A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand

South Island

sunny

10 Dec 2011 Sat
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/dKhv7rhWoU3VOeAA6NJscNMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-mCpJMDYJp0M/TvjEqCRBY3I/AAAAAAAAA8A/RwaTjNLVpHk/s640/CIMG0494.JPG" height="640" width="480" /></a>
At first i thought only 3 of us are going. Then J sent me his e-tix. K sent me his e-tix a week before the scheduled departure. And then M threaten to leave the group (again! She must does this EVERYTIME we go on group trip) if I don’t upgrade the car. We have to frantically cancel all existing motel bookings and book apartment instead and upgrade the car to a bigger one (a camry).
Reached Changi around sunset time.
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The plane that ferried us was a old SQ with no on demand shows (they basically keep repeating the movies so if you missed the beginning too bad, no rewind/ffw function will be entertained). Quite a wrong start if you looked at it. Only consolation is J got extra leg room since he is sitting at 36C (36C is normally not an emergency exit row but because this SQ plane is a old junkie…somehow 36C is the emergency exit row).
View of the Southern Alps from the plane:
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Our woes didn’t end there. Long queue and slow immigration clearance at CC Airport is one. The immigration officer kept asking us for our return ticket and itinerary (halo, aunty, nowadays everything electronic, where got print out return ticket one??) And K is on a different flight from Hong Kong through Auckland. He is not in the airport yet. We have no idea what time he will arrived. We found out later that he will arrive at Domestic Terminal. But what time?? Lucky there is a free internet kiosk. I checked my mailbox, no email from him. I emailed him and leave him a fb message.
Got onto the courtesy bus to GoRental office, the road outside the airport is called Orchard Road (doesnt flood one). The lady pointed to the US Airforce plane parked at the hangar across the fence, said that those are flights bound for the Antartica (NZ is the base for flying personnel and resources to Antartica). Once we reached the office, the lady has everything sorted out within 30 minutes. We got our camry. Not really new but ok. Rusty bits here and there but still a new camry. The colour is purple and that’s all M cares about. Put all our luggage in and off we went. Now we head to our first destination – supermarket! We went to Park & Save (yes, yellow! And they give 4 cents off per litre of petrol if you shop more than 30 dollars in a single receipt) and shop for tomorrow’s brekkie.
Golden kiwi sold at Park n Save:
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Had the cheapest lunch at KFC (only NZD26.90 for 4 people as opposed to NZD30 for 1 person in Lake Tekapo later) yum yum! KFC is tasty even without sauce. After the lunch we drove back to the airport hoping that Kevin will be on the 1420 plane from Auckland but to no avail. We finally set off to Lake Tekapo at 3pm, still wondering what happened to Kevin. No email reply, no fb messages reply. Where could he ended up in? Isnt he on an earlier flight from Hong Kong at 3pm as opposed our 7pm flight? Strange strange strange.
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Pleasant drive from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo via Geraldine, took us about 3 hours before we ended up at Pioneer Drive, where our motel is.
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Last hurdle – M drove the Camry to the shelter of the motel and get stucked in narrow alley. We have to ask the owner Max to come out and help steering, for fear she might bring the whole wooden car shelter down by knocking into column. By the time we are all done and let out a sigh of relief, we couldn’t wait to head straight to the lake, which is turquoise in colour. The owner’s dog defied his master order and went to the lake before us, only to be pulled back to the house against its wish.
There is a huge plume of cloud stucked between hills not too far away. It is such a perfect picture day.
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There is a couple taking wedding photo near the lake.
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Water is cold though, I estimate 5 °C water.
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The little church is nearby.
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I borrowed M’s bb and saw a status that K left on his fb and immediately understood what actually happened. His flight from HK delayed and he got held up at Auckland Airport by the immigration! I quickly left him a fb comment and inform him the new SIM card numbers of J and M, hopefully he can contact us when he reach CC.
