A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: MarknKate

North Island

By Mark

sunny 20 °C
View Mark and Kate's 12 month holiday on MarknKate's travel map.

Apologies for the lack of updates - it's in fact been so long that we're now in the US! Oops...

With that in mind, we're going to skip past the rest of our time in New Zealand. Not because it was anything less than beautiful, exciting and a great experience, but just because it was now quite long ago.

A Fiji update will be uploaded shortly followed by our US adventures.

Thanks for sticking with us ;o)

Posted by MarknKate 22:20 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Picton to Wellington

By Mark

sunny 17 °C
View Mark and Kate's 12 month holiday on MarknKate's travel map.

Our time on the south island was now up and we were all set for the three hour crossing to the north island and our two and a half weeks there.

An uneventful crossing and we were in Wellington, captial of New Zealand (hands up who though it was Auckland?!). Our first major city for a while it took us a some time to get used to the number of people and the traffic...The Beast certainly is not designed for city driving!

Heading back into the city after a night spent camping on the outskirts we had one full day to explore and discover. After wandering the city streets, window shopping and browsing the stores we came across a particular kind of Chinese tea take away store that we'd discovered in Australia and Kate had fallen in love with. Essentially it's iced milk tea in a variety of different flavours served with tapioca balls in the bottom of the cup. I guess you either love or hate it, Kate's fallen in love with the stuff and upon arriving in a major town we're always on the look out for the local China town so she can get her fix!

We'd read that the Wellington museum, Te Apo, was one of the best in the country and so ended up spending a good few hours learning a little about the Maori culture, history and heritage as well as the background to some of the early European settlers.

Brains and tummys full it was time to set off to start exploring the rest of New Zealand.

Posted by MarknKate 19:27 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Marahau - Abel Tasman National Park

By Mark

sunny 21 °C
View Mark and Kate's 12 month holiday on MarknKate's travel map.

We'd now made our way to the far north of the south island and the Abel Tasman National Park - an area known for it's beautiful coastal scenery, calm waters and world class sea kayaking.

With just one night up here, we found a suitable purveyor of kayaking goodness, paid our fare and were booked in for the next days morning departure.

With neither one of us having ever kayaked before it was going to be a new experience for both of us. Teaming in up in two person kayaks, it was something we could expereince together however.


After the safety drill and general preparation we were off. The scenery was beautiful and the weather had been kind to us with a glorious bright and warm day.

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We'd booked the half day experience and after two hours paddling were glad we hadn't opted for the full day...both of us were suffering from aching arms, not enough to put a dampner on the day but certainly enough to know we'd be feeling it the next day!

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Posted by MarknKate 19:23 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Fox Glacier

Ice Hiking - By Kate

overcast 14 °C

Arriving at the Fox Glacier we decided to try our hand at Ice Hiking. Fox Glacier Guides were offering a half day hike which included one and a half hours hiking up through forest to get to the glacier and around an hour hiking on the actual glacier itself. At 1:35pm we arrived at the centre to be given our equipment and meet our guide. The summer walking shoes we had brought before we left England weren't really going to be up to the job of walking on a piece of ice that was hundreds of metres thick so we would have to borrow some more suitable boots.

Kitted out we headed off to the start of the glacier and the next four odd hours of serious hiking. The ascent was pretty hard going and the weight of my workman like boots weren't exactly helping. There were around 700+ uphill steps that needed to be traversed before we even got close to the glacier. With our guide pushing us on we all made it to the various pausing points without incident. Soon it would be time to strap on our crampons and climb onto that ice.

Firstly though we had to traverse a couple of areas where shifting rocks could have fallen on us at anytime. Cling onto a chain rope whilst negotiating steps up the side of a pass. Climb a 3 metre ladder to reach the final section which of course was more steps leading even further upwards. Arriving at the edge of the glacier we were all instructed on how to attach our crampons and told a few tips on how not to spend the next hour sliding all over the ice!!

The steps that were taking us up onto the glacier itself were freshly cut that morning and such is the ever changing environment new steps have to be created afresh each day ready for the next batch of ice hikers. We stomped our way over the glacier climbing higher and higher untill we got to a suitable vantage point where photos could be easily taken to record our assent. During all this our guide was giving us lots of factual information about the glacier, how it was formed, how it's changing etc etc. I wish I could tell you more detailing these wonderful facts but the truth is my thoughts simply kept returning to the fact that a) my feet were bloody freezing and b) we still had to hike all the way back to the bottom to get the bus back! Still, the views were pretty amazing.

