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Author Topic: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17  (Read 5095 times)

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Offline Ianab

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Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« on: December 10, 2016, 03:22:12 am »
OK, after several years of threatening to just "go bush" to avoid Christmas and all ensuing madness, and Lil saying "would like to see the South Island properly". Here is the plan. Over 3 weeks we will be in these places. I think there are 4 x 2 night stays. but most of the others are one night stands, with easy 2-3 hours drive to the next place, Time to look around and check in by dinner time.

So we have...

Stratford (Home)
Picton
Pakawau
Westport
Franz Joseph
Haast
Wanaka
Te Anau
Invercargill
Dunedin
Oamaru
Omarama
Geraldine
Amberly
Greymouth
Hamner Springs
Kaikoura
Wellington

Feel free to trace that out on Google maps, it's a few miles.

Kaikoura was hit with a big (mag 7.8) earthquake last month, but at least one of the roads in should be fully open next week, so we haven't canceled out of there. Changed a ferry booking because direct road wont be open any time soon, and got an extra night in Wellington.  The Last thing a tourist town needs after a natural disaster is no tourists... Campground is still open (if you can get there) so we will go. Maybe charter plane ride to look for whales because it's fun, and helps out a local guy that used his plane for emergency transport in the days after the quake.

Otherwise, it's pure tourist. Milford Sound. Mt Cook  etc, with visits to Fangorn / Edoras / the Barrel River / the ford at Rivendell and Laketown rtc. I will post some pics from some places and see if people can pick them from the movies. :)

Anyway only serious challenge is convincing the family that all they NEED to take will fit in the Toyota Blade hatchback. With 3 females that might be a challenge, but I'm saying we can go to the Cook Islands for 2 weeks with luggage that fits, so we can do NZ with the same. We could take Lil's Caldina wagon, which would be perfectly OK, but it's a 1.8 compared to the smaller and more comfy Blade with a 3.5 engine. Mt pass? What Mt pass  ;D

Anyway, my story is that that they have shops in the South Island. If you have forgotten some little thing, you can buy another one.

Anyway, this is basically a place holder for a travel blog. We leave on the 22nd, Christmas will be at the beach at Pakawau, New Year at Te Anau. Will have laptop / camera and all the campgrounds have wifi, so will keep things updated.

Did I mention it's Summer  ;D
Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

Offline Jeff

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2016, 07:00:05 am »
Can I come? ;) :)
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2016, 07:26:50 am »
If you take enough pictures I guess we can all come along that way. Looking forward to seeing the journey.
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2016, 07:41:04 am »
This is exciting and will be interesting to follow.
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Offline SLawyer Dave

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2016, 12:22:05 pm »
New Zealand is definitely on my Bucket List.  Have a great trip.

Offline Ianab

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2016, 11:53:13 pm »
OK. Because we will be on the road over Christmas we had a small early family get together yesterday. We got lucky with the weather, about the best day of the summer so far. Weather usually comes right February, about the time school starts again from memory. Kids got to open most of their gifts etc.

So we could set up out on the lawn, borrowed the gas grill from Lil's work, sawhorses from the workshop and a couple of large boards with a Reindeer tablecloth over them and we are good to go.







And for desert we have Strawberries / Cream, cheesecake, Pavlova ( a sort of Meringue cake with cream and fruit on it) and jelly.



And you can clean up the present unwrapping carnage with a rake.  :D



So an early Merry Christmas from NZ.  ;D  The loud Island Shirt doubles for Summer and Christmas.  :D



We will be online when we are on the road, and will stash a few (small) gifts for the kids to open on Christmas morning at Pakawau Beach.

Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

Offline samandothers

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2016, 07:17:24 am »
Merry Christmas Ian and safety travels.  I look forward to the trip.

Offline WDH

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2016, 08:20:57 am »
I will just have dessert  :D
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Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2016, 12:15:00 pm »
 popcorn_smiley

Sounds like fun!
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2016, 01:24:54 pm »
I want it all. I see a grill. I know what them der grills are used for!!!
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2016, 01:22:40 pm »
Leaving the North Island along with the rest of the tourists. :)



Weather was average, but the sea was pretty smooth and the rain mostly held off until dark time, when we arrived.


Sailing into Tory Channel, about an hour more to Piction



Passing one of the other smaller ferries in the channel.


