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Trip Report---Our third visit---South Island only

Surrey England
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Trip Report---Our third visit---South Island only

Day 1/2 ---The Journey

Our AirNZ flight (NZ1) was airborne at 4.10 pm.We'd splashed out again on BusinessPremier seats and had elected to fly all the way with AirNZ inspite of the transit in LA.Having sampled BA's business class to Toronto last August we decided that AirNZ has much the superior product.We both find the seats comfortable and when converted into beds we sleep well for several hours on both sectors of the flight.They supply decent mattresses and two good size pillows plus a light duvet.The movie selection is good and easy to navigate and the food is pretty good for airline food with four selections for main course.

We landed pretty much on time,around 7.30 am. but had to wait a while for our bags to appear on the belt.Then it was through bio security for boot inspection--all ok there as I had scrubbed them really well.Our connection time to Christchurch was tight and we were too late for bag drop so had to trundle across to the domestic terminal as fast as possible.Got there just as boarding started, phew!

Once in Christchurch,we phoned Apex and were soon in their van and then at their nearby depot.

Paperwork was quick and efficient and we were then off in our red Corolla.Our journey to Blenheim was pretty uneventful.We set off at 11.30,stopped for lunch at a roadside cafe somewhere,where we had cups of tea and hot Satay chicken rolls.We were at our accommodation off the Raipara Rd. at 4.30.

Now,I know it is not recommended to get off a long haul flight and drive but you have to trust your own judgement on this.We,being Brits,drive on the same side of the road which makes driving a lot easier, and also we sleep very well in the business class beds so feel pretty rested.I think four hours driving under these circumstances is quite manageable.

Our house,Nic's Shed is a wonderful property.It was someway down Selwyn Rd out of town with vines to the front side and rear of the house.Inside,there was a huge open plan kitchen sitting and dining area running the width of the place.There was a lovely full well equiped kitchen,two downstairs bedrooms with great shower rooms and a third bedroom on a mezzanine level.To the rear,through glass doors was a good size terrace with table and chairs where you could sit peacefully looking at the vines.

After dropping our luggage we drove back into town to stock up at New World with some essentials for the next couple of days although we had been left milk,wine,bread,fruit,yogurt and cookies by the owner.

Dinner was chicken kiev,wedges and coleslaw followed by fruit.

Day 3

Woke at 6.15 to sunshine.After breakfast we packed some lunch and drove to Picton for a 9am check in with Beachcomber Tours.We boarded our boat at 9.30 and set off into the Marlborough Sounds.Being a lovely day everyone was up top in the sun.

On the way out the skipper announced that there was some splashing ahead which may be indicating some dolphins in the area.And sure enough,there were.They were fantastic and followed us for some time.There must have been a good couple of dozen of them.Everyone was snapping away like mad.

The boat did a couple of stops before arriving at Ship's Cove where some people got off to start a walk.R and I got off to look at the James Cook memorial and then re-boarded.We were doing the shorter walk from Resolution Bay.

It was a really nice walk as we had frequent views of the water.We'd set off at 11.30 and at about 12.20 came upon a picnic table where we stopped just to have a drink deciding it was too early for lunch for us.Immediately, a family of Weka appeared looking for food.They must know that people stop and eat there.The chicks were really cute but on this occasion they were unlucky.

We carried on until half an hour or so later came upon a bench facing a wonderful view of a bay.Perfect we thought! Out came the ham rolls and we started munching.Again,we'd barely sat down when a solitary weka appeared on the scrounge.Taking pity on it I threw it a few crumbs which it gobbled up greedily.It came nearer and before I knew what was happening it leapt up and snatched the half eaten roll from my hand! I was absolutely flabbergasted.R. said that I shouldn't have encouraged it but thought if very funny.

Slightly hungry still (me that is) we continued to Furneaux Lodge where we ordered tea and carrot cake which we ate outside on the deck whilst waiting for our pick up boat.

Down by the water the weather was now quite 'fresh' to say the least and I got out my waterproof for some more protection from the wind.There were also sand flies around which we had to keep trying to avoid.

Back on board with everyone downstairs this time and we were back in Blenheim by 6pm.Had some nice tournado steaks with salad followed by cherries and cheese.

