A Travellerspoint blog

Dunedin, Christchurch, Auckland, Russell and Waitomo

sunny 27 °C

'I am just a dreamer and you are just a dream' 'Like A Hurricane' by Neil Young

A beautiful lyric from an amazing song.

Hello everyone

Well it's been over a week since my last blog update so I'd better get cracking on updating you on what we have been up to. Hopefully I'll start getting back into the routine of updating it twice a week, although that nay have to wait until New Year as I'm not sure how many internet cafes there will be in Fiji!

Saturday 8th December
Well the John Lennon tribute night wasn't exactly what I had in mind. I think I'll have one in Glasgow next year but make it on John's birthday (October 9th) rather than the date of his death. The band that were orginally booked cancelled so we had a one man band, a guy singing and playing guitar to backing tracks. I don't think he knew many Beatles/Lennon songs as the first 3 songs showcased tunes by Crowded House and others I didn;t know. There was eventually a cheer when he played 'Love Me Do', before playing more non-Beatle songs. People were getting restless and the barman had a word, prompting another Beatles song, but we left after he murdered 'Oh Darling' - a McCartney song, not a Lennon song.

Sunday 9th December
Lynn and I mazed ourselves by getting up early and going for a run around some playing fields near our caravan park. Lynn lasted for 20 minutes while I gave up around 15 minutes. We're both a little out of shape from no running exercise, so we hope to try and go for a run 2 or 3 times a week if we can.

After a shower and breakfast we drove out to the Otago Peninsula to New Zealand's only castle - Larnoch Castle. It's actually more of a country house, but hey, who are we to argue? The castle was lovely, restored to it's former glory after year's of neglect. After the castle we headed back into town and climbed the world's steepest street, according to the Guiness Book Of Records - Baldwin Street. I'm sure a few streets in Glasgow must come close.

After that we had some lunch in the Octagon and then went on the Cadbury World tour and got some free chocolate, well it was part of the admission fee of $17NZ. The highlight was when we climbed inside a disused chocolate tower and watched in amazement as our guide let 5 tonnes of chocolate pour from a huge vault right before our eyes. Mmmmmm.

We went back to the campervan and sat outside reading in the sun before cooking our own dinner for a change, a lovely fish curry. We then watched a great film 'The Last King Of Scotland'. Well worth checking out if you haven't already.

Monday 10th December
We got up, packed the van, had breakfast and made some sandwiches for lunch before setting off on the road to Christchurch. Lynn phoned our friend Lyndsey before we left and enjoyed chatting to her for the first time in ages. E-mail is great for keeping in touch but you can't beat a good phone call.

We headed north to Christchurch and it rained lightly most of the way, so we picked a good day to travel. We stopped in St Andrews for lunch. We arrived in Christchurch and booked into the camp site where our South Island adventure had begun. We then headed into town and went to an internet cafe to book our transport for the north island and to check out Fiji prices. We then went to the supermarket and made Chicken Fajita's for dinner and watched the Spy Game on dvd. Not a bad film, one for the girls as it stars Robert Redford and Brad Pitt.

Tuesday 11th December
We got up at 9am but we had been awake for a while as it was quite hot. We phoned a place called the Adrenaline Forest and booked in on a 12.45pm slot. We killed time by walking round a shopping centre and Lynn bought a pair of insoles for her new trainers.

The Adrenaline Forest consisted of Flying Foxes, rope bridges, rope swings and more. There were 4 routes - discovery, adventure, thrill and adrenaline. We booked on all 4 for $33NZ. It was great fun, the routes got tougher as you went on and we were swinging 17 metres above the ground at one stage - all harnessed on and extremely safe though.

The 4 route took us 2.5 hours all in and our legs and arms were aching a bit by the end. The flying foxes, or death slides as I know them, were brilliant and there were some fantastic swings and obstacles to climb over, under and through - all suspended from trees. All in all it was a bargain.

We treated ourselves to fizzy juice and ice cream in a nearby park afterwards before heading back to the camp site. We went for a dip in the pool and had a good laugh on the kids slide, which was surprisingly fast! You can't beat acting like a kid. We are both very young at heart!

We used the rest of our food to have chicken fajita's again and played draughts on a $2.99NZ magnetic travel board I bought at Franz Josef. Another bargain.