View down the channel


Taylor checking out Picton in the rain, just before we docked


So it's daylight now, looks like a nice enough day, and we are off of Pakawau, which is over in the North West corner of the Island. Via the Pelorus river (The Barrel River from the Hobbit)
Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2016, 01:47:44 pm »
It's fun traveling with you Ian.   smiley_thumbsup
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2016, 02:58:39 pm »
Where is the picture of the children buried in the back of the car?? ;)
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2016, 12:14:41 am »
Where is the picture of the children buried in the back of the car?? ;)

Haha, so true. Cooler bag and the "electronics" bag has to share the back seat with them. Currently at Pakawau, which is about the last actual "place" before the road ends. I use the term "place", not Town. I have 1 bar of phone signal, and although I think there is internet up at the shop, there isn't anything down here beach front. So I will do more pics soon.
Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #14 on: December 23, 2016, 02:36:57 am »
OK, edited some pictures

Picton this morning. This is the Ferry way came over on, it's done another trip overnight, and is about to leave for the Nth Island again.


Export pine logs waiting for a ship at Picton.


At the lookout Taylor runs into a Weka bird.  These are another flightless naive bird, but not nocturnal, and not shy either. These ones seemed to just hang out at the picnic area / lookout. Taylor was not at all sure about this strange wild looking bird walking up to her, and was all ready to get back in the car to get away from it.


Then we stopped at the Pelorus River bridge, which was where the "Barrel" scene from the Hobbit movies was flimed.


Down at the river level.


Found some Hobbits....


Cool forest reserve around the river. This is a big ole Totara tree, probably 1,000+ years old.


Anyway, weather is clearing up here at the beach this evening after a nasty little squall came through. Weather looks good for tomorrow. Get in some local site seeing tomorrow, then Christmas eve here at the beach.
Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

Offline thecfarm

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #15 on: December 23, 2016, 05:48:11 am »
A nice way to spend Christmas. Family and trees.  ;D
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #16 on: December 23, 2016, 07:54:55 am »
Now you will probably grow hair on your feet. 
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #17 on: December 23, 2016, 08:41:35 am »
Now you will probably grow hair on your feet.

 :D :D

Thanks for the pictures and tour!

Offline Ianab

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #18 on: December 24, 2016, 05:18:35 am »
OK, Christmas Eve here at Pakawau Beach. Been a great summer day, so we have been seeing the sights.

First stop was Te Waikoropupu Springs. (try saying that 3 times fast),
Some nice forest around the springs.


And the main spring.


This pool has about 10 cubic meters of water coming up per second. It's hard to show how clear it is on a photo, but the science guys say it's got 63 meters of visibility. (Distilled water is about 80 meters) Anyone that's done any diving will understand how clear that is.


I have video that shows it better, but not the internet connection to upload it yet.

Then we went up the road a bit to the Pupu Hydro / walkway. This was an old goldmining sluice project that had been converted to generate hydro power in 1929. It had later been abandoned and neglected until a bunch of locals decided to rebuild it, and formed an incorporated society to rebuild and maintain it. It makes about 250k/w pretty much 24 / 7, the power is sold to the National Grid, and the society actually runs at a profit.


1/2 hour walk from the car park gets us to the top of the penstock which is 350 above the power house.


Then you can follow the headrace along the face of the hill, which is close to vertical. The walkway is built along the top of the water race's concrete wall. Tayor was a little concerned at first, with a 2ft wide boardwalk, running water on one side and a 350ft cliff on the other. But she managed it fine.


Checking out the view. That's the water in the head race behind them.


Follow the race for a mile or so and the river is coming up to meet us, and the gorge isn't as steep.


Until we get to the intake weir and a bridge over the river.


Then about an hour walk up and down a decent 4WD service track. View from the top of that track, the car park is at the end of the road you can see  in the middle of the picture.


Then we went up to the end of the Road at Farewell Spit which is the Northern tip of the Sth Island. Viewing point at the end of the road. You can walk a couple of miles further up onto the beginning of the Spit, but after the mornings walking, no one was very keen.


Back to our horribly crowded beach in front of the cabin.


For a quick swim before dinner.


So that's Day 3.  Day 4 we are heading to Westport. It's a fair drive again, but though some very scenic country, so we will get some leg stretch and photo breaks in.
Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

Offline sprucebunny

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #19 on: December 24, 2016, 05:30:50 am »
Thanks for the great pictures !!

