Sunday, April 27, 2008

Hello, Hello, Hello........

Well the secret is out, We are home!!! Sorry about not having the blog updated but we needed to keep a few people in the dark as to when we arrived home. We managed to surprise Sasha by being in her sitting room when she arrived back after a weekend away!!! Although the best surprise was walking in the drive to my parents house while they were both pushing a broken car around the back of the house...... The look on both there faces was priceless!!!

Well anyway, there still a bit of stuff to cover from New Zealand so lets get going:

The last proper update was the whole jumping off things and scaring the crap out of ourselves, well to tell you the truth as we were driving out of Queenstown with our nerves and wallets in tatters we were looking forward to a slightly more relaxing activity.

But first we had to get there.......

We made our way down from Queenstown towards "fiord land"

As per usual the scenery whilst driving was out of this world.

We are on our way to a place called Milford Sound. (Sound is what Kiwis call a Fiord)

This is a panorama of a pretty cool looking valley getting drenched! Worth a click!

When we drove over the crest and this opened up in front of us I was literally speechless, If I was pushed to pick one place in New Zealand then took my breath away it would be here on the "Eglington plain"

One small bird having a go at another small bird..... This is the infamous Kea of New Zealand, they are without a doubt the cheekiest bird I've ever come across, it tried to eat any part of the van that wasn't metal (tyres, windscreen wipers, bumpers etc) and was not even slightly scared of humans!!

That night after quite a bit of driving we decided to free-camp, which is basically just sticking the van somewhere and sleeping in it. We happened to park in the above spot during the night, so when we awoke to this sight we were very happy, things like this put you in a good mood for the day!!

We realised we had parked in a car-park for a thing called "The Chasm", Now I read that as saying "Sha-zam" as in a magic trick but it fact it turned out to be a big hole with water running through it...... I prefer my pronunciation!

We were up nice and early so we headed down to the boat dock and picked out the boat that we were gonna use to take us around Milford Sound. You pretty much have a choice of about 10 boats, but the real choice is to get on one of the big boats (England to France ferry type) or get one of the small boats which are bit more personal and get you closer to the rocks! We went for the smallest boat we could find which was really nice and they even had free coffee and soup because it was VERY cold.

You soon forget about the cold when your boat comes around the corner and this is in front of you!

Milford Sound is the most Famous fiord in New Zealand, its massive in length and also the sheer cliffs on either side are up to a mile high from the waters surface.... yup, a mile straight up!

Cool Water fall with rainbow.

The captain of the boat literally stuck the front of the boat under the waterfall, I have no idea how I got this shot without killing my camera?

looking back towards the start of the fiord.

We stopped on the way to this underwater observatory which gave us a chance to see about 10 meters under the water.

Milford sound has a very unusual feature, the top 3 meters of water is fresh water that comes down the cliff faces and sits on top of the sea water below, it is much colder than the sea water (The day we were there it was: Seawater = 17', Fresh water = 11') it also has lots of nutrients in the water from washing down the side of the cliffs, this has an unusual effect on the wild life in the water. The sunlight cant get down as deep as it would in normal seawater so everything that would normally live nice and deep in seawater has to live much closer to the surface. Like the very rare black coral above. Its called black coral because when its taken out of the sea it dies and turns black. Bet you didn't know that!! (Ignore that last bit Jay Jay!!)

Not all of the edges of the sound were harsh cliffs, there is loads of beautiful lush greenery and the noise all the birds make is something else.

Another Giant waterfall, the captain put the boat under this one too, but it got very wet, very fast so no photos!

It truly is a stunning place and we lucked out with the weather, you want it to rain a few days before and then have it sunny on the day!! Definitely not one to miss in New Zealand.

We had driven the last bit of the road the day before as it was getting dark so the next day it was a pleasure to retrace the drive back in glorious sunshine. Check out the twisty road and the bloody size of those cliffs.

We just had to stop at that massive plain and get a few more photos. Whooohoooo!