Wednesday 12th December
We left Christchurch and the beautiful South Island behind and flew up to Auckland. We said goodbye to our campervan and home of the last 3 weeks. The flight was on time and took a little over an hour, so we arrived in Auckland just after 3pm. We got our bags and picked up our new car/home called a Juicy Crib. Juicy is the rental company and this time we have rented a car the size of a people carrier that has a bed in the back, a fridge, gas stove and sink. It's a lot faster than our South Island campervan!

We drove to my Great Aunt Betty's and it was great to see her again, although her hip is playing upa bit, but she's magic for 92! My cousin Peter arrived after work and we went to his Mum Jennifer's for dinner of Salmon, salad and poatoes with some beer and wine. Peter's brother Andrew arrived and we got to see his holiday pictures from Fiji from the previous week. It looks gorgeous and we are starting to look forward to a week on beach. Travelling is amazing, but every now and then you need to veg out and our week in Fiji will be ideal before we head to South America. The biggest decision we'll have to make will be whether to swim in the pool or the sea.

Thursday 13th December
We had a lazy morning checking out accomodation options in Fiji before heading into town to pick up the new prescription sunglasses I had ordered our last time in Auckland. In the morning paper I discovered that the Australian band Architecture In Helsinki (brilliant name) were playing that night at the Kings Arms Tavern, so we went to Real Groovy Records and bought two tickets. We then drove to another area of town where Lynn bought a new pair of Birkenstock sandles as she has worn out her current pair.

We drove back to my Great Aunt Betty's and Jennifer met us for fish 'n' chips. My Aunt Betty had had a busy day, seeing a physio about her hip and finding out if she can get a wheelchair, she had her cleaner round, she got her haircut and also found out about getting her shower sorted so she can get in and out more easily. She was in good form and Lynn, Jennifer and I helped to dress her Christmas tree. As Jennifer works in a Christmas shop, the tree looked fantastic.

After sorting out the Christmas decorations Lynn and I headed into Auckland to the gig. We arrived at 9pm only to find out things were running 'slightly behind schedule'. That was a bit of an understatement! The first band, the unfortunately named 'Moron Say Yeah!', came on at 10pm. They looked around 17 or 18, 4 girls including a super cool Asian girl on drums. They announced that their first song was brand new and proceeded to play a shambolic pop, punk electrto throb before quitting after a few minutes to announce they needed to practice more. Their youthful enthusiasm had an instant appeal and despite the fact they played like they had maybe only practiced together a few times, their ideas and enthusiasm won over the crowd. They were kind of like CSS only nowhere near as polished.

The next band has all sorts of problems with their sound and took ages to set up, eventually coming on around 11.15pm. They had all sorts of keyboards, effects, delay pedals and percussion, despite the fact that there was only 3 of them. They were called The Ruby Suns. They were not very good, but full marks for trying to be different.

On to Architecture In Helsinki, who I first caught 2 years ago with my sister Carla when they played the fantastic Mono in Glasgow. They right infectious and experimental pop songs in a pretty unique way. There were 6 of them on stage, when they eventually went on at 12.05am. They launched into tunes of their recent album and after 20 mintes or so they announced they would also play some old songs, including the fantastic 'I Think Your Mum's In Love With Me' (I think that is the title). 'Do The Whirlwind' was suitably fantastic and an inspired cover version of Mental As Anything's 'Live It Up' brought the house down and had the older people in the audience (including Lynn and I) singing along.

We eventually got home and into bed at 2am!

Friday 14th December
We slept late and I got up before Lynn and phoned our friends Dave and Shona Taylor. It was great to speak to them and catch up on all the news from back home. We left Auckland at 12.15pm and started the drive north to the Bay of Islands. The scenery wasn't as stunning as the South Island and the weather was a little overcast, but it wasn;t a bad drive and we plugged Lynn's i-nano into the stereo and listened to Teenage Fanclub, The Beatles, Hot Chip and more on the journey.

We caught a ferry across to a small town called Russell and checked into a Top Ten caravan site. We walked into town and got a couple of beers in a pub called 'The Pub Round The Corner' and listened to a band playing covers of Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix before heading round the corner for a lovely Thai meal and some good old Chang beer.

Saturday 15th December
We had a bit of a discussion last night about what we were going to do with the rest of our time in New Zealand and decided we really wanted to go to the Waitomo caves, where you can raft, abseil and climb through the caves and Tongariro National Park where you can hike up a volcano. All of this stuff is actually south of Auckland, so we decided that if the weather didn't pick up we would not bother with a cruise round the Bay and we would just head down.

