Friday, November 23, 2007

West Coast Touring (but not paddling)

Since leaveing Murchison, we have been on a bit of a road trip seeing the sights. We headed for the West Coast, via the delicious Blackball Salami company, and stayed the night on a beautiful beach near Greymouth. The next morning we toured the Monteiths Brewery, and found some new favorite beers. Try Monteith's Radler beer. A delightfully refreshing 'shandy' tasting beer.
We then headed south along the coast road to Hokitika. Base for many kayakers for the West Coast heli runs, but only our US friends were boating there. We are saving the West coast runs for when Ed gets here, so we carried on further south to the Glaciers.
We took the short scenic walks up to the front of Franz Josef and Fox glaciers, although we didn't go glacier hiking (guided) like scores of other tourists.

After a couple of days of easy car tourism, it was time to do something energetic. Jonny Adler had recommended an overnight hike on the Copland track, so we though this would be a great time to do it... No rain forcast for days. The hike was fairly moderate, not too many long climbs, and alternated between following the river, and heading through dense wooded areas. Several sidestreams had to be crossed, by a combination of stepping stones, or Indiana Jones style bridges. When we arrived at the Welcome Flat hut, we had had enough hiking for the day, and collapsed into the hotsprings. Definitely worth the hike. The hut can sleep about 30, and is pretty busy most weekends, so we made sure we'd arrive early.
Shame theres no hot springs at the car park to ease aching muscles when you get back to the car, just packs of hungry blackfly!
"The blackflies were that BIG"

As a reward for our exertations, we drove to the end of the road at Jacksons bay, mainly to go to the Fish and Chip shack. Delicious, and well worth the drive. We camped along the beach, and saw a single solitary Fyordland Crested Penguin!
We continued our drive via the Haast Pass, over to Wanaka, where we visted puzzling world, an excellent place to visit for the mentally challenged, full of optical illusions and mind bending activities.
From there we headed to Queenstown where we'll be based for several days paddling. We've seen same classic roadsigns (more next post)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

New Zealand Kayaking

After our quick stay in Christchurch kitting out our new home(r), we set off for some rivers. First stop was a quick blast or two on the Hurinui, one of the nearest rivers to Christchurch, that still seemed a long way away. Homer is a little slower at full speed than Astro, but that is solved now we have discovered the secret fifth gear, and we can now go at warp speed (80km/h).

The Hurinui was a short mellow class 3 gorge run. Very scenic, and a great warm up. We had our first night camped out up there, and it was pretty cold! We also had a reminder of what happens if you drive shuttle too fast! (not our vehicle!)

Simon on didmo disinfecting duty

From there we headed over the Lewis Pass to Murchison, which is one of the main Kayak centres in the South Island. We popped into the New Zealand Kayak school to meet Mick Hopkinson, kayak legend.

We've spent a few days paddling the local runs on the Buller, Matakitaki, and Glenroy, with a variety of other travelling kayakers, which is great since we'd had enough of walking the shuttle on the Hurinui.

We're now spending a relaxing day at the hot springs. A few more days boating in Murchison, then we'll head out down the West coast before Queenstown.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Meet our new team member, Homer!!

With hours of arriving in NZ, we began searching for our replacement Astro. Lucky for us we found the perfect Van just a block away.
Homer (I know all forms of transport are supposed to have ladies names...well ours just had a sex change) is a 1986 Nissan Homy. She comes fully kitted out with bed, camping equipment and a new stove. So perfect to get straight on the road. Homer is low mileage and never been on a road trip before.
We bought her from a guy who buys low mileage vans and converts them into Backpacker vans..but best of all Homer was cheap..even less than Astro.
Most funny point is Homer has playboy bunny car seats LOL.

Here is a picture of a Nissan Homy...not Homer ours is more beefed up with bull bar, roof rack and flowery curtains.

Not just content with organizing the Van, Si has also purchased a Kayak a beautiful yellow solo...awesome condition for a very cheap price. Lets see how long this one stands the test of Si.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Gday from the Outback

We are into our final hours in Australia. Since leaving Cairns we visted Alice Springs, located in the middle of the Northern Territories, basically in the middle of nowhere in the outback. Darwin the nearest city located a mere 1600 km away.
Alice Springs doesn’t have much in the way of tourist attractions. Its major point is a quick stop for those on their way to Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock).

We did find however, the Baby Kangaroo Rescue centre - The Joeys are generally found in their mothers pouches at the side of the road after the mother has being turned in to road kill.
We had the pleasure of holding baby joeys called, Oliver, Polly and Amy. All very cute and ranging from 4 months to 7 months old. The guy who runs the center releases them back to the wild (not tagged) at 14 months old. At the age when they no longer need their mother.

We then drove out to Uluru, and a nearby rock formation called Kata Tjuta. We spent some time hiking round there, and viewing the rocks at Sunset (spectacular) and Sunrise (not particulary spectuacular, and very early!!). It was very hot out there, no shade, and the flies were everywhere!!!

From there we drove to Kings Canyon, where we did a hike to the Garden of Eden, a Billabong (waterhole) with some great Jurrasic Park style foliage!.

Now back in Sydney, Flying to New Zealand tomorrow. Its raining here!!!! - other Australia pictures are on webshots - see links