New Zealand 2004
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(Mar 2, 2004) Today we drove from Arrowtown to Te Anau. It is a cute town situated on a lake of the same name. The Fiordland Hotel is very basic with very uncomfortable beds. We waited too long to book our accommodations and this hotel is all that was left. In the afternoon, we took the 120km drive through the Fiordland National Park to Milford Sound. The last 30km were incredible. On our way home we hiked on the Routburne track until dusk.

(Mar 3, 2004) Today we took a guided drive back through Fiordland National park to Milford Sound with Trips and Tramps. Our guide took us in a minivan and offered a very informative and humorous commentary. We stopped a few times for short walks before getting on a crusise ship and going out into Milford Sound. One of their other options starts earlier in the morning and offers longer hikes. That option was fully booked. At Milford Sound we took a cruise out to the Tasman sea. We learned that the Sounds here, such as Milford Sound, are actually Fiords. This is because they are formed by Glacier ice where as a Sound is formed by a river. The early explorers miss named them.

(Mar 4, 2004) Thur., Another bright & sunny day. We have been so lucky as its been rainy and cold most of the summer. Today we did an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound. We had a great lunch in Manapouri at the Beehive café. They had great fish and chips and panini sandwiches. After that we took a one hour ferry boat ride across the length of Manapouri lake to catch a bus to our cruise ship. Going across the lake gives you a different perspective from the highways. It was quite beautiful. The lake was totally surrounded by mountains. There are 33 islands in the lake. The road we traveled over to Doubtful Sound by bus is the most expensive gravel road in New Zealand. It cost $5NZ per inch. It was very steep and narrow in places and was built to service the Manapouri power plant. The overnight cruise on the Endeavor was amazing. There were 67 passengers on board. We first cruised out to see a seal colony near the Tasman sea and then headed up Bradshaw Sound to a quiet cove to anchor for the evening and night. Here we all went out sea kayaking for a hour. None fell out though, we heard that a few dozen men have tipped over and they follow the kayakers around in a skiff, just in case. We took note that no women have ever tipped out into the lake. The meals were good and very efficiently served. The ship had showers that worked better than most of our hotels. We would recommend this overnight trip to anyone coming here.

(Mar 5, 2004) Our over night Doubtful Sound trip finished at about noon. In the afternoon we drove the several hundred kilometers to Hulmes Court B&B in Dunedin. On the way we were amazed to find a small New Mexican restaurant, in the town Gore, for lunch. They imported their chilies from Mexico. It was a treat since there are not many Mexican restaurants here. At our B&B in Dunedin, it took Janet no time at all to find Solstice, the B&B resident cat. We finished the day with great Indian food.

(Mar 6, 2004) We spent the morning in downtown Dunedin. In the afternoon we traveled out to Otago Peninsula to visit the Albatross Colony. It was amazing to watch these birds soar in the wind & we got to see several babies.. They have a 9 foot wing span. Because of the high wind there was a lot of activity. We stopped at the Penguin Place next. This is a private Yellow-eyed Penguin reserve. They have a series of tunnels and duck blinds that allow you to get close to the penguins without disturbing them. They had their own beach for access to the ocean. Janet’s Jordy really came in handy on this day. We actually got to see a few penguins come out of the water onto the beach. What a great day! We finished the day with a delivery from the Indian restaurant that we ate at the night before. It’s going to be major dieting when we get home. Janet and Louise have been sampling every type of Cadbury chocolate available.

(Mar 7, 2004) Today we made the long drive from Dunedin to Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula south of Christchurch. The drive out on the peninsula was beautiful. At our B&B we were greeted by Barry and Maureen. Barry is an artist with his gallery behind the B&B. He makes a great cup of coffee! Fresh ground, real espresso, not Nescafe that seems to be served quite frequently in the B & Bs here. He said that Janet must have the brightest jacket in New Zealand & should get free wine for wearing it. Akaroa is a delightful town. The next time we are in New Zealand, we will spend more time here.

(Mar 8, 2004) Today we drove from Akaroa to Kaikoura. This was again a long drive because we had to go around the city of Christchurch. That part alone took 45 min. Our B&B in Kaikoura had a beautiful view of the ocean. We were worried when we got there, because there was a mix up with our reservations & she had us down for the 5th of April. She worked it out & found another couple a B & B down the road & kept us. Louise has been in her glory, because everywhere we have gone there have been great gardens.

(Mar 9, 2004) We started the day on a Whale watching trip out of Kaikoura. They located two sperm whales and a group of 150 Dolphins. The Dolphins were swimming around and under the boat and periodically doing flips out out of the water. The boats are propelled by a stream of water. This prevents any fish from being hurt. In the afternoon, we made the drive to Blenheim. It was nice to be on the road only short time.

(Mar 10, 2004) We have enjoyed our two days at the Chardonnay Lodge, just north of Blenheim, with our hosts Ellenor and George Mayo. The breakfast was great and we will always remember the stories that George told us about the interesting people he met during his days operating a restaurant near Christchurch. We very much enjoyed the great muffins that Ellenor packaged up for us each morning. We spent the afternoon on a tour of the Marlborough wine region with Barry’s Wine Tour. We visited six different wineries in a minivan. There were six adults and a young boy belonging to one of the couples in our group. This was a pleasant way to visit the wineries without having to drive. We recommend Barry’s tour.

Fiordland National Park Peak

Mitre Peak in Milford Sound

Homer Tunnel.

Cruise of Milford Sound

Janet, Louise, and Bob in Fiordland National Park

Louise Bob and Janet ready to leave for Doubtful Sound Cruise

Doubtful Sound

Bob and Janet on the Endeavor in Doubtful Sound

Janet and Louise on Doubtful Sound

John from England and Bob on the Endeavor - Check out John's Website: www.john-at-nunney.org.uk

John's photo from Doubtful Sound

Janet finds Solstice the cat at Hulmes Court B&B Dunedin

The Penguin Place Dunedin - Yellow-eyed Penguin

Bob Louise and Janet at the Penguin Place

Janet Barry and Louise - Akaroa

Bob at Moeraki Boulders

Janet and Louise at Kaikoura B&B

Whale at Kaikoura

Dolphins at Kaikoura

Chardonnay Lodge Blenheim

Janet on trampoline at Chardonnay Lodge

Janet doing the laundry

Marlborough Wine Tour

Ferry to Wellington