Well it's not raining but it's overcast. We got up and went out for a run to Long Beach. Lynn ran a little further than me, making it up the hill as well as down. My fitness is improving, slowly but surely.

We set off back down the south of the North Island and had a good chat about our travels so far - almost 6 months. We listened to tunes and had a good run right the way down to Waitomo, arriving at 6pm. We booked into the caravan park and then on a caving tour with the Black Water Rafting Company - the tour is called the Black Abyss and features jumps into pools, abseiling into the cave, flying foxes in the dark and a lot of scrambling.

Stay tuned to find out how we got on. We're now further south after the caving and tomorrow we are going to go for a bit of a hike (to say the least) up a volcano!

Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 14:57 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Franz Josef, Wanaka and Invercargill

sunny 25 °C

'And in the end, the love you make, is equal to the love you make' - The End by The Beatles

Hello from Dundedin in South New Zealand. It's been a week since our last blog entry so stand by for a super speedy update.

Friday November 30th
Our last night in Queenstown was very civilised, taking in dinner at The Cow restaurant followed by a couple of drinks at Irish bar Pogue Mahones. We checked out at 10.30am and began the drive to Franz Josef. Lynn and I soon sped ahead of her parents, marvelling at the tremendous scenery on route and stopping several times at rivers, lakes and waterfalls to take some photos. If only they did it justice.

The long and winding road went past Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea, so we were in no rush to get to Franz Josef, but we eventually arrived just after 5pm. We checked in and went into town to buy some food for dinner. Just after we got back Les and Winnie arrived and we had dinner on site. Lynn and I watched American Pie 2 on DVD, bought for the bargain price of $10NZ. We had bought Les the Monty Python classic 'A Life Of Brian', so there was a lot of laughter on site.

Saturday December 1st
Where is the time going? It's December! Lynn's Dad wanted a helicopter flight for his birthda, so the four of us booked on the 11.10am helicopter flight up to the top of the Franz Josef glacier. Winnie (Lynn's Mum) is scared of heights, but she did really well and seemed to enjoy the flight over spectacular scenery. The top of the glacier was covered in pure, untouched snow. The flight up took around 15 minutes, we had ten minutes on top - taking pictures, throwing snowballs and making snowangels, before the 15 minute flight back down. It was fantastic, words can't describe the feeling of walking on top of the glacier.

We had lunch in town and Lynn and I booked a Quad Bike tour for the afternoon, while Les and Winnie hired mountain bikes to cycle around town. The Quad Bikes were great fun. We were on them for 90 minutes and sped through the countryside, flying through rivers, hurtling round bends and skidding on the dirt tracks. There was an Irish woman of 70 on our group, with her husband and son!

We went into town for our last dinner with Les and Winnie. They were heading north and then over to Christchurch, while we were heading down to Invercargill to visit and old friend, not before a day hiking on the glacier.

Sunday 2nd December
We were up at 7.30am for breakfast and to say goodbye to Lynn's folks, as we were getting picked up by the tour company at 9.15am. After a tearful farewell (on Lynn's Mum's part) we got picked up and headed into town to get kitted out for the day. As we do a lot of hiking we already had a lot of the equipment required, but we got some crampons fitted to our hiking boots, so we could walk with ease on the ice.

There was a 45 minute hike from the car park to the base of the glacier. We then climbed for 4.5 hours through crevasses and over thick walls of ice. It was good fun, sliding through tight squeezes and climbing sheets of ice using ropes and our crampons. A few people in the group found it quite tough, but Lynn and I really enjoyed it.

We finished at the back of 5 and were back in the campervan having soup and bread to heat us up at the back of 6pm. The campsite rented out dvd's, so we snuggled into our sleeping bags and watched the excellent 'Get Shorty' before falling soundly asleep.

Monday 3rd December
We woke at 8am after a sound sleep. largely helped by our exertions on the ice the prevous day. We were on the road by 9.15am, heading to the Fox Glacier and stopping for a 1.5 hour hike around Lake Matheson, in honour of our friends Ian and Kerry Matheson.

We arrived in a beautiful town called Wanaka, about 2 hours from Queenstown. The scenery was so nice that we decided to stay the night. We had a late lunch and checked into a campsite before walking into town. I went for a swim in possibly the most beautiful setting ever, Lake Wanaka with the snowcapped mountains in the background. I've had the fortune of swimming in some beautiful lakes, rivers, oceans and creeks during this trip but this one might top the lot.