We adjourned to the restaurants for dinner and come to a stark realization that we need to cook ourselves dinner in the future. So damn expensive! NZD 30 for a meal? Gotto be kidding me! We reluctantly settled down at a jap restaurant. When I nearly finished my meal, the long-awaited sms came, K has reached Lake Tekapo! I quickly grab the car key and went back to the motel and fetch him for dinner. He slowly recounted what happened – Auckland airport held him in custody and keep hounding him for return ticket, itinerary and cash on body to ascertain that he is really a tourist. According to the cab driver that drove him from CC to Lake Tekapo, a few HK drug traffickers nabbed recently and the Auckland police became very suspicious of Asians landing at Auckland Airport, CC airport is more reasonable. If only he landed in CC instead of transferring at Auckland! By the time he was allowed to enter the country, he has to take the later flight and end up in CC at 1720. He quickly take a cab from CC airport to Lake Tekapo (NZD300 after bargain). We are finally together all 5 of us.
Because there are 5 of us, we upgraded to a much bigger apartment. Parkhead Motel is nice, our house has 3 rooms, 1 room with king size bed and attached bathroom, 1 room with queen sized bed and another room with two single beds.
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Complete with living room, sky TV, kitchen, washing machine and came with an impeccable lake view. How cool is that?! Temperature outside is cold though, we have to switch on the heater in the end. Nothing beats taking a hot shower and change to shorts and watch sky TV, while eating the gold kiwi (Sweet!) we bought from Park & Save earlier. Totally relaxed and calm, just like how a holiday should be. The sun set pretty late. Full moon tonight hence not much star gazing possible. NZ uses a different plug system so K and I have to arrange the plugs so that everyone get to charge their camera batteries.
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(The above 2 photos taken by K)

11 Dec 2011 Sun

We know today will be a hectic day. The weather is so sunny, it must be Sun-Day.
The view of lake tekapo from our bedroom balcony:
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We decided to make use of today to the fullest. First destination – Observatory.
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Some windy hair-pin steep climb and we are here at the carpark. The views from the observatory….i will leave you to comment.
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You can see that the two lakes in the above photos have different colour. The turquoise colour lake is Lake Tekapo and the deep blue colour lake is Lake Alexandrina. Different lake colour water is what make NZ lakes so unique.
The view of tekapo town and our motel from the top of the observatory:
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Motuariki Island in the middle of Lake tekapo, which was clearly visible from the Observatory but somehow not noticed when we went to the shore of the lake yesterday:
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The plume of clouds that got stucked in between the two hills last night retreated a bit:
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Southern light has been recorded, according to this DVD promotional booklet found in the café:
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(The above 2 photos taken by K)
We then proceed to Mount Cook Village, somewhere near Twizle. Twizle is a town that was not meant to be – it was supposed to be demolished after the hydroelectric project ended but 18 years down the road, when the construction was finally over, the project personnel and their families grew to love the place and decided to stay put in Twizle.
We passed the Tekapo Army Camp on the way to Mount Cook. We stopped along the way to take some scenic shots of Mount Cook, which was not blocked by the clouds. Absolutely gorgeous sunny care free day. View of Mount Cook and its cousins across Lake Pukaki:
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Photo below showed the view of Mount Cook across Lake Pukaki taken from the car park near the Tourist office. This is when I first learn the story of the Punamu, the legendary green stone that the Maori adores.
Can you see the moron swimming in icy cold lake pukaki in the photo?
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Pine cones that fell off everywhere (sometimes hit you in your head):
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We are the only car on the road while driving to Mount Cook Village:
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Hermitage is the only hotel (quite ex) in Mount Cook Village, there is also a YHA backpacker hostel though. It must be cool to stay there for a night as the snow mountains are all just nearby.
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Mount Cook is the grandest of them all, and you cant miss it, as distinct as the Matterhorn. We went to the cafeteria of Hermitage to have some tea cum lunch. Hot choc came with mush mellow, so nice! And the chicken pie, totally delicious.
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The staff will give you this gadget once you ordered. The gadget will sound an alarm once ur food is ready to be picked up. Cool eh?
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(The above 2 photos taken by k)
We recharge our energy for the afternoon activity. First we shall drive to Tasman Lake to see the glacier.
