Good little tourists (Picton to Auckland)

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Marlborough sound

Hi everyone,

Last we wrote, Andy and I were in Picton looking forward to getting back to the boat, but still had several days of scenery, lookouts and shared toilets to contend with. While in Picton, Andy went to the Edwin Fox maritime museum to see the 9th oldest “surviving” ship, while I went to a local cafe. He also saw a stingray in the shallow waters of the Picton marina. We made it to one winery in the Marlborough area and then we were waving goodbye to Picton from the Interislander ferry.

Highlights of the past few days were the 3 hr ferry ride from Picton to Wellington, learning to dance ceroc with Andy’s friend, John and Andy winning a goat betting competition in Taupo.

In our previous post we mentioned staying at Tombstone backpackers in Picton. This was the absolute best budget accomodation and the room was super quiet and clean with a little balcony and the owners made fresh scones every morning which were FANTASTIC! The location was great as it was on a small hill and you could see down to the ferry wharf and I especially enjoyed a soak in the hostel’s hot tub with all the Germans.

On March 22, after filling our bellies with fresh scones, we departed the S. Island aboard the Interislander ferry and enjoyed the 3 hr ride to Wellington harbour.

Bound for the N. Island, a seal waved goodbye in the middle of Marlborough Sounds and when we were nearing Wellington, yet still in Cook Strait, a few pods of dolphins bounced alongside the ferry. (Not my photos)

Once in Wellington, we met up with John, a fellow sailor Andy met in the Caribbean more than 6 years ago who was kind enough to take us on a drive around the winding foreshore of Wellington harbour. We stayed for 2 nights in a well located share house and Lexi, our airbnb host was super friendly and accomodating. We really enjoyed our quick stop in Wellington and even learned a few dance moves when John encouraged us to join him at a ceroc dance class after eating a pile of Mexican food. Andy was well into it and I was having a pretty good time until all the spinning caught up with me. I also packed in a few pole classes while we were in Wellington and realized just how unfit I became in 3 months. Here are the 3 photos we took in Wellington: Bar/restaurant precinct of Cuba St., Andy at the Wellington Museum and me on a playground.

After our dance class on night two in Wellington, John took us to the top of Mt. Vic lookout which provided 360 degree views of Wellington and it was a clear night which doesn’t happen to often in this typically windy city. We lucked out and had great weather though. images (5)

After leaving Wellington, we had several hours to drive up to Taupo. Lake Taupo is the largest freshwater lake in New Zealand and was formed in a volcanic caldera. (When a volcano essentially collapses in on itself). We learned on our replica steamboat tour that the lake is the size of Singapore or the greater London metropolis.

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Aboard the Ernest Kemp we went to see some Maori carvings. These were not ancient although they don’t mention that until you’re on the tour. Carved with modern scaffolding and completed in 1980, they were still very impressive.

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stonecarveWe stayed 2 nights at the less than impressive Rainbow Lodge backpackers and realized how important ear plugs are when the room is sharing a wall with the ladies’ toilets and questionably comprised of cardboard. It made us realize how little patience we have when young, drunk backpackers are intermittently crying, cursing and stomping past our room at 3am. Cheap accomodation does have it’s “price”.

While in Taupo, we went to Huka Falls and the surprisingly free hot pools in the thermal park. Then we stuffed our faces with Pauly’s fried chicken and loaded fries (a must do in Taupo).

On our way from Taupo to Auckland we stopped at the most incredible geyser ever: Lady Knox Geyser. So incredible, it actually predictably “erupts” at 10:15. In reality, we were underwhelmed with the process of adding soap into a cone in the earth to break the surface tension between the 70c and the 150c water…wherein it erupts…at 10:15. Thanks soap guy for this amazing marvel, we’re sure the 500 odd tourists got their money’s worth. Also there were some pretty astounding mud pools near to this man-helped “geyser”.

