Today we got up slowly. Daniel was tired and had a few complaining muscles after yesterday’s adventure. Katrina and I were ready first, so we even got to get in an extra game of pool. When I was growing up, we had a pool table in our basement and I would spend hours there. I am not as good as I was back then, but it was still a lot of fun to play.
We left Fox Glacier around 10:00 and began the long drive to Te Anau (without stops, it was a 6 hour drive). Along the way we stopped several times to take photographs of amazing views. It rained off and on in between bouts of sunshine.
We saw sheep, cows, deer. We walked along the Tasman Sea and found some beautiful rocks and loads of driftwood. We saw green fields, icy crags, and rolling hills/mountains covered with everything from Evergreens to tufts of grass. We drove through valleys, admired rivers, streams, and waterfalls, and saw a rainbow. And we took photos of rain in a valley below, then later drove through those patches of rain.
Today was a fun day. We got up early and headed to the Ferry Terminal. We needed to be ready to board at 7:40 a.m. and we were all good to go by 7 or so. The Interislander is the ferry we rode on and it was huge! There were 10 decks. There was a playground (think big McDonald’s playground) on the second deck, along with two movie cinemas and a cafe. Cars, trucks, RVs, were parked on decks 3 and 5. On deck 7, there was a family room with a couple of tv screens (one news, one cartoons), some video games and a few toys, plus plenty of seating and big windows for looking out, a cafe, a reclining room (chairs like you would see on an airplane, but nicer), and a small store. Then on Deck 8, there was another reclining lounge, a food court, and a restaurant. On deck 9 there were passenger cabins. On Deck 10 there was an observation/sun deck. Quite nice! I had never been on such a large ship before. It was really cool and the three hours flew by!
We landed in Picton and picked up a new rental car and had lunch at the Dog and Frog (no kidding!). The food was great!. Picton is a quaint little seaside town and it looked a lot like Mayberry. Only about 12,000 inhabitants. The water was so beautiful – it was turquoise.
Here is a picture or two.
Today, we left the hotel a little before 10:00. Our first stop was a nearby laundry business that the hotel directed us to. While they offer laundry service at the hotel, the cost is by piece of clothing (for example: $9/pair of pants). This was not going to work for us, so we looked for a place that charged by the load. Well, we plugged the address into our GPS, Golem. But Golem pulled one of his normal stunts and told us we were there, when in fact, we were about 1 mile from where we needed to be. I got out with the three bags of laundry, thinking it was just a little way to go, and I kept asking in stores and being told it was just over there, then I would keep going and before I knew it I had walked about a mile, my arms were breaking and for my troubles, I was told that the place I was looking for had closed last month!!! The lady that told me that, then got out the phonebook and found a couple of other addresses for me before I began my trek back. Fortunately, Daniel had come looking for me in the car, so I didn’t have to walk all the way back. We decided the laundry could wait one more day…..
Next we headed to Central Park because Katrina and Jack were keen to show their dad the Flying Fox ride and Katrina was really wanting just some playtime. The Flying Fox is an awesome zipline and the kids had a blast on it. I have some video and when I have better internet, I’ll try and post some of these videos I have made. I did get some pictures of the kids climbing around.
After that, we headed to the Sheepskin Warehouse. In Australia, Katrina and I got some opal jewelry, that was our ‘big’ souvenir from there. Then here, we wanted something made from sheep (since they are everywhere. Katrina got some lovely boots and I am happy with my slippers. Plus I got a sheep wool steering wool cover to keep my hands nice and toasty warm!
Today we set off on a tour that included Lord of The Ring(LOTR) filming sights, a seal colony, a winery and other opportunities to see the scenery and lay of the land. This ended up being about a 10 hour tour and is the last one we are signed up for during our big adventure. The tours have been great ways to learn a lot and to have someone else drive so we don’t have to go through the headaches of driving and figuring out where stuff was. Our tour was a small one today, only 8 people.