We bought some food and headed back to the campsite to cook some veg pasta and ate it outside watching the sunset on the mountains with a nice bottle of wine. Our film for the night (we're getting into a bit of a routine of watching a film at night) was 'In Pursuit of Happiness' starring Will Smith. We both really enjoyed it and would thoroughly recommend the film. Will Smith is a total star and of course he is the Fresh Prince!

Tuesday 4th December
We checked out at 9am and drove down to the Lake to have breakfast gazing across the water to the snowcapped mountains in the distance. One of the many benefits of having a campervan. We drove along a winding road that cut through, up and down the mountains, joining the Southern 6 highway at Queenstown and speeding along to Invercargill, down the very South of New Zealand. My childhood friend Dr Christopher Chung currently resides in Invercargill and we were to spend a few pleasant days and nights catching up with him.

We arrived at Chris's just after 2pm and immediately went for lunch in Waxy O'Shea's pub before a lovely walk in the sunshine through Queens Park. We then sneaked into the museum (that was closed) and had a quick look at the 'fastest indian in the world' exhibition, dedicated to a local called Burt Munro who was hellbent on being the fastest guy on a motorbike in the world. He succeeded. At night Chris cooked a superb stirfry and we sat up until 11pm chatting. It's great to find out that Chris has fufilled his dream of becoming a doctor.

Wednesday December 5th
We got up at 9.30am after a cracking sleep in a very comfy bed. A nice change from the campervan. We headed off up the coast stopping off at various waterfalls - McLean Falls, Niagra Falls, Horseshoe Falls and many more. We had a long day and arrived back at Chris's at 9pm for fish'n'chips and a movie , one of my faves 'The Incredibles'.

I'll possibly add in some more details of the places we visited at a later date as I'm currently in an internet cafe without the brochures of the areas we visited.

Thursday December 6th
Chris's 32nd birthday. We were thinking about getting the ferry to Stewart Island, but after discovering it was $110NZ return we opted for heading west to the Clifden Caves. It's possible to explore the caves independently, although all the brochures make sure that you are aware that it is challenging, there will be scrambling and you will get wet at one point.

The brochures were correct and we all loved it! With torches at the ready we entered the caves and pretty soon Lynn was sliding down a narrow section, leading the way to part where we could stand up again. It was pitch black and we all worked together to get over, under and around various sections before arriving at the 'swimming pool' section, mentioned in the brochures. The brochures and the info centre had advised that we would get wet at this point, ten minutes before the exit. Thankfully a group led by experienced guides had caught up with us and we could watch how they skirted around the edges of the pool on a narrow ledge, ankle deep. This didn't stop some of them falling in. I volunteered to go first and cautiously skirted round the ledge, slowly feeling each step to ensure I didn;t go in too deep or fall in. I made it and Chris was next. He made it over halfway before losing his rythm and falling/jumping in. The water was waist deep and cold, but he was out in seconds. Lynn made it round the ledge without falling in and after more scramblling, crawling and sliding we went out into the bright sunshine.

We all really enjoyed our caving experience and Lynn and I intend to do some more in the North Island. I think it is safe to say that Chris won't forget this birthday in a hurry.

At night Chris drove to The Cabbage Tree restaurant, about 15km outside of Invercargill. Lynn and I treated him to his birthday dinner in an excellent restaurant before heading back to Chris's to watch our movie of the night 'Mission Impossible 2'.

Friday December 7th
We're now in Dundedin (gaelic for Edinburgh and the city is modelled on Scotland's capital) after a lovely drive along the Southern Scenic HIghway, stopping off at beaches and a cool lighthouse on route. It was great to see my old friend Chris and catch up with him after so many year's. I am sure that it won't be so long before we see each other again.

We've immediately taken to Dunedin and it's funky bars and restaurants. It's a bit of a student town, indeed my cousin Pete studied here. We went for dinner and beers in the sunshine at a bar called The Lemon Room and they were advertising a John Lennon tribute night for tomorrow - the 27th anniversary of his death. So guess what we are doing tomorrow night!