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It is not a tar road so as we drive, we will generate cyclone of dust behind us (which explained what we saw before we reached Hermitage earlier – dust cyclones made by other cars) Need some climb tho…met these two gentlemen at a junction and asked them whether the boats to Tasman Lake is available. They said you have to sign up and sign indemnity form at the Hermitage before they will ferry you around in Tasman Lake. They couldn’t catch a boat cos they didn’t sign up at the hotel earlier.
The view of Tasman Valley which were carved out by glacier ions ago. You can see the winding path that lead up to the viewing point. I was halfway through when I took this photo:
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We continue to climb till we reach the top of the hill and viola! Glacier chucks broken off and floating on Tasman Lake, formed by melting glaciers.
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The river flow rapidly from Tasman Lake downstream. Very pristine water. The glacier is as usual looked dirty. It is cold to stand and admire the view due to the wind but all worth it. Trust me, without the loud speaking asian tourists that we are accustomed with and only with the quiet angmos, the scene can be very tranquil and peaceful. Totally love the view of the valley seen from the top.
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We were wondering how does it feel to dip our hands into the icy cold river water so we went down and walk the other path to touch the water. Not that easy tho, got to navigate and at times jump over big rocks. When we finally managed to touch the water, the chill is all worth it.
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Went back to the car park and J told us the Australian couple suggested we go and take a look at Hooker Valley, which also has glacier view and very little climbing involved. We sped off to Hooker Valley and started walking towards the swing bridge.
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It takes a total of 4 hours to complete the trek to the end point. Some parts scrambles.
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M and R finally surrender at the second swing bridge and return, while the old couple that went with us trudged on. The swing bridge above the river.
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The only toilet stop along the whole Hooker Valley trail.
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Thank god it is boardwalk towards the last quarter of the walk.
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Finally reached the Hooker Lake. The ice chunks are clearer and more pristine than those mud covered ones floating on Tasman Lake.
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/46HWKTtMJDFovFa91ktaN9MTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-cO-QjuU5_ho/Tviup6ixTlI/AAAAAAAAAoQ/DFkT1-Fxw20/s640/DSC00184.JPG" height="480" width="640" /></a>
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The end of the trail. Glacier is not that far away. Area prone to avalanche, very unstable landscape.
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Previous avalanche. We heard a loud thud on our way back, wonder what could have happened somewhere nearby. Another avalanche? Glacier chunks broke off? God knows.
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/8d_7_I11PqkEhvpq9XjhQNMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-TdDC95u-blw/TvivXPAewUI/AAAAAAAAAow/kjARnDt0EiA/s640/DSC00192.JPG" height="480" width="640" /></a>
By the time J, K and I got back to the car, it is already 6pm. We went back to the Hermitage and the café is already closed.
Cotton wools above the hills as seen when we drove back to the motel.
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We started cooking our own spaghetti dinner at 830pm. Yum yum. Did our laundry and left them outside and let the howling wind dry them. With wind like this, we reckon that the sunny weather that we had today is unlikely to be repeated.

J, K and I walked to the church to capture some night shots. It is kinda fun to walk in the middle of midnight, without any street lights (Lake Tekapo doesn’t have any street lights so that it will not create any light pollution in the area). K brought a long a LED table lamp which was excellent in helping us to see our way and checking the buttons on the camera in a blind. Full moon shining on the church roof and patiently wait for the SLR capture the scenery on tripod.
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/v05MKCHZ0Ep3mRg_kzvPKtMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-fOFOB3B9UEY/Tzem7m4BdUI/AAAAAAAABSE/y7vtS1HEIe8/s800/_1040192.JPG" height="450" width="800" /></a>
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/J5HHAuf1eGVXLY9E6UCplNMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-NW-9N8Urm2I/TzenGg0Y17I/AAAAAAAABTI/-5DVMjIkwls/s800/_1040200.JPG" height="450" width="800" /></a>
(The above 2 night shots belong to K)

12 Dec 2011 Monday
I volunteered to cook the brekkie and M came to help me with some parts. We bade farewell to the owner. He told us Queenstown is having 32 degrees now. Warm.
