Day 29 – Picton (and Ferry to Wellington)

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<<Maps to come>>

We were on the early sailing, and were on the road before the sun appeared over the hills. Once aboard the ferry, we secured our bike.

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Picton is a very pretty harbour, and there is no prettier time than early in the morning.

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Here we are coming into Wellington (well, a long way of yet, but certainly approaching the North Island).

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We stayed with friends, who have a house in an absolutely superb location in Wellington. Just look at this view.

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Day 28 – Hanmer Springs to Picton (via Rainbow Road)

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<<Maps to come>>

On the way back to Picton we decided to go the Rainbow road, which was closed on our way south.

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As the pictures show, this area is quite rugged. I would not like to be here on a motorbike in the middle of winter!

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Yes, that is snow on those mountains.

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We had a quick lunch at Lake Tennyson, as it was freezing cold!

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Pictures en-route to St Arnaud.

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Truly magnificent scenery … and then some things that one doesn’t want to see. Following lots of reflection, I decided I was just going too slow for the conditions!   🙂   This is the first time I dropped a motorbike in 50,000km – and if this is the worst that will ever happen, I am a lucky rider.

Neither of us was hurt (except for my pride). The damage to the bike was less then NZ$30 (excluding scratches – which were fortunately quite limited). I had to buy a plastic bolt for the windscreen. The real problem was that we couldn’t pick it up – it was just too heavy.  So we took off he tank bag, tent, sleeping bags and top box, but still no luck. Then a pushbike rider came along, and the three of us just managed to get it upright.

The front brake had been rotated, and was not working properly, but once we returned it to the normal position, all was well.

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I wonder how old this sign is – it is still in MPH!

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And before long, we were back on the main road and on our way to Picton.

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We took a little detour to see Lake Rotoiti in St Arnaud.

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We then did a quick dash to Blenheim, where we visited friends for a couple of hours and then headed to Picton. It was night time by the time we arrived in Picton. We found a cheap motel and spent a short night before catching the early ferry to Wellington.

Day 23-27 – Christchurch (5 nights) to Hanmer Springs

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<<Maps to come>>

Pictures of the South New Zealand Conference (Seventh-day Adventist Church) bi-annual camp meeting.

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In our promotions shirts for Pacific Adventist University.

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Our tent site at the camp – right next to the ADRA vehicle.

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After the camp, we rode to Hanmer Springs, where we spent one night in a motel.

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The view from our motel room.

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Day 22 – Hokitika to Christchurch

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<<Maps to Come>>

We left Hokitika mid-morning, passing over the old rail bridge which is currently being replaced by a more magnificent structure.

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We took the back road (Old Christchurch Road) to Otira Highway (the main highway that leads to Arthur’s Pass). It is a very scenic stretch of road.

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One of the ‘tunnels’.

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Coming down the other side.

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After our descent, we stopped in a small town for fuel. Then I noticed that the handrail had worked itself loose over the previous couple of days. I also topped up the oil, the level of which had dropped to the low mark.

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The couple living opposite the service station obviously recently got married.

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We arrived in Christchurch mid afternoon, did some shopping, got a haircut and then rode on to the South New Zealand Conference Camp (Seventh-day Adventist).

Day 21 – Haast to Hokitika

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<<Maps to come>>

Here are two pictures of how we parked our motorbike in front of our motel unit for the night.

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The road north from Haast follows a spectacular coastline!

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I’m glad we weren’t passing this way a few months earlier when this slip of rocks happened.

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This is on the other side of the road and shows how many rocks have already been pushed over the edge on the far side!

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More of the coastline.

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The dots you see are sea lions – it appears there are at least 60.

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Someone spent a lot of time building the rock towers along this stretch of road.  There were probably more than 30 of them.

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The road has lots of one lane bridges.

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Turning off the main road towards Fox Glacier! The flora is absolutely stunning.

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The track to the viewing area.

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There it is in all its glory – the Fox Glacier!

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New Zealand is known for its ferns.

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Spot the plane.

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Two people died here just a few days before, as they didn’t follow the safety instructions.

