Day oneWe've arrived in Christchurch and it's very cold and very rainy. Big difference to Brisbane. The flight over was interesting in that Jos and I were completely surrounded by children, from four months to about five years. Nowhere else in the plane but in the seats specifically surrounding us did I see any kids. They weren't too bad, the one next to me did keep tapping on me or using my arm as a pillow, that was funny.
In Christchurch we're staying at a place close to both the city and the airport, easy to get to. I'm looking forward to trying all the food options around us, and finding out if NZ cuisine is just as misnamed as Aus cuisine is.
Nerd check: hotel has free broadband.
Early morning day two:omgwtfearthquake?
Yup. Jos and I woke up to everything shaking in the pitch black of our hotel room. Lamps fell, drawers opened and shut themselves and it was all over rather exciting. After shocks were also wobbly, but less than the major quake. Having no running water or waste water facilities was less than fun, so after we drove around and surveyed the damage we headed off to Greymouth.
At Greymouth, after an amusing GPS inspired mis-location of Montheith's brewery back in Christchurch, we went on a tour of the facilities. It was followed up by free samples of all Montheith's on tap and their apple cider. Sooo tasty, but this did necessitate us staying the night in Greymouth – but it's a lovely area.
Nerd check: $2 for 30 mins wireless broadband.
We left before lunch and headed to Fox Glacier, stopping off in some lovely cities for food and shopping. Reading through a guide book we chose to stop early at Franz Josef, and the villa we were given was lovely. The staff left early to go to Fox glacier to pass their condolences to the people affected by the plane crash yesterday, it's a sad weekend for New Zealand.
Nerd check: $10 for 100M
Full day in one place! Jos and I went on an easy 1.5h walk to the glacier terminal point, it was longer than I expected and the weather wasn't the most pleasant. The glacier itself was pretty cool, very blue and with a torrent of water gushing out from under it. The weather prevented us from getting a helicopter ride to view from above.
We did consider staying another day in case the weather cleared, but we finally packed up to drive down to Queenstown. On the way we stopped off at a recommended ribs place at Wanaka. Uncle Mike's. It was quite good, but my chilli dog wasn't as chilli as I'd hoped. I ended up chatting with the owner, who said the locals couldn't eat real chilli and he had had to really tone it down. He even gave us a quick tour of the smoker for his ribs, he made noises about his sister maybe starting one in Australia and I really hope he does.
The end of the day saw us arriving in Queenstown.
We took breakfast in the restaurant and wandered the city for a while before we head up to one of the slopes to check things out. We took one of the chairlifts up to the top of the slope to take photos, Jos is keen on trying skiing and I'm not so much. Dinner was at a local steak place with great steak, and continued to wander around during the evening.
No net :( :(
Happy anniversary us! Woke up, breakfast in hotel and decided to drive back to Wanaka to try the proper hot buffalo wings. But first we went on the gondola ride to the top of the nearby mountain, great views from up there. Then we decided to go to Arrowtown and wander about. And then do three hours worth of shopping. So it turns out there wasn't enough time to go to Wanaka, so we came back and had a wonderful dinner at Wai instead, while making plans to wake up early enough to have lunch at Wanaka tomorrow. I hope.
Still no net, Stubble check: rugged.
We woke up earlier than yesterday and managed to head out in time to arrive in Wanaka when Uncle Mike's opened. We bought another full pork ribs, some quesadilas and some buffalo wings – all up-spiced to full Kansas quality. Boy they were tasty, and it was nice to eat them sitting by lake Wanaka and quietly freezing. After lunch we moved into a sunnier spot and just crashed out for half an hour before driving back. It was over an hour each way and poor Jos was knackered so she slept while I investigated prepaid sims and micro-sims to no luck at all. Curses. I'm almost through all the books I brought on the iPad, I need real net soon.
We had dinner at the wharf-front and watched the ducks doing their thing in the water.
We finally left Queenstown after finally acquiring a sim card and headed for Milford Sound – where there is no mobile coverage. Heh. It was a long drive which came with a surprise tunnel heading down into a mountain part way through. Cool but freaky. Milford sound itself was rather stunning, and our cabin overlooked one of the big rivers that fed into the sound. Big window in our living room, which unfortunately had a lot of people walking past it to get their own look at the river. Lots of sandflies. We found a small trail to do a walk on as Jos still is coughing a lot.
Net check: 100M free with cabin. Woo!
We took a boat cruise up the sound. I'm not that keen on boat cruises but this was fun. Saw a lot of the ex-glacier structures of the mountains, a playful dolphin swam with us for a while, got up close to a waterfall and saw some seals. Happiness
Another long drive today, this one from Milford Sound all the way to Dunedin. We did say that if it made us too tired we'd stop over somewhere, but we pushed through. It had snowed the night before and the advisory was to carry chains. Whoops, we had none. The snow made lots of new waterfalls of snowmelt and the river behind us was much fuller. On the drive back I was concerned about the weather and snow, when we came out of the tunnel we stopped to take photos of the more snow covered mountains, and then it snowed! It was only light but we were excited, after so long we finally were in snow. It was blowy but very pretty.
We had lunch in a random town (Jos had oyster soup) and pushed on to Dunedin. We rang a few motels until we got one we liked for a price that was OK AND it came with a laundry.
Net check: free wireless!
We drove to the octagon in the centre of Dunedin and hit a cafe, Jos said I had left the camera at home so I walked from octagon to our motel only to find that Jos had left the camera in the glove box. Still, I finally got a really good walk that id been hanging out for, as I've put in a lot of weight these last two weeks. We also checked out the World's Steepest Street, according to the Guinness Book of Records (and I believe it). The food was nice, we had pizza and pasta for dinner, not the greatest unfortunately. Chocolate from the Cadbury factory was delicious.
Today we drove to the albatross observatory and saw lots of seagulls and a few baby seals.Then we came back into town and walked around Otago university. Wow is it an awesome place, tones of cafes and eateries and the buildings are just brilliant. We also had a quick look at the nearby museum, I liked the weapons of india exhibit with the chakrum and punching daggers and scary wavy/serrated sword.
Burgers from a great burger bar (velvet burger) for dinner, then lots of packing!