I was a bit apprehensive that all the luggage cal fit into the car boot. K and I did a quick visual sizing and decided that J’s suitcase must be in the innermost compartment at all times. Then slowly one by one we put in ours and everything fit nicely. K and I snapped a mental picture on how we fit everything in and for the remaining days, the luggage will always be fit into the boot this way. With all the luggage in, the car pick up speed is affected. We let other cars pass us. 100km/h is the speed limit for most parts, till you come to town, where it reduced to 70 and then 50. The radio station in NZ always play soothing country and hit pops in between, and not the loud metals or raps so that makes listening such a joy, in addition to the scenic ride. I was apprehensive as we driving near Lindis Pass cos I accidentally mistook the winding trail up the mountain as the road that we must pass before getting to Queenstown, it turned out that it is a trail for the farm owner, the main road drivers need not go through it. Guess the horrid experience of driving at the passes in the UK lake districts still haunting me.
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/jsW37TMo30Sqa0FKEInjINMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-Yuv2OwlQQvI/Tvii_HJvf5I/AAAAAAAAAdo/d8gI4jWRs-Q/s640/DSC00215.JPG" height="480" width="640" /></a>
Kawarau river, hydroelectric plant can be seen:
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With just one toilet stop at a roadside fruit shop, we managed to reach Frankton at 12 noon, which we thought was Queenstown. Which is a good mistake cos we could pump petrol here at Frankton, and the Remarkable Mall which most Queenstown people come to shop is just nearby. And we are on the way to Te Anau, everything suits up. Had our lunch at a Thai restaurant near BP, the fed the car to full tank at BP (got 4 cents off) and head to the New World Supermarket in Remarkable Square. Bought stuff for dinner and brekkie tomorrow for fear that there isn’t any shopping place in Te Anau (unfounded fear cos there is a supermarket in Te Anau!). Met the Singapore adventurer and his family at BP as well as inside the supermarket. Noticed that kiwis like to walk inside the supermarket barefooted, maybe the weather is warm enuff for them.

The drive to Te Anau is felt super long, partly because of the glaring sun. And the windy road. A stopping point to take Lake Wakatipu and you can see the winding road we were on:
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/KCCRC4n40GSbTCRS8-0j8dMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-5zUSh1VTsz0/Tvj9l4pXf-I/AAAAAAAABC4/CeqnhZ03eOQ/s640/DSC00232.JPG" height="480" width="640" /></a>
I resort to tell stories in order to break the boredom also to ensure M awake throughout the drive, it works. They love the story. Finally we reached Birchwood Cottage at 6pm. The lady owner advised us on the route to Milford Sound the next morning and all. M is again busy with her laundry. Birchwood is not as good as Parkhead, pretty dated. I still like it cos this time round, I gotto sleep in single bed (yay!) and need not share a bed with J. Get down to baking pizza since they have stove and viola, dinner is ready. (we are much more efficient this time after the long wait for dinner at Lake Tekapo heehee). We bought a roast chicken, just nice. After the dinner, went to town for walk, most shops already closed. There are a few Chinese restaurants around though. We walked to the jetty and took some photos before heading back to the cottage to dry our laundry. J shared the nougats he bought from the fruit shop with us, tasted quite nice.

13 Dec 2011 Tue
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/ETKh3hpVPhicvLyOht-0dNMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-J3iGYFRFkWY/Twurn_VpQNI/AAAAAAAABMM/afpwF-Cf_9c/s640/Milford.jpg" height="640" width="462" /></a>
Went up super early today cos we have a cruise at Milford Sound to catch. The owner has opened up the garage so that we can leave our luggage there while we went North to Milford. We stopped at some places to take photos, roads get misty at some sections.
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/MJ80BbpPw1AjXhDnVmEbDNMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-inH1w0sxaA0/Tvj9yVQ2uNI/AAAAAAAABDU/oGI6kTN4sto/s640/DSC00242.JPG" height="640" width="480" /></a>
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<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/if-SyNHx0ODpzkvCgHC0KNMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-TsJ-c1XVahw/TxQ265PodJI/AAAAAAAABOs/DhdJeYTw6uI/s640/P1040394.JPG" height="360" width="640" /></a>
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Just before the tunnel, large patches of ice are found at the foot of the cliff. That’s how cold it can be. And we were still complaining about the sweltering heat we got while driving to Te Anau and at Te Anau itself. (South was having dryspell at that time while Nelson and North Island was lashed by heavy rain and flood).
