Almost Gone 
Joe looked into prices for flights out of Dunedin and compared it to Christchurch. He also looked into vans for sale in both cities. We save $300 by flying out of Christchurch instead and there are more vans for sale there for more, meaning there should still be a market of people coming in to buy them. Hopefully anyway. So, we decided to head up to Christchurch.

Yesterday morning, before leaving, we went to Cadbury World with the same German couple (we woke up to them parked across from us at the holiday park). It was fun. It was basically a tour around the chocolate factory. From there we headed out of town. We didn't really stop much along the way. We found the DOC site closest to the road and Christchurch and stayed there for the night.

We woke up this morning and headed out again. We were still 250km from Christchurch, so we have a bit of driving to do today. We're currently in Timaru having lunch. The plan is to get to Christchurch then start the process of trying to sell the van before we fly over to Sydney.


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South Coast 
Arriving in Queenstown was a bit exciting because it was the first bigger town we had been in, in a while. We were hoping to find a good dinner. Since we had some time to kill before dinner, I got some work done while Joe wandered around the park. He struck up conversations a few random people. Joe ended up meeting Sandra, who we would end up doing some traveling with a couple days later.
We had dinner at a food court, oddly enough. They had Nepalese food. It was mostly Indian with some different spices. For the night, we stayed at a DOC site not far out of town. The next day, we headed to Te Anau. We got there close to dinner. Unfortunately, there wasn't much variety there, so we ended up with a yummy pizza. For the night, we stayed at the first DOC site north of town.

The next morning, we drove halfway to Milford Sound and stopped at "The Divide" which is the dividing point for which way rivers flow. The hike there was a 2.5 hour one up Key Summit. It ended in a great 360 degree view of the area. We decided not to keep going all the way to Milford Sound because the van has been acting up and we really didn't want to end up broken down out in the middle of nowhere. For how popular this destination apparently is, there was very little traffic.

The next day, we met back up with Sandra. She is Swiss and spent a month in Thailand and really loved it. Since we're thinking of heading there, we were hoping to learn more. We did a 3 hour lake hike with her and then spent the rest of the day chatting and learning more about Thailand. After talking with her, we're pretty excited about going there except for the heat and mosquitoes.

Wednesday was spent heading towards the south coast. We stopped in Invercargill, another decent sized city, and stopped in Queens Park. The park is huge and very pretty. They have a 3.4km fitness loop, where there are 'stations' that you are supposed to stop at and do whatever excercise the sign tells you to do. We walked over half of that, doing most of the excercises. From there, we headed towards the animal park and aviary they had. It was very well put together. There was a huge rose garden we walked through. There were probably hundreds of types of roses labeled throughout a couple different gardens. We stopped and smelled quite a few of them. Turned out, one with "Joey" in the name was one of the best smelling. :) For dinner that night, we found some quick, take away sushi and a Turkish place. Turkish kebabs are basically wraps, not what we think of when you hear 'kebab'.

Along the southern coast lives the Yellow-eyed Penguin, which is the world's rarest penguin. There are a couple bays where you can possibly see them at dusk, so our aim was to head that way. We made it to Waipapa Point, where some Sea Lions sometimes are, and ended up stopping there. It was too close to sunset, so even if we hurried to Curio Bay (where the penguins were) we wouldn't make it. Since this place had a bathroom, and no 'no camping' signs, we slept there. During our walk along the trail above the beach though, Joe did spot a sea lion hopping up the shore and headed for the grass. So, we did get to see one, even though it was a ways away.

This morning, we headed to Curio Bay. There is a petrified forest in rocks which was very interesting. We walked around a bit checking that out. On our way back up the steps, Joe happened to notice something odd along the bush line. It was a penguin! It walked out to a water puddle, drank for quite a while, then headed back to, what we assume was, its nest. Normally you only see them at dawn and dusk, so we felt pretty lucky. One couple that was there at the same time (the woman actually almost walked right up to it not realizing it was there before she saw us waving at her) said they watched for them last evening for a couple hours and never saw any.

Now we're just making our way towards Dunedin. The van has been starting up worse and worse every morning. We may try heading out of New Zealand from there, but we're not sure yet.


Yellow-eyed Penguin. It's molting right now, so, pretty ugly. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

(Click on photo to enlarge)

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We arrived at the DOC site we were planning on staying at. It had been sprinkling a little, so Joe reached back to get his rain jacket. That's when he realized he had left it in the cafe we had been working at back in Ross. It was just under 100km back... So, we hopped back in the van, and headed back for Ross. We got there, grabbed his jacket, had potato wedges, checked on the game update we did, then headed back down the road, yet again.

We stayed at that DOC site because one closer was jam packed. The crazy thing was, so was the one we were at. And it only had one pit toilet that smelled so bad it burned my eyes and throat. So crazy to have such terrible facilities at a campground with so many people. I'm not quite sure how they expect it to stay nice...

