Tuesday, February 15, 2005


South Island Road Trip

South Island road trip
Here are some pictures from my mini road trip round the South Island:

wildlife, walking and kayaking
ice climbing
Christchurch and Auckland

Since the trip, I've been catching up with friends and meeting some new ones. Krissy had her baby while I was on the road – a little girl called Ruby. I was lucky enough to spend a day with Dan, Krissy and Ruby in Christchurch, she's gorgeous and growing really fast, more than an ounce a day apparently. Dan and Krissy are as relaxed as can be in the circumstances, even managing to move house when Ruby was only a few days old. One day soon you'll get a good night's sleep guys!

Now I'm back in the North Island for the next few weeks, keeping an eye out for a sailing boat that needs crew and doing a bit of work in the meantime. I've rented a room in Mount Eden a few miles south of Auckland. Mount Eden itself is one of the many extinct volcanoes around Auckland, I reckon it's a nice place for a run, although so far I've only walked to the top. You can see my house from there.

A couple of days ago I met up with Phil (a kiwi I know from London) and he took me on a tour round Auckland's neighbourhoods. We live about half an hour's walk from each other, which is pretty close considering Auckland covers a bigger area than London.

So, back to the road trip. I caught up with my travel buddies Bec, David and Lu in Dunedin and we set off down the coast in their campervan (named Jamie). I got on with everone really well, the girls called me Dom Juan which I didn't mind :) We agreed to share expenses and keep things as frugal as possible to save money for fun activities like kayaking. Sounded good to me and we managed very well thanks mainly to David. For example, when the power steering sprung a leak, his response was not to bung the van in a garage and pay $200 or more, oh no, we fixed it ourselves with some borrowed tools at a cost of about $50. So while the girls went (window) shopping, we boys had fun poking around in the engine and getting our hands dirty. I was enjoying myself already and the trip had only just begun. David is a photographer and he was able to teach me a few things I hadn't already learned from my dad. This was taken near one of the campsites we stayed at.

For the first week we used Te Anau as our base. We took a boat trip on the famous Milford Sound, spent 4 days walking through spectacular terrain and getting rained on, followed by 2 days on crystal clear lake Te Anau in our own Kayaks. The walk was the greatest challenge for all of us. I found it hard on my shoulders, the waist straps on my backpack having long ago been ripped off by a baggage conveyor. I love walking though so it was more than worth it, especially on the last couple of days when the sun came out. I had fun leaping across the parts of the track that were waterlogged and taking pictures when the others arrived at the same spot.

Kayaking was great fun too and very idilic, clear water, clear sky, no wind, and we only saw a couple of other boats as we paddled up into one of the lake's massive fjords. Here is a picture of our overnight camping spot.

After all that hard work, we had a couple of days off and camped for free by the river in Arrowtown. There's a great cinema there, the kind where you get an armchair and can drink beer. We watched Motorcycle Diaries, great film.

We carried on heading north to do a two day walk, some of us more or less reluctant to throw our packs on our backs again after the last one. This time we splashed out and stayed in a hut so we didn't have to carry tents. The walk was easy and we were rewarded with a dip in some hot springs. I could have spent hours in there if it wasn't for the sand flies (like midges but bigger and they give you a bite that itches for days).

That was about the end of the road for the four of us, Lu had to get to Auckland in a hurry to catch a flight and I was ready to settle down for a bit, having been on the road since October. Last stop – Franz Joseph Glacier. Bec and I went ice climbing with a Danish fellow whose name I don't remember and our guide who was called Mike. We strapped on crampons and grabbed hold of two really leathal looking ice axes each. We got to do 4 climbs and the last one was so tough that none of us made it to the top – I wanted to go back the next day and have another go.

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