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Warning sign: Do not trespass!
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We played with ice and once the traffic light turned green, we quickly got back to the car as it is our turn to cross the tunnel. It is pitch dark inside and since we were tailing some tour buses, their tail light was anything the but our source of direction.
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/d-nih9PAUAbIThOqLtyxPNMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-GFlxSQMe3Vw/TviibEJaoqI/AAAAAAAAAdA/Vn0WdhaOReA/s640/P1060657.JPG" height="360" width="640" /></a>
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Once we are out of the tunnel, we are quite near the jetty. There is a lovely boardwalk to the jetty as all cars must be parked 500m away from the jetty.
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/naRuJUKftrMcBL_zhysz29MTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-pedlUEHJGnM/Tvj-vBGfdtI/AAAAAAAABFQ/khX_4vGUM00/s640/DSC00275.JPG" height="640" width="480" /></a>
We made enquiry on the 3 hour Nature Cruise, which cost slightly more but the motel owner told us more worth it compared to the mere 1.5 hour Scenic Cruise.
Once we bought the ticket, we quickly went on board as the ship is sailing in 5 minutes time. There is a photographer taking pictures of people boarding the ship, you can buy them if you want to keep it as a souvenir.
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/n2Ksn7pSnGX0l-MaShS-L9MTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-vmnirhnOzR4/Tvj-xLSEOCI/AAAAAAAABFU/WeeLcouy8Z0/s640/DSC00277.JPG" height="480" width="640" /></a>
Wind chill is killing, so cold. Mitre Peak and the waterfalls slowly appear one by one. Notice the same view under sunshine upon our return somewhere down this page, for contrast =P
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<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/9kkjvaLAs2efykrUXMXCf9MTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-e9BXXSDEdNU/Tvj--Vb_NnI/AAAAAAAABF4/kwX6bqn4374/s640/DSC00286.JPG" height="640" width="480" /></a>
Canoes:
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The wind was so strong that the water from the mountain could not even flow down at the waterfall, was blown up by the wind instead. You can see the broken water stream in the photo. You can also see the video of the water stream being blown upwards in the following <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Gdu3goyu24&feature=g-upl&context=G2860907AUAAAAAAACAA">youtube link</a>:
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/jQwsPkGWhAtJm7CPhaO0vNMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-TJBMZc6j340/Tvj_sQUy6WI/AAAAAAAABH0/olrjpL158u4/s640/DSC00318.JPG" height="640" width="480" /></a>
As you can see from the picture, the trees do not have their roots on the rocky cliff face. They are actually being supported or pulled by the trees above. So if the tree above give way, the whole domino will fall!
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The scenic cruise in front of us:
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We cruised along and finally making a turn at the sunny Tasman Sea, where few thousands km across would be Sdyney. Clear sky on Tasman Sea as opposed to the gloomy Milford Sound we came from.
The view of gloomy Milford Sound as I shoot the back of the ship:
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/iaP92rQ5z6LgL-97JRWkj9MTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-SXb7zUmX-T0/Tvj_13lvMvI/AAAAAAAABIQ/mLpT_T0vjyw/s640/DSC00327.JPG" height="480" width="640" /></a>
As opposed to the sunny Tasman Sea 180 degrees straight ahead:
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The captain set the sail up and cruise along Tasman Sea. The hills around Anita Bay grew at one of the fastest rate thanks to the techtonic plate movement.
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/DAKBH-eKEXfpl98gshTw-tMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-x2yn1aS630k/Tvib2-NKP4I/AAAAAAAAAXA/GcJKjWL3xQ8/s640/P1060559.JPG" height="480" width="640" /></a>
We sailed back to the gloomy sound after we have enough sunshine at the open sea.
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The little white dot in front is the same ship that was in front of us earlier. Since that ship was smaller and was probably a scenic cruise, they did not go to the sea.
We were treated to the baby seal colonies. The seals are seeking refuge in the sound to avoid the predators.