We left in the morning for the glaciers. We did a couple walks, including one to the base of the Franz Josef glacier. It was a bit chilly, but decent weather. To go on the glacier you have to do a guided tour.

Next we headed for Fox glacier. Due to the recent rain apparently the river valley was dangerous, so we couldn't get very close to Fox glacier. We ran into the same German couple that we've seen a few times now (the one that went Bungy jumping with Joe). We talked them into doing the hike on the other side of the river that went to a view point of the glacier. We both drove to that parking area, but by that time it was raining. We headed out anyway. The walk wasn't a long one, but there was one river crossing that was a little hairy. We made it across without getting wet and saw the great view of the glacier. Well, it would have been great if it hadn't been so cloudy and rainy.

We headed back, but right next to the river, I slipped. It wasn't a big deal, except I keep my camera in the side pocket of my pants. Of course a rock hit the corner of the LCD screen. Now the screen doesn't work at all. It still takes photos, but I can't see what I'm shooting at all. Oh well. :p

We reached the Haast last night and, because we were wet and cold from our hike, decided to get some dinner and stay at a holiday park. The dinner was expensive, but good. They had a pseudo salad bar. On it was a salad, potato salad, coleslaw, roasted potatoes, baked squash pieces, peas and carrots, and fries. We finally got a full and decently healthy meal, which has been a little hard to come by in these smaller towns. When we got to the place we planned to stay, we showered quick and then I did laundry. Unfortunately, it was via tokens and the dryer didn't get everything dry.. . . I really didn't want to pay another $3 just to dry the clothes more, so we separated out the stuff that was still damp and hung it up in the van to dry. Fortunately, today, it's sunny and clear, so I think the clothes will eventually dry out.

We currently in Queenstown. We don't really have any plans yet, but there are a couple DOC sites not too far from here, so we may hang out in town for a bit, then head over there.


Franz Josef glacier.

Amusing signs by the glaciers. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Another new and amusing sign near the Haast visitor center.

The sun poking through the mist this morning!

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Driving in the Rain 
We left the next morning and headed towards the west coast. We stopped along the way to buy a bag of apples for $1 (8 apples) and then a little later, there was another fruit stand with pears for $2. It was a pretty big bag, so we'll be eating crunchy pears for a bit, but they're pretty good. The fruit stands are a lot cheaper than buying at the grocery store. We're also trying to be a bit healthier and not have dessert quite as often. We're making sure we have fruit available for a sweet treat after dinner instead.

We stopped at the Pancake Rocks. They are limestone that squished a long time ago into skinny layers. Now that they're above the sea floor and some erosion has occurred, they basically look like pancakes stacked on top of each other. Near there was also a cavern. We walked in there and checked it out some. It didn't go in very far, but enough that we did need the flashlights that we brought. When we got back to the car, we saw a flightless rail walking around the cars, checking the grill for bugs!

In one town we passed through, we found an Indian restaurant open. We found out that if we ate in, it would cost an extra $4... A lot of restaurants here are 'takeaway'. We're thinking that eating in must be taxed more heavily? Not really sure. The tax is always included in purchases. So, we decided to try Indian takeaway. We got the rice, a sauce and an order of papadum. They came in a couple little tupperwares! Now we have some nice tupperwares if we need more.

We were aiming for a DOC site for the night, but it was already dark and we weren't sure how far off the highway it was. We finally got there and had a heck of a time finding a place to park since it had been raining most of the day. The grass was sopping. We eventually found a spot that worked.

This morning, we watched a couple more of those rails run around the campground. There were even 3 chicks that were fun to watch. We did go on one hike even though it was raining, then we headed off down the road. It has been between raining and pouring all day so far. The weather forecast claims it's not supposed to rain tomorrow. Since we're almost to the glaciers, hopefully that's true. We both really want to check those out, but if it's raining or too wet, then we won't be able to.


The neat erosion on the rocks from the previous entry.

Pancake Rocks!

The rail. Second one is it checking the car's grill for bugs. (Click photo for larger view.)

A horse poo for sale sign! Bags of horse poo were sitting below the sign. This is not the first sign like this we've seen. This one was just the cutest.

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Coast Hike 
After the library, we headed towards a campground in Totaranui. It's huge! It can fit 850 campers, or so the DOC book claims. We had a relaxing evening and decided to do a section of the Abel Tasman coastal hike the next morning. One option was the whole loop, which would have been around 20k, part of it going up to around 450 meters. Otherwise, we could hitchhike to the start and hike back to the campground.

We found a ride pretty quickly, so we started hiking. It was a bit more up and down than I was expecting, but it was still a very nice hike. Most of it was in the forest and it had some great views of the coast and some beaches. We made the hike in 4 hours. It was around 13k total.

From there we headed back into Takaka to use the library's internet for an hour. Our goal from there was to maybe get to a free DOC site, but it was looking a little far and we were due for a shower, so we stopped in Motueka at a holiday park and are staying here for the night. It's super packed because the fruit pickers of the season are here, but a shower is definitely nice.


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