Today we went to Shantytown which is NZ’s version of Beamish in the north east of England.
As well as the historic buildings we got to ride on a steam train and pan for gold. We struck gold but not enough to retire on. After looking round the old colonial style buildings we went for lunch in King Dicks Cafe.
We visited the Barbours, church,hospital, fire station and the jail.
We arrived at the drop off point for the Glacier walk which would take us across riverbeds and high up into the mountains to meet Frans Josef. The trek took about 2 1/2 hours but was worth it to see the glacier at ground level. Unfortunately due to global warming the glacier has retreated and we were only allowed to get 250mtrs from it for safety. Sadly where we stood to take photographs would have been under several hundred feet of ice only 6 years ago.
The trip was worth it as we also saw some remarkable countryside as well. As Keli was shattered mum volunteered to stay with him in the camper until we returned, the audiobooks they got through were The Gruffalo (3 times), The Slightly Annoying Elephant (4 times) & Charlie & the Glass Elevator (disc 1 of 3)!!!
Early start this morning again as we have to be at the helicopter booking office by 0845. The early rise was worth it as even before we left for our flight Mt Cook made a brief appearance before being shrouded in mist.
The minibus driver gives us our safety brief before we board & take the short journey down to the helipad.
Rees & Keli get put in the front beside the pilot (Brayden) mum & dad are in the back seat!! We are all belted in & headsets on so we can hear the pilot talking to us as well as the air control.
We took off and were soon above the low cloud and the amazing sight of Mt Cook could be seen, we climbed slowly and soon Fox Glacier came into view. It was truly breathtaking a shimmering ice blue and impressive contours.
After touring the length of the Glacier we travelled higher up to the snow fields at about 6000mtrs we landed on the snow for a photo opportunity and a brief time to take in the natural beauty of the mountains.
All to soon our time on the snow was up and we took off again following the alpine ridge to Frans Josef Glacier to again look in wonder at this natural creation.
We circled the glacier 1 last time before taking a loop of Fox Township and landing back at base.
We returned to the motorhome and got ready to move on but only down to Frans Josef so we could see the glacier from a different perspective.
We arrived in Fox early afternoon and booked into the Fox Top10 site.
It was a sunny day but Mt Cook was shrouded in cloud and unlikely to say hello. After settling in Rees and Keli found the free go-carts and were soon whizzing around the site.
We decided that we would walk into Fox to shop and look around.
In The town we met Nick who runs the Top10 site and we asked him about the best deal for Glacier flights. He took us to see Fox Helicopter Services who advised a early flight to see the best of the mountains. We booked on the 9am flight. After a quick Handle and some hot chips we got some shopping in for tea, another BBQ.
We had been told about glow worms in a near by wood so at dusk we headed into the wood to find the glow worms, we were not disappointed and the wood came alive with little green fluorescent lights
We returned to the campsite and all enjoyed our BBQ before an early night.
Today we had a short 120km trip from Haast to Fox Glacier, along the way we found a great beach where people from all over the world wrote their names and a message on rocks. We didn’t want to miss out so we did this too.
we then arrived at Fox Glacier just time for a handle before tea.
Before starting the long trip north we thought we would have some fun in Queenstown.
We started with the shotover jet a boat ride like no other. Another New Zealand invention the jet boat has no propeller so can zip through very low Water levels at high speed, it is also super manoeuvrable spinning 360 degrees and continuing on its way.
Jetboats were originally designed by Sir William Hamilton (who developed a waterjet in 1954) for operation in the fast-flowing and shallow rivers of New Zealand, specifically to overcome the problem of propellers striking rocks in such waters. The Shotover jet can travel at over 85km in just 4inches of water.
Our driver Ryan showed us just how fast and agile these boats are we sped through the Shotover gorge inches from the clif face at 85kph. This was great fun.
The afternoon saw us take a leisurely trip high above Queenstown on the Skyline Gondola before more fun on the Luge. The luge has its own ski lift high in the hills, you then race down at high speed over a very winding track.
We then headed off to a little place called Haast for an overnight stay.
Today we decided to take a tour to The Milford Sound which is one of the wettest places on earth averaging over 3mtrs of rainfall every year and some areas getting 14mtrs
The coach left at 7am for a full day tour including a boat trip on the Milford Sound. Travelling through 45 latitude exactly half way between the equator and the South Pole we were in a stunning part of New Zealand.
After traversing the mountain range our bus travelled through the hummer tunnel which is 1.25km long and arrived in Milford Sound.
Our boat for the day was called Milford Mariner, we travelled the sound which is actually a fiord looking at sheer rock faces such as Mitre Peak reaching 1675mtrs. We tasted the fresh water from sterling falls before going out into the Tasman sea.
The Fiord offers a safe haven for ships and is a regular stopping point for cruise liners.
On our return we saw New Zealand fir seals basking on rocks.
Whale WatchWhale watching at Kiakoura started in the mid 80’s and is now big business. It is still ran by the local Mauori families and puts a great deal of the money back into the conservation of the area.
We were booked on the 9.30 trip, after a short safety briefing we took a 10min coach ride to the South Bay marina to board our catamaran for the trip out to hopefully see the giant sperm whale.
We travelled at speed in a specially designed boat 8 miles out to sea passing over the continental shelf where a sheer drop of 1000 Mtrs provides perfect feeding grounds for the whales who’s favourite food here is squid which they eat up to a tonne a day.
The boats captain and crew are experienced at locating the whales and with the help of a hydrophone it was not long until Manu a resident sperm whale surfaced after feeding. On a calm still day everyone was silent as this giant whale gasped for air after holding its breath for over 1 hour. After 10 min of rest Manu got ready to dive again, we all waited for the spectacular finale as he dived to over 1000mtrs.
We headed inshore where we saw albatross, shearwaters and blue sharks. We were then treated to a large pod of dusky Dolphins who were in a playful mood and followed our boat for a while.
We then headed back out to sea where we would again meet Manu who resurfaced after just over an hour.
We then returned to port all very happy and privileged to have seen such a great animal.