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We had a lunch at a nice place near Lake Matheson, and waited for the clouds to break so that we could take a world famous photo of Mount Cook reflecting in the lake. But it wasn’t to be.

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There was a faint sight through the clouds at one point … at least the food was great.

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The water was a tea tree colour.

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We arrived at Hokitika early evening.

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Day 20 – Mt Cook to Haast

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<<Maps to come>>

The morning started dreary, but cleared up pretty quickly.

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We got up early, and headed down to the planetarium, as we wanted to see several of the shows scheduled throughout the morning. We saw several features, including a tribute to Sir Edward Hillary on the large screen.  It was the anniversary of Sir Edward’s passing.

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By the time we were ready to leave, the weather had turned wonderful.

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This is where the tribute program for Sir Edward Hillary was going to be held … but we had our own agenda, so we left about 15 minutes before the program was due to start.

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The scenery was breathtaking, as we headed to Wanaka.  Here are some shots en-route.

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When we reached Wanaka, it was quite warm. So we stopped by the lake and enjoyed a two hour break. Lots of families were out swimming.

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We then proceeded on the road to Haast … this was one of the most stunning segments of the whole trip.

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This photo is not trick photography, the waterfall really dropped at this angle through the crevasse.

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The were two waterfalls side by side, this is the second one – though not quite a spectacular as the first one pictured above.

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Notice the snow covered mountains in the distance.  That’s a fair bit of snow.

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We had dinner as the sun was setting – and we were very lucky, there were almost no sand flies!

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It was full moon that night – this is the moon rise.

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Day 19 – Day Trip – Tasman Glacier

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Watching the sun rise on Mt Cook and the surrounding ranges on Saturday morning was absolutely exhilarating. What a difference to the weather as we arrived the day before.

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We had a very quiet, restful morning, and then headed out around lunchtime to see the nearby Tasman Glacier.

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The glacial waters are always in interesting colours.  These ones were a beige colour.

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We headed straight past the tourist car park, and followed the track up beside the lake at the bottom of the Tasman Valley.

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The valley is very rugged, but the mountains to the side are spectacular, with lots of waterfalls.

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The track was tough going in places, especially with all our gear. These aren’t small rocks we were riding over.

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Rebecca decided that this wasn’t really her thing, it was just too rough, so she stayed while I continued up the valley.

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I finally reached a point where I could see the glacier for the first time – it was wonderful. There was a real elation seeing the glacier and the majesty of the surrounding mountains.

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Here are some photos of the retreating glacier.

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There are still large chunks of ice melting in the lake – which is a long way from the main part of the glacier.

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In this photo, you can see the track I rode up – it is visible between the handlebars and the top box. It was really just a walking trail with steep drops down both sides.

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Yes, that is my bike in the distance in each of these photos.

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Some of the green moss growing here is just amazing.

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And some more photos of the rough track taken on the return trip.

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And a view of the valley further down.

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Looking across to Hooker Valley.

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Can you see the multi story hotel in this photo?

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Does this help?

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Or perhaps a frontal view?

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In the evening the clouds moved in, and Mt Cook was hidden from our view.

Day 18 – Thomson’s Gorge to Mt Cook

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We headed out of Thomson’s Gorge, and same as yesterday, didn’t take many photos as we had done this road before. Much of the area is protected for future generations.

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The road winds through grazing areas. These sheep were sleeping on the road as we approached, but quickly jumped up before we could take a photos.

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The sheep quickly scattered while we waited.

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One group started climbing the mountain …

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… while the other proceeded along the base of the mountain.

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As we were riding on one of the dirt roads at high speed, a stone flicked up and hit my foot. Despite being in sturdy boots, it really hurt!  In the evening I found out that I had received a good smack.

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As we headed north near Twizel, we saw heavy rain in the direction we needed to travel.  We got a few drizzles, but were lucky.

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The road between Twizel and Mt Cook.

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The left valley is the one we travelled into.  It looked like we would get drenched.

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We rode beside the rainbow for a long time.  The sun was on our left, and the rain was on our right.

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As we kept travelling, the rain moved further back.

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The view from our room was spectacular.