In actual fact the journey back down was a lot faster than going up and once we reached the bus and I could look back at the amazing and beautiful glacier that I had just spent the last four hours climbing I once again felt that sense of achievment.....along with the dull ache of cramp starting to form in my thighs and shins!

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Posted by MarknKate 19:19 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Queenstown - jumping off high things

To jump or not to jump..... By Mark and Kate

sunny 16 °C

  • **Mark***

Whilst New Zealand appears to be full of places where they prompt you to jump of something high, raft down something fast and rocky or jump out of a airplane; nowhere is it more prevelent than in Queenstown - adventure spots capital of New Zealand (with all they have on offer, perhaps the world!?).

It's practically law that if you decide to spend a night in Queenstown you have to do something foolhardy and seemingly life threatening. I have to admit, the thought of jumping of a high platform did actually appeal to me and I'd been researching the different options on the journey. I'd decided to partake in a Canyon Swing, a jump off a 109 metre platform with a sheer cliff face to the side, a fast flowing river at the bottom and another cliff face on the opposite side. The concept is simple; step 1, throw yourself off the platform, step 2, freefall 60 metres, step 3, let the cord do it's thing (this is an important step) and step 4, complete a massive 150 kph swing across the canyon. Sounds like a blast in both writing and principal, standing 109 metres up looking over the edge it's a whole different ball game!

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Glad i did it? You bet! Prepared to do something else as stupid in the future? Watch this space ;o)

  • **Kate***

So, after witnessing Mark throw himself off something stupidly high I have to admit that I had a slight sense of jealousy, a small amount of excitement and wonder as to whether I too could do something similar. After spending most of the next day arguing with myself the pros and cons of straping an elastic cord to my body and throwing myself off a perfectly good platform (pro - sense of achiement/excitement, con - possible death) I decided to bite the bullet and proceed with something I previously never had any real intent to do.

'The Ledge' was the bungy of choice....a 47m (154ft) urban bungy over the city of Queenstown!! The Gondola ride up to the top was proving scary enough, could I really do this?? There was no queue, no one else jumping, just the booking office where the final yes was waiting to be given. The word was released from my mouth and suddenly I was on my way to my bungy experience.

Strapped in by a harness rather than by the feet (no detatched retina for me thank you) the girl started to give the countdown. reached 1 and still I didn't move. Aparently all I had to do was run and jump off the ledge, she made it all sound so simple. We started a countdown once more, this was the one!

Running (more like stumbling) towards the edge I threw myself off. I wish I could say the view down was amazing but I'm not ashamed to say I had my eyes closed for the majority of the time. I was falling and falling, then at last, thankfully the elastic came into effect and I was being bounced around in full view of the people taking their mundane trip in the gondolas. It was finally at this point that I slowly opened my eyes and could see the amazing view from this truely unique vantage point. Lifted back up, my feet firmly on the ground, I could at last let myself feel a sense of achievement.

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Posted by MarknKate 13:06 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Doubtful Sound

Penguins and Seals and Dophins - oh my! By Kate

overcast 12 °C

Which one to Cruise??!

In the Fiorland area of New Zealand there are two main fiords that you can take cruises along. The more accessable and therefore more touristy Milford Sound or the more remote and therefore less spoiled Doubtful Sound. Visually they both sounded beautiful and were fairly evenly matched on price for what we wanted to do. As we had our own transport and therefore location wasn't really a problem we decided to opt for Doubtful Sound. It was also meant to have slightly more wildlife and a resident pod of dolphins that play in the water so that all sounded good.

We had read that the best way to see the area was to take an overnight cruise, you got to spend more time out in the fiord and therefore got to see more than a simple day cruise. On arriving at the tourist info center in Invercargill we were told the main company that operates out there, Real Journeys (they run a 70 passenger boat) were fully booked for several days. However the very helpful staff at the centre told us about another company, Deep Cove Charters that also did an overnight cruise. It was a much smaller boat, only 12 passengers and so could venture where the bigger boats couldn't and you could try your hand at a spot of fishing, they had space for the day we needed so we were booked on!

