Kaikoura wasnt just about seals.
It is the place where the mountains meet the sea; the snow covered peaks literally sheering down into the blueness of the ocean.
For us to see this In the snow was another incredible priviledge of this trip.

After Kaikoura we continued up country to be as close as possible to the ferry at Picton. How fortunate to find ourselves in a campsite in the middle of the Marlborough wine district…….

This last day on the south island has started very well with tasting at Cloudy Bay vineyard and then onto a later than scheduled ferry out through the beauteous fjords of the north North Island. We have been watching Albatros flying across the front of the boat and basking in sunshine. More of that on another post! We arrive later in Wellingon and then catch a plane back to Auckland to be greeted by Bowden taxi service and returned to Rukuhia.

We are sad to be counting down the hours til we leave this wonderful country but are beginning to hear ourselves say “I can’t wait to see…..” or “I am looking forward to my bed….” etc.

Location:Stewart Duff Dr,Rongotai,New Zealand


Seals of Kaikoura by Ella

Yesterday we went to see the seals in kaikoura. we thoght you would see
four or five pop their heads up but we got close up. They were on rocks,
the side of roads and boardwalks.

We had lunch in the moterhome,then went up cllif because some were up there.
They were so,so,so close,fluffy and cute.

One was even sitting on the bench.

After we went onto the rocks to see the waves crashing in (it was a bit slippy)

Fun in Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is a beautiful colour. Not just “really blue” like you might hear a great lake described. It is aqua, ethereal, creamy blue. Hard to describe, wonderful to observe. Our campsite was on the shoreline and we looked down through trees to see where the white of the snow meets the creamy blue of the water. Beyond the water on the far shore is yet another snow covered mountain. Mmmmm, not too shabby, as the Bowden household would say.

On the shore road, just beyond the campsite is a marvellouse playground. A combo package of delights – a snow tube run, a skating rink and a hot pool.
We opted for the snow and swim deal and set up the sushi conveyor belt with own, very strong, inner tube with handles, to await being pushed off by the man at the top of the hill. What a magnificently fun time we had! It was laughing all the way, with double and triple runs, dizzying variations in spn, front facing and bottom sitting, all accompanied by intense technical explaations from Finn! Ella, meanwhile, like her mum, just wiggled her feeat and squealed for joy all the way. At the end both twins discivering the favourite refreain when they were 3 yr olds, ‘again, again, again, again!!’ Loved it! I spoke to a woman on the viewing platform and she had overheard Finn yelling as he careered down the hill “this is the best fun ever!!!!!”

We then went and relaxed in the hot pools. After the initial confusion of being in a swimming pool as hot as a bath, in the outside, with snow on the ground and mountains for a view, we really had a great time! What a treat!

After a quick lunch we called in at the Church Of the good Shepherd, a tiny little chapel on the shore of the Lake which has a glass window behind the altar with the view of the mountains. Wow!

Next door to the church (remember, of the Good Shepherd….) is a monument to the collie dog, remembering that without these animals the sheep farming in these mountains would be impossible! Brilliant! And even more brilliant, tonight we read the parable of the good shepherd (we have been reading a page a day of Desmond Tutu’s childrens bible as we travelled). All unplanned, by us at least! You could not write a better script!

Tekapo was just what we needed for the next long drive, as far north as we could manage, aiming to get past Christchurch by stopping time! Of course just a bit of time to see more mountains and a little glimpse of Mount Cook, our main loss in the re scheduled driving plan.

Plan C not needed, Plan A is a go-er

Wednesday morning phonecall to the rental firm suggested that the motorhome probably wouldnt happen, given that the vehicle was currently frozen into their cleaning bay.

It also appeared that the crucial pass through the mountains, Linden Pass, remained impassable, as were all othe routes, in every direction. We resigned ourselves to plan C or even D (both involving complex use of planes, buses, hire cars, camels, sherpas and more, with multiple redirection of funds and possible bank jobs….at one point on Tuesday the Queenstown to Auckland flight cost rose to $500+ per person!),and looked to stay again in Queenstown. However, within an hour the plan looked different, the cleaning bay was unfrozen and the Pass was opened and made passable.

Simon set off to collect the van and Rach did the packing (again…..lots of cases and bags and stuff and locating possessions on this trip!) Two hours later he returns with a car -apparently our van had failed its MOT so we couldnt have it, afterall. They were finding us another van and would get it sorted again within the hour (only a half clean) so we could benefit from the window of open-pass opportunity.

So we piled our stuff in the car, got some food and returned to the airport to collect the 2nd vehicle. Great. All very excited.

Views amazing. Especially this one across Lake Hayes just outside Queentown. Picture postcard.

We cross the Lindens Pass. Obviously there had been much snow but they had cleared it and we had a breathtaking run up the country, 280km to the very lovely Lake Tekapo.

The only moment where snow chains might have been needed was getting onto our pitch, but fortunately the campsite man had a tractor and a big rope and was helpfully pulling All the campavans in and out of their sites!

We cosy-ed down for our first night aboard the Backpacker. Kids delighted to be sleeping in the overhead locker and we were snug-as on our pull down bed converted from the table and sofa. Quite cold (hear the emphasis in my tone) and breathed steam all night long.

We woke to the stunning place that Lake Tekapo is and headed off for a morning of fun and adventure in the winter wonderland next door to the campsite. See next post……….

