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Winding down in Akaroa

Friday, June 8th, 2007

This week has been one of my slower weeks since I have been in New Zealand. I spent a day walking around Christchurch exploring the cathedral and the surrounding area. On Monday, I woke up to a beautiful day and caught a shuttle to the train station. At 8:15, I boarded the Tranzalpine Train for the 4.5 hour trip to Greymouth which is on the west coast of the South Island. I found my assigned seat and found that I would be doing the trip backwards. The car that I was in was arranged in groups of four seats with a table in the middle. As I was travelling alone, I was relegated to a table at the end of the car that had one chair (facing the wrong way). At least I didn’t have to fight for a window. The train left Christchurch and made it’s way through the farmland which now occupies the Cantebury Plains. We soon left this behind and began the climb through the Southern Alps to Arthur’s Pass which is the highest point (about 900 meters) on the trip. The train made it’s way up by following several river gorges. The route consisted of four viaducts and 16 tunnels. The river gorges were bordered by sheep farms and the surrounding snow capped Alps. The landscape was full of brown grass and low covered trees as the mountains block most of the rain from getting to this area. I spent my time looking out the window and eating a chicken curry that I had bought from the café car. At Arthur’s Pass everyone got out of the train and snapped pictures or had the much needed cigarette. We then reboarded the train and began the descent to Greymouth. The train made most of the descent through an 8.5 km tunnel which is the third longest in New Zealand. We exited the tunnel and were in a very different landscape. The bright blue sky gave way to one that was full of clouds that had stacked up against the mountains. The vegetation was very green and thick. [read on]

South and Eastern South Island

Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

As mentioned in the last post, Jayne and I left Te Anua to explore the Caitlins (an area of remote beaches, lighthouses, farms, seals, whales, sea lions, and penguins) in a vehicle that Jayne was borrowing from her future employer. As the vehicle was a diesel and was being borrowed for free, I was looking forward to a few days of reduced transportation cost. Alas it was not to be. On the first day, as we were stopping at various sites on the way to Curio Bay which was our first stop for the night, we lost fourth gear. One might ask how fourth gear could be lost as it is an integral part of the vehicle. Everytime the vehicle was shifted into fourth gear it would pop back into neutral. We decided to continue without fourth gear which led to some rough shifting patterns. Other than the lack of fourth gear the day continued without any other problems. We spent the night in Curio Bay which has a fossilized forest on the beach. Unfortunately neither Jayne nor I could make it out despite walking on the beach and supposedly on the fossilized forest. [read on]

Fiordland National Park

Saturday, May 26th, 2007
After a while even travel and seeing new places becomes routine. It just becomes what you do and obtains a sort of normalcy. It is still fun but you tend to loose the sense of excitement that comes with seeing ... [Continue reading this entry]

Helicopters, Hitchhiking, and Hangovers (I needed one more H)

Sunday, May 20th, 2007
The helicopter ride and glacier walk were by the far the most expensive things outside of airfare that I have done on my trip, yet, but well worth it. (Aunt Rosemary, you said you wanted me to use your monetary ... [Continue reading this entry]

The Heaphy Track

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007
I arrived in Picton after completing a cloudy and windy crossing from the North to the South Island by ferry. The ferry left Wellington at 8:30 am and cruised out of the Wellington harbor into the Cook Strait. The area ... [Continue reading this entry]

Paraparaumu and Wellington

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007
The last week or so has not been as action packed as the last few weeks have been. Upon leaving Wanganui, I made my way to Paraparaumu. This is a beachside town with the Kapiti Island wildlife reserve off the ... [Continue reading this entry]

Exploring Above and Below New Zealand

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007
The last week has been a week of extremes in exploration. I began with a look at the subterranean world below New Zealand in the Waitomo caves with a company called Rap, Raft, and Rock. Five other people and I ... [Continue reading this entry]

Waterfalls and Mt Doom

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007
I completed my first adventure activity in New Zealand. As I stated in the last entry, I did a kayak trip over a 7 meter waterfall (the world's highest commercially rafted waterfall I might add). I was picked up at ... [Continue reading this entry]

Driving Around and Discovering Interesting Things

Friday, April 20th, 2007
On Sunday, I picked up my car from the agency near the airport. I was given a brand, spanking, old 1995 Nissan Sunny EX Saloon. Its the type of car that when you floor the gas pedal, the car just ... [Continue reading this entry]

New Zealand Arrival and Trip Planning

Friday, April 13th, 2007
I left the hostel at 3:00 am to catch my plane to Auckland. Upon arrival in customs, I was grilled particulary hard. They either didn't like the fact that I didn't have a prearranged place to stay, or I fit ... [Continue reading this entry]