When travelling in New Zeland many people either rent a car or camper, but since I could not hookup with anyone to share the cost, I decided to do 14 day South Island tour with company called Flying Kiwi.
This is basically a bus (or Coach as folks from UK like to call it), it has a kitchen in the trailer, carries mountain bikes, tents and you camp at various locations. If the weather is really bad they do provide option of staying at hostels.
I had earlier stayed in Auckland with crowd from the other widely used company called Kiwi Experience, folks on this tour are mostly 20 years old, looking to get pissed and laid so I was glad that I went with Flying Kiwi. The bus had about 12 people. Two ladies from US, one guy from Holland and rest of the gang was from UK. In general very nice bunch of people.
I arrived in Picton on October 24th and took a shuttle to place called Kaikoura. This is where I joined the Flying Kiwi trip. I went on Whale watching trip, could see couple of whales, few Albatrosses and dolhipns, a nice trip. That night we camped at Peketa Beach Holiday park.
On Oct 25th, few people from the tour went on the dolphin trip, but it was cancelled because the sea was rough, it did not look that rough really. Anyway, we started from Kaikoura around 8.00AM and after few stops along the way arrived in Christchurch around 1ish. We had couple of hours to explore the city. Christchurch is a nice little town. It has a really nice Botanical garden, worth spending couple of hours, there is a small museum right next to the Botanical garden, you can probably spend 1/2 hour there, not the best place but its okay. On 25th evening we drove to Rangitata River Camp.
On 26th went rafting on Rangitata river, it has few level 2, 3, 4 and 5 rapids we did them all. The rafting trip itself lasted about 3 hours, it was a blast. On the plus side our rafting guide was cute as well! Too bad I did not give her chance to rescue me...
She works on American river in California as a rafting guide during NZ winter. Later in the week I found out that in NZ they use this river for teaching and certifying the raft guides.
On 27th we made our way to Lake Pukaki camp site, but on the way there one girl travelling with us had bad fall from her mountain bike. She fractured her wrist and dislocated her shoulder, she had to be taken to the hospital, took only few hours. She rejoined the trip in couple of days!
Anyway we camped by Lake Pukaki with few of Mount Cook. A very nice camp site.
On 28th, most of us started early on a bike ride towards Mt Cook. A very nice road for road biking with Lake and Mt Cook in front. I think we biked about 10-15KM for about 90 minutes. We arrived at Mt Cook village around 11.30, then went on hike of Hooker valley for couple of hours. A hike (tramp) worth doing.
On 29th, we visited the Moeraki Boulders. Interesting site indeed. Then we headed out to Dunedin. It is a University town, and certainly has the Berkley feel to it. There are lots of Victorian houses, most of them for rent to students. I spent few hours walking around the city, headed out so called Steepest street in the world, it was bit of disappointment. I am sure there are more steep street in San Francisco. Dunedin overall seemed like a nice little town.
On 30th Nov, we started to make our way towards Milford Sound, overnight we camped in Fiordland national park. This was the only camp site that I did not like on this trip. The weather was really bad, windy and very cold. I could sleep only for about 5 hours but could not really get out of the tent as it was raining and cold outside. Glad I had my MP3 player and lot of AudioBooks loaded on it.
Next day we made our way to Milford Sound, by the time we got to the Milford Sound skies had cleared and it was perfect day, with perfect mountain views
Actually the overnight rain really helped and made the waterfalls more spectacular.
We took a couple of hour cruise around Milford sound. It is indeed very interesting that early explores actually found this place, as the opening to the Milford sound itself so small. On same day we returned to Te Anu.
On Dec 1st, I got up early around 7.00AM and decided to do hike upto Luxmoore Hut on the Kepler Track. The round trip took about 8 hours and it was absolutely worth it. I was really impressed how well the trails and huts are maintained in New Zeland. See the pictures of the Luxmoore Hut If you do decide to do this hike I would highly recommend starting the hike at Broad bay are returning there, you can work with the boat operator where he will come and pick you up at schedule time, on your return. The walk from the Broad bay to town of Te Anu itself is rather boaring, I thought.
Next day we made our way to Queenstown through Lake County. Went through town of Wanaka where real estate prices have gone up 10 times in last three years. A real estate bubble is every where in the world, the run away central bankers are creating mess everywhere,I guess by printing too much money?
Our guide told us in Wanaka Shanaya Twain purchased a ranch for 21 million dollars, the farmer had paid 3 million for it about 5 years ago. Good for him.
We stayed in Queenstown for couple of days, its a nice little town, completely geared to help you spend money. I did few things to help local economy like sky diving etc.
Nex we went through the Haast Pass and camped at Okuru, went for Canoying on the river for about four hours, it was not easy as it looked, but it was fun.
Next day we visited the Fox Glacier, did walk on the Glacier for about four hours, it was interesting but glacier itself was not as beautiful as those I had seen in Argentina.
Next we made our way to Old MacDonald's farm in Marahau. I did about 8 hour walk along the Able Tasman track. Yet another spectacular walk, with breathtaking views of the sea as you walk through nice tropical forest. I would love to do five day trip through Able Tasman someday. I promised myself that I will come back someday.
The flying kiwi trip finally dropped me of at Picton and I took boat ride back to Wellington.
Posted by Subodh
on November 11, 2004 04:07 PM
Category: New zeland