That's all for now folks
Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 22:40 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Mt Cook, Queenstown, Canyon Swinging & River Boarding

sunny 25 °C

'I think the world is a beautiful place'
'With mountains, lakes and the human race'
'And this is what I wanna do'
'And this is where I wanna be'

Krafty by New Order

Hello from Queenstown in New Zealand, the adventure capital in the world and surely one of the most beautiful places in the world. The natural beauty of New Zealand's South Island is staggering. Read on to find out what we have been up to.

Saturday 24th November
Lynn and I got up and headed into Christchurch Town Centre for a walk around before hitting the road to Mount Cook National Park, while Lynn's parents opted to stay in Christchurch for a Tai Chi festival. We left Christchurch just after 11.30am and the drive to Mount Cook was very pleasant. The mountains loomed in the distance and we zig zagged our way across the country towards them. In the afternoon we stopped at the staggeringly beautiful Lake Tekapo, a truly beautiful turquoise blue lake, surrounded by mountains. We stopped on the banks of the lake beside a tiny church called the Church of the Good Shepherd. We went inside, it must seat a maximum of 50 people, and the views across the lake were worth going to church for. I can't imagine many people falling asleep at a service in there! I was going to go in swimming, but it was so cold so I stopped for a good old Scopttish paddle instead

We continued our drive in the sunshine, stopping again at Lake Pukaki to marvel at the size and colour of the lake. Another deep blue lake that looked like it had been painted into the valley. The scenery was truly memorbale and Dave Taylor's compilation cd's featuring Radiohead, Sigur Ros and Mercury Rev provided a suitable soundtrack, while other tunes by Prince, Deacon Blue and They Might Be Giants! had us singing along. Dave's taste in music also included little gems by King Creoste, Fionn Regan, Neil Young and more.

We checked into a campsite on the banks of Lake Pukaki at around 5pm and decided to walk down to the lake. We had to jump over several small streams on the way and use stepping stones to get there. It was a very pleasant walk in an absolutely gorgeous part of the world. Unfortunately on the way back Lynn tried to jump a rather large stream and slipped and fell on our camera. It can still take pictures but we can't view them on screen anymore. We've now bought a fab new 8 megapixel camera and hope that Lynn's Mum can claim for the cost on her insurance!

We had pasta for dinner and then watched the classic 80's film 'Stand By Me' featuring River Phoenix on our portable DVD player that came with the campervan. They don't make films like that anymore. One of my faves.

I got up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet and caught the snow capped peaks of Mount Cook glistening in the moonlight, lovely.

Sunday 25th November
We woke early after a good sleep and after a light breakfast we packed up and headed closer to Mount Cook to go trekking, or tramping as Kiwi's call it. The first tramp was a 3 hour tramp taht was really good. We had to cross a couple of rivers using suspension bridges and the majority of the tramp was by rivers and streams. The wind really picked up as we got to the end and grey clouds swooped over us and a light drizzle came down. We sheltered behind a rock and ate our sandwiches before heading back to the campervan.

The second tramp was a light 40 minute round trip to the top of a small hill to view a submerged iceberg. On the way back we took a short detour to view the blue lakes, that actually look green, and I had a refreshing dip in one of them.

With that it was back on the road and we headed towards Queenstown. About 40km ahead of us we spotted another Ezy campervan and wondered if it was Lynn's parents. We soon caught up with the van and discovered it was. What a small world.

We headed into Queenstown and checked into another Top 10 campsite and had a wander round town and a bite to eat.

Monday 26th November
Well if you are a regular reader you will know from the previous entry that Lynn and I did a canyon swing on this day. It's one of the best things we have done, providing a natural rush that I have never experienced before. Absolutely class.

Tuesday 27th November
After yesterday's high it was back down to earth, well the water, as Lynn and I had signed up for River Boarding. River Boarding basically involves hurtling down rapids on a body board. If only I could find the words to describe what it is truly like! It's now Thursday and Lynn and I still have aches in our arms and legs from the River Boarding. It's the most physically demanding thing the two of us have ever done. Absolutely crazy. Grade 4 rapid after grade 4 rapid comes up in your face, there are whirlpools, rocks and currents.

At one point I was hanging on for dear life and in no control of my board, hurtling straight towards a rock face when out of nowhere came on of the guides to pluck me to safety. This happened on at least 3 occassions. The guides were amazing, I don't know how they can take people down the river twice a day as it is incredibly strenuous and demands high levels of fitness that few people must have.

