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Old 6th January 2011, 11:20   #1
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Thumbs up From the Land of the Kiwis (New Zealand)

A trip to New Zealand - what better way to ring in the New Year . Back after a 9 day trip down under and its been without a doubt one of our most entralling trips, thus far.

Went there with real high expectations (courtesy postcards, documentaries on TV, the range of adventure activities, movies shot on location - LOTR - etc) and NZ beat all these expectations way out of the park. You could almost be forgiven for thinking that God was being a little unfair to the rest of the world in making this part of the world extra awesome ha!ha! but then my wife (Div, the same lovely person from my previous travelogues) kept saying that NZ for her, beats Scotland by only a bit and they're both special in their own way.

Well, what clinched it for me, were the roads, I've never enjoyed being a passenger in a car as much as I did on this trip (and believe me, I can be a very grumpy passenger when someone does manage to wrestle the wheel away from me)

Anyway, let me get on with it. Here's a map of the Southern Island of New Zealand, the part we visited. More on the planning part later (or as the travelogue progresses). Haven't got down to sorting through some 2.5K odd pics, so this is going to be slow ...

Here's a quick view of the trip. Landed in Christchurch on the 25th, picked up our rental and drove to Greymouth on the West Coast for the night. Then a long drive down the West Coast passing Franz Josef, Wanaka and halting at Queenstown. A couple of days there and then a drive further down to Lake Manapouri and Te Anau. Back to Queenstown after that and then its a trip back to Christchurch, with stops at Twizel (near Mt Cook) and Lake Tekapo, before flying back on the 3rd Jan. Places we'd have loved to cover, given more time ... Dunedin and Invercargill.

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And here are a few pics of our ride for the trip, a Toyota Aurion. Was a lil disappointed because I thought we'd be getting a Holden Commodore or a Ford XR6. Reliable and comfortable but rather unexciting for a 3.5L 6 cylinder. Didn't stop me from taking lots of pics of it though and we struck a deal, as long as we filled her up with fuel, she'll get us anywhere (typical Toyota), I even put in extra effort to get her all dirty like my own Swift.

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Last edited by RufRoc : 6th January 2011 at 11:23.
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Old 6th January 2011, 12:08   #2
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Default Re: From the Land of the Kiwis (New Zealand)

Day 1 (Dec 25th):

We land in Christchurch at around 2:30 PM, pick up our rental and try to make it out of Christchurch at the earliest. We're planning to drive through the Southern Alps (via Arthurs Pass) to Greymouth, around 240 km away. The best part of the afternoon was when the person at the rental counter told us that we won't be missing any of the sights along the way, because we'd have sunlight till around 9 PM, it was great being able to pack in extra hours everyday.

We finally leave a little after half past four and in no time, the aah's and the waah's start . There's actually a train, the TranzAlpine which runs between Christchurch and Greymouth (from the east coast to the West, across the Southern Alps), its supposed to be quite spectacular but we weren't able to fit it into our schedule. Here's the link if you guys want to check it out ... TranzAlpine train to Christchurch and Greymouth

It was a cloudy afternoon/evening, with some rain in between. A few pics from the road between Christchurch and Greymouth. I'm not even going to start on how these pics just don't do justice to what you feel, standing there in awe.

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Old 6th January 2011, 12:35   #3
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A few pics of the Kea (Alpine Parrot), quite a big bird and supposed to be really inquisitive. This one actually jumped onto our car (when we stopped on the way) and started pecking at the rubber beading holding up the side windows. We didn't know whether to be alarmed, scared or amused because in a few minutes, there were two on top of the car, jumping all over the place. Its only later in the trip, that we heard warnings to not leave things unattended or windows opened - they can actually rip off the rubber from the windows - (think of them as monkeys back in India, fun to look at but can be a nuisance) . Found this funny postcard which showed a kea pecking at a backpack and a quote saying 'A tramper's backpack - the kea's favorite food'.

And yup, I was too chicken to go out and take a close-up.

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Water flowing off a duct on the side of the road.

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Tried to make it as menacing as possible, didn't get anywhere with it.

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Old 6th January 2011, 13:04   #4
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Default Re: From the Land of the Kiwis (New Zealand)

More pics from along the way to Greymouth ...

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Quick stop to stretch our legs.

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9:02 PM and its almost the end of our drive.

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We arrive at Greymouth and check into a cozy motel (Aachen Place Motel). Tomorrow is going to be an early start at 5 AM (almost midnight for the rest of the gang), since we've got a 2.5 hr drive to Franz Josef, before we get to climb the glacier.

And yup, its only when we turn on the FM the next day that we realise Christchurch had been hit by another earthquake, on the 25th Dec.
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Old 6th January 2011, 14:52   #5
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Default Re: From the Land of the Kiwis (New Zealand)

Wow.. very well written T-log. New Zealand is truly amazing buddy..especially the stream next to the road is very scenic. Nice photography as well. Keep'em coming.

Cheers,
Rajesh
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Old 6th January 2011, 15:10   #6
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Default Re: From the Land of the Kiwis (New Zealand)

Wow, Beautiful Sceneries and good snaps NZ is on my list of to visit places more so after watching LOTR Hope this travelogue is a good help in planning
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Old 6th January 2011, 15:22   #7
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Default Re: From the Land of the Kiwis (New Zealand)

Hills,falls,streams ... you can't ask for anything more.
Im glued to this thread..
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Old 6th January 2011, 15:30   #8
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Default Re: From the Land of the Kiwis (New Zealand)

Aha, so you'd been visiting my domain!

