gnine: (Travel)
[personal profile] gnine
Just kidding mom, y'know I love you guys! Actually, all things considered, we handled it pretty well and no one was dead at the end, so really, I'm gonna count that as a win! ^_-

So, I actually started writing up this post less than a week after the trip finished on May 6th but then life got in the way. Really this time, not just me being lazy! My last two weeks of work at Tourism New Zealand were crazy busy in preparation of the handover, worked long hours and then this past weekend it was a lot of farewell get-togethers and goodbyes. And packing, can't forget that (no matter how much I may wish it at times :-p). But, thought it appropriate to get my last big New Zealand post up before I head off to Australia in two days. Meep! Where does the time go?!

*cough* Anyway, without further ado, my travel log of the 'rents visit:

So, less than a month after the sibs and our whirlwind tour, the parental units arrived in New Zealand. Like with [livejournal.com profile] xparrot and the bro, they took connecting flights straight on to Queenstown and I met them down there. Beyond that afternoon/evening exploring Queenstown itself, I managed to do almost no repetition with the previous trip. \o/ Itinerary planning skillz, I haz them! ^_-

The next morning, we headed northeast of Queenstown, following the road along Lake Wakatipu and getting some gorgeous views along the way. Reaching the end of the road, we took a few hours to walk the beginning of the Routeburn Track before retracing our steps.

The drive there and back was alone worth it! A few shots snapped from the car:







That afternoon, we continued on our way to Lake Te Anau, where in my dad proceeded to be the idiot I know and love:



This was while we were waiting to catch the boat that would take us to the small glowworm cave on the other side of the lake. This cave was nothing compared the the sheer glee that was my Waitomo experience...which I have still not actually posted about. OOPS!! (Soooo, briefly, Waitomo caves, in the middle of the North Island, is this massive cave system that is famous for its glow worms. Unique to New Zealand, these grub have bioluminescence that makes them give off this pale, teal-tinted light. They like caves and grottos, and transformed the cave ceilings into a miniature night sky. In December, me and the housemates took a roadtrip up to Waitomo for the weekend, where a former housemate, who works as a cave guide, snuck us in for free for the full two hour caving experience, wet suits, spelunking helmets, the works. It was AMAZING! There was crawling through tight passages and climbing and jumping from waterfalls and floating down subterranean rivers in an inner tube with only the glow of a million worms to light the way. Truly one of the most fantastic things I've ever ever done. Right up there with bungy jumping..oh New Zealand, you've given me such awesome experiences!^____^

Couldn't take a camera into the caves as we got wet. Very very wet. But our guide had a waterproof one with her and we got a few shots.



Some shimmying through a narrow crevice.



The group with our inner tubes.

And here's a shot of a quick drawing I did as a thank you to our guide. Summed up our activities nicely...^_-



Okay, enough about Waitomo, seeing as that was quite a few months back now...)

Anyways, glow worm cave visited with the 'rents was much smaller, and only a dry walking tour with a little jaunt in a tiny boat (no crazy spelunking tours) but was still very cool. And the big glowworm grotto that the boat took us in was amazing, floating in the dark, everyone hushed, the ceiling painted in a million tiny lights. And then the boat we took back to Te Anau from the caves crossed Lake Te Anau, which was pitch black as it was already getting pretty late and NO light pollution out on the water and we had an AMAZING view of the night sky, the milkyway was very clear and dad got his first few of the Southern Cross. As a life long star gazer, it made him very very happy.

Next day we headed out bright and early to Doubtful Sound. Though the day started out overcast and gray, by the time we got over Lake Manapori, and through the pass leading to the sound (with a short stop underground in this huge subterranean damn. Very cool!) the day was absolutely clear and sunny.



Our first view of the Sound from the mountain pass. I was more thrilled than my expression might suggest but well,  we had to get up EARLY for this tour, okay?! ^_-

The good weather made for a very different experience compared to Milford Sound, despite the similarities in landscape. Can't actually decide which I enjoyed more. The rain and mist certainly added atmosphere at Milford, but not being freezing, windblown and wet made for a more pleasant experience overall. Also allowed us to see more wildlife.



Dolphins! Came up to the boat two different times. There were also seals and little blue penguins far out in the water, but they were tiny enough to be very hard to spot (but that was fine, got a MUCH better view of the adorable little things later in the trip! ^_-) Overall it was a very pleasant few hours on the boat, soaking up the sun, enjoying the ridiculously beautiful views.



