Day 13 Franz Josef to Greymouth

There is no point coming to Franz Josef without seeing the Glacier so we made the 90 minute journey up as far as we could to see the glacier. It was quite hard work- but plenty of calorie burning!!!

Alpine parrots greeted us in the car park - quite sociable creatures!

Back into Franz Josef we finally got to see some Kiwis in the wildlife sanctuary.  Bought Flo a 'talking' kiwi (which she did not appear to be impressed with when we showed her on Skype!)

Then went for lunch at the Speights bar where we sat outside in the chilly sunshine!  

Then it was time to move on towards Greymouth - a seaside location passing through fabulous woodland scenery on the way!

The beach at Greymouth could be described as wild but beautiful! The boys enjoyed skimming stones as usual!!!

More Top Gear on the iPad seemed to be the order of the day !

Hard work getting there but it was worth it!
Not able to take photos of the real Kiwis so this had to suffice!

Day 12 - Queenstown to Franz Josef

Today was a day for travelling but also  for some awesome sightseeing!

Originally we planned to get to Haast but we ended up getting all the way to Franz Josef!

We started by calling in at Arrowtown  - a cute little place we had seen on our 4x4 trip - not much for the boys but I found a great little yarn shop where I got some fabulous possum yarn! Still not too sure how they harvest it from the Possum!

Then we headed to Wanaka Lake which was beautiful and we stopped at an awesome little coffee shop for coffee and cake (banana cake, brownie and peanut flapjack!). The nice lady told us we should stop at the Blue Pools on the way to Haast so we set off!

The Blue Pools were a 30 minute walk from the road but they were well worth the effort! Secluded and just beautiful (not that everything in NZ is not absolutely beautiful!!!)

We then drove through the spectacular Haast pass - a wow at every corner indeed!

Originally we were going to stop at Haast but for one we were in plenty of time but for two, there is nothing at Haast so we decided to trek on to Fox Glacier - stopping for a quick picnic lunch en route!

We were running low on fuel so when we got to Fox Glacier we headed to the BP station -it was closed!!! So a quick decision was made to plough on to Franz Joseph - another 27km where we thankfully found a functioning petrol station!

Supper and Top Gear ensued in the van!!!  

My Arrowtown lovelies.....
Speechless beauty

Stunning Blue Pools
I am in love with New Zealand!

Day 11 - The Park and Ziplining

The boys decided that Zip Lining would be a good idea - I was not so sure but went along with it anyway! We started off with a walk in the park and watched frisbee golf!! Which seems to be a mad but hilarious local sport!!

We had a good walk around Queenstown - a great town and I guess an idyllic place to live! Then headed up to the Sky Gondola - once at the top we elected to have a buffet lunch in the restaurant before heading over to the Zip Line.

Zip lining was fun and took myself out of my comfort zone - we did 6 lines - with the last one being very steep! Fred and Keith were brave enough to go upside down and all ways - I just was happy enough to look at the scenery!!

Took us about 2 1/2 hours to get down so were quite exhausted by the end! But our guides Raul and Leo were great!

We then went for a drink at the Pig and Whistle before heading to the Botswana Butchery for a fabulous supper in a great location - a fitting end to our last night in Queenstown! 

Fred the Flying Fox!

Day 10 - 4x4, Jet Boating and Helicopter

So today was a truly exillerating day!!!

We got picked up at 8.30 for our 4x4 drive which took us up mountains, into rivers and discovering Lord of the Rings locations!  We even tried panning for gold but did not find our fortune.

After that we got dropped off at the Shotover jet station where we got kitted up to get into the scary jet boat!!! It was bitter cold!!!! The boat ride itself was fantastic - even though we did go quite close to the rocks which was a bit scary for me!!! Yes we got wet and cold - but it was great!!!

We got the bus back into Queenstown where we wanted to book a trip to Milford Sound for the next day - unfortunately  this was not to be as the weather was not going to be good enough for us to do the trip we wanted to do 😥 However we did manage to book a trip for the afternoon to take a helicopter to the top of the Remarkables so we then went to The Cow for lunch - boiling hot pizzas!!