Our group consisted of another 11 people, all of varying ages, fitness and size. We left the River Boarding office at 8am and were back around 12pm. The hours between were the craziest I have ever experienced. We got suited up and had the 3 point safety briefing.

1) Always follow the lead guide - if only it was that easy!
2) Always stay in the middle of the river, away from rocks and in the fastest current - if only it was that easy
3) Look, point and kick in the direction you want to go - if only it was that easy!

The guides left us in no doubt that this would be among the hardest thing any of us ever did. They were right. In fact that was a massive understatement! We jumped into the water on our boards and had a little training session before starting for real. We had been warned that the fist 800 metres was pretty crazy. It was. White water all the way!

We all kicked into the side of the river for a rest after that. Lynn and I were both shattered. We'd been hanging on for dear life, kicking to stay on the board and directing our arms to steer the way we should be going. After 5 minutes we were off again, hurtling into the rapid section known as 'Roaring Meg'. Waves crashed over me again and again, I went under and up, under and up, finally coming out the other end and being relieved to spot a guide nearby. Lynn later told me that she got caught in a whirpool at this section and didn't think she was going to get out. She was under water and needed to breath and took in a mouthful or three of water before the whirpool spat her back out.

We were at the mercy of the rapids and I can only imagine what would have happened to us without the guides. Although this is a massively dangerous activity, the guides experience and fitness levels really do mean that anyone can do it. Or at least try it.

We all got the end in one piece, a little shattered mentally and physically though. Lynn and I were too exhausted to have a go on the water slide and rope swing!

We got back into town and went straight into the campervan for a sleep. Later on we woke and went into a crackinh Irish Bar with a roaring fire and I had a lovely pint of Guiness while Lynn had a large glass of Pinot Gris - look out for this wine back home folks, it's fab.

Lynn's parents met us for a drink and we had dinner in a Fish 'n' Chip shop. Ideal!

Wednesday 28th November
It was another early start as the alarm went off at 6.40am. We had booked a trip to Milford Sound for Lynn's Dad's 60th. He wanted to fly over the mountains to the Sounds, taje a cruise and then fly back again. This was rather than the bus, cruise, bus option that would have meant 8-10 hours on a bus to get there and back.

The flight was at 8am and we were picked up at 7.20am and driven to the small local airport. Our pilot was called Cilla (Surprise, Surprise) and she immediately set about settling Winnie's nerves. Winnie is scared of heights and flying.

The plane was a small 5 seater, with 2 seats in the front for the pilot and co-pilot. There was no need for a co-pilot, so it was just the 4 of us and Cilla. We headed up out over Queenstown, passing over mountains with lakes sitting in their peaks. Crystal clear water, pure white snow, the valley below. It was stunning.

We landed at Milford Sounds airport in 45 minutes and were on the 9am cruise. That's what I call service! Milford Sounds is 70,000 hectares of raw, rugged beauty. Mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, rivers, lakes and the ocean. The cruise was brilliant and we saw dolphins, penguins and seals, not to mention the scenery.

After 2 hours it was back to the shore and the short drive to our plane. The flight back was just as memorable, if not more so, than the flight there. The skies didn't have a cloud in them, we couldn't have picked a better day for it. We were back just after mid-day and we all got a bite to eat at the Queenstown bakery.

Lynn and I tidied our campervan as it's going to be our home until around 12th December while Les and Winnie headed to Arrowtown on the 1.05pm bus. We arranged to meet them later and we got the 2.05pm bus.

Arrowtown is a historic little town that formed as part of the gold-rush back in the 1800's. We walked by the river and Les attempted to pan for gold with no success. We had a couple of drinks sitting in the sunshine outside some great wee pubs and then headed back on the 6pm bus.

We had dinner on the campsite and Lynn and I watched the Harrison Ford classic 'The Fugitive' before falling asleep at 11pm.

Thursday 29th November
We slept late after a busy 3 days and we still have aching arms and legs from hanging on to our body boards and kicking for our lives when we went riverboarding. In the afternoon we lay in the sun outside our campervan and read, while Les and Winnie headed back to Arrowtown to watch the NZ Golf Open.

Late afternoon we got a cable car up the top of a hill overlooking Queenstown and went on a luge ride - basically a modern go-kart - and we hurtled down an 800 metre course. The views over Queenstown, across Lake Wakatipu and the Walter Peaks were gorgeous.

We've had a nice lazy day and tomorrow we'll head north towards the Franz Jospeh glacier.