Next day we headed off to Dunedin, though only had a brief stop there, as we had to make it to Oamaru in time for the penguins. Still, got to see a bit of downtown, including their beautiful train station:



And also spent an hour or two on the Otago peninsula, which offered more stunning views and terrifying(ly fun to drive! for me anyways ^_-, I think the 'rents were a bit more...perturbed by some of the sharp curves and crazy steep drop offs) roads.





On the way between Dunedin and Oamaru, we stopped briefly at the Moeraki boulders, which were just fascinating.





So round!

We finally pulled into Oamaru a little before sunset, plenty of time before the penguins were due to arrive at the colony. The Little Blue Penguin colony at Oamaru is a sanctuary where wild birds come home to roost, protected mostly from predators. At night, they have a viewing area where spectators can watch them come in from the sea. And come they did. SO MANY. SO CUTE! The ladies at the place said that at the time of year we were at, usually only 15-30 were expected. We saw one large raft and two smaller, that were estimated to be almost 100 birds all together! They said they'd only gotten two days in the summer that high! They were so little...and noisy and waddled and seriously. Dead. from. Cute!

See, we weren't actually supposed to take any pictures and film. In the past, people could, but flashes kept going off and scaring the birds so it was banned...I..err...might have snuck some anyways. OOPS! But, I was filming from my coat, to make sure no light from the camera could be seen so the video and pics are only so so. But, still, managed one or two...





This little one was only about a foot from the fence, just hanging out. Chilling. Slaying me with the cute, as you do...if you're a tiny cute adorable penguin of adorable cuteness.

...Okay, so I may have just been a whee bit enamored of the penguins. But...in the words of my very jealous sister, "But...but they're penguins and they're little! And blue!"

After our evening of glorious penguin viewing, we set out the next day to head back to the West Coast (Oamaru and Dunedin are on the East Coast of the South Island, Doubtful Sound before that on the West. Why yes, our trip WAS crazy and zigzaggy.) crossing some lovely countryside on our way.





Also, waterfalls and rivers with gorgeous-colored water. The 'rents were enjoying themselves.

Finally, we made it back to the Western shores just in time for sunset.



Next on the itinerary was Fox Glacier. No helicopter and glacier walk this time around, but still a very nice hike up to quite close to the glacier face.



Afterward, we went to nearby Lake Matheson, which was suppose to offer great views of Mount Cook reflecting in the still waters. Initially, it was as promised:



But by the time we got to the lake, those clouds had all moved in and the view of the mountains was completely obscured. :-p However, it was really only one of like 3 days we got overcast skies/drizzle the whole 19 days, so really, can't complain.

Making our way up the coast, we stopped at Pancake rocks, which was quite cool.



And got to Motoeka, the gateway to Golden bay. This was one of the few places we stayed two nights in a row, which was nice. Golden bay was spectacular (okay, yes, I know, what part of New Zealand isn't?!) and mom and I got to take our shoes off for a bit and wade in the surf.



Then we had a short walk on basically the tip of the South Island, stunning views yet again.



I just can't get over the color of the water. Love that teal!

On the way back that first evening, we stopped at these springs that are amazing in both the amount of water they pump out (like 40 bathtub fulls a second) and its clarity. Apparently it has some of the farthest visibility in any water in the world, over 60 meters. Sadly, the pictures don't fully capture it. But in the one below, to give a bit of an idea, that sandy patch you can see under the ripples...that's like 3 meters down.



There was another bit that was a LOT deeper (like, upwards of 15, 20 meters maybe?), which you could still see crazy clearly except it was hard to photograph, as the ripples from where the springs were bubbling up distorted it. But the water itself, yeah, no distortion. Never seen water like that.

Next day we took a long hike into Abel Tasman national park, along the bay. As you can probably guess, it was beautiful.





Then it was off to Nelson, me to fly back to Wellington, and the rents to continue on to Picton, which I'd already been to on my own in January (pics of that trip can be found here. I really have been baaad about posting my New Zealand stuff. OOPS.)

Spent two days catching up on work and then Saturday headed over to Te Papa, the national museum. We wandered around there for a bit and then my dad was an idiot once more:



...the statue is a known Wellington Landmark. Oh father..^_-

Next day we rented our second car of the trip (the return of the Nissan Sunny, which was the hamster-powered car of the first part of the trip with the sibs. This one was a slightly later model, but still...yeah, NO ENGINE :-p) and started our North Island adventure.