That Kea sure is a nosy bird. Looks more like a mutant owl. Nice snaps mate, do pour in details about the planning & traveling aspect in NZ.
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Old 6th January 2011, 16:25   #9
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Default Re: From the Land of the Kiwis (New Zealand)

Wow! NZ, not seen much travelogues on this at all. Waiting for more info about the travel and also the pics.
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Old 6th January 2011, 16:54   #10
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Default Re: From the Land of the Kiwis (New Zealand)

Excellent start. Awesome pictures. Sorry if I have missed it, what is the camera that you used?
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Old 6th January 2011, 17:51   #11
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Default Re: From the Land of the Kiwis (New Zealand)

Amazing and truly unreal landscapes!!

Very well written and good catch with the camera as well!! Let it flow with more and more pics and a few details of the planning etc!!
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Old 7th January 2011, 05:55   #12
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Default Re: From the Land of the Kiwis (New Zealand)

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2500cc View Post
Wow.. very well written T-log. New Zealand is truly amazing buddy..especially the stream next to the road is very scenic. Nice photography as well. Keep'em coming.

Cheers,
Rajesh
Quote:
Originally Posted by KRRaj View Post
Wow, Beautiful Sceneries and good snaps NZ is on my list of to visit places more so after watching LOTR Hope this travelogue is a good help in planning
Quote:
Originally Posted by MohsinRoadster View Post
Hills,falls,streams ... you can't ask for anything more.
Im glued to this thread..
Quote:
Originally Posted by lordofgondor View Post
Aha, so you'd been visiting my domain!

That Kea sure is a nosy bird. Looks more like a mutant owl. Nice snaps mate, do pour in details about the planning & traveling aspect in NZ.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rk_sans View Post
Wow! NZ, not seen much travelogues on this at all. Waiting for more info about the travel and also the pics.
Quote:
Originally Posted by arsudarsan View Post
Excellent start. Awesome pictures. Sorry if I have missed it, what is the camera that you used?
Quote:
Originally Posted by abhinav.s View Post
Amazing and truly unreal landscapes!!

Very well written and good catch with the camera as well!! Let it flow with more and more pics and a few details of the planning etc!!
Thanks guys. The camera is a Canon 450D with the 18-55 and 55-250 lens.

About the planning part, did quite some reading on places and how to plan this itinerary, I've got most of the details jotted down so just ask away and I'll do my best to help out.

Its a dream driving in NZ, the earlier plan was to rent a campervan and camp at powered sites along the way, with probably some free camping in between. But when we checked, way back in July, most campervan companies already had a minimum 14 day rental for that period (it being summer and the tourist peak season) and the rates were almost double that of the regular season. They drive on the left side of the road like us and you can rent a vehicle without any hassle with your Indian driving license. In the countryside, you'll hardly see traffic except for when you near big towns. To give you an idea, most of the bridges on the highways we passed through, are one-way, you'll see a board saying which side has the right of way and the other side crosses once the coast is clear. Near Greymouth, you even share a bridge with trains (you actually drive over the track). That freaked me out and I actually waited for someone to pass me before following him. Some of the longer bridges have layovers in between, in case vehicles enter from both ends.
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Old 7th January 2011, 06:39   #13
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Default Re: From the Land of the Kiwis (New Zealand)

Day 2 (Dec 26th):

Today we drive down to Franz Josef, walk up the glacier and then its a long 6 hour drive to Queenstown, our stop for the night.

We leave Greymouth ahead of our planned schedule, thanks to two very co-operative people who wake up really early to get ready and one other person who couldn't be bothered about taking a bath (a trend which continues through the trip, with different excuses each time)

We hit the road before 5 AM and a few minutes into the journey everyone's headbanging to accompanying snores. Its a beautiful drive down to Franz Josef, along the West Coast. Here's a link to the glaciers on this side side of the Island Visitor Guide Fox Glacier & Franz Josef Glacier Accommodation West Coast New Zealand

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I wish I'd got rid of those power lines on the top, talk about bad composing.

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And this is the company with which we booked our half day walk Franz Josef Glacier Guides. Making our way through the bush.

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First sight of the Franz Josef glacier.

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And thats us. My wife and I on the right and two strangers we picked up from the airport, who kinda hung around for the trip. We didn't ask them what they were doing with us and they didn't ask us where we were taking them, so worked out for both. And yup, they were the perfect 'whats that saying in Hindi about the kebab getting in between', to our romantic trip. Just kidding , you might have already met Anmol from the Tasmania travelogue and the other friend is Amruta (hint: one of them inherits that conservative spirit to conserve water and save a bath).

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Getting to the foot of the glacier and some waterfalls along the way.

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Water gushing out from the glacier, couldn't get closer though.

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Climbing up those rocks churned up by the glacier over time.

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Old 7th January 2011, 07:07   #14
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Default Re: From the Land of the Kiwis (New Zealand)

Nice Pictures. Loved the birds. Waiting for more.
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Old 7th January 2011, 07:21   #15
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Our guide for the walk.

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Where the glacier once used to stretch to.

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More pics of the glacier.

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Taking a short break.

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Cutting steps for those following.

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Putting on crampons before heading out over the glacier.

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Didn't get too many pics after this because it started raining and I had to put my camera in my bag but it was lovely standing up there and taking in the sights before coming down a slightly more adventurous path, involving a lot of fun sliding around and stepping over small crevices.

The full day walk goes a little further up the glacier but thats as far as the guided walks go because once over this face of it, its covered with crevices and for the more serious climbers.

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Pice enroute to Queenstown. It was a long drive with a quick stop for dinner at Wanaka, thats another place where you can relax if you find Queenstown too touristy for your taste. Just an hours drive away.

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We check into our motel (Shotover River Lodge) at Queenstown close to 10 PM (Note: Its a lovely road from Wanaka to Queenstown, too bad we were in a hurry to get to our motel and grab some sleep before another early start).

Spoiler alert for tomorrow: Skydiving off 15000 ft and stepping off a 143m ledge at Queenstown
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