This may look like something out of Lord of the Rings but it actually Sunrise in the Caitlins (right on the south coast), Charlie woke up to this and came and woke me up in the tent. One of the only times I was up for a sunrise (I know, I know) but god it was worth it!! (Charlie took this photo)

Back on the road towards Dunedin on the south east coast.

Yup, one of Dunedins claims to fame is that it has the worlds steepest street.

And holy crap it is one seriously steep street, Growler almost conked out when we turned onto the street, So we decided to walk up it. Well as we got to the top, lets just say we had to take a breather for a few minutes.

Funny story. We were driving along the road in Dunedin when we came to a police breathalyzer stop. No problem, I had not been drinking. So I pull upto the cop and he sticks the breathalyzer towards me and says "say your name and where you live" I say my name and then..... eh, eh, eh "This Van" I then assume I have to give a sample so I go to grab the breathalyzer and stick it in my mouth, much to the surprise of the cop who is looking at me like I have 2 heads. It turns out in New Zealand that you just talk into the machine and don't wrap your mouth around it like I tried to do......... It was very embarrassing, Much to the amusement of the 2 sitting beside me. I felt totally let down by TV, I've never been pulled over before so I just made an assumption on EVERY single breathalyzer test I had seen on TV........ Stupid TV.

This is "The Craic" bar in Dunedin on the south east coast. We don't normally like Irish bars but this one had the best menu and we wanted a pint too!

Mt. Cook - Aoraki

Its a pretty serious looking mountain, the tallest in New Zealand at 3754m. Really beautiful. It also kinda looks like that mountain from that Paramount Studio thing at the start of movies.

Charlie in lake Tekapo. Such a beautiful place to wake up.

Charlie and the new addition to her ever growing collection of little animals, Taupo the Tiger.

Whats this mad looking thing?

Well Charlie decided she wanted to go hang gliding, which normally means going upto the edge of a very high hill/cliff and running very fast and taking off and then flying back down to ground level. Not charlie though, we found a place that actually pulls you up behind a microlight (The green plane) till you are a mile high (5280 feet high) and then disconnects you from the microlight and you can cruise around using thermals to climb or maintain altitude.

Take off. The people who run the company ( designed and built their own hang gliders with a unique harness system that puts the passenger above the pilot.

Up she goes.

For some mad reason she took her shoes off before she took off because she thought her feet would be inside the sleeping bag thing, but they were sticking out the end and you can just imagine how cold it was up there!!

I think the smile on her face says it all!! We have a few videos of it and if I get a chance ill stick them up on youtube!!!

From the skys to the open ocean, well a marina in Nelson.

Whats this giant thing in a big bubble?

It is Charlies parents old boat, Navajo. The new owners were totally refitting her and they just happened to be getting it done in New Zealand and they offered to show us around her.

It was Charlies first time seeing her out of the water and it was a true spectacle. She is massive, 75ft long to be precise.

The reason it is inside a giant bubble is its about to get painted and the bubble is a positive pressure balloon that keeps dust and stuff out.

The painters didnt want us in there as we would probably get dust everywhere, but Teresa, one of the new owners, "convinced" the painters to let us into the boat!!

This is the main mast. It was massive!

Charlie talking to the new owners. I think she was negotiating when we can go and stay on the boat when its back in the water.......... We were not too sure if we were gonna have enough time to see the boat as we were on our way to the ferry, but we were so glad to see her.

And this is us waiting for the ferry to the north island, we were sitting there for ages so we took this time to sort out the mess in the back, of course most of the mess was made by Charlie while myself and Gugs tried to keep it as clean as possible......

Whats this? Some lad in baggy pants and skate shoes flying a helicopter? Yup, thats our boy Brian Fitzpatrick. All coming in the next update!!! The North Island!

As I said before we are all home safe and sound and are now living in Dublin (Thanks Sash!!) We will finish up the blog in New Zealand, and Ill still be doing updates from here, but id imagine you lot wont really be into looking at photos of us getting jobs and generally adjusting back into normal life........ Uuuuughhhhhh.

Lots of love

Sean, Charlie & Gugs.

1 comment:

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