After tearing ourselves away from the geyser park, we continued on our journey and stopped off past Rotorua along trout pool rd. to see some rafts go over the 7  meter (21+ feet) highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world (Kaituna falls).  There  may’ve been a few swimmers that bounced out and needed a rescue by the kayak

After our stop off to explore Okere/Kaituna falls, we continued our drive to Auckland and stayed in a cheap, but flood damaged airbnb room in Auckland suburbia. We tried to ignore the damp smell and Jesus watching over us and left early to meet up with Andy’s dad, Colin and Sandra, his stepmom. We are now back in the Bay of Islands and look forward to being reunited with Wanderlust later today. 20170327_171852.jpg

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To Antarctica and beyond

Hi Everyone,

I really can’t believe it’s been less than a week since we last updated. We just arrived in Picton and will depart the S. island in 2 days time on the ferry. In a week we will finally see Wanderlust V again and we’re pretty excited to go back to boat life.

Last we wrote, we had a lucked out with the weather and had a great time in the Mt. Cook area in the middle of the S. Island. We woke up and left Twizel on March 15th and decided to visit Antarctica on the way. Rather than spend $10,000+ for the real experience, we went with the $30 (50% off) entry to the Antarctica center in Christchurch because it’s the next best thing obviously. Andy was excited about the prospect and I was ambivalent, but the center was actually a lot of fun and had some interesting exhibits plus a 4D movie experience where the crashing glacial icebergs actually splash you. Unfortunately, we got there at 2:30 and missed the Husky snuggle time, which Andy was especially sad about. We did see the little blue crippled and or brain damaged penguins at feeding time and that was a definite highlight. The sign said these penguins are “fortunate” to live in captivity as they would definitely die in the wild. The motley collection of penguins included a few that were neither brain damaged nor crippled, but too lazy to swim when they tried to release them so obviously those ones know how good they have it in captivity.

After the penguins, we experienced an Antarctic storm with windchill down to -10 C. I decided to avoid the 40km/hr winds and hid inside an igloo in the storm room. Only 2 little kids decided to take cover inside as well, smart kids…I also was the only person in flipflops (thongs) under the rubber booties the Antartica staff provided (not smart). At least the simulation was short so I kept all my toes.

After Antarctica (in Christchurch), we continued on to our cheap beachside airbnb shed in a sleepy town called Amberley and stuffed ourselves full of mussels at the railroad tavern. The mussels were just one person’s meal and we were so full, we had to order dessert. We rolled out of the tavern and took ourselves to bed in the cozy shed after seeing the full moon rise over the ocean. You’ll have to imagine the moon as photos were impossible.

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Succulent green lipped mussels in coconut milk

After Amberley we went to Hanmer Springs and enjoyed a few hours soaking in giant spas full of rich mineral water complete with mild sulfur smell.

We were very relaxed and continued on to our next night outside a sleepy little town called Murchison. There were a million trucks on this stretch of winding mountain road and our little silver bullet made it without complaint. We even stopped at another waterfall before getting to Louise and Richard’s old country airbnb with fresh scones on arrival (the best part). The worst part was the million and a half insects that swarmed around at night, but we were quick enough going to and from the separate bathroom that none of them managed to infiltrate the bedroom.

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natural Maruia Falls

After our quick stop off in Murchison we made it to Nelson and enjoyed staying at Tasman Bay backpackers. At one stage we wondered if we were too old for hostels when a rowdy crowd came back at 3 am and woke everyone up. I took it upon myself to congratulate them on a good night out then told them to shut up using my most polite nurse voice. Surprisingly, they got quieter. The next morning, I woke up at 8 Am and went to support the NZ economy at the Nelson market which had a great variety while Andy slept in. By the third night, we were the loud ones, but at least our group of mature wine drinkers took ourselves to bed at midnight. We managed to go on a 14km hike in Abel Tasman before we rewarded ourselves with wine. It was a beautiful day and well worth it.

For now we’re staying at a hostel next to a cemetary in the port town of Picton and the place has a door shaped like a coffin lid. Hopefully we’ll sleep well tonight in the tomb-like quiet at tombstone backpackers.

