Blog from July 2003

There are 15 blog entries from July 2003

Campervan Hire Extended
July 16th, 2003 | View Post
In order to do a little more exploring in the South Island, specifically Milford Sound and Queenstown, we have hired out the camper van an additional 2 days. It is now due back on Friday the 18th instead of tomorrow, Wednesday the 16th. The original plan was to hire it for another 4 days and drive up the west coast to Greymouth and then drive it across the mountains back to Christchurch where there is a rental office. Apparently though, there is a 150.00 NZ$ fee for doing this since our original agreement was to deliver the camper van to Queenstown, so we have chosen against that option.

On another note, we were unable to visit Stewart Island as originally hoped. There is apparently only one departure per day and it leaves shore at 9:30am from Bluff. Had we known, we probably would have gotten up extra early to make it there, but we did not know. Perhaps better left until later anyways, we could not have taken the camper van across, as there is no ferry and not really any roads to speak of on Stewart Island either. It seems it would be more enjoyable as a warm weather weekend trip whenst we could enjoy the waters and thick foliage harbouring the exotic wildlife.
Penguins Anyone?
July 13th, 2003 | View Post
While driving the outer banks of the Otago Peninsula in Dunedin last night, we happened to see a little critter crossing the road in front of us. Sure enough, it turned out to be a Blue Penguin (the world's smallest penguin and a native of New Zealand).After following a windy road down towards the shore, we came across a whole colony of blue penguins.

We were able to see them as they walked in front of the car, and in some cases we caught a few in the brush just along side of the road. This made photographing them very easy. I believe it is a general rule to not use bright flashes and such while photographing them, so we were lucky to find them walking across our light path! You can find them in the Blue Penguin Colony section
Greetings From Dunedin!
July 12th, 2003 | View Post
We finally made it all the way over to Dunedin. Not much else to report on for the time being.

Photo Gallery Updates:
Animal Encounters
Salmon Fields Forever
July 11th, 2003 | View Post
While driving from Lake Tekapo to Mt. Cook we came across a salmon farm just 12km off of the road. After deciding to turn off the road and explore, we managed to pickup 1/2 kilogram of salmon fresh out of the river for just $12.00 NZ (~$7.20 USD). It turned out to be one of the best salmon I have ever tasted in my life and it was entirely cooked in the campervan!

Photo Gallery Updates:
Camper Van
Animal Encounters
Anglican Cathedral of Christchurch
International Antarctic Centre
Mt. Hutt
Lake Tekapo
Mt. Cook
Not the Powder We Were Hoping For
July 10th, 2003 | View Post
Unfortunately the Mt. Hutt ski fields are definitely not all they're powdered up to be. Since we have finally had the opportunity to go skiing in New Zealand, the one thing I would say to anyone who has ever thought to invest thousands to do so is: do not. While we have not yet been to Queenstown (which I'm told is the BEST skiing in NZ), we have been to the highly regarded Mt. Hutt. I have only skied about 7 mountains in the US (should I say only?), so perhaps I am not entirely qualified to make this statement. In my experience, Lake Tahoe and Park City have been the two nicest mountains that I have skied; Riudosa, New Mexico has been the worst. But in typical American fashion, you get what you pay for.

My impression of N.Z. skiing was that you pay for Riudosa but get Park City (obviously an exciting notion). This is NOT the case. The Mt. Hutt ski area was horribly overcrowded (I waited almost 30 minutes to get on a lift once), the slow trails were not groomed throughout the day (thus beginners have a horrible time skiing in the afternoon due to mogul cuts), and worst off were the pull-cord lifts that were used (though they have regular lifts as well, just not where they are needed most). A note on these lifts: They have a device, which we use in US ski areas no doubt, that two people can grab at a time and a rip cord pulls out about 25 foot and tows you up the mountain. This is perfectly fine at the bottom as a more lateral lift, but this was the method to get to the summit! It was exhausting to be pulled up diamond and double-diamond runs especially on a snowboard where you are turned sideways.

Anyway, that's my take on Mt. Hutt. I do not think I am going to spend the money to ski in Queenstown, but perhaps we will at least visit the mountain basin.
FAQ Section Updated
July 6th, 2003 | View Post
Please visit my New Zealand FAQ for answers to lots of questions that have been asked of us on our travels. I think you'll find it is fairly well organized.