After lunch we got picked up for he heli ride and went over to the airport.  The ride was great and we landed on the snow capped peak and had a fantastic view before flying around Queenstown and back to the airport.

Of course we had to go to The Lord of the Rings shop for a dwarf and then back again later for an Orc after Keith lost a bet with Fred - ending up spending a fortune!!!!

As this was quite enough excitement for one day, we naturally went to the Pub on the Wharf before heading back to the campsite where Keith cooked chilli in the communal kitchen whilst I supplied G&Ts!!

On Top of the World!!

Our chariot
Shotover jet boat!!

Day 9 - Scenic route to Queenstown

New Zealand is truly beautiful and we were seeing this day by day!

We travelled from Oamaru to Queenstown - stopping for lunch overlooking a fantastic dam at Cromwell.

Queenstown was buzzing and the campsite was actually almost fully booked with skiers and snowboarders as well as those who were there for the 'Extreme' sports!

We found of course 'The Pub on the Wharf' where we sat outside in the cold!! Keith looks miserable - but he was loving it!!!

Supper was at Finz where we had great fish and chips and of course more NZ wine!!!

Fred spotted The Lord of the Rings shop which was unfortunately shut!!!

Note the Declan Hat!!

Day 8 - Penguins and Steampunk

We left Christchurch and headed of Oamaru - not knowing quite what to expect!

What we found was a fantastic little town which seemed to have hardly changed since Victorian times - and that of course was the attraction!!!!

Naturally we found a pub - a stupendous pub. The Criterion Hotel - what can I say - a serious rival to The Bishop!!! I had Camembert melted with fantastic bread (have eaten so much bread this holiday) Service was slow since they had a group of OAPs in - but we did not care - could have stayed there forever!

But we did eventually leave to look around the town - and I bought the first of my NZ yarn stash!!!

We also went to Steampunk HQ - just a fantastical weird and wonderful gallery of all things Steampunk - fire, steam, skulls - was all there!!!

Fred then found a fantastic playground- still with a Victorian theme.

From there we headed on over to see the Blue Penguins come in. These penguins are the smallest and rarest in the world and live in this sanctuary in Omaru - we waited for quite some time to see them come in and eventually a group of about 40 came in - we could not stay to see them all come in as we needed to get to the campsite before it shut.

Lunch at the Criterion - warm Camembert.....yum

Fred ponders Penny Farthings!

Steampunk HQ - Quirkfabulous......

Handspun, Hand Dyed and yes thats Roving!!

Day 7 - Bucket Listing

Got up very early again since we needed to be to Kaikoura for 10.30 for our Whale watching trip! 

Fantastic scenery on the way and NZ Fur Seals just lazing by the side of the road!

Arrived at Kaikoura in plenty of time for coffee and scones before heading onto the bus to go over to our vessel!! Fantastic boat and crew took us to see the awesome Sperm Whales and we saw 3 sightings - 2 of the same Whale 'Birdy' -  just awesome to be so close to these majestic creatures. On the way back to base we stopped off to see some more seals and then we ran across a pod of about 150 Dusky Dolphins! Absolutely fantastic to be so close to these - one of my very favourite animals (along with otters and Unicorns if they existed!). I was in my element - I could have died then and been happy!!!

From Kaikoura we travelled onwards towards Christchurch after stopping for a picnic lunch!

We parked up in Christchurch but this was a huge camp on the outskirts of the city so we stayed in and ate pork chops and watched pixelated Rugby courtesy of Sky Sports day pass!!!

Going down
Almost gone

Playful Dusky Dolphins

Day 6 - Long Drive to Wellington

Got up early and left for Wellington where we were getting the 2.30pm ferry

Managed to get to Wellington in plenty of time and boarded the ferry - very big trucks and lorries seemed to make even the Black Beast small!!

Fabulous scenic trip over the water - cold but fresh! Yet more ginger beer for me!

Arrived in Picton and went to our Top Ten Camp - had to search for some spuds at the local small shop and devoured sausages and mash for supper!!!

Too beautiful for words!
Beautiful BUT chilly!