-Bre & Andy

The hills were alive with the sound of _____? (Dunedin to Mt. Cook)

Hi everyone,

We are loving everything about the South Island and we are definitely being good little tourists and supporting the Nz economy as often as we possibly can. Every track or tourist attraction has donation boxes set up to support the upkeep of the trails and the millions of swing bridges over all the rivers and streams. Where there is not a swing bridge (on the roads), the Kiwis prefer the use of the one lane bridge for vehicle traffic. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, there are signs like this  download  usually it says ONE LANE BRIDGE on the road as you drive along.  These bridges along with driving in general, are very confusing to campervans and motorhomes so don’t wait for these types of vehicles to figure out the sign, just drive ahead with confidence and leave them in your wake, especially if you have the tiniest car that can barely make it up hills. Also, when walking across swing bridges make sure to jump up and down and make the bridge swing/bounce more to discourage all the people that want to stop in the middle of these narrow bridges and take photos.

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getting our swing bridge photo!

 

Obviously there is a prevalence of tourists arriving by the bus load that love to stop on the swing bridges even though the photo opportunities are usually much better on either side of the actual bridge so ya know, you can get more of the river in your photo off the bridge. Just a couple essential (and free) tips for your next or first visit to Kiwi land.

Anyway, after leaving the beautiful Catlins coast, we continued through the SE corner of the S. Island to arrive in architecturally-amazing Dunedin. Personally, we weren’t massively interested in the buildings in Dunedin during our short visit. We were, however excited about the Cadbury chocolate factory and the Speight’s brewery. It was pouring rain while we were visiting and we can recommend both of these tours to any visitors as these two places provide two essential food groups: chocolate & beer! Around every corner they gave us more chocolates at Cadbury and at the end of the Speight’s tour rhe tour guide was too happy to keep our tasting glasses full. We then had the most amazing dinner at the brewery restaurant next door.

After being absolutely stuffed full of lamb shanks and venison, we walked back to Hulmes Court B& B and slept great! They provided a great breakfast spread the next day and the resident ginger cat kept us company at breakfast. B& B ducks vs. free range ducks:

From Dunedin, we went up the highway a bit to Oamaru and visited the steampunk Hq. After our interactive experience at the curios shop on the Catlins coast, we were a little underwhelmed as it was more an art exhibit than an interactive mechanized experience. The best part was a giant train outside that blew steam and fire and sound effects when you paid the train’s donation box $2.steampunk

I went a bit overboard buying handmade printed clothing from a local Oamaru designer (Dyan Prujean) and loved all the random collections of steampunk themed things in the grainstore gallery made by proprietor, Donna Demente.

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“shorts” for dancing

20170313_115455Oamaru was my favorite city so far, but we only spent a few hours there and then it was on to Maori rock paintings and the Omarama clay cliffs. At this stage we were pretty scenerey’d out, but the clay cliffs were definitely worth a look. The Maori paintings were mostly removed from the site and put in various museums…the dotted lined section is what’s been removed.

Clay cliffs! We couldn’t climb enough!

After leaving the clay cliffs we continued on to our next stop, to explore the Mt. Cook area, an airbnb in Twizel. Good thing Andy is resourceful and found the stove’s user manual online, because cooking for the night was a bit of a challenge. Fancy induction stove+ cheap aluminum skillets that induction stove can’t recognize=cooking our fresh salmon filets, that we picked up from a salmon farm down the street, in a medium sized pot. Otherwise, the airbnb house is great and even has a trampoline out the back, which I got some good use out of. 20170313_151352.jpgThis morning we set off for a hike around Mt. Cook. If you book earlier you could probably stay in the beautiful Mt. Cook valley, but we didn’t so we drove 45 minutes into the mountains. We were rewarded on our drive with beautiful views. Most importantly, the weather cooperated!glacierlakemt.cook drive

When we reached the valley, we walked the 13km hooker valley track which I found out about because it’s super popular and an easy walk.