Catch you soon
Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 20:25 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Shotover Canyon Swing, Queenstown, New Zealand

sunny 24 °C

'Might as well JUMP, go ahead and JUMP' Van Halen, Jump

Hey all

About 2 hours ago Lynn and I leapt off a 103 metre platform above Shotover Canyon in Queenstown New Zealand. That is higher than the 93 metre tall Statue Of Liberty, just to put it into perspective.

The good news for you all is that you can watch our canyon swings on YouTube by clicking on the links below. We've also uploaded the official photos on to www.flickr.com/photos/murrayandlynn along with a load of photos from the end of our travels in Australia and the start of New Zealand.


Lynn's film is the first link and I'm the second.

The Canyon Swing was unbelievable. A rush and a half. The buzz was enormous and I've still to come back down completely. Tomorrow Lynn and I are doing more crazy stuff - River Boarding, leaping off cliffs into rivers and rope swings. If we survive that we are going to Milford Sound on Wednesday with Lynn's parents and then we may have a day to rest on Thursday. You can check out more details about the swing at www.canyonswing.co.nz

Phew. I'm out fo breath just thinking about it. A full blog update of what we have been up to will follow in the next few days. I'll sign off for now by saying that New Zealand is top notch, the scenery is amazing and the people are so friendly.

Live forever
Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 20:36 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

New Zealand

sunny 25 °C

'Are we etched in stone or just scratched in the sand, waiting for the waves to come and reclaim the land' Tightrope by Stone Roses

Hello all. Stand by for a very speedy update as we are in the South Island of New Zealand and we have lots that we want to see and do.

Saturday November 17th
My cousin Peter drove us to Piha beach via the hills around Auckland where Peter and I went for a refreshing dip while Lynn lay on the volcanic sand and slept in the sun. Peter is currently sporting a rather funky moustache (wrong spelling I think) in homour of 'Movember' where Kiwi's men grow tache's to raise money for Prostate Cancer charities. After the beach we drove into the outshkirts of town where the area known as Grey Lynn was having a free festival in a park. There were stalls and 3 stages with bands playing. The sun was out in force and we enjoyed some nice Paella and watched a couple of bands. I also bought George Harrison's epic 'All Things Must Pass' on triple vinyl for only $10NZ (around 3.50) from a record stall.

On the way home we popped in to see my Great Aunt Betty again and we had a great chat about Hamilton, where my Mum was born. I can't believe how good my Aunt Betty's memory is. She talks about the 20's and 30's like it is yesterday and it has been fabulous to see her. We then bought fish 'n' chips and went back to Peter's to watch the World Cup netball final between New Zealand and Australia with his Mum. Australia won an epic encounter

Sunday 18th November
OK, so you may have read my previous update on the Scotland game. We lost 2-1 to the Italians and a dodgy referee. We got up at 5.30am to watch the game and then went back to bed for a few hours. When we got up I phoned my friend Ian to discuss the game, forgetting about the time difference. Thankfully Ian and his wife Kerry were still up!

Peter drove us to the airport to pick up our hired jeep and we then went on to pick up Lynn's parents - Les and Winnie. We discovered that their flight was delayed for 10 hours, so we headed into town and checked into our funky boutique hotel - The Quadrant. Funky studio apartment style rooms in the heart of the city at a great price. We wandered down High Street, full of cafes, bars and cool shops, got a sandwich, read for a bit (I bought the Ronnie Wood autobiography) and then headed into the airport for 11pm.

Lynn's folks eventually got through customs at 12.30pm and we were safely tucked up in bed at 1am. It had been quite a long day.

Monday 19th November
Les' luggage had gone missing thanks to Emirates so Lynn's folks headed into the shops to get some essentials. We all headed out at 12pm for lunch at an Irish pub in Vulcan Lane, a lane full of nice bars. We then walked a fair distance to Auckland museum. Lynn and I paid an additional $15NZ to go and see the Charles Darwin exhibition and we both really enjoyed it. What a fascinating guy, a real explorer!

Lynn's folks were understandably knackered so they went for a kip and we met Lynn's Mum at 8pm in the hotel bar. Les was feeling tired and a little run down so he decided to stay in as the three of us headed for dinner. We had Tapas at a lovely little restaurant off High Street with a beautiful bottle of Pinot Gris wine. Wine conniesseurs should check it out.