To get to Doubtful Sound you have to drive to the small town of Manapouri, cross the large lake, get driven across Wilsons Pass and then pick up your boat for the start of the cruising around the fiordlands. Of course all of the scenery whilst doing this is absolutly stunning.

Chris, our captain, met us off the first boat and packed us all into his mini van to start the journey across the Wilsons Pass. Unfotunatly it was raining at this point but with the area averaging over 7 metres of rainfall a year this wasn't to be unexpected. We stoped at various points along the way while Chris shared his knowledge about the area. Then it was time to head on down towards our waiting vessel...

The boat itself was lovely, it had a large open plan seating area where crew (x3) and passengers (x10) could sit and mingle together. There were two outside areas to venture onto but with the rain still refusing to stop we all prefered to stay in the dry and once we had all been shown where we would be sleeping for the night it was time to push off.

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We headed out and started our trip down one of the many arms of the fiord. Thankfully the rain started to ease and soon enough it was time to stop the boat and all have a go at fishing. Now this wouldn't normally interest me but I was willing to give it a go and see what we could catch, after catching a few smaller fish to use as bait we were wanting to see some bigger specimen so we headed on out to try a new spot. The rain had stopped and the sun even made it out from behind the cloud, it was turning into a beautiful day. We stopped again to try our luck for some bigger fish. I cast my rod out with the stong belief that this would by my catch. Soon I had a bite and was realing it in, as it was getting heavier and harder to real it in I knew I had something pretty impresive and it was, a beautiful blue cod, the largest caught all day and it was put aside to go with our dinner that night.

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After we had headed out to the main sea to look at the seal coloney basking on the rocks we headed back towards where we would be settling for the night. Chris had informed us that there were dolphins around but that they hadn't seen them yesterday so wasn't sure if we would catch a glimpse that day. Thankfully he was wrong and soon enough we heard the word 'DOLPHIN' shouted out. We all rushed outside to catch a glimpse and were greated by around 15 dolphins swiming around in the distance. Soon enough a few of them were coming over to play along side the boat twisting and turning coming right up out of the water, Chris wacked up the speed to get them playing some more and they were soon jumping right out in the wake created by the boats movement. Truely amazing!

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All on a high from our dolphin encounter we headed back into the hub of the warm boat to be greated by an amazing dinner of vennison pie (wild venisson caught by the crew no less!) veggies and our freshly caugh fish cooked to perfection. Soon it was time to head below to our tiny cabins to get some well deserved sleep. It wasn't long after I had eventually drifted off that the sound of the engines started again and this signalled our 6:30am start to head back to the mainland and civilisation once more. Sadly it had started to rain again but this wouldn't dampen our enjoyment of the last 24 hours.

Posted by MarknKate 12:59 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Drive from Purakaunui... to Curio Bay

By Mark

sunny 17 °C

Well rested we set off to take in a number of the waterfalls that our located in this region; Purakaunui Falls, Maclean Falls and a third the name of which escapes me.

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We'd been recommended a great campsite by a friendly internet cafe owner in Dunedin which was supposed to be located on the top of the headland looking down into Curio Bay beach where dolphins and seals were supposed to reside. We arrived in the early afternoon and the campsite was beautiful, with each individual site cut back into dense folliage and only a short walk down to the beach.

After a quick settle in and getting the laundry done (these tasks don't get left behind at home you know) we strolled down to the beach on the look out for a pod of dolphins or perhaps a seal or two.

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Alas, no dolphins on this afternoon, but we did come across a seal lazing about on the beach. We stopped, sat and watched for a while hoping he'd get a bit more animated... Our patienced paid off as the little fella suddenly sat up, stretched, pooped and decided it was time to head for the water.

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Not nearly as agile or elegant on land he was soon darting about in the water just off shore and ocassionally body surfing the small waves into shore. Making his way across the beach he appeared to get curious about a group of 6 or so people waist deep in the water so he went over to investigate...right in the middle of them!


The people got quite a fright when they finally spotted him and whilst he did seem to be just playing around with them a couple of times he did bear some frighteningly sharp teeth!

A stop off at New Zealands southern most point and lunch in Invercargill and then we were off to the Fiordlands.

Posted by MarknKate 12:54 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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