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A lot of people we passed looked like it was not easy for them, but they had hiking poles and zip off pants, so at least they looked the part. Anyway, it was well worth it to reach a glacial lake with dirt covered icebergs floating in a sediment-grey lake. icebergsinlake

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I try not to compare, but the Mt. Cook area was significantly better than any of the other glaciers we’ve seen in NZ. It’s so evident to see the glaciers melting away right in front of your eyes and who knows how much longer we’ll have them? In other news, Andy really likes it when I hum, whistle or sing to myself and I plan to do that on all of our future hikes…hopefully, I don’t get tossed off a mountain in the process. Please take a moment to think about the blank in the title and comment below.

Thanks for reading!

Bre & Andy

 

Lions, Dolphins and gravel, oh my!

Hi Beauties,

We are currently down near the very bottom of the S. Island in a town called Owaka on the Catlins Coast. The area is known for sea lions, dolphins, seals and (rare) penguins.  It also has some really FABULOUS gravel road detours and of course, a waterfall or two. In addition to all these highlights, there are some sea caves and a blowhole to round it out. We’re staying in a converted hospital to hostel that still feels a lot like a hospital so I feel at home. Some hospital relics:

Let’s backtrack to a few days ago, when we were still in Queenstown. We had a very relaxed 3 nights there and entertained ourselves by eating, drinking, looking at boats (Andy) and practicing some pole moves on a tire swing (me). We also did a 2 hour ‘free’ walking tour in Queenstown which was amazing and the guide, Mark, was really excited to share some info with everyone. We also got free beer and cookies on this tour so I would recommend it to all of you.   Queenstown:

After Queenstown and the extremely cozy airbnb hosted by Kristi & Ollie, we set off to Manapouri to take a cruise-coach-cruise to doubtful sound. Doubtful Sound is a bit closer than Milford and I can’t compare them further as we didn’t do both. Located in Fiordland in a somewhat remote area and a ‘must do’ in NZ. The tour was great, but we were worried the captain on the cruise would fall asleep as he was quite droll with his commentary and didn’t know a lot of facts. Also, it rains 75 percent of the time there and the marketing says ‘this is when waterfalls are made’. We had beautiful blue skies on the day we went and only saw a few small waterfalls, but a pod of dolphins swam along with the boat so that was the highlight.

After Doubtful sound, which I doubt is the highlight of my life, we wandered on to Lumsden, central south. Lumsden was a transport hub for the railway and had 4 rail lines running through it. Currently, it has about 50 backpackers camping in the park which I think is really nice of the town to provide dishwashing sinks and toilets open 24 hours for ‘freedom camping’. At least no one is pooping in the middle of the town square under a tree that way.

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We had the most amazing smoked chicken, brie and cranberry pizza at the Lumsden hotel and it is now refurbished and provides really comfortable, budget accomodation. We were glad we stopped and even tossed up the idea of buying a piece of property in Lumsden for all the campervans to park on with $5 showers….we would be millionaires.

We continued south and passed through Invercargill long enough to get incredibly fresh oysters which are wild and dredged from the Southern pacific ocean in the Foveaux strait between Bluff and Stewart Island. We also got incredible seafood chowder from Barnes Wild Bluff Oyster shop while we were getting our hands on a dozen of these tasty mollusks. They were sold, out of the shell, in a small tub of saltwater and they were delicious. In Queenstown, the restaurants were offering them at $60/doz, but at the shop they were only $24/doz…good thing we’re not on a budget. We also stopped in at E. Hayes hardware store in Invercargill so Andy could look at all the motorbikes, old engines and also pay tribute to the fastest indian…Andy loved it, I felt like we were in a wal mart with old motorbikes. fastindian.jpg

We picked up a couple of hitchikers from the UK then proceeded to go see sea lions and a light house at Waipapa point…thankfully the map was correct and we actually saw some sea lions, although we were doubtful on the way there.

I was really thankful that the sea lions showed up while we were there, then we went to see a petrified forest which was not that interesting in comparison. We switched the UK hitchhikers for a couple of Isreali ones then we continued our journey along the catlin coast. We dropped them on the main highway so they could hopefully get a ride in the other direction then we went to an unexpectedly awesome curio shop. If ever you find yourself in Papatowai, stop off at the lost gypsy gallery.

