Views around Dunedin, Otago Peninsula

Dunedin and the weather turned out to be so glorious we couldn't leave as we had scheduled.  We instead got to hang out with these guys:

We took a hike each day. The first lead us to a beautiful beach that we got to enjoy by ourselves.

The next day we "tramped" ie kind-of-followed-a-trail.  We were trying to reach another beautiful beach but instead could only go away from our camper so ended up on quite the trek!  A fun little adventure with extra points for a much longer hike than intended!

We so enjoyed our final days hiking around with the sheep.  I write this post from Christchurch, our last stop in NZ.  Tomorrow we have the pleasure of a 6a flight to Tasmania.  We have loved our time in NZ and are so grateful that we got to share our time here with Eric's parents. 

We will be back!

Pictures around Dunedin

Dunedin has turned into quite the pleasant city to spend a few days.  Yesterday we stuffed ourselves with chocolates on the Cadbury Chocolate tour (sadly, no photos were allowed) and walked around the city enjoying the Scottish architecture and spring plantings.  Free internet (free internet around NZ is next to non-existent) at the Library means pictures of this city for you!

Penguins > Milford Sound?

After several awesome days in Queenstown hiking around in the snow (and one winery visit to keep our spirits up)...

...while waiting for the high pass into Milford Sound to be reopened, we finally had to let the dream of going to Mildford Sound go. The weather was telling us no and it was our job to listen to her and recognize the restraints of a huge campervan in remote mountain passes.

So off we headed to the Catlins.

We hadn't planned on going but it had to have been the right choice as we were greeted with beautiful weather and delightful scenes. Our guidebook, Scott Cook's Frenzy, raved about Curio Bay, so much so that we detoured to visit. Along the way we stopped for photos like these:

We then waited 3 hours with these views...

...in almost freezing temperatures to see a penguin. Just as we were calling it quits to go find a camping spot at 8p, out came the cutest (and first!) wild penguin I've ever scene. We rushed to the beach to get closer and I died a little inside as it hopped it's way to its den. I still smile remembering it's little moves. Here are so very dark photos of our encounter.

The next day was gorgeous again and we took our time driving up the coast, stopping for photos and coffees along the way.
 

After seeing penguins again at the Lighthouse (this time from too far away to photograph without a telephoto), our final stop for the night ended up being in a small, tiny town's Town Hall deserted parking lot.  Perfect freedom camping!

We awoke to film these little guys on their way to be milked.

Our drive continued up gorgeous coastline, perfect to pull over to work on a crossword and enjoy more coffee. We finally reached Dunedin to explore. See our next post for more on Dunedin!

Wanaka

We are loving Wanaka!  First - the drive in the surrounding area is gorgeous.  I've done a little driving but Eric is definitely mostly behind the wheel.  Here are some gorgeous photos I've taken while happily navigating. 

Sometimes we have to share the road with these cuties.

We enjoyed two days of hiking while in Wanaka, beneath beautiful blue skies.  The first hike was up Rock Mountain. 

The next morning we enjoyed our coffee and books next to the river front in Wanaka.  They are so well set up for camper vans, and it was pretty sweet to be able to pull out our chairs, make our coffee, and settle in for some time in the sun with our books.  In the afternoon we headed up Iron Mountain for a quick walk to see over the city. 

Evening was spent drinking wine waiting for our laundry to dry.  Camper van living in NZ is pretty sweet!

Wet Coast?

Our guide book dubbed the West Coast of the South Island the "wet coast" and after leaving Lynn and Tim at the airport and driving for several hours in non-stop rain we felt it a good nickname.  However, after camping overnight in a Holiday Park and waking up the next morning to a glorious day we started to get excited.

We started driving to the Franz Joseph Glacier - sunshine the whole way, Eric stopping at every turn to allow me to take more photos.  We pulled over for lunch here:

Our next stop was the Franz Joseph Glacier and we had great weather for the trek up to the glacier.  It's been receding recently so the walk took longer than our guidebook suggested!  It was nice to get a walk in but not that spectacular of a glacier.  However, we went to the effort, so here are the photos:

That night we freedom camped (meaning camped for free, this time in a field).  It was gorgeous and we enjoyed our wine (and daylight savings!) out in a field, admiring the mountains, cows, and rivers. 

We awoke to a spectacular sunrise and ran around photographing the mountains and river from every angle.  I tried to edit it down to three, click on any to enlarge:

After a morning of photos we continued on to the Fox Glacier.  The weather was still fantastic (who said wet coast?!) and we set off for the longer of the hike options, up to the chalet.  We had a fun hike up in a jungle-like setting, complete with a river to cross.  Great views greeted us at the chalet. 

We continued our drive and went on another hike alongside the road.  It's worth mentioning these are all government hikes, set up with excellent trails and signage (and FREE!).  This one was to the Blue Pools.  Here are some photos from this gorgeous setting, complete with Eric diving into the freezing water.  He rose to the surface, sans air in his lungs, to clapping from the other tourists too afraid to take the plunge! 

That night we camped at a government campsite.  Set on a windy stretch of land in Lake Wanaka we took beach strolls and again pinched ourselves for such lucky weather. We also took the first shower in our little camper van shower - quite small but enough to get the job done!