On the drive we had a great rainbow for a bit. And then dad, the trainspotter that he is, got super lucky to have this opportunity. I couldn't help snapping a few myself. I'm no where as bad as him, but I do hold a fondness for trains as well.



Our final goal for the day was Napier, on the East Coast. Due to a massive earthquake in the early 1930s, the entire town was rebuilt in the art deco style, much of which remains today. Cool place, and treated us to another gorgeous sunset.





Our next stop was Rotorua, which shares in common with Yellowstone both thermal pools and being in the middle of a super volcano. Whee. Well, really, that whole region is, but yeah. Awesome geological stuff going on!







...yes, it really was that color. Nicknamed the Devil's Bath. Hee...

Though different from Yellowstone is the Maori village. Smack in the middle of these hot pools. They cook in them even (and the food is quite tasty, we had some for lunch! ^_^)





Just love the houses chilling in the background of these billowing pools. There's these three tall geysers that can be viewed from only just behind those houses, too.

Following that, we headed up to Coromandel. We arrived at night and almost everything was closed, had to forage for food. But in doing so found this hilarious office hours sign.



The next mourning, we headed out early to see Cathedral cove. Absolutely stunning.



(The little dots are the 'rents.)



Though we sadly didn't get to stay too long as we had to make it to Hot Water Beach before the tide came in. Hot water beach was something I'd wanted to visit since hearing about it shortly after arriving in New Zealand. There's a small natural hotspring that comes up right under the beach and if you dig in the sand in lowtide, you can make your own hotpool before the tide slowly comes and washes it away.

It was crowded but fun and the battle with the oncoming tide was hilarious.



The water in those pools was HOT. It was almost a relief when the waves washed over, to be honest.

To cross from the east to the West side of the Coromandel peninsula, we took this crazy winding dirt road (which was again crazy fun to drive...also just CRAZy!)



Gravel makes hairpin turns all the more fun! ^_-

On the way, we stopped at one of the older Kauri trees in the country, though nothing compared to a later one we saw, this one known for its square shape.



Bypassing Auckland, we headed off to the Bay of Islands. Spent two nights there as well. Amazing place! Great sunset our first night, too.



And the next day, Mom took me to do something she's been bragging about since last year. Parasailing! SO AMAZING! Beautiful views and just...quiet. The silence at 1200 ft. is almost as stunning as the views.





Course our laughter didn't keep it quiet for too long! ^_-





Our boat, with Dad, who's rather "meeeeh" when it comes to heights, faaaaar below. So need to do it again sometime! Definitely one of the best ways to see an area like that!

Also, randomly in the area, cool flowers:



That evening, we attempted to go for a coastal walk...emphasis on attempt, as we discovered it was a low tide walk and well...low tide then, eeeh, not so much?



Dad turned back pretty early, but mom and I almost thought we'd make it till we finally hit a no-go point. Still, got some pretty views out of the attempt:



Next mourning, it was time to start meandering back to Auckland. To do so we crossed over and made our way down the western side of the Northland area. Saw more pretty coast.



And more Kauri trees, including the oldest one in New Zealand, estimated at somewhere around 2000 years!



Big tree is big. Also, hard to see, but that dab of red at the base is my mom. To get an extra idea of the size, in this picture, mom is still standing a good 5 to 10 feet in front of the base of the tree (there was no way to get right up to the trunk).

Just outside of Auckland, we stopped at one of the large black sand beaches, a little north of where I took the sibs. Again, huge, wide beaches are HUGE!!!





Those itty bitty specs, all people. And you can kinda see some pretty far out cause the water stayed shallow, only like knee height, all the way till where those first big, long waves are cresting. From what we could tell, tide was maybe half way in at this point.

Our last day we spent exploring Auckland, some of which I left the 'rents to do on their own as I'd already done it when first arriving in New Zealand. But, with the added advantage of a car, were able to head to two of the cities many valcanos.



Yes, that is the caldera of a volcano. Right in Auckland. There's only like 30 of them dotting the landscape. None of which are fully dormant. OOPS!

And now, I leave you with a fitting image for one of my last shots of New Zealand. Sheeeep!





So...three crazy whirlwind weeks, done and done. As is my time in New Zealand. It's been great here, gonna miss it (like all my countries. OOPS!) But, so excited about Australia. Maybe I'll be better about posting my adventures there. *fingers crossed*

Oh, and as always, you can see more pics on my picsa, link below, (or my G+, which, while still bad about, I swear I'm waaaay better at updating than LJ...)

New Zealand Rents 2012
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gnine

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