The Thing About Skiing

Whilst snowbound in Queenstown Mr H was despatched on a hunter-gathering expedition to the supermarket. Crossing the frozen wastes I fell in behind two uber-cool, positively sub-zero, ski types. The were walking very carefully, obviously nursing several different injuries.

The following conversation reminded me whilst I admire anyone who can slide down steep slopes, but also why I remain slightly bemused by the whole enterprise…

Ski-Boy #1: ‘Hey Bud (manly back slap), awesome week? ‘
Ski-Boy #2: ‘Yeh….(solemn, meaningful, man-pause)…awesome bud ‘
SB 1: ‘I’ve got a goal for my last day’
SB 2: ‘awesome’
SB 1: ‘my aim is to stay upright for more than 3 seconds’
SB 2: (without a hint of irony/sarcasm and much admiration) ‘awesome, wow, bud, that’s amazing’
SB 2: ‘i’ve got one two’
SB 1: ‘awesome bud, whats it?’
SB 2: ‘after 2 weeks practice I might be ready for a little jump’
SB 1: ‘awesome, bud, wow, cool’
SB 1 & 2: (laughter, congratulations and more back-slapping)

Now I am a total outsider the world of sallopettes and orange goggles, so this is all biased. But whoever invented the ski industry must be laughing all the way to the bank (probably several, Swiss ones).

You get people to spend eye watering amounts of money (once up the hill you even get charged for breathing), participate in a potentially life-threatening activity, wrapped up in more lycra and puffy stuff than is surely healthy, sustaining myriad of minor injuries, with a whole lot of standing about. After all that the end of 2 weeks the height of achievement is to ‘stay upright for more than 3 seconds!’

And before SB 1 & 2 got to the supermarket they were planning the next trip! It’s an advertiser’s dream….’two weeks of the coldest, most painful, poverty-inducing fun, money (quite alot of it) can buy!’ Pure Genius!

Of course my ‘on piste’ expertise is strictly limited to Ski Sunday (cue the music) and a reality TV show called ‘Chalet Girls’ (less said the better), which probably accounts for why I find the above amusing. You, on the other hand, probably find me deeply sad and in need of a fortnight at Chamonix…

….Oh, and I haven’t even started on Snowboardng!!!

Trapped in Queenstown

So the worst snow for 50years hit south island just as we bowled in. Having got to grips with the fact we weren’t going anywhere (the plan was to pick up a motor home and head up north again) we got on and enjoyed Queenstown. And we have to admit, there are worst places in the world to be trapped than Queenstown!

Having never been skiing before, we decided to take the ski bus up to the ski resort called Coronet Peak. The weather was still cold and very snowy, with temperatures on the mountain of -2.5 and visibility was poor. First thing that struck non-skiers (sorry to those well practiced in the art…) was what a big business it all is. The bus delivered us to a hanger like building into which everyone poured having retrieved all their kit from the bus store, and started to put all the aforementioned kit on, in the aforementioned hanger. Everyone then troops up to the ski field and joins the (long) queue for the chair lift. There is another huge building on the snow which houses a bar, a cafe and a restuarant and seems as busy as Oxford Street just before Christmas.

Twins are delighted to simply find a 2 in 1 slope and try and roll, slide, or tea-tray down it, giggling and laughing in delight at the sheer amount of snow. I put my foot in one bit and the snow came up to my thigh.

We discoverd the ski lesson department, we marvelled at the four person chair lift with the turnstile entrance and moving platform to get you postioned correctly to go up, we all wanted a go on the sushi bar upward conveyor belt that takes people on their skis to the runs and we played in the snow tunnels created by “Mark….from Edinburgh” and “Louise…..from Essex” ski instructors who obviously had too good a time on their gap year and stayed.

Adults were mostly frozen to the bone by this point so we headed back to the return bus and just then the sun broke through the gloom and showed us the spectacular view fro the top. To say we were snap happy camera people from the bus would be an understatement!

We returned to Queenstown and were bowled over again by the view and the beauty of the place, something we had yet to see despite being here for 48 hours.

Another night in the youth hostel was ok but we were all keen to get on our way, knowing that if we did not leave tomorrow, we wouldnt have enough time to get up the country for our ferry and flights back to north island. Simon worked hard on possible plan B, C, D, E and F and took the Simon-like precaution of contacting the insurance company to enquire what “delay” includes. It all got very complicated! But if the motor home rental company wouldnt release the vehicle for safety and the roads are all closed anyway, we had few options. Plan C looked the most likely. But we had to wait til the next day to see what happened…..

August in New Zealand

When we were in Ruwanda, the locals were mystified by the large amount of rain for June.
When we called through Johannasburg, the locals assurred us “Its not normally this cold here at this time of year.”
When on Philip Island, Australia, we experienced the tail end of the strongest wind in the area for 80years.
Now in New Zealand we are in the middle of the worst snow for 40 years!

The extraordinary thing is we are in a ski resort, in the mountains, how come they dont seem to know what this kind of snow is like? The locala here is Queenstown say this is the most snow in town for at least 20 years!

Anyhow, we had a very happy day yesterday playing in the snow, building snow men and ploughing down any hill we could find. We have had to stay in the youth hostel another night as the motor home wasnt allowed to be rented out to us yesterday in such extreme conditions so we will assess again today. we have to travel to the north of the country so we might have to come up with plan B or even C…..

Such fun….