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/fk8cFebMywxYgsdxENL3uNMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-HetctfdUkBI/TvidUOmXN4I/AAAAAAAAAYU/VzS9lnuVZfE/s640/P1060582.JPG" height="640" width="480" /></a>
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The ship needed a bath and we turned to the waterfall where the captain ordered those who prefer to remain dry to stand near the aft as the starboard side will get near to the waterfall.
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/4s7KDQPBeB1SuJ5MMxdXd9MTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-XU1ofr-wbZ0/Tvied8GFASI/AAAAAAAAAZk/I2S62C96jhA/s640/P1060602.JPG" height="640" width="480" /></a>
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After the baptism, we turned in to see if there are penguins at the Harrison Cove but to no avail.
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/2WT4j2iJxkdmVSs3tqXAytMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-CFV81UyYdm0/Tvifw4dGmDI/AAAAAAAAAao/-WId2GH_QR0/s640/P1060619.JPG" height="480" width="640" /></a>
I would say the scenery beats the three gorges in China as the cliffs are still high above the water, as opposed to the flooded gorge in Chang Jiang.
The sun has finally come out at the jetty side as well.
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/BmzcyGvdndORYqEMn3Mq6tMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-0TjC8QdB4II/TvigtWGaiuI/AAAAAAAAAbQ/hM2-ygOnVSs/s640/P1060629.JPG" height="480" width="640" /></a>
By now, we are all refreshed. Head straight to the car and went to a few scenic stopovers recommended by the owner.
The chasm is the first one. We managed to shoot a double rainbow at the chasm.
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/tQXFkfL2Rf0xYc2Ka60ICdMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-PAFRHyslfHU/TvihXQVfqHI/AAAAAAAAAb0/6DvX7rpcneQ/s640/P1060638.JPG" height="640" width="480" /></a>
Second one is the Mirror Lake, renowned for its reflection of mountain in the morning. We went in the afternoon so…
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We got back to Te Anau at 4pm. We went to a Chinese take away and ordered some food and ate outside the shop in blinding sunlight. I bought a cone of ice cream to keep myself chilled. Newspaper headline –Invercargill and the south is experiencing dry spell.
We went back to Birchwood and took our luggage and brace ourselves for the 3 hour drive back to Queenstown. Surprisingly, the drive back seems faster, probably cos everyone is laughing at each other stories and puzzles. A blink and we already at Frankton arm at 7pm. Went to Remarkables to stock up groceries again before we drove another 6km to Queenstown proper to find our apartment. Bought a tub of hokey pokey icecream!
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It was a very steep drive up to Heritage Park Apartment. I almost thought the Camry could not do it with all the luggages but surprisingly it held UP. It is at the top of the hill as shown in this picture:
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<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/vwBAha1pqhzMIiJ9oRq6JNMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-MBgG25fQ_us/Tvi9Q04UiAI/AAAAAAAAA1Q/H7beuo1nryM/s640/P1060681.JPG" height="360" width="640" /></a>
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We were greeted by Aily’s son Valentine and he toured us the unit. My lucky number 14 and Valentine stays in 5, also my lucky number!
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We were awed by the luxury accommodation that we only managed to book at very last minute when K finally confirmed his ticket. The apartment has 3 levels: living room, dining hall and kitchen are in the second level, washing machine, dryer and bed rooms are in the third level and all rooms have the lake view. The view is to die for. I took Queenstown photos at different times of the day every day and pasted them here for comparison. The whole Lake Wakatipu and the quaint township is within sight. The windows are placed such that you can watch TV while washing dishes, every mum’s dream.
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We decided to leave the luggage at second level and not drag it up to the third floor. We were watching Alice in the Wonderland while eating a simple dinner we cooked ourselves. J, K and I decided to walk to town at 9pm. The sky is still quite bright at this time. New World supermarket is still opened, and according to Valentine, supermarket open till midnight. There are casinos in the town. The lake is pretty quiet in the evening. We saw an Indian restaurant Bombay Palace offering “all curry at $14 on Wed” and J said we should try it since Wed is coming. Queenstown is pretty much an adventure-adrenalin pumping town, the whole street is full of adventure shops.
