Belated thoughts on New Zealand

I’ve been so busy travelling recently that I’ve had no time to record my thoughts. Now however the opportunity presents itself – I am taking a siesta in the cool of our room while the hot Pantanal sun beats down outside.

There is a lot to talk about.

In this post I’ll talk about New Zealand. We spent two fantastic weeks there. It is a country with spectacular scenery and nature. I’d love to return in the future. Our first stop was Queenstown in the South Island – you’ll have seen the amazing views we got as the plane approached in an earlier post. Crosscountry skiing was brilliant fun – so much so that we are seriously considering a future trip to Scandinavia to do it again!

We had a lovely time with Keith and Jan in Dunedin. Keith took us to his Marine Lab on the Otago Peninsula. We saw the aquarium there ( the girls specially enjoyed the touching pools)and also had the good fortune to see some carpet sharks that were being monitored as part of a research project. We also took a boat trip out to Taiaroa Head where it is possible to get really good views of the only Royal Northern Albatross colony on mainland. We saw albatross soaring around plus young albatross being fed and taking their first faltering steps. There were seals and some little blue penguins too. We also visited Allan’s Beach on the peninsula in search of sea lions. We didn’t see any but it was the most fantastic beach – golden sands and wild spume. One of my favorite beaches of all.

Jan took us to the Moeraki boulders and then on to see a colony of yellow eyed penguins that live on the cliffs surrounding a lighthouse nearby. We were able to get really close to them in the dusky light. When I get a chance I’ll upload a video.

We also visited Baldwin Street which is officially the worlds steepest street.

Another trip was taking the girls to NZ Cadbury’s World. Rather ironic as we haven’t been to the one in Birmingham. It was very entertaining and we left clutching a bag of Cadbury’s freebies most of which were things we hadn’t tasted before because they are only available in New Zealand. Almost all chocolate bars seem to contain marshmallow – makes them very hard to eat discreetly!

Next up was Rotorua in the North Island. Wow. I had high expectations and they were met. We visited Wai-O-Tapu an amazing geothermic area with clouds of sulphurous steam rising from boiling lakes, spouting geysers and bubbling mud pools.

We all loved luxuriating in the spa pool at our motel looking up at the stars and watching the steam rise from the hot water into the chilly night air.

Learning a Haka and sharing a Hangi meal at Mitai Maori village was another very memorable evening.


Champagne Pool, originally uploaded by Chrstopher.

We are now up in the North of New Zealand. Our first destination was Rotorua, which is famous for its geothermal activity. It’s not half as smelly as it was when I visited as a child. Apparently so many homes and businesses have tapped into the hot energy below the ground that much less of it just comes out of the drains or beside the road. So the place doesn’t stink of rotten eggs quite so much any more. We went to Wai-o-tapu and saw the famous champagne pool (pictured), the bubbling mud, the geysers and so on. But best of all, our motel had a geothermally heated spa pool which we made good use of, sitting in it under the stars while the temperature was only a few degrees.

Snowy New Zealand

Oooh! Those mountains are close!, originally uploaded by Chrstopher.

It’s certainly different in the far south of New Zealand to anything we’ve seen in Australia. They’ve got proper winters here. As you can see, the approach to Queenstown airport was pretty amazing. We swooped in over the mountains and could actually see people going up on chairlifts.

As mentioned by Louisa, we also did some skiing ourselves. You can see some photos of that here.

Skiing on the Mountainside.

Two days ago we went cross country skiing and had a go at going down, up and flat with skis. First of all we had a lesson so we could learn exactly how to cope and use the sticks and other equipment. First of all we tried going flat (which lead to falling over ALOT!) Next we tried a slope which was defnately the hardest bit. After our full length lesson we were aloud to go freestyle. Next we tried out the Mary’s Trail for Begginners. It involved some hard work and a pit stop for a picnic in the snow. I was eager to carry on unlike Anna so i repeated the trail with dad, while Anna and Mum made a snow man!!! Just a quick note: Following on from Dad’s Post below or on the homepage, another way to keep children happy whilst travelling around the world is to give them an ice-cream every day!!!! 🙂