Monday, 30 December 2013

Meet Eric

This is Eric. He is currently sleeping about 200m away from where we are camping. Apparently he has some friends who are penguins who will be joining him at dusk.

In case you’re getting too jealous, it is raining. It does that a lot here.

But to head back to where we last left you, we have a lot to update you with.  We did go and see the Moeraki boulders which are a really bizarre geological thing. Here are some pictures.
The archeological remains of events a long
time ago in a galaxy far, far away

We didn’t stay there long, as there’s not a lot else to do around spherically shaped rocks, so we jumped on our trusty steed and headed further south to Dunedin.  On the way to our lovely edge of town campsite we climbed Mount Cargill, which is the mountain that dominates the skyline of Dunedin, hoping to see some wonderful views. 

We have since learnt that it is known as Cloud Mountain, and is so often in cloud the plants on it have adapted to those conditions. Nice walk though. And there is another bizarre rock formation known as the organ pipes half way up. Here is a picture of the organ pipes.

After mooching about in Dunedin town centre (very nice) and a lovely meal we took the opportunity to watch The Hobbit : The Desolation of Smaug.  We think it was good, but with the 3d it was hard to tell what was actually going on.

Yesterday we went on an epic cycle ride! We did the south bit of the Central Otago Rail Trail. The weather was warm, sunny and windy. The landscape was increasingly spectacular as we went along and felt a bit like cycling through Rohan. Which turned out to be almost the case, we were one mountain range over.

We’d started late, finished late, grabbed some food, slept for a bit then went for a Sea Kayak out in the Dunedin bay where we saw seals (furry rocks) and a small blue penguin (official name).  And cormorants.  So that was a wonderful but very tiring 24 hours! After lunch we’ve headed even further south to this lovely bay just inside the Caitlins national park. Tomorrow we’re intending to mooch along and see where we end up.  

If we don’t get online between now and then, Happy New Year everyone!

Word of the day: changeable

James on top of Mount Cargill.  In the summer.

One of the many viaducts on the Central Otago Rail Trail

P.S. As we were uploading the blog, this happened:

Friday, 27 December 2013

Swimming with the fishes, although they are actually mammals.

Happy Christmas to everyone!

On Christmas morning we went to the ‘Transitional Cathedral’, also known as the cardboard cathedral in Christchurch.  We accidentally went to the old one first – the earthquake damage is extensive.  The temporary replacement is not actually made from cardboard, but it was decorated with toilet roll tubes.

James on our walk
The day was blazing hot, which felt weird for Christmas.  Everyone who spoke in the service was a woman (including the bishop), but all of the choir were men.

We drove from there to the Banks Peninsula – if you look on a map, it looks like a wart sticking out of Christchurch.  We ended up at a campsite called French Farm.  Actually, campsite stretches it a bit – it was a picnic table and a toilet block.

Not the hill, but similar!
We attempted to go cycling in the afternoon, but accidentally broke James on an enormous hill.  We did manage to go for a little walk in the rain when his heart rate had returned to human levels.  Oh yes, it was no longer blazingly hot.

Yesterday we went swimming with dolphins from Akaroa.  They are really cute, small, rare Hector’s dolphins, and we had to go out into the raging tempestuous ocean to find them.  We were really blessed because we were the first in 6 boats that day to see any, and James fed them his lunch.  Let’s say he gained his sea legs, but not his sea stomach.

From there we drove to Okains Bay along the summit road.  When the clouds broke it was pretty spectacular.  Okains Bay was beautiful, but wet and cold, so we left there today for Dunedin.  We stopped for lunch by Lake Forsyth, where for some reason there were chickens running around as well as ducks.  We’re currently camped up in Moeraki, and hope to see the famous Moeraki Boulders tomorrow.

Word of the day: hedgehog
Okains Bay
Moeraki Bay

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

A brilliant birthday present

Christmas Eve.
Here’s a picture of James with his birthday present.

Thank you for all your birthday wishes, and apologies for slow or no acknowledgment, we’ve not had an internet connection for some time.

I’ll jump straight to it, this is a picture of where we had dinner on Christmas Eve. Spaghetti Bolognese, since you ask. Turns out campervanning is like camping, but less minging.  And you have to be very tidy.

To wind back a day, not a whole lot to report on the 23rd, we got the van, got a bit confused trying to shop in Christchurch and went for a wander on New Brighton Beach.  We did find our way to Christchurch centre, and saw the extent of the Earthquake damage.
Today we set out to do some gentle mountain biking to ease James back into the world of physical exertion. We never made it, we kept getting distracted by views like this. Lovely short walk up Rakaia Gorge  near Mount Hutt. 

After fighting off the Orcs on the eastern shore we experienced the famous changeable weather. We are now parked up on shore of Lake Coleridge, which we found on an off chance. Oh my life. It really is the colour in the picture.  This is kind of how we hope it would be.

Heading to Christchurch Cathedral for Christmas day service in the morning.

Word of the day:  Handbrake*

*this is a new feature, lets see how long it lasts. 

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Jet lag...

... we think.  It might just be that we haven't slept.  Quite weird to be getting ready for bed (a very very early night) now while the rest of you are just getting up.

We arrived safely in Hong Kong with no major mishaps.  The views from the windows over china were spectacular. Arid deserts, snow capped mountains. Stunning.

The next hop to Auckland was the one where we intended to sleep. James did a bit (and is now feeling much healthier) Helen not at all. We'd also received an upgrade to Business class as compensation for Cathay Pacific bumping us onto an earlier flight. Which was in fact a more convenient flight for us, but hey, don't look a gift horse in the fully reclining seat.

So we're here, we've watched a lot of airline movies and TV, and have had an afternoon wandering around the harbour in Auckland trying to stay awake and reset our body clocks. If you want to know what that bit of Auckland is like, think Salford Quays with subtropical weather. And a very high tower you can pay to jump off.

It is warm here.

Christchurch tomorrow, and James gets a campervan for his birthday!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

The adventure begins...

... with James being a bit ill.

We're packing this evening, and there may be a trip to the doctors in the morning, but otherwise all seems to be ok.  Hopefully 24 hours sitting down doing nothing on a plane will help him - maybe not exactly restful, but should be fairly stress free.

Tomorrow we're flying with Cathay Pacific from Heathrow to Hong Kong.  We'll have about 2 hours in Hong Kong before flying again with Cathay Pacific to Auckland (we don't want to shout about it, but we got upgraded...).  We'll land in Auckland 7.30am on Sunday, or 6.30pm your time on Saturday!

We'll stay one night in Auckland, and hopefully from there we'll update you again!