Lynette & Matt's B&B stay - Friday, January 24, 2003

Our luck started good in Chch! We got ahold of Lynette and Matt who graciously told us that we had to stay at their house while in town. So they set us up in their guestroom and we hung out for the next week. Over many great meals and drinks we discussed our travels with them and learned much about our impending parenthood as they have a 10 month old.

We advertised Stella at all the backpackers in town and had a buyer arranged in a few days. This allowed us to leave NZ a few days in advance of when we had to get out in order to make the wedding on the first. We leave tomorrow and are a little sad to go.

All in all, we enjoyed or time in NZ and look forward to our return in Feb. '04 to finish our trip and see some of the sights we didn't manage on our first trip.

 Camping and fishing our way back to Christchurch - Friday, January 17, 2003

Our travel plans have changed. Instead of staying in NZ until the end of February and starting the rest of the trip around the world, we decided to start early. The plans started to change when we decided that we would regret not seeing James and Kelly (Bach) get married on February 1st. Then we started thinking. How about we head back to the States, go to the wedding, see pregnant Jen & Jon (congrats) and also give a go at selling Heimo. After all the van was just taking space at Dave's parents house.

So off we went, on our camping and fishing travels back to Christchurch. We managed to follow some great weather, see the beautiful countryside and catch a few fish along the way. In Chch we were hoping to hook up with Lynette and Matt, Lynette is the daughter of one of Linda & Joel's friends. It would be nice to hang out at a relaxing house instead of the hostels. Our first mission on returning was to get Stella sold as quickly as possible so we could leave town sooner.

 Queenstown & Fiordland adventures - Wednesday, January 15, 2003

We continued driving until we found sunshine in a budding town called Wanaka. After a spectacular sunset and good dinner, we continued to one of the best known adventure capitals in the world - Queenstown. Bungy jumping, jetboating, paragliding, skydiving, mountain biking, river surfing and whitewater rafting can all be found in Qtown. We actually spent the night on the side of a residential street on the outskirts of Qtown. Nothing beats a planned community for views, quietness, and security. After refilling our "chilly bin" w/ice and groceries, we moved through this extremely touristy town before heading to Fiordland in hopees of finding peaceful hiking.

We were rewarded with great weather as we pulled into the town of Manapouri, set along the shores of the same name. It's incredible how we keep finding holiday parks in idyllic settings. Our holiday park resembled a small Bavarian village complete with Alpine Chalet style cabins and large graveyard showcasing Mini-Morris' cars of all shapes and sizes.

Our camping neighbor was a young German named Patrick who was cycling around NZ. He had excellent weather karma for his trip, so perhaps we have Patrick to thank for the amazing weather we experienced on our boat cruise through the Doubtful Sound. The day began with a cruise across Lake Manapouri disembarking at the famous Power Station.

Our bus driver and nature guide Ian kept us well informed on our 45 minute drive throught the bush to the Doubtful Sound. The road we were driving on was the most expensive ever built in NZ to the cost of $5/inch and the road was ~ 10 miles long. It took two years to tackle the tough terrain. Fiordland National Park is filled primarily with Beech trees that are able to grow at any angle even 90 degrees by taking root in the moss growing in the granite/rock mountains. They not only have snow avalanches in these parts, but tree avalanches. Continuing onto the Sound our boat took us in to the nooks and crannies of the Sound to explore the sights, sounds and wildlife of the area.

We were fortunate to see a pod of dolphins who followed the boat around for a while and even did a Flipper jump into the air to show off. What a great trip with the fantastic scenery and views of this untouched area of the world.

 Fun (grrr!) on the Fox Glacier! - Sunday, January 12, 2003

Our stay in Chch was good with sunny weather and lots accomplished. After our last round of travel shots (our 3rd round) we left the good weather behind us for the West Coast. After a rainy 250 mile drive, we arrived in the town of Franz Joseph Glacier hoping for better weather the next day. No Such Luck! the weather forecast looked very bad for the next several days, so we decided to bag the day long hike on the Fox in favor of a day hike of our own to the terminus of Franz Joseph (where the Glacier ends).

Good thing we didn't spend the money on the guided glacier hike! As the rainclouds let loose, we geared up in our Gore-Tex jackets and pants for a wet hike to the glacier. Did we ever feel sorry for the folks who paid to get poured on! Also there were ~50 people hiking the same trail who were getting completely soaked and looked miserable. We got very close to the glacier but decided not to scramble up the ladders onto the base of the glacier because in the rain things get very unstable. The walk up the glacier valley was magnificent even in the rain.

The heavy rainfall had us hopping from rock to rock over the flooding streams along the trail. We were ready to move on after arriving back at the van - all clammy from sweating in our rain gear during the brisk hike. At least we weren't soaked!

Hoping for better weather, we headed South to Fox Glacier and only marginally better weather was to be found. No glacier hiking for us!

 On to Christchurch (the first time!) - Monday, January 06, 2003

We arrived Christchurch without any further problems from Stella. I think she was just a bit cranky. While in Chch we completed our last round of travel shots, caught a few movies, and checking out where to sell our van at the end of our trip. We'll be taking off soon for the West Coast again to check out the Fox Glacier and soak up the beautiful sights along the coastal drive before heading inland towards Wanaka and Queenstown.

Also, by good luck we popped into a travel agency while out running one day. They advertised on their front windows that they were Africa specialists. Just so happens we started working with Jill who used to run tours in Africa with her husband for 12 years. So we got all the inside scoop on where to go and what to do when we go there in the Fall of '03.

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