Day 5 - Smelly Sulphur and injecting doughnuts

After our first breakfast 'en van' we headed out - I stopped off and joined the Top Ten Club (a useful discount card!). Then we headed over at speed to see the Wai-O-Tapu thermal wonderland where we saw the Lady Knox Geyser and spent a happy but smelly hour wandering around the thermal pools!

From there we headed to Napier - which is a seaside town sporting some fantastic Art Deco architecture. Town itself was not up to much and for once I was disappointed in the woolshop I found! However had lunch in Provedore which was a cool little place and where Freddie was able to inject his own doughnut!!

From there we headed to our campsite in Hastings - which was about the same as the UK Hastings - not too much to write home about! We went for a very long walk after walking in a huge circle! But we did buy the Beats Pill (forgot to mention the hideous whistling in the van which we needed to mask the sound of!) and found the New World supermarket which was fab!  

Supper eventually was in the van and we began to share the sleeping accommodation to make sure we all got some sleep - up in the bulkhead with Fred where there was loads of room or using the downstairs as a single bed!

Add your own custard!

Day 4 - in which we pick up 'The Black Beast'

Took a cab from the hotel to pic up the camper van from Britz - took a little while to get sorted and think we were there about an hour.

Ironically they gave us the All Blacks liveried camper van - McGraw - number 7 - which meant more to Keith than me!

We dashed off to find out that drawers were not closed - glasses smashed etc etc - there was much for us to learn in Campervanning!!!!!!

We set off and travelled up to Rotarua - stopping at some minor hot springs on the way - Pack and Save was probably not the best of introductions to NZ - but we got to food we needed and headed to the first of our Top Ten Holiday camps! Blue Lake - gorgeous views but we needed to unpack and sort out the van so did not spend much time exploring - we were starving as had no lunch but made spaghetti and tomato sauce - then managed to put the bed together and had an uncomfortable night sharing a very small space whilst Fred had a massive double all to his self!!

The Black Beast in all its glory!!

Day 3 - Around Auckland

Day 3 - Around Auckland

Breakfast at the hotel and then straight over the road to North Face to get some warm clothes!!!

Then warm socks and boots from Timberland!!!

Went to the Maritime Museum and took a trip (eventually, after the boat had an engine problem) - went around the harbour - was cold but lovely - began finally to wind down from work!

After the boat trip went over to the wharf and had lunch - I had seafood chowder and the first of many ginger beers - which they do very well in NZ! Mac is the name - so wish we had them in Abu Dhabi.

We also saw a Batman Lamborghini - which was extremely cool!!!

After a long walk around Auckland getting a few things liked bigger memory stick for the camera - we headed back to the hotel where for some reason Keith and I drank 4 bottles of fantastic NZ wine!!! Then ate in the 'Kitchen' - the hotel restaurant ( well at least we think we did!!)

Fred was a bit chilly on the Wharf!
First of my many Mac's!!

Day 2 - Arriving in Auckland

Day 2 - Arriving in Auckland

Plane late from Sydney to Auckland- good flight with fun attendant - Alan- Kiwis seem to like pinstripes!!!

Arrived in Auckland and had charming taxi driver to take us to th DeBrett Hotel - lovely boutique hotel right in the centre of Auckland!

Auckland fantastic - sort of like SFO.

Supper in pub on the front - Northern Steamship Company - YUM !!  Lamps upside down on the ceiling - all very tired and were very thankful for a comfy bed!!

Fabulous Sky Tower
Panoramic courtesy of iPhone 5

Day 1 - 21st July 2013

So we had such a wonderful holiday in New Zealand I thought it only fair to share........ Have tried to keep it short and sweet but you can see how fantastic it was from the photos!

Day 1 - 21st July 2013

Left Abu Dhabi an hour late at 11.30 am

It was Freddie's Birthday - big fuss made of him by Hien the Etihad Steward - gave him a present of an Etihad plane for his birthday - such a nice gesture!

Arrived Sydney at 6am their time - so glad we scraped the barrel to upgrade - 14 hours is a long trip and it was great to be able to lie down!  Watched The Hobbit in preparation for Hobbit spotting!!!!