Ciarán & Elaine's Travelog

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ka Kite New Zealand

Well the day has finally arrived to leave New Zealand.

Things we've loved about New Zealand - absolutely everything!

Things we think are crazy in New Zealand
  • People walking barefoot in the middle of winter
  • People walking barefoot right in the centre of cities!
  • 1 lane bridges, everywhere - I mean seriously, would it cost that much extra to build another lane?!
  • Girls doing their grocery shopping in their bikini (I personally didn't mind this one too much)
  • Pacificas wearing t-shirts in a ball on their head topped off with a baseball cap balanced precariously on top (and of course 1 leg of their trousers rolled up to their knee - stylish)!
  • Signs on the road that point to a 'Historic Place/Bridge/Whatever' - no other details given

We've absolutely loved New Zealand and can hardly believe we're leaving, so to you New Zealand we say 'Ka Kite, Goodnight'

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Christchurch & snowboarding

After Kaikoura it was time to head back to Christchurch to sell the car so that we can go to Australia. We thought it might take us weeks to sell but on the second day we got lucky and a guy put a deposit down. Ciaran headed off to Methven for a few days snowboarding in Mt Hutt and I hung around to finalise the sale i.e. get the money!

With the money in the bank it was time for me to hit the shops - yahoo! and book our flights to Oz - yahoo yahoo!!
So with flights booked for Wednesday morning - flying into Cairns and new summer clothes to wear when I get there I'm now back down in Methven waiting for Ciaran to finish snowboarding. Then tomorrow it's back to Christchurch (gonna treat ourselves to a nice hotel) then up at 4am on Wednesday to catch our flight - can't wait!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Swimming with Dolphins - Kaikoura

We spent a few days chilling out in Kaikoura. Stayed in a lovely hostel (Dusky) with a swimming pool, sauna, spa pools and even a thai restaurant - that's my kinda hostel! We also met up with Ciaran's friend Dave which was really great but the big highlight of Kaikoura was definitely swimming with about 300 dolphins - wow!

We booked a trip with Dolphin Encounter and set off in the boat in search of dolphins. For some reason (which I can't remember) they normally get huge pods of dolphins in this area. We were on the afternoon trip but that morning they had had a pod of 300 and in summer they often have up to 1000! I couldn't wait to see them!

A spotter plane went ahead to look for them and after about 1 1/2 hours (too long for some people getting sick over the side!) we reached them.

It was the coolest thing ever to see them jumping through the air, doing crazy acrobatics. There were so many of them I didn't know where to look first. The boat stopped in the centre of the pod and it was time for the first group of swimmers (two groups of 13) to go in. We were in the second group so had to wait for them to get out - felt like forever!

When it was our turn we slid off the back of the boat and looked straight down into the water (we had wetsuits and snorkling gear). Under the water there were hundreds of dolphins darting around. The guide told us to make screechy high pitched noises and swim in circles as this makes them curious and want to play. Looking down in the sea and seeing ten dolphins trying to play with you, circling around you was just amazing. Then you look up and all around you they're jumping and diving - WOW! They are the cutest things ever and a major highlight of the trip - wish I could do it everyday! Click here for a tiny video of them...

Friday, August 18, 2006


Before we set off for Nelson we headed to Little Kaiteriteri beach near Motueka. This has to be one of the most beautiful beaches we've seen. It was more like something from Fiji then New Zealand. Then it was back in the car and off to Nelson.

Nelson was quite a bit bigger than we expected to be but really just another town like any other although we did have a great night out!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Abel Tasman National Park

Leaving Greymouth we headed north to a small town called Motueka. This is the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park. Strangely enough winter didn't seem to have come to Motueka, the weather was fantastic and the hostel had a lovely hot tub in the garden so it was all good!

I've wanted to go to Abel Tasman for years so we were up bright and early next day for a walk through the park although even after 6 hours walking we'd only seen a tiny piece of it. It's huge at over 22,000ha.

The next morning we took a guided sea kayaking trip around the park. It was fantastic. We had 5 hours to kayak from Marahou to Bark Bay taking in some of the most beautiful golden sand beaches and aquamarine lagoons along the way.

We kayaked around Pinnacle island which is home to a seal colony and even saw a little blue penguin swimming in the water in front of us - very cool! The water was crystal clear and the most amazing colour. Apart from our guide (who served up a fab lunch on Te Pukatere beach) we didn't see another person all day - felt like our own little piece of paradise.

That night we sat in the hot-tub, under the stars, drink in hand - life is great!

