Driving into Milford Sound
So my trip back home has turned into one long road trip, the river gods of The Coast decided that kayakers had already had there share of perfect flows for the season and having sampled the boating at its best in years past I opted out of the low water scrape that was on offer and headed in the opposite direction with a new ally Ine (a backpacker Crusty and I commandeered during are goon train adventures that we shall not speak of).
It is all too easy to ignore the places close to home that are 'easy' to go to anytime. Before you know it they are not close to home anymore and you never went! One such place for me is the bottom of the South Island. In particular the Catlins so I was happy to be given a chance to redeem my previous apathy and mission it south in my trusty van, complete with 4WD stickers and all. 4WD stickers really are the way forward... it is like being given a free licence to drive places you really shouldn't without having to put up with the judging steers of those who have to help pull you out... "Cheers for the help mate... I would have got back up there but the 4WD broke (heeheehee)". The best part about the van though has to be the sweet as bed in the back... no camping in a tent for me, that's sooo last millennium.
Our tour de south took us form Queenstown to the bottom (with mandatory stop in Milford Sound), around the bottom to Bluff, back up through the Catlins, inwards to the southern lakes and Aoraki, and finally through Arthur's Pass to the Coast. At times it was like travelling with another kiwi as Ine is pretty apt at taking the piss, something we kiwis pride ourselves on, so if I ever started to go on about how much I love being in New Zealand, Ine would begin telling me how great Australia is or try to make Belgium sound like there was more to it than beer and chocolate... yeah right. Ine never could tell me who the president of Europe was though... "It's the country you come from, how do you not know?!?" Good times all round ;-)
Ine having a stand-off with a kea. It lasted until the kea got board and started investigating what he could steel from my van
We learnt some important lessons in Fiordland such as the camping is free if they catch you in the morning. Apparently you have to pay or leave if they catch you in the evening because they can 'evict' you but that doesn't really work in the morning... "yeah sweet as mate we're leaving anyway". Parking the van out of site is also a good approach to avoiding the unwelcome and introduced pests that are the DOC rangers. However you may need the 4WD stickers for this to be plausible.
Fiordland rain forest
The bottom of New Zealand is well worth the effort to go and see and that goes doubly for the Catlins. South Westland is my favourite spot but the Catlins are an equal match with rain forest right beside the coast... all it needs is some world class creeking and I would have serious trouble choosing between the two. We found plenty of waterfalls, beautiful beaches, and even caves at the bottom of sea cliffs. My camera battery ran out of juice just before we arrived so I don't have any photos to show you... perhaps another time.
Mitre Peak - Milford Sound
Having completed our tour de south we headed to the Coast to catch up with thee Eden Sinclair. It was the first time I have seen Eden since he left Norway after we were there for five months, over two years ago, so made for quite an emotional reunion... ok so actually we just got pissed and talked shit like always. Eden was kind enough however to show us his 'secret' spot for gold panning and the three of us slaved away for an afternoon to secure no less that 1.5 grams of of the shinny stuff with a street value for up to 50 kiwi rupees... hmmm you might have to rethink your retirement plan buddy. Well at least Ine has a nice souvenir to remember how pointless hard work is.
Moss covered beech forests
So all in all New Zealand has continued to treat me well, I had a great time just by being here. The really beauty of the place is in the photos though so I'll let them tell the story of my travels. I will offer one piece of advice however for anyone travelling with someone form Belgium... don't call them German... well actually do, it's pretty funny (just be prepared for retaliation hahaha). Ahh good times Ine, your welcome back in New Zealand any time :-) Ka kite
Crazy fungus... Ine was to scary to try and eat it despite my reassurance that she would be 'cool' if she did
Wicked starry sky... I think it is the little things like being able to see this many stars which makes New Zealand such an amazing place
Nothing in particular, I just like this photo
Ine learning about waves... they are the things that wash up the beach and get your shoes and pants wet when you stand in the wrong place
Moraine from the Tasman Glacier at Aoraki
Heading towards Arthur's Pass
Walking into Punch Bowl falls
Punch Bowl falls
An old rimu tree... one of my favourite types of tree on the Coast
Chilling in the Hokitika Gorge... good times