New Zealand: Wellington’s got wind…real bad wind!

After crossing over to the North Island on the Picton ferry we spent a couple of hectic days in the wind tunnel that is New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington. Bar seeing the imposing and impressive Te Papa museum we didn’t linger long in the capital, trading the hustle and bustle (and wind and rain) of city life for the far more calming scenery (and free parking) of the countryside as we headed north…

 New Plymouth

P1010744

P1010736

P1010719

New Plymouth’s wind wand.

Taupo

P1010767

We woke up to this view at our campsite.

P1010856

P1010771

P1010753

Napier

P1010840

P1010820

Tauranga

P1010976

P1010979

Yep the sea was actually that colour!

P1010986

P1010988

 

Unfortunately Wellington’s propensity for high winds seems to be a trend in the north island, the north being much flatter than the south, meaning that driving the van has at times felt like riding a frenzied bull intent on throwing us from the road.

Leaving the coast helped slightly, yet little did we know we were in for a different kind of wind… the smelly sulphur, egg-aroma belches that bubble up out of the highly volcanic land… but more on that on our next post!

 

Speak soon,

 

Ben and Jess :)

New Zealand: 200 seal pups…enough said!

The Origin of Travel:

Reblogging because the new updates have confused us slightly and we’re not sure this post posted properly!

Originally posted on The Origin of Travel:

When a passing traveller tells you about a beautiful waterfall which is not only free and easy to access but is also home to 200 seal pups who live and play freely in the falls, you go!

 

It was in Kaikoura, a haven of wildlife, that we found this gem of nature and having seen around 500 adult seals the previous day we didn’t think it possible to be more impressed, but boy were we wrong…

 P1010601

P1010548 P1010540

P1010596

This seemed to be their favourite spot to play.

P1010600

We were literally only feet, and at times inches, away from them!

P1010609

P1010588

That’s a guilty face if ever we saw one!

 

And since they already got a mention we wouldn’t want to leave out the adult seals, which in their vast numbers were very impressive in themselves.

 

P1010420

Dead flies? Nope, more seals!

P1010379

Strike a pose!

View original 37 more words

New Zealand: 200 seal pups…enough said!

When a passing traveller tells you about a beautiful waterfall which is not only free and easy to access but is also home to 200 seal pups who live and play freely in the falls, you go!

 

It was in Kaikoura, a haven of wildlife, that we found this gem of nature and having seen around 500 adult seals the previous day we didn’t think it possible to be more impressed, but boy were we wrong…

 P1010601

P1010548 P1010540

P1010596

This seemed to be their favourite spot to play.

P1010600

We were literally only feet, and at times inches, away from them!

P1010609

P1010588

That’s a guilty face if ever we saw one!

 

And since they already got a mention we wouldn’t want to leave out the adult seals, which in their vast numbers were very impressive in themselves.

 

P1010420

Dead flies? Nope, more seals!

P1010379

Strike a pose!

P1010376

P1010375

P1010355

P1010339

P1010330

As you’ll probably notice the following pictures are not of seals but the sunrise at our campsite was too gorgeous to not let you see it too…

P1010289

P1010293

P1010315

 

That’s the highlights for Kaikoura, speak to you soon,

 

Ben and Jess :) 

 

New Zealand: So I threw up on a dolphin…

Ok so the title of this post definitely needs an explanation and don’t worry we won’t leave you hanging!

Our dolphin watch tour in Kaikoura turned out to be a little bit of a double edged sword. On the one edge you have dolphins; lots and lots of dolphins. The tour took us out into the Pacific Ocean and found an enormous group of Dusky Dolphins (the crew estimated there were 4 – 500 there that day) who swam along with the boat in large groups and entertained everyone with much leaping from the water. This part of the tour was absolutely incredible and was an utterly unforgettable experience, which even included a brief glance at a sperm whale as well.

The other edge of the dolphin watch sword involved a particularly aggressive bout of sea sickness striking Ben who spent the majority of the 3 hours at sea emptying the contents of his stomach into a bucket and yes… onto a passing dolphin! We were however able to laugh about the situation (though only afterwards) and were reassured that the dolphins are quite used to it! We also managed to take some photos despite the sea’s best efforts to throw us both and our camera overboard.

P1010464

P1010483

P1010490

P1010484

Swimmers with the dolphins.

P1010521

A Dusky Dolphin living up to its reputation as the most acrobatic of dolphin species.

P1010511

P1010504

We were privileged to see this rare type of Dusky Dolphin which is entirely black without the silver underbelly.

P1010496

More showing off…

P1010499

One last flip for the cameras.

 

So that was our experience with the Dusky Dolphins and next time we’ll continue our Kaikoura highlights with our up close and personal interaction with over 200 seal pups!

 

Ben and Jess :)

 

New Zealand: Armed and dangerous!

The small, coastal Barrytown turned out to be less a town and more three houses and a sheep but despite our initial uncertainty upon discovering said lack of civilisation, nonetheless it was here we found ourselves for a lesson in becoming master blacksmiths!

 

P1010259

 

Ok, so master was a slight overstatement but Barrytown Knifemaking does offer the opportunity to forge and craft your own small blade, which you take home as a pretty cool souvenir. We were supervised all the way through the process from forging the basic shape of our own knife from a shaft of steel all the way up to the final sanding, shaping and polishing of the handle and blade.