We went back at around 1030pm, the walk back up was really tough to say the least.
Once we were home, another problem. If need to ventilate the toilet after business, one need to open window. But if open window, bugs will start to fly in. How??

14 Dec 2011 Wed

When I heard that familiar sound, I knew I can sleep till a later time. The familiar plat on the roof couldn’t be mistaken. It is raining outside. Might as well – the sun and the heat is killing. I have all the excuses in the world to just snuggle in. Aily called us and asked us to gather in her office, and she started like telling us the various activities available. The fun yakking is quite appealing, canyoning to J and skydiving to K. We sort of made up our minds but wonder if the weather will hold up.
Drove to Arrowtown and tour around the Chinese gold mining settlement.
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/9PEh_vSLHy7nT6AIa29AJtMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-x_Qzm_Q4a2g/Tvi9wRcO1SI/AAAAAAAAA1s/evE0yyBkW3E/s640/P1060688.JPG" height="360" width="640" /></a>
I have no idea how the miners survived the harsh winter in houses like these. Even summer is already so cold!
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I went to a community pool and the lifeguard Peter has kindly let me in and take a look. I realize I need a dip to cure the aching body, a result of squeezing at the backseat for days. Told Peter that I might come back on Friday, then realize it is actually quite a distance between Queenstown and Arrowtown actually.
We went on to Wanaka via crown range and the 120km turned out to be a long drive but the view from the top is all worth it.
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/5pB7Mi4fRy_oCMhYmExwwdMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-7t0nOIeVGb8/Tvi-vdki0pI/AAAAAAAAA2Q/1-HpAyB_zGM/s640/P1060697.JPG" height="360" width="640" /></a>
Bravo cyclists actually braced themselves and went up this winding steep road – we cheered them on. The cyclists waved back to acknowledge.
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Reached Wanaka lake and it is drizzling again. Sail boats actually available for rent at 55/hr. Paddle boat and canoe also available. Not many renters though cos it is drizzly. There are two angmo gals who swam to the floating platform – isn’t it cold?
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M and K had some food and we are good to proceed to Puzzling World.
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The toilet is quite cute. I went in the toilet thinking that it was the male toilet. The sign indicated male toilet anyway. When I walked in, I saw ladies walking around and I freaked out! I quickly went out again to check the sign. Correct, male toilet indeed. I was tricked! The male toilet sign is just to trick you. The actual male toilet is further in haha. This is the common space shared by both toilets. The murals on the wall is very deceiving as well haha. People likes to sit on the toilet bowls on both rows and take photos.
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The entrance fee stopped us from venture further. We just sat at the common area playing some games, aimlessly. They got sell very funny 3D moving bookmarks though, interesting. Can see horses racing, penguins tip-toeing, elephant scratching butt on rock and so on.
There is this challenge to Psychic power at Puzzling World, which was unclaimed since 2004. If you are interested, feel free to try, NZD10k awaits.
We drove back via the motorway to save some time. Ended up in another New World Supermarket at Queenstown (this one really open till 12 midnight, while the one at town centre opens till 930pm). Did the usual groceries/brekkie shopping and drove to Bombay Palace to have our 14-dollars curry. We love the food. K loved their Massala tea, a drink he love to drink ever since he first tasted it in Singapore.
J like this sweet shop very much and bought quite a few stuff from here.
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Icebar:
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Once we went back to the apartment, K started to show the movie 3 idiots that he kept telling us about. M and her daughter was very keen cos they already watched it twice but love the show. I wasn’t quite impressed at first but grew to love the show. It is a very meaningful show and everyone should watch it.

15 Dec 2011 Thu
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Today gotto wake up real early, all except K as his skydiving only starts in the afternoon. Funyakking shuttle service will leave from Info Centre at 730am so we have to leave the apartment and walk down around 7am. We ended up at Info Centre at 715am and I asked the counter lady whether I could join last minute. J and M were surprised that I decided to join them last minute. On the way to Glenorchy, the bus stopped and let us take the reflection pictures. One could see as far as Mount Aspiring from where we stood (across Mount Aspiring will be Milford Sound). Those pictures taken turned out to be one of the most scenic shots I made in this trip, which was a surprise cos I didn’t feel very impressed at that point in time, perhaps due to waking up early.