New Zealand
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1. Re: Trip Report---Our third visit---South Island only

Welcome back MG!

and settling in nicely to follow your travels :)

Surrey England
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2. Re: Trip Report---Our third visit---South Island only

Day 4---I think my cycling days are over

Woke early again around 6.15.Had a leisurely breakfast and showers and lounged around for a while.R.suddenly announced that he was going to check out the bikes in the locked shed with code access.Assuming the code was the same as the house code he set to to open it.The padlock would not shift.He tried all sorts of ways to no avail.Meanwhile,I was sort of secretly hoping that he wouldn't get it open as I had not ridden a bike in about thirty five years and wasn't especially looking forward to it.

Eventually R phoned Nic the owner who assured him that the code was correct.So,back to the shed to try again,and again and again.Suddenly,somehow,it worked .The shed was opened to reveal two large sturdy bikes.

Looking at them I thought to myself ,'I can't possibly ride one of those,they are huge.'

R got one out and said,'Come on,have a try.'Well, I could hardly get my leg over the other side.When I did I suddenly lost my balance and went crashing down heavily onto the gravel hitting my sternum/right breast on the wooden edging to the ornamental grasses garden.I had two grazed knees and a sore right hand plus pain across my chest.R helped my up and indoors to tend to my knees. I seemed ok then but all thoughts of biking to a winery or two now abandoned we decided to just walk up the road to St Clair and the Makana chocolate factory.

At Makana we watched as orange peel was dipped in chocolate and left to set.I had to have some of those to munch so we bought a pack along with a box of Macadamia chocolate crunch which was so yummy.These were for a Christmas treat and had to be put away though.

Next,we called in at St Clair to taste five wines finally selecting a rather nice Sauvignon Blanc for Christmas.Meanwhile,R had been eyeing various platters being taken out to diners in the garden so asked to see the menu.The Monk's Platter for two looked very tempting so we decided to stay for lunch and found ourselves a pleasant spot in the garden.The platter comprised--Foccaccia bread,salami,gherkins,olives,smoked salmon pate,an excellent meat pate,finely shredded tomatoes with Feta,caramelised onions,crackers and blue and brie cheeses.We opted for a bottle of wine and took the remainder home.

We made a quick trip into Blenheim later and just spent the rest of the day relaxing whilst catching up with some laundry.

Day 5

Woke at 6 am so got up as it was moving on day today.We left at 9.20 to drive to Kaikoura.The sky got cloudier and then light drizzle started followed by some heavy downpours.Although we stopped at the seal colony at Ohau we did not linger.Both warm layers and rain jackets were needed but we were not out of the car for long

Driving in to Kaikoura we stopped at the i site for a map of the town. Then we tracked down Scarborough Rd and the apartment 'Absolutely' which was adjacent to an art gallery run by the same owner.Entrance was from the wooden deck area giving views of the ocean and mountains.This apartment was comfortable enough but a bit 'quirky' and not entirely to our taste but the views were wonderful.

When it had brightened a bit we decided to drive to the car park further along the peninsula and walk a while.We'd only just started when I knew that I could not make it up the incline to start the walk.The pain across my chest seemed much worse today and I was most uncomfortable.R said that we should find a hospital to be checked out.

Now,we had seen a sign for a hospital not far along the road from the apartment so we drove there.It turned out to be a geriatric hospital and I was directed to the medical centre next door where I was seen quite quickly.A nurse examined me and reassured me that nothing was broken,my lungs were fine and said that it was probably nothing more than bruised muscle and bone.Checking with the doctor it was decided that I should take Paracetamol and Ibuprofen at regular intervals and I was given a prescription for what seemed like vast quantities of the tablets.Apparently it was cheaper to have prescriptions for these amounts than buy over the counter.

After getting my medicine we went back and I rested.I was determined to not let this spoil my holiday though and would try to keep up with all the activities we had planned.

London
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3. Re: Trip Report---Our third visit---South Island only

Sorry to hear you hurt yourself - hope you're feeling better now.

However, I love the weka story!

Surrey England
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4. Re: Trip Report---Our third visit---South Island only

Thanks Kennydon,--I am totally off Wekas and bikes!

Today is the first day I have not had to take painkillers.Apparently internal bruising can take up to about six weeks to heal.