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A bush-in a box-in a bush and a moa with unhatched egg!!

Everything there is handmade and interactive, these photos don’t begin to describe it.

We were nearing our destination of the ex hospital in Owaka after traveling about 20km on another gravel road and we were looking forward to getting out of the car. Silver Bullet really likes gravel, more than it likes mountains and I’m continually surprised that the car is still in one piece. We missed out on the Cathedral Caves as it wasn’t low tide and Jack’s blowhole wasn’t performing too excitingly today as the ocean was calm, but here are some photos to entice you anyway.

After the blowhole we went to explore the most photographed waterfall in all of NZ and then onto an old rail tunnel, hand dug over 1891-1892 to allow the timber milled in Owaka and surrounds to get out and on to Dunedin for shipping.

Purakaunui falls: same falls guess which photo is from the tourism website?

The tunnel at “Tunnel hill”:

After a big day of waking up at 10AM and seeing the sights this area has to offer, it is time to call it a night. Thankfully, someone pulled a fire alarm here at the hospital aka hostel so we all got to stand outside in the cold and slight drizzle while the volunteer fire squad came to investigate. They were actually extremely quick in their response time and allowed us back inside. Good thing I was prepared, updating the blog with glass of wine in hand when all of that transpired. I’m sure you’re all probably falling asleep right along with me…

Good night and good luck,

Bre & Andy

Glaciers make glacial milk? (Kumara to Queenstown)

Hi everyone!

We’ve had a fantastic few days driving down the W. Coast of the S. Island past a million lookouts (which we failed to photograph). We stopped off in Franz Josef, spent a couple of days on a sheep farm and we arrived to the hubbub that is Queenstown last night.

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view from Queenstown airbnb

Last we posted, we were overnighting in a restored undertaker’s cottage in Kumara. After leaving that cottage we stopped off at the hokitika gorge and learned that the blue water is actually glacial milk! The sign told us that the glacier water flows down into the Hokitika gorge from various waterfalls and then mixes with a bit of minerals to become opaque turquiose. Of course we had to go see this miracle of nature and here are some photos so you don’t miss out.20170303_101332

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Hokitika Gorge & first swing bridge of the day

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There we are with the glacial milk

After we left the Hokitika Gorge, which really could do with a coffee van at the super crowded parking lot, we continued along our driving tour until we arrived at the super amazing, can’t miss, Franz Josef Glacier. It was pouring rain and pretty cold when we left the car park and embarked on our 1.5 hour tramp to see the terminal face of the glacier which has receded quite considerably in the last few years. My recommendation would be skip the walk completely, spend the big bucks and do a helicopter tour (in the warmth). Luckily, we had our super fancy yachting jackets to keep us dry (at least our top half anyway). It definitely started raining harder right before we made it to the exquisite-not-to-be-missed glacier viewpoint which was probably 5 km at least from the glacier itself. Wearing jeans was not a good idea for this walk and Andy did it in shorts because he is hardcore. We hurried away from the glacier after being amazed and had some delicious lunch in the back of our steadfast and dry little rental car. We then proceeded to the Glacier hot pools which we enjoyed for a few hours so we could defrost. The hot pools have nothing to do with glaciers aside from location and are 3 giant spa baths at various degrees which were quite crowded when we went, but still enjoyable.

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We stayed in an amazing airbnb in Franz Josef town and the hosts, Simon and Takoha were really friendly. I especially liked that the rooms are named after native NZ birds and the house was massive and beautifully finished in timber and brass. It was really cloudy so we didn’t have a chance to see the amazing views out the back of their property.