 

P1010224

Everyone hard at work.

P1010230

Concentrating hard.

P1010234

P1010236

P1010238

Mind your fingers!

P1010233

It’s getting there…slowly!

P1010241

P1010245

P1010249

P1010248

P1010256

P1010257

Diamonds in the rough.

P1010258

After some hefty assistance from the blacksmith!

P1010261

P1010264

P1010263

After final shaping, varnishing and polishing.

P1010266

Everyone’s hard days work.

 

So there you have it, we are now fully armed and dangerous! ;)

 

Ben and Jess :)

New Zealand: We’re the best swingers in town…

Being strapped to a small harness suspended on a zip wire, itself attached to the mountainside a couple of thousand feet in the air, sound like fun? Well that was the situation we found ourselves in, questioning our own sanity, as we prepared for our Queenstown ledge swing…

 

A brief backtrack: our journey to Queenstown from Dunedin was something of an epic, taking about 4 hours and pretty much driving coast to coast. That being said it was actually a fantastic trip as our journey took us across a huge variety of beautiful scenery. We drove through wide expansive flat lands, past rivers, lakes, hills and valleys accompanied often by sprawling mists that lay over and wrapped around the landscape. We passed through giant fog banks, across fields of grape vines and all the time with huge birds of prey soaring above us and mountains on the horizon. As we got closer to Queenstown the rivers and lakes took on the most incredible shades of blues and turquoises that you have to see to believe and we got a glimpse of our first snow-capped peak.

 

Queenstown itself turned out to be quite beautiful, situated right beside a large lake and nestled in the mountains. Even the town centre was actually very attractive and there were several small parks and gardens spread out next to the lake. In terms of finding beautiful scenery on this trip we haven’t done better than Queenstown so far.

 

P1010043

P1010029

P1010033

P1000998

P1010001

P1010009

P1010018

 

Finally, returning to the beginning of this post where we left the two of us hanging off the side of a mountain wondering how on Earth we managed to talk ourselves into this. Possibly the scariest part of the ledge swing is the task of releasing yourself and initiating your swing. This is entirely in your own hands and it comes in the form of a small pin that you have to pull out of position which sets you swinging out over the forest below. So with a short countdown from the supervisor and a deep breath, each of us in turn pulled our pins out and commenced the most terrifying moment of our lives!

 

AJHL406120062956

We went from this…

AJHL406120052948

Blissfully unaware…

AJHL406120062954

To this!

AJHL406120052947

Utter terror!

And a couple of slightly cooler photos to redeem ourselves…

AJHL406120052943

AJHL406120062951

 

That’s all for now, until next time,

 

Ben and Jess :)

 

New Zealand: chocolate, birds and beer!

Friday 6th June

Our first experience of Dunedin was of heavy rain, following in the footsteps of its Scottish counterpart. We figured the best cure for a cold, rainy day was copius amounts of chocolate so we embarked on the Dunedin Cadbury World tour where many free chocolate samples were enjoyed! Photography was strictly forbidden on the tour but we did get just one photo before the tour began of the fetching headwear we were required to suffer with for its duration.

 

F

 

Saturday 7th June

Saturday was a largely scenery and nature based experience as we took ourselves out to the Otago Peninsula along the lakeside road that runs the full length of the harbour and bay. The road afforded some fantastic views of Dunedin, the peninsula and the surrounding mountains.

 

D

E

I

H

G

J

K

L

We’re well in the habit of improvised lunch venues now!

 

We attempted a trip up to New Zealand’s only castle but one look at the entry costs was enough to convince us the castle was better seen from a distance (not to mention the frankly terrifyingly steep and winding roads that led to it!). At the very head of the peninsula was the Royal Albatross Centre that protects the local colony of, you guessed it, Royal Albatrosses. We looked around the centre and kept one eye on the sky for a glimpse of an Albatross but had no luck. In fact we were literally seconds away from giving up and calling it a day, when a group of three of the great birds flew up over the cliffs and soared around right above the centre for us.

 

M

The birds were incredibly hard to get a decent photo of so this is the best we got.

 

Sunday 8th June 

Sunday was a slightly more relaxed day, the first part of which was spent admiring the towering spires of the many gothic-styled buildings including the theatre, multiple churches and cathedral and wandering the Dunedin Chinese gardens.

 

N

O

OA

OB

OL

OC

OM

ON

OD

OE

OF

OK

Wishing tree, people tie red ribbon to the tree and make a wish.

OJ

Hide and seek.

OH

OI

OG

 

One of the main attractions of Dunedin is the Speights beer factory, which is one of New Zealand’s most popular beers known as ‘the pride of the south’. Having been on a chocolate tour we thought it seemed only fair to go on a beer tour as well, which of course included more sampling! We managed to convince the ticket vendor that Jess did not in fact need a child ticket, much to our amusement and the tour could commence.

 

We actually found the tour fascinating, learning about the history of beer making going as far back as the ancient Egyptians right up to the modern day and got to see the enormous containers used in different stages of brewing. The highlight however was the five different beers and a cider that we got to sample at the end of the tour. For the first time ever we each poured our own beer from a tap and spent half an hour enjoying the varying tastes of a selection of Speights beers.

 

That’s all folks! Speak to you soon,

 

Ben and Jess :)