Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Meanwhile …back in "Middle Earth" (Part 4)

Meanwhile….back in Middle Earth where we are still "tramping along"…

When I say that this country is stupid beautiful, I mean is just so darn beautiful that it gets ridiculous..Driving around the south Island these last few weeks, there has not been a single day were we have not seen some jaw-dropping-ly beautiful scenery....It is just stunning.  I recently read (in the Lonely Planet guide book to NZ)  that they pretty much guaranteed that the word “WOW” would come out of your mouth at least once a day.....this has very much been the case for us.....just “WOW!”....there is no better word to describe our experience driving and walking around New Zealand! 

Here are just a few examples...

So we have been "Sans-Mark" for almost two weeks now…and we've had our ups and downs (see more on the downs below)…but we have been on the move and seen some pretty neat places which we would like to share with him and you as well….

Sheep Shearing !

It thought it would be a crime to have spent six month in New Zealand and not have been to at least one sheep shearing off we went, to the “Wrinkly Ram”  sitting amongst a group of Japanese tourist we learned all about the shearing techiniques (old and new) , the different types of sheep (and wool) , and we got to watch a live demonstration of the shearing with a very cooperative ewe.
This is how much wool that one sheep gave…that's ALOT of mittens !

...then we went outside to watch the very impressive focus and skill of a sheep dog, rounding the sheep. Quite extraordinary to see. 

A Merino Sheep (Originally from Spain)- give us the beautiful warm/cool wool which we wore on our "Routeburn trek". 

The kids and I happy to wear our new merino wool shirts

Elephant Rock- Near QT- where some scenes from Lion/Witch and Wardrobe movie were shot.

Glenochy and Paradise !

  For LoR fans:  In the movie...Boromir dies, not far from here

Random horses in Paradise

Driving the West Coast: 

Fox and  Franz Joseph Glaciers....the things that makes these two glaciers unique is that they are some of the only glaciers in the world which lay surrounded by rain forest. 

Fox Glacier as seen from the forest

We had a good time, walking to within 700 metres of the glacier’s terminal faces, of course we would have LOVED to have gone walking on the glaciers, but these days the only way to do this would be to fork out $800 pp to take a helicopter up there....thats’ not in the budget!!  We still got some pretty great views from below. 

Other fun walks we did near Fox Glacier were the aptly named "Mirror Lake" walk and that evening we had a magical thrilling night walk on the minihaha trail...taking us through a forest in complete darkness we were surrounded by glow worms and their tiny bioluminescent lights fairies in an enchanted forest (Sorry no photos were taken as you can't capture the glow pm film- at least- we couldn't)

Lake Matheson: aka Miror Lake


The 'Blue Pool',  Hokitika Gorge and beautiful clear water at many of our stops along the way...


A perfect campground…complete with trampoline !

Cape Foul Wind and sealion colony (Westport)

Stunningly beautiful Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki

Karamea- Kohaihai The start of the Heaphy Track (a NZ Great walk)

Another beautiful place to camp

I guess the population is dropping in Paradise! (Sign in Karamea)

 Kohaihai and Oparara Basin :

The Arches  (Oparara and Moria)

Moira Arch from the inside !

The "Cola" river…..

Moira Arch
Oparara Arch
Matthew; Being Still

Thriving in adversity......

Sure it was not all fun and games.....we’ve had our share of trials and tribulation these last few weeks.....A day or two after Mark left we all came down with  miserable colds and Matthew started acting up (having screaming meltdown) on a daily basis....which really tested MC and Meg at times....perhaps he was missing his dad...perhaps he had enough of this life on the road....but as loud and scary as these seem, they never last....and we get through every at a time...trying to help and support Matthew through each. He shows no signs of suffering afterwards....he goes back to being his happy active self so we aren’t sure what the trigger is...yet..

Oh and then there was the three days of pouring rain.that evening we had set up a tarp between the tent and the van and sometime in the middle of the night the tarp colapsed on one side, channelling all of the water INTO the the morning there was at least 10 inches of water pooled at the much that we had to BAIL out the tent.....bucketfuls !  Needless to say that the sleeping bags, pillows, blankets and all of our clothes were just soaked.

Except that we were dreaming of getting back on board our beloved Amelie….
...and since we were already coughing and sneezing, we through in the towel  and drove to a nearby holiday park in Greymouth and rented a simple cabin for two nights. We walked into the office looking like drowned rats and were thrilled to find out that we could use the parks hot tub for free ! So while we had all of our things tumbling in the dryers ( 6 dryers were needed to get it everything dry again!) we had a warm soak....this and the take out pizza we ordered did much to restore our dampened spirits !  

We were so grateful to be indoors  as we watched the horizontal rain (with gusts of 60 knot winds at times) washing all of the dust off the car...this lasted a full 48 hours !  By the time the sun came out again, we were dry, happy and restored....and definetely ready to hit the road again.

Next came the sandflies.....oh how I wish we could say that these were in danger of extinction instead of some other wonderful, beautiful, non blood sucking species which are struggling to survive out there....these were particularly bad on the west coast...some nights they bit right through our clothe and socks...and bug spray did not keep them away !  

Captain Cook said it best in his journal when we first encounters these little bastards back in 1773 :  

“The most mischievious animal here in the small black sandfly which are exceeding numerous...where ever they light they cause a swelling and such intolerable itching that it is not possible to refrain from scratching and at last ends in ulcers like the smallpox”

Small pox…yep  that about sums it up I think….

.then our tent decided to act up....we had a few breaks to fix (tears and poles which decided to start doing yoga).

Out tent pole….misbehaving 

 and then.....One of MC’s beloved flip flops (she has been wearing them everyday since we left Canada) broke !  That was the last straw ! 

After 600 ++ days…..they finally fell apart   :(

We decided that we needed to have some good we picked up a hitchhiker and gave him a much needed ride (his feet were injured from running the Heaphy track - an 82 km trek) in nothing but sandals ! 

I guess Karma works because things have been looking up since then...fingers crossed !

More Fun with Birds:

Maggy the Magpie (at the Holiday Park in QT-) helping us pack up the tent- Just a hilarious bird ! 

A taken just before he stole an entire roll of paper towels ( he did this twice)...once by jumping into the back of our van !  I guess he must of had a nasty spill he had to clean up...or something...You could almost see the mischevious look on his face can’t you ?

A Pukeko- NZ version of a wild chicken....running across the road in front of our car.

A Walk in the Trees -  West Coast 

Nelson ! 

 Of all of the cities and Towns we've been in New Zealand Nelson has to be our fav….it has everything, yet it is still small and easy to get around in…we really enjoyed our two days visiting…And this is where Meghan turned 14 ! We celebrated with a friendly game of mini put, a swim at the beach and a nice dinner at the Boatshed on the water. 

The Boatshed where a special birthday dinner was had. 
Swimming at Tahuna Beach !
The Next day we visited WOW (Wondrous World of WearableArt ….what great place to get your creative juices flowing….

 We also got to see the birth place of the One Ring….right there in Nelson. Original work done by jeweller Jens Hanson.

This tree looks like it is wearing army camouflage ! 

We are currently in the North West Corner of the South Island, near Golden Bay in Abel Tasman National Park. It is quite beautiful here too….surprised ?

As always, we are sending you all lots of love from down here.