After leaving Franz Josef, we continued down the road and stopped off at a viewpoint of Fox Glacier which we could drive to because we are lazy then we had a long day of more driving until we arrived in Shingle Creek at an airbnb on a sheep farm. Our hosts for the next 2 nights were Jack and Dee and we had a good time relaxing in the hammock out the front and having some drinks in the spa on their property.3682aa16-383f-471b-b780-0f32a60b37c1Enroute to Shingle Creek we stopped off for the glacier view, picked up some fresh salmon at a salmon farm, saw a bunch of rock towers at fantail falls (the falls weren’t photo worthy as they were trickling) and saw someone jump off a swing bridge into the freezing, yet beautifully clear water at blue pools. We also picked up a couple of young hitchhikers who had just finished a 3 day hike and were super grateful to us for dropping them off along the way.

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Fox Glacier

Fantail Falls:

^ Blue Pools

After a couple of days surrounded by sparse brown mountains and a couple of wandering sheep, it was time to set off from Shingle Creek and drive through the central Otago wine region (without stopping) I know, surprising, right? Then it was time to conquer the shotover jet boat which passes within inches of the canyon walls and does 360 degree spins. We went twice and it was extremely fun. Andy was pretty scared the first go around, but that’s because he was thinking what could possibly go wrong at high speeds? The jet boat drivers train pretty extensively and this specific jetboat propulsion system was invented by a Kiwi and the jet boat designed by another Kiwi. Regardless, they pull in quite a bit of money at that place and even try to sell you photos and video at the end. We of course bought the photos. The bridge at the beginning of the canyon is named after a WWI nurse ( Edith Cavell) who was killed saving several hundred others. A local miner painted her name in bright red across the bridge and the government then had to name it after her. 20170306_121006.jpg

After the Shotover jetboat we decided to take a drive to Glenorchy. We passed another hitchhiker and picked her up as she was going to do the routeburn track to Milford Sound. We went to the beginning of this track (since we were already there) and did an hour nature walk through some trees and our little silver bullet made it without any drama on the gravelly rutted road for 10km. We are definitely getting good use and mileage out of the little mazda even if it does red line up mountains. We are currently in Queenstown for the next few days relaxing and plan to discover Fiordland on Thursday.

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Look! No hands, Enroute to Glenorchy

So far so good!

-Andy & Bre

Goodbye Northland, hello Southland!

Hi all,

After fixing a few boat things for several days we decided jump off the boat and start our land adventure around New Zealand and lucked out on a cheap flight to the s. island and then traveled by bus-plane-car yesterday to get from Opua to Auckland and then Christchurch on the S. Island. We are spending about 3 weeks on the S. Island and have made it through a beautiful mountain pass to a small town near the West coast called Kumara. We have a tiny little rental car that I nicknamed silver bullet and it tends to need some coaxing up mountain roads, but hey we made it so far!

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The best place for beer and a sleep  in Kumara

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token photo while driving

We stayed in a converted jail last night at “jailhouse accomodation” in Christchurch and loved the quirky old jail and the new life the owners have breathed into it. We had a few pints at peddle pushers pub, 5 min walk from there and this morning we did ‘quintessential Christchurch’. It was a dash around the city around Hagley park, re:start mall (the temporary/permanent container mall) and spent 30 seconds or less at ‘the cardboard cathedral’ as the old beautiful cathedral collapsed into rubble several years ago in a massive earthquake that the city is still recovering from. Overall impression: small city with charm and it’s a good time to be a builder in Christchurch as it continues to rebuild and recover from the earthquake more than 5 years ago.

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inside the converted jail

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Peddle pushers pub

We did a few tramps (Nz for hike) around Arthur’s pass and otira gorge and found an amazing deal at $50/ night in a cute refurbished previous undertaker’s cottage across from the theatre pub pictured at the beginning of the post. The cottage has a beautiful backyard and feels like a clean hippy/grandma’s house with various collectables from around the world.

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“bouldering” at castle rock

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Look at us! …By a waterfall near Arthur’s pass

We stopped off at quite a few look outs on the incredible drive between Christchurch and Kumara and loved the mountain scenery and the glacial streams. We will continue to travel South along the west coast tomorrow and will update the blog as often as semi-interesting things happen.

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clear, cold glacial water

Stay tuned!

-Bre & Andy