Rarotonga, Cook...
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5. Re: Trip Report---Our third visit---South Island only

Hi again Mummygaot,

Loved your previous trip reports. I'm going to really enjoy your latest reflections equally.

Sorry to hear you had a nasty fall. A little taste of the St Clair at day's end is also perhaps what the doctor ordered? Good to hear you kept your spirits up!

Looking forward to your next posting.

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6. Re: Trip Report---Our third visit---South Island only

Terrible about your fall MG

I suspect more fall off their bike AFTER a wine tour, not before.

Hope the healing is speedy.

Nelson-Tasman...
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7. Re: Trip Report---Our third visit---South Island only

OMg. How could you save Mahana chocolate. The chocolate macademia brittle is the best. But too good to keep!

Surrey England
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8. Re: Trip Report---Our third visit---South Island only

Thanks all.I'm a lot better but they say it takes between three to six weeks to heal and I guess the older you are the longer it takes.

It was very difficult to not start tucking into the chocolate.I agree Poppy,the macadamia brittle is to die for!

Well,here goes with the next instalment.

Day 6

Up early again and at breakfast I took my tablets as ordered.With two lots of painkillers,my normal medication and seasick tablets inside I am going to rattle today.These last two tablets were essential as it is whale watch day today and although sunny at the moment I still don't trust that ocean to stay calm.

We were on the mid morning trip with 10.30 briefing and it was still sunny.The seating on board was very comfortable and we all had to stay seated whilst the crew tracked the whales.Once in an area where there was possibly a whale we were allowed up and outside.It was all very well organised.When one was spotted we were told which side of the boat,port or starboard.During our time out we saw four sperm whales and different types of albatross flying overhead.It was all very exciting to see these magnificent creatures in their natural environment.I was glad I'd taken some seasickness pills though as the swell increased as the trip went on.Some people were sitting inside with sick bags!

Back on land I found a rather lovely sterling silver and paua shell pendant for my daughter who has a birthday on 21 January.

In the afternoon we managed a walk on the coastal peninsula path.The upward inclines were a bit slow going though for me but never mind.Onwards and upwards I say.

Had some really tasty fish and chips that night.

Day7

Woke early,very stiff as it is painful to turn in bed so up at 6 am.Switched on tv to what I thought was Breakfast on TV1 for the news and weather to find I was on a Maori programme.The weather in Maori was interesting as all the Engllish names have Maori equivalents.

Off to Lake Tekapo today so a long drive ahead.Off at 8.45 and at Amberley by 10.30 where we picked up route 72.We stopped in Rangiata to shop in the very good New World for a few food essentials.It was extremely windy here.

Driving on we encountered rain which got heavier and seemed endless but by the time we got to Geraldine at 1.55 it was much lighter.Filled up with petrol here.As we couldn't find a suitable stopping place for a picnic snack lunch or else it was tipping down we found ourselves carrying on until we reached L.Tekapo around 3ish.We called in at Earth and Sky to confirm the time of that night's Mt.John trip which we were booked on.

We then checked in to the motel we'd stayed in two years ago--Lake Tekapo Scenic Resort but this time only had a studio with limited cooking facilities so no proper oven or hob just a microwave.Being hungry we ate the fruit muffins we'd bought earlier and then had a nap as it was going to be a late night.Later,we had a makeshift meal of baked beans and little pies.

At 10.30 we set off on the short walk to Earth & Sky office.There was already quite a crowd gathering there.Then we were all told of the change of plan.Owing to strong winds on Mt.John with gusts of up to 100kph it was deemed unsafe for us to be up there.Instead,we were to be taken to the other observatory,Cowen.The good news was that the sky was clear so we'd see plenty of stars and we'd get a partial refund because of the change.

With fewer telescopes at Cowen it was still a great experience.After a general intoduction to the southern night sky which was very interesting as we could see the Southern Cross,Orion amongst others plus Sirius and the planet Jupiter.We took turns in groups to view through the couple of outside telescopes and the indoor one.

It was extrememy cold out there.I had on a long tee,possum/merino jumper,light fleece and a waterproof plus possum beanie with my hood up over.We were taken back around 12.45.Hot chocolate and bed.