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Next stop was Greymouth a smallish town on the west coast. Not a lot going on there but a really great hostel (Global Village) and another trip to a brewery!
This time it was Monteiths and the tour was fairly bad but for some reason we got away without paying so didn't feel ripped off like everyone else! After the tour everyone headed to the local for a good night out and an all you can eat sausage sizzle - Ciaran was in heaven!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Franz Josef Glacier

Leaving Wanaka we drove through Mt Aspiring National Park and over the Haast Pass. Every single corner we turned we saw something breathtaking. The scenery down here is amazing. It feels like we're just driving through postcards, everywhere is so perfectly beautiful from the ice blue colour of the lakes to the golden trees and snowy peaks and waterfalls everywhere - this place is stunning. We had to stop about a thousand times just to get out and look at places like Thunder Creek Falls & the Blue Lakes.

We arrived into Franz Josef and booked into the YHA which felt more like a hotel than a hostel with a fab en suite room and a complimentary sauna (a lot of the hostels have either spa pools or sauna's here). The next day we drove to Fox Glacier and Lake Matheson which is famous for being the most reflective lake with Mt Tasman & Mt Cook in the background. It was a really lovely walk around the lake even though the ducks did disturb the reflections slightly!

The next day was the main event - a hike up Franz Josef Glacier. This is possibly the best thing we've done or seen since we left home. It was absoloutely amazing to climb up the glacier with our Talonz strapped to our hiking boots (although quite tough too!) and to explore the ice caves, crevases and ice walls with our guide hacking out new ice steps with his pick the whole way. It completely blew us away to see the size of the glacier, the bit that you can see in the photos is only about 5% of it, it stretches back about 11 km's and in places is 1/2km deep. The guide told us that it moves about 5 metres every fortnight and can get up to 140metres of snow on it every year, one day last February it moved 7 metres. It's sitting right on a fault line and they reckon that a quake is long overdue - wouldn't fancy being on it if that happens...

Words or photo's can't describe it, it was an experience of a lifetime.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


The drive from Queenstown was beautiful. We just spent 1 night in Wanaka, the afternoon in Puzzle World and the night in Cinema Paradiso.

Puzzle World is a really cool place with a big outdoor maze and different rooms with optical illusions - great craic.

That night we watched Superman Returns in Cinema Paradiso - the coolest cinema in the world. There were no regular seats, just big sofas, armchairs, lazy boys and even an old car!
I've never been so comfy watching a film! They even had an intermission and we had some home made cookies and delicious ice cream.

The Lake at Wanaka and the surrounding area was really stunning. A really gorgeous little area right on the edge of Mt Aspiring National Park.

Monday, August 07, 2006


After all the nature and sightseeing in Milford, it was time to head to Queenstown for some fun and nightlife. Anyone thats ever been to NZ knows that Queenstown in party central and it didn't disappoint!

I spent a few days snowboarding in Coronet Peak and at the Remarkables but it was cut a little short when I did a 'face plant' and I'm now nursing some badly bruised ribs! I think I may have over estimated my ability and taken to the jumps a little too soon! Maybe I had got carried away because we'd seen a Rail Jam (people getting TRICKY! on hand rails!) on one of the main streets the night before. Elaine took the easier option and spent a few days shopping, coffee and just chilling out.

We met up with loads of people in our hostel (Southern Laughter) and had loads of great nights out in The World Bar, Winnies, Frasers, Buffalo Bar and Red Rock to name just a few! It was usually topped off with a Fergburger (the nicest burgers in the whole world!) on the way home at about 5am...

We took a trip to Arrowtown which wasn't very exciting unless you're interested in Chinese gold miners (which we're not...).

We also spent a day at Deer Park which was just brilliant. Its basically a wildlife park and we got a bucket full of feed and spent the day with llamas, alpacas, bison, deer, miniature horses, pigs and goats all feeding from our hands. At one stage we practically had to beat a llama out of our car his head was stuck so far in the window! The miniature horses were my favourite - fully grown horses only the size of a big dog - how cool!

The scenery from up there was just amazing with 360° views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables (the aptly named mountains). Its no surprise to learn that Deer Park was the location for a lot of the scenes from The Lord Of The Rings. We had a really nice picnic beside a mirror lake reflecting the Remarkables. It was a perfect New Zealand day with bright blue skies and we were surrounded by snow capped mountains...

We took a gondola ride up the mountain in Queenstown and watched the sunset and the lights of the city coming on. While we were up there we tried out the luge, which is basically a tobaggan that goes on concrete down the mountain side a break-neck speed - absolutely brilliant fun!
We just loved Queenstown; it was absolutely amazing. I've got a feeling we'll be back there in a few weeks...