Friday, April 10, 2009

Party of Five

We slept by a beach in Abel Tasman for our first night on the South Island. After some confusion around what time it was when we woke up (as it was daylight savings and we turned our watches the opposite way), we rented kayaks and cruised through the Tasman’s waters.

We even caught a glimpse of two seals... one resting on a rock, and one playing in the water.

Next on the agenda was crossing the big ol Buller Gorge on the “longest swing bridge in NZ”.

On the other side of the bridge, there was a scenic little walk and an old truck to play with.

On our way back, we played the “no hands game” (i.e., walk across using no hands… pretty straight forward) while Lowell the tird continued to jump up and down and nearly hurl us into the wide open gorge.

From Buller Gorge, Gus chugged us the rest of the way to Westport Top 10. We've become accustom to camping at official facilities every 2-3 nights as we generally appreciate good hygiene. Here we ran along the beach, collected shells, enjoyed hot steamy showers, and ate delicious food made in a real kitchen. Not only that... but we met several delightful people. My Dad was the main social butterfly of the night, and continually introduced us to fellow patrons and insited that they sit and chat with us and share our dessert. I was thrilled that he introduced us to an Australian couple that offered to meet us in Aussie, but what I enjoyed the most was witnessing how completely 100% relaxed my Dad was. I think Mom's tendency to randomly befriend complete strangers rubbed off on him;)

On our way out the next morning, we saw a few of these signs and trust you me, I was pretty gutted that we didn't stumble across any wandering penguins.

First destination for the day was "the Pancake Rocks" in Punakaiki. These rocks are best viewed during high tide (which we missed), but they were pretty spectacular anyway.

Our next stop was easily one of my favourite stops in NZ. We went to "Bonz & Stonz" in Hokitika where we carved our very own shell necklaces. Had we scheduled the entire day, we would have had the option to carve Jade, but our time only alloted for shell carvings.

First we picked and traced/drew our own unique design. We each chose Moari symbols.

Then we selected the perfect shell for our piece...

After choosing our shell, we traced our design on the shell...

Let's not forgot the important step of putting on the extremely modern aprons...

Then it was time to cut, shape, and smooth our creations.

None of this could be done without our patient instructor Steve...

Ready for the finished products?

(From left to right: Lowell's manly hook, Mom's classy loop, and my less manly hook.)

We were pretty happy with them... and so was Steve.

We left Bonz & Stonz later than anticipated which brought us to our next destination near Franz Josef Glacier in pitch dark during a rain storm. No knot in our panties though, we set up camp as usual and anticpiated rising to the site of Franz Josef's magnificent glacier.

You may recall that we visited this same glacier with Marc & Kylie a few months ago. At that time, we were able to gain an enviable viewpoint of the glacier as the ground was dry leading up to it.

This time, however, the rain had caused the tiny little creek to become a mean rushing river with ice blocks riding down its current from the glacier.

Once we walked the path to this viewpoint, we were warned to not go any further...

(Warnings duly noted, thank you very much for your concern.)

There was another track at Franz Josef that led to "Peter's Pool". Well, as my Dad's name is Peter, we couldn't not go!

Here they are... Peter and Bette with "Peter's Pool" (and Franz Josef Glacier in the background)...

Since we didn't get as close to Franz Josef as we had planned, we held out hope that we'd get a better view of the next glacier several kms down the road.


The path to the viewing point for Fox Glacier was even shut down. We decided to settle on driving up the road to a vehicle-accessible view point only to find that campervans were ill-advised to attempt the drive. We ended up safely parking Gus at the base of the road, then tramping up.

What you see behind Mom & Dad in the following picture was the best glimpse we got of Fox Glacier... but we enjoyed the brisk exercise, and I'm sure Gus enjoyed the rest.

Thus ends our first three days on the South Island. There is a ridiculous amount yet to come...


shareen said...

WOW, did I ever have a lot of posts to catch up on! So much fun to see all your pictures and hear about everything, I'll try and write you an email tonight (we're having people over for Easter dinner and to watch the final round of the Masters) - I laughed out loud at your "too much information? I think so."

Shelley said...


word verification word: mantones
odd? i think so

Bloggy Mama said...

Excellent adventures, once again.