<a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/RzL2nTwSkENX-5ThVSFoKNMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-huQcGzuV7pA/TvjBGbzZvmI/AAAAAAAAA4c/kwoLlZM_Msc/s640/P1060732.JPG" height="360" width="640" /></a>
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The shuttle bus continue and before long we were already at the office. Briefing and then we all changed into wet suits and get onto the Jet Boat.
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The driver drove us for some spins before letting us off at somewhere head stream. That’s where the ladies have to do their business in a makeshift toilet while the guys have to do it at the bush, after taking off the wetsuits and lifejacket and what have you. The thought of stripping everything made one hesitant to answer nature’s call, no matter how urgent. Knowing myself, I decided to do it nonetheless less I pee in the wetsuit (yuks).
Rosy explained the principle of fun-yakking to us and two-to-three in a team and off we went. The first challenge was the roller coaster ride, which we gasped in horror on how M and Rosy went through: up and down and up and down! And then when we went through it, it wasn’t as rocky as we thought. So we remember the rules: if you see are merging into streams or see rocks, flash ur bums. Front person row, behind person is the captain and is supposed to control direction. After some fun yakking, Rosy asked us to stop at the shore, get down, drag the kayak up to a small little stream whose water is clearer in colour and rest the kayak at the shore of this smaller, clearer stream.
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That’s where we are going to have lunch. Wading in the cold stream water is a numbling experience, I couldn’t imagine people who actually thrust their bodies down in the water flat to take picture. According to J, it is f**king cold inside the water. Duh!?
The crew lay down a few tables and put the buffet spread on the tables and we helped ourselves to the food. Hungry but in good spirit. The sun shone down generously, gone were the gloomy days. I took out my wet-boots and let it dry under the sun.
One of the guide explain the significance of the rock Pounamu to us. One is supposed to buy pounamu and give it to someone they love dearly and not for oneself.
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After the lunch, the crew inflate the kayak and we went upstream to see the chasm. The colour of the water is so pristine.
We sang the birthday girl Hazel a happy birthday song. She was from Wellington/Auckland(?) and the hubby decided to celebrate her birthday in the South Island by treating both of them to the fun-yakking. So sweet of them, the flame never grow old =)
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Our excited guide Rosy:
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After we came out of the chasm, we tied our kayak with Rosy’s and row for a short distance downstream and had a few more scary moments intended for thrill effect before we finally landed on Paradise.
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Yes, Paradise.
That’s the place where they shot Lord of the Ring. And many other films like Wolverine. For a fee like 10k a day. Remember the shot where the trees started to walk and helped the hobbits to fight a losing battle? It was filmed there.
We washed up the kayaks and deflate it and move them to the trucks. We went up to the bus. After 30 minutes or so, we reach the adventure office and returned all our gear. We managed to get some drinks to hydrate ourselves before our next part journey back to Queenstown. We texted K and he happened to be at home, said he will join us. It turned out that he didn’t get to dive today due to strong wind condition. He already all dressed up but the instructor just stopped the flying.
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We walked around town while M get her fish and chip from PJ’s. Managed to find a Chinese restaurant to pack my fried rice for dinner. Bought a pair of sandals at Kathmandu (not because it is cheap but a pair of sandals is convenient during the trip).
Walked back to the apartment, this time we discovered a shorter route to the apartment, but still need to walk up to the same height, pant pant.
At night, a damn funny and crude and lewd commercial came up while K, me and M’s daughter were watching TV. At first we didn’t know how to react cos the commercial is about push up bra and the plaster that reduce fats near the thigh area but the graphics is damn lewd and in very bad taste. After the whole commercial was over, we all laughed uncontrollably, to the amazement of J and M, who now came to see what happened in the living room. We couldn’t quite explain ourselves and the damn commercial never really came on again. But I still laugh whenever I thought of that commercial and recall the expressions of K as he tried to explain the commercial details to J and M.

Posted by kokwailam 14.11.2012 07:08 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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