In the morning we visited several sites where scenes from the various LOTR movies had been filmed. Of course, there is nothing left of the elaborate sets, but it was still kind of neat to see where things had been. We saw where Helms Deep had been built (at a quarry), where Rivendell had been built, where Legolas stood guard on the way into Rivendell, the tree that the Orcs danced around, the field that Gandalf took off through on his way to visit Saraman (sp?) and the pillars that they walked by during their talk, where Frodo, Sam, and the others hid from the Ring Wraith under the roots of a tree (the roots were built out of styrofoam, but the forest was real), and we saw the white cliffs that the Fellowship passes after putting their canoes in the water. Here are photos of what the places look like now:
Hiding from the Ring Wraith.
Rivendell was built just past the bend in the river under the electrical pole.
The area where Legolas stood guarding the way to Rivendell.
The white cliffs that you see behind the Fellowship of the Ring after they put their canoes into the water
Only 13 more days left before we return to the U.S. That is so hard to believe.
We got checked out of the Chateau around 9:30, had breakfast, and then began the trek towards Wellington. It was a 4 1/2 hour drive. We were suprised to learn that roads to the east of the mountain were closed due to the snow. As we drove along, we saw rain, snow, sun and clouds. A little bit of everything! We arrived in Wellington and got checked into the James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor. After getting settled, Katrina and I wandered around a bit looking in stores and scoping out the area restaurants. We ended up ordering Pizza from Pizza King (very good) and now we are watching a little TV before turning in. So far this evening, we have watched Spiderwick Chronicles, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, America’s Funniest Home Videos, and Barnyard. Tomorrow we have a tour of some Lord of the Ring sites and a Seal Colony. Should be fun!
Here are a few photos from our drive today.
Woke up at 8:22 this morning, then showered. We headed down to the included breakfast buffet. It was awesome! A couple of interesting items, there was fried, battered fish on the buffet, cloudy apple juice (looks more like pear juice to me), and ‘kidneys’ which looked like mushrooms to me, but there were mushrooms in another container… And of course kiwi!
We packed up and left about 10:30. Before checking out, we looked at the sulphur flats/bird sanctuary behind our hotel:
There were hundreds of birds! You should have heard them all! And the warm springs made sure there were plenty of insects around to eat.
And I always try to take pictures of unusual flora.
We arrived in New Zealand today. It was so nice that we didn’t have to get up until 5:30…way better than 2 a.m. We arrived at the airport at 7:30 and then the going to another country ordeal – customs out of Australia, we were in lines for over an hour, then we had a hike to the gate, then we had about 30 minutes to find a place to eat. By the time we found a place, stood in line and got our food, we had 10 minutes to eat before going to the gate. Then the plane ended up boarding 20 minutes late! That will teach us to rush!
The plane was very plush! We had complimentary headsets, comfortable eats, had our own monitor and we could choose from movies, music, games, tv and learning about NZ. I watched 3 episodes of Boston Legal. The legal part is a bit of a stretch from what little I know, but I enjoyed watching William Shatner.
We were served lunch (with chocolate ice cream). there were pillows and a candy was handed out when we landed. Cupholders were on the seat in front of us next to the monitor, which made it way easier to hold onto your drink and not spill it. The only down side was the older gent sitting next to me who kept his elbow in my side pretty much the whole trip.
So we landed at the Auckland aiport at about 2:30:
Just wanted to chime in and say that we are doing well and are currently touching base in Sydney. Yesterday, we spent the day packing up (trying to rearrange luggage so it will be easier to sort as we are traveling through NZ. Most places we will only stay one night). We also had to get to bed early as we had to get up at 2 a.m. because we had a taxi coming at 3:30 a.m. to take us to the airport for a flight that left Cairns at 5:45 a.m. and arrived in Sydney at 9:45 a.m.
We are checked in here at Sydney and it is just another low key day. Some more rearranging of the luggage and we were able to leave two bags with the Hilton where we will be staying in two weeks when we return from NZ. That much less to lug around for the next couple of weeks:) YEAH!
Tomorrow, we have a 9:30 flight to NZ and will be there for 12 days. Not sure how much we will be online during that time. We will touch base when we can.
And I leave you with these pictures to show what happens when people start buying hats to protect themselves from the sun….
Jack models Daniel’s two hats, my hat, Jack’s two hats, and Katrina’s hat.
Katrina models her hat, my hat, and Daniel’s two hats.