in Wellington and caught the ferry the next morning.
When we arrived at the terminal we were told it was storm conditions and it was marginal whether the ferry would be crossing the strait which is a 3 hour journey, it's cancelled when the swells reach 5m and they were at 4.5m. However we did go, Mr QB spent the first two hours in the restrooms and even I felt a tad queasy which is very unusal for me, I am usually fine. We were going up the swells and sometimes thumping down behind them with the ship groaning and the occassional side roll thrown in.

I tried to get some photos but you can't really tell how rough it was from them however this was from the very top deck of the ship where we (I) was sitting initially. Eventually I moved down a deck and towards the back where I felt better. It was certainly interesting having glasses and items smashing in the bar!!!
This is what it looked like when we reached the calm waters of Queen Charlotte Sound in the South Island and Mr QB appeared again looking rather white.

The trip from Blenheim to Kaikoura was very interesting. A low pressure system sweeping up from the south had caused the rough seas and there was snow forecast to low levels. How right they were!

Halfway through the hills between Blenheim and Kaikoura it started snowing which made the driving conditions very interesting to say the least! The scenery along this road would normally be beautiful and still was although a little worrying with the weather conditions and at least one car ran off the road behind us.

Thankfully the snow stopped eventually!

We had made it safely to Kaikoura where we would spend the next two nights!