The South Island
Well I am delightfully exhausted and out of money and have had to bump my return to Canada up by two weeks to not go hopelessly broke and to finish up my thesis. The last three weeks took Jen and I on a whirlwind tour of the south island. We began by meeting up with my German friend Patrick in a beautiful ocean town called Nelson. The scenery was amazing but the sandflies were ferocious. Jen and I took a water taxi to do a day hike out in the Abel Tasman national park and the three of us went to Takaka on the northern most tip of the south island (it was then that I got a severe dose of homesickness that is currently bringing me back to Canada at full speed). The three of us went out in the rain to Fairwell spit and the Pupu springs, the first is the northern most point of the southern island and the second is the second clearest spring water in the world. We were staying in a great hostel called Kiwiana where Jen and I had to rough it out in a dorm room for the only time on our journey. We were lucky to meet a friendly Texan named Colin who joined us and we became “Team Namerica” (our German friend had to stay behind for this segment of the journey).
Our new team headed further south to see the Pancake Rocks along the west coast, which have inexplicable layers of rock that are eroding into these amazing shapes that will eventually be swallowed by the sea. The rain fell more and more the further south we went and the weather cooled off to typically below 15 C. But we had this weird luck of pouring rain every time we had to drive and a break from the bad weather every time we stopped to see something. We continued south the Franz Joseph Glacier were we ignored a series of signs that implied “breaking ice will cause a tidal wave which will wash you away and you shall die!!!” and made our way to the base of the glacier, this warning may have come true had it not been for a guide telling Colin and Jen to back away from the ice minutes before ice and rock came crashing down near where they had been standing.
We made it down to the famous town of Queenstown where the sun managed to shine but the temperature did not recover much. The drive into this town is stunning and the town itself feels much like Banff. We took a gondola up a mountain for some views and a couple of luge rides on a pavement track. At that point we decided we were in search of penguins and trekked on to Invercargill (the southern most point of the south island). We learned about a fellow from Invercargill named Burt Munro and watched the film on the story of his life called “The Worlds Fastest Indian”. For the sake of argument we will say that there is a strong possibility that we saw penguins but we will never really be too sure. You need to go at dusk or dawn to have you best chance of catching a glimpse. We made a second attempt at wildlife sightings in the Catlins where we saw many seals and sealions through our binoculars at nugget point.
We started our way north on the east coast with a couple days in Dunedin, this town is famous for having the steepest road in the world and is very picturesque with beautiful cathedrals covering the city. Not to mention that there is a Cadbury Chocolate Factory in town. We went on a tour and walked away with bags full of delicious chocolate. We did not have time to visit Christchurch and we opted to stay at small ocean towns south and north of the city. On the drive up the east coast we stopped at these neat old boulders that are curiously round and hollow in the middle and scientists are unable to figure out their origin.
We ended our trip in the Marlborough Sounds at this amazing hostel right on the ocean. Patrick had been working there the last couple of weeks and had recommended we come visit him in paradise. So Colin, Jen, Patrick and I spent our last times as a group in the prettiest place in New Zealand. Jen and I went ocean kayaking and saw some stingrays swimming in the teal water, but going swimming ourselves was a little sketchy unless you like brushing up against hundreds of jellyfish.
Jen is off to Australia and Patrick is coming to get me at Laura’s to spend my last week in New Zealand together – not sure where I will choose to go yet but I have lost all my tan and am looking for a beach somewhere on the north island.