Our luck with great weather has continued into Wanaka, a charming small town with tons of hikes in the surrounding area.  We have yet to have internet, so hence this short post (I'm currently doing our laundry in the laundry mat!), but I wanted to share some photos of the last few beautiful days we have enjoyed. 

Queenstown is next and hopefully there will be better weather there to share some more gorgeous photos!

Abel Tasman

From wine tasting we continued our way around the sunny, northern part of the South Island.  Sometimes, life on the road is very, very good.

We enjoyed the scenery as we drove and ended up staying in our favorite place yet, called The Barn. 

The next morning we jumped on the aqua taxi and headed into Bark Bay, in the Abel Tasman National Park.  We planned to hike the 13 miles back to our campsite and set off with bags filled with PBnJ, chocolate, chupa lollies, and nuts.  As we ate along the way we stopped for plenty of gorgeous photos - stunning scenery!  The weather was perfect for our 5 hour journey and we all loved our time outdoors. 

Wine Tasting in Marlborough

Sometimes I miss my best friend so much that it hurts. There are things that I so wish she was by my side to experience. Today was one of those days. We arrived to the South Island and it was like going from rainy Seattle to sunny California. We took off our 4 layers of jackets and by the end of lunch I was down to a tank top. It was that nice. This is similar to my trip to California to see Krysti. I pull out my summer clothes and we spend our time catching up between wine tastings. It's girl time and vacation at its finest.

Lynn and I dropped the boys when they needed nap time today and went on to Nautilus and Cloudy Bay to taste their wines. Here are picture from my favorite lunch so far at Winua River.

And then a picture from Nautilus to the right.  What a gorgeous fridge! 











And from my favorite, Cloudy Bay. The woman who dolled out our tastings at Cloudy Bay was the most knowledgeable and approachable about the wines. She had a matter of fact persona as she tasted us through their list. We tasted while Tim spun himself around in gorgeous chairs on the lawn and Eric napped.


All in all a gorgeous day wine tasting and experiencing the South Island.

Photos from Windy Welly

Despite the intense wind (rocking our camper so far I think we'll tip over) and quick changes in weather (it's sunny and you are set to head out and then five feet out your are soaked from a downpour) we have all loved Wellington.  Being by the sea, surrounded by mountains, there's something about loving a city that reminds you so much of your hometown.  

We spent our time here wandering around town, checking out their cable car, botanical gardens, Parliament and the Te Papa Museum.  We've eaten some great food and enjoyed some really delicious coffee.  It's such a great city that even when our ferry to the South Island was cancelled due to bad weather none of us were that disappointed to have another day in this capitol city.  

Black Water Rafting with Glow worms

We spent yesterday morning climbing and floating through tunnels lit by glow worms.  No cameras were allowed but luckily they took some fun shots of our group having a blast despite the freezing cold temperatures!

Our group:

What we did would have never been allowed in the US.  But, thankfully since we are in NZ and not Asia, there actually were some safety discussions and we did a simulation for the cave jump we'd be doing in the caves.  Our practice run was to make us more comfortable when we did it in flowing water, in the dark, and with a big hole on one side.

And then we were off to explore the caves!  One of my favorite parts was when we all turned off our lights and floated with the glow worms as our guides to the exit.  It was a full sensory experience and just amazing. 

The most well-done museum ever

The Kauri Museum was impressive.  Not that I don't love trees or anything but I was a bit unsure why we were detouring so far to see a museum of trees.  However, Lynn said it was a "must see" and going along with the plan had us all at the entrance wondering what we were getting into.  We had no idea the museum would be put together so well, that mannequins would greet us at every turn, or that we would see working machinery preforming.  We were told the museum has turned the economy around in the small city around that the mannequins are modeled off of town inhabitants. 

Here are some photos from the displays. 

Camper Van living

It's been 5 days since we had the internet and time allowed on the computer short, so here are some photos from our time touring in the camper van with Lynn and Tim!  Sorry for the lack of captions, more to come later. 

So far we have been on the road.  A lot.  The country flies by as Eric and Tim navigate some seriously windy roads.  I'm content bouncing along in the back listening to NPR podcasts.  I tried to count sheep for a while but lost count :)

Click on any of the photos below to enlarge.

Wine tasting at Waiheke Island

Family is here and New Zealand is stunning. 

It's been 9 long months since we saw The Roses and it's so great to be with family again.  They arrived late last night and first thing in the morning wanted to hit the wineries - a good sign for the next 3 weeks!  We took the ferry over to Waiheke Island and walked, tasted, and took photos all over the island. 

Our first winery was Cable Bay, recommended by a favorite winery at Lake Wenatchee.  We tasted our way through their wines, loving the Sauvingnon Blanc and Rose.  The beautiful weather made these taste even better! 

Our next stop was for lunch.  Lynn and Tim had heard great things about a 5 star restaurant and it being NZ's Fathers Day, we got to enjoy a huge splurge lunch.  It was a delicious lunch with a stunning view. 

On our way back we followed a trek through the island and along the shore.  It was stunning.  The landscape was filled with sheep, endless water, and verdant green hills. 

We hit the road tomorrow in our camper van.  Lynn and Tim are here for 3 weeks and Eric and I have a total of 5 weeks touring around New Zealand.  Any tips for New Zealand are much appreciated!