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9. Re: Trip Report---Our third visit---South Island only

Day 8

Off to Aoraki/Mt.Cook today but first we drove up Mt. John for the views which were wonderful and to get a flat white at the Astro Cafe.

After all the oohing and aahing at the views we were really on our way.We planned to stop at the salmon farm on the canal near Lake Pukaki.First,we overshot the turning off SH8 so turned round and drove back only to find a sign telling us that the road was closed but we could reach the salmon farm from another turning further on.This was the road right by the lake so we turned right here and followed it for someway eventually finding the salmon farm.There were a few people fishing for their supper along the canal in the fish enclosures but the sign on the door of the shop said Closed and we could buy the salmon at Lake Pukaki.

So,back in the car and along the road until we came to the Mt.Cook lookout.There were stunning views of the mountain as it was a fine day with good visibility.There was also a shop selling salmon.With our fish purchase firmly packed in ice and in our cool bag we drove on looking for somewhere to eat lunch.Driving up the side of the lake we pulled off the road onto a gravelled area again with views of Mt.Cook.We've been spoilt for views today we thought.

The new motel,Aoraki Court was easy to find.We checked in around 2pm and were given the key to Unit 21,a very nice two bedroom corner apartment with full kitchen facilities,spa bath and shower.It was then that we saw the notice requesting that salmon and other seafood and spicy/pungent foods not be cooked in the motel units because of lingering odours.Big change of plan! The salmon in its vacuum pack with ice cube packing was put in the freezer and will be transported to Wanaka and eaten Christmas Eve.Dinner tonight was soup and cheese on toast.

Off then to explore and find The Hermitage and The Old Mountaineer's Cafe .We came across the excellent 'i' site and wandered around there.Then we wandered up to the hotel to find where we should meet for the Glacier Explorers Trip tomorrow.

There was a very nice clothing/gift shop at the hotel where I saw a lovely merino/possum/silk short sleeved jacket which would look lovely on Lizzie our daughter I thought.It was very expensive though.I left it there hanging.

On the way back we booked a table at The Old Mountaineer's Cafe for tomorrow night.A short walk back through some bush (Bowen's Walk) led us to the main road,just a short stroll from the motel.

After our gourmet meal we relaxed catching up with emails and reading.Later,I filled the hugh spa bath for a good soak before bed.

Day9

Happy Birthday husband dearest.R.opened some cards and a couple of presents before a boiled egg breakfast.At 8.50 we made our way up to The Hermitage and checked in for the tour.It was a lovely sunny warm morning .We boarded the coaches,all 39 of us for the drive to the Blue Lakes car park.From here it was a 15-20 mins walk to the Tasman Glacier Terminal lake.There was a large party of people from Singapore who took up two of the boats and the rest of us,independent travellers had the third.R and I and a young American guy were right in front with the guide.

Although there were not so many icebergs and those there were,were not large it was still a very interesting trip.We got to handle beautiful crystal clear ice and went right to the far end of the lake to see the Tasman Glacier.It was still warm and sunny.How lucky we were.

Back to shore and back to the village. Now,having had a second look at that jacket earlier in the day I went back into the shop for a third look.I knew then that I was going to buy it inspite of its price.I do hope she likes it.

After lunch back in our unit we put our boots on again to do part of the Hooker Valley walk,just to the second swingbridge.I was glad we had our boots on as there was some climbing up and down over rocks along the way.Not being a huge fan of swingbridges getting across these and back again took some effort on my part.I preferred not to look down at the raging waters of the Hooker river making its way over the rocks below.We did however,get some lovely views of the Mueller lake along the way.

We were back in time for tea and a slice of 'birthday'cake.This was a small iced fruit cake I had taken out to serve as both birthday and Christmas cake.

After a little rest we showered and changed and made our way to The Old Mountaineer for our 7pm booking.We liked it here as it was casual and friendly with good simple food.We both had 'Sir Edmund Hillary' sausages with potatoes and veg.R then had sticky date pudding and I had apple crumble.

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10. Re: Trip Report---Our third visit---South Island only

Another great chapter MG :)

When I did the Glacier Explorers trip a number of years ago the lake was more a pond it was so small. Now the lake has stretched out considerably as the glacier retreats.