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All the following pictures in this blog were taken from our room.  They show how quickly the weather changes in the alps. We were totally in awe, and just sat by the window for the rest of the day watching the scenery change.

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The final rays of sunshine on Mt Cook.

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It was a beautiful night with the full moon.

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Day 17 – Dunedin to Thomson’s Gorge

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We left Dunedin just before lunch. The road out of Dunedin is great and has wonderful tar seal. We then turned onto the Dusntan Road, and to my surprise it was sealed.  This lasted for several kilometers.

This is where the road finally changed from sealed to dirt.

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Once up in the high country, the road was fairly straight, although bumpy in places due to the underlying rock.P1040204P1040214P1040212

We only met one car on the first half of the crossing.

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One of the buildings en-route, and a deer farm.

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The area is very rocky.  How would you like a rock of this size in your back yard?

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We followed the location of the Dunstan road on the GPS, and it turned left into a paddock that no longer has a gate or road. So we took the long way around (see the U shape in the map above).

However, later the road turned again where there was no signs of one, but this time there was a gate, and it was possible to see that this was a road at one stage.

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So we followed the ‘road’ and it lead us across the fields – but we could see the remains of a road at all times.

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After about a kilometer we came across another road – it was the Dunstan Trail!  I have since taken a good look at the terrain in Google Earth, and have found that the track we came does appear to have been the original road, but that one can now use a dirt road that goes a different way at this time. We essentially took a shortcut.

Here are some more photos of the terrain.

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The Poolburn Reservoir.

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Given the temperatures in the middle of summer, I think it is wise to stay clear in winter.

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Some of the beautiful wild flowers growing by the road.

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Once we got back onto the main roads, they were very straight.

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We proceeded into the Thomson Gorge, but given that we had camped there before, didn’t take many photos along the way.  See our previous post for more photos (http://adventurous-life.net/?p=824 and http://adventurous-life.net/?p=825).

However, we camped in a different spot – this one was much more private.  The only way in was in a small track – no way a car could get through here.

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Day 16 – Day Trip – Otago Peninsular

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Dunedin is a one of the oldest cities in New Zealand.  It has a strong cultural heritage, and this is expressed in much of its architecture. This is one of the buildings of Otago University – one of the leading universities in the country.

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One of the modern buildings on the Otago University campus.

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The railway station in Dunedin.

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The coast view at the Royal Albatross Center on the Otago Peninsular.  We did see an Albatross, but didn’t get the camera focused in time. But there were lots of other birds.

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The ones that really took my interest were the Cormorants.  They came in group, after group, after group – and they were flying very fast … and they came very close too!

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More of the spectacular coastline.

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We then headed to the other side of the peninsular, looking for a beach where we might be able to spot some yellow eyed penguins.

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We found a beach – a very long beach – at the end of Allans Beach Road.  We walked the length of the beach – I am guessing about 2+ kms to find the penguins.  We were aware that the place to definitely see them was Sandfly Bay, but everyone goes there, so we choose to find some without all the tourists!P1040154

Our plan paid off, we were the only ones at the beach, and at the very far end we spotted several yellow eyed penguins.

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After taking several photos, I turned around to head back, only to find that two were trying to sneak past behind me.  In this photo you see these two, and Rebecca sitting in the distance.  She saw them poke their heads up while they were still swimming in the sea. She saw them come onto the beach and then waddle over to where the others were.  This all happened behind my back. When they saw me, they stepped up their pace. It was really cute.

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And then a long walk back.  The weather changed completely during this time, and we wandered if we would get wet.  Fortunately the weather held till we arrived back in Dunedin – though it rained as we were having dinner.

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This is where we parked the bike while we walked on the beach. You can see the moon was just rising.

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The view from one of the hills as we headed home – the Otago Peninsular is very beautiful.

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View of Dunedin as we headed home around sunset.

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We ended up going to an Indian Restaurant for dinner, and were surprised to meet another motor cycling couple whom we had met three times before.  We had a long chat, and arranged to have dinner together in Christchurch on the 13th or 14th of January. They are from northern England, and rented a motorbike.

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