Tuesday 20th November
I got up early and headed into town for a $10NZ haircut and to visit an opticians as my prescription sunglasses are starting to look their age - almost 3 years and considering I wear them every day they have almost reached the end of the road. I ordered a new pair and will pick them up when we return to Auckland mid-December. I'll get my moneys worth out fo them in South America.

I got back to the hotel and Lynn had surfaced and packed. We checked out and drove 3 hours South to Rotarua, arriving at 2pm. We had a great lunch at a funky bar/cafe called Fat Dog Cafe and then checked into the Ambassador Hotel, opting to share a room for the bargain price of $150NZ. The Motel had 4 thermal pools, so we had a relaxing afternoon bathing. Lynn's parents were tired at night and opted for a night in while Lynn and I went to a Thai restaurant.

Wednesday 21st November
Quite an active day. The alarm went off at 8am as we were heading to the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. It's recommended that you arrive for 9.45am as the Lady Knox geyser erupts at 10.15am every day, with a little help from some surfactant. The water bubbled and steam rose before the water burst 10 metres into the air.

We then went on the 3km walk around the park and saw hot streams, bubbling mud craters and colourful pools. The different colours are caused by different mineral elements. We took a heap of pictures, I hope they do it justice. Speaking of pictures, it will be anotheer few days before I get round to updating our flickr site.

We had a drink and snack in the cafe and headed back to Rorarua via some mud pools. We all had a 1 hour power nap and then Winnie, Lynn and I walked to the Polynesian Spa, booking in for the $35NZ outdoor pools. You could choose between 4 pools, all of varying temperatures - 36, 38, 40 or 42 degrees. We spent most of our time in the 38 and 40 pools, looking out to the lake. It was a very relaxing few hours.

We got back to meet Les who was feeling better but still not 100%. Winnie and I went to the 9 ole golf course nearby and I played my first ever game of golf, shooting a 56 to Winnie's 50. I did lose 3 balls though! After and active day we all went to the Pig and Whistle pub for some top notch pub grub.

Thursday 22nd November
Lynn's Dad's 60th birthday. Unfortunately he still had a bit of a cold. We had a chilled morning and drove back to Auckland, stopping at a retail park for Les to by some more clothes as the luggage was still missing. We got back to Auckland and checked back into the Quadrant. Lynn's folks went for a nap while Lynn and I went to see my Great Aunt Betty again. She was delighted with the Harvey's Bristol Cream we bought her as a present. She gave me a loan of a book to read while we travelled round the South Island entitiled 'Tea At Miss Cranstons' featuring recollections of a bygone era in and around Glasgow.

We got back and headed out to meet Peter, his brother Andrew and Mum Jennifer at the Loaded Hogg pub down in Auckland's Viaduct Harbour area. We then headed next door where Peter had booked a table for 7 under the name of James McFadden! We all killed ourselves laughing when a Scottish waiter came to take our order,he had been hoping it was the real James McFadden. The waiter was hilarious, the food was excellent and the wine went down a treat. The restaurant is called Soul and I'd recommend it to anyone after a good meal in Auckland. An All-Black was eating a few tables away so it must be good!

Friday 23rd November
We checked out of our hotel, dropped the car off and went to the airport to fly to the South Island and Christchurch. Still no news on Les' bag, it's not looking good. The flight was only 1 hour and when we landed we picked up two campervans from Juict Campers. We then drove to the Top Ten campsite, 5km from the centre, checked in and immediately headed into the centre. Christchurch immediately struck me as being a beautiful place with lovely old churches and a stunning cathedral. We had dinner at a hotel in the town square and headed back to sort out our campervans for the coming weeks. We also went to a supermarket to stock up on some food to take around with us.

So that is you all up to date. Lynn's Mum and Dad are hanging around Christchurch today to go to a Tai Chi festival while Lynn and I head to Mount Cook for some trekking. We will then meet up in Queenstown tomorrow night where we have booked into another Top Ten camp site for 3 nights. Will Lynn and I take part in some crazy sports in Queenstown? Bungy, canyon swing, white water rafting...stay tuned for an update.

While driving around we have been listening to 3 cd compilations our good friend Dave Taylor has made. Dave has a fantastic and varied taste in music and the cd's reflect that well. Thanks Dave, we were all singing along to Deacon Blue one minute and then rocking out to Neil Young the next.

Love and lemonade
Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 13:02 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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