The spring and the hydro are very cool !

How much tide is there at the beach ???

 :christmas:
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Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #20 on: December 24, 2016, 11:49:00 am »
Wow!  Thanks for the pictures.  In the spring, is that the water that is welling up in the middle?  It almost looks like you are on the top of a mountain.  Where is the water coming from?

I don't know what the water clarity is on Lake Tahoe, but it is pretty amazing as well.  The one time I had my 18' boat out on it, we were pulling out from the dock.  I panicked when I thought I was about to hit a large submerged rock.  I tried to push off with my oar.  Turns out the boulder was probably 30 feet down!  No depth perception when the water is that clear.
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Offline SawyerBrown

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #21 on: December 24, 2016, 12:40:49 pm »
Oh my goodness, this is so timely!  The Mrs SawyerBrown and I just locked in a Feb 18 to Mar 7 trip to New Zealand.  Flying into/out of Auckland, but that's as far as the planning has gone so far.  Please continue to post pictures and give your recommendations, this is great!  Also if you have any suggestions on the north island, that would be wonderful.  Unfortunately, we're trying to cram an awful lot into just over 2 weeks ... the Mrs gets homesick (or just sick of me) after that, so we have to limit time away.
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #22 on: December 25, 2016, 12:14:54 am »
Just checking in at Westport, and at least I've got wifi in the cabin here.

In the first day my Brand New Phone died. I didn't actually NEED a new phone, just Lil had bought a new top of the line one and got another free phone thrown in on the deal. And it was better than my 6 month old unit.So I spent the afternoon before we left getting all my favorite Apps installed, accounts synchronized etc, and it dies. Anyway, as luck would have it, we where next door to a cellphone shop (3 hours from home). Took it in, they confirmed it was dead, contacted our local branch to confirm the warranty, and gave us a new one. So can't complain about their service. Just the new one is blank  and needs about 1 gb of updates ::) Anyway its happily sitting here downloading updates now.

Quote
How much tide is there at the beach ???

Not very much, maybe 6 ft max, and it's a very sheltered beach in the Golden Bay inlet.

Wow!  Thanks for the pictures.  In the spring, is that the water that is welling up in the middle?  It almost looks like you are on the top of a mountain.  Where is the water coming from?

I don't know what the water clarity is on Lake Tahoe, but it is pretty amazing as well.  The one time I had my 18' boat out on it, we were pulling out from the dock.  I panicked when I thought I was about to hit a large submerged rock.  I tried to push off with my oar.  Turns out the boulder was probably 30 feet down!  No depth perception when the water is that clear.

It's basically on the valley floor, surrounded on three sides with big limestone hills (like the one we climbed to the power station) In fact the springs are around the middle of the picture looking out from the top. Rainwater on the hills seeps down into cracks in the limetone and creates these underground rivers that normally flow out to sea. At that spot there is a fault line the interrupts the limestone aquifer, so the water is forced to the surface. Because it's been filtering through the rock for ~10 years, it's almost pure, apart from some minerals don't affect the clarity.

The water you describe in Tahoe sounds like regular "clear" water, the stuff you look and say "Wow that's clear". The water in the spring is next level clear.  :D You might see the bottom from 200 ft if you filled a lake with it.

Oh my goodness, this is so timely!  The Mrs SawyerBrown and I just locked in a Feb 18 to Mar 7 trip to New Zealand.  Flying into/out of Auckland, but that's as far as the planning has gone so far.  Please continue to post pictures and give your recommendations, this is great!  Also if you have any suggestions on the north island, that would be wonderful.  Unfortunately, we're trying to cram an awful lot into just over 2 weeks ... the Mrs gets homesick (or just sick of me) after that, so we have to limit time away.

2 weeks wont be too bad if you stick to the North Island. What sort of things do you want to see? It will be late summer when you are here, and that's usually the best weather. But no good sending you to the beach if you want to go bush walking in the Mts. You can easily do both in the same day of course, see yesterdays post.  :)

Anyway, off to edit some photos from today.
Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

Offline Ianab

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #23 on: December 25, 2016, 02:04:29 pm »
Farewell to Pakawau





Back over the Takaka Hill. The road zigzags up the face of the hill to the low part on the left.


We stopped and climbed the hill to the high spot as well.



Real Hobbit wilds up there with eroding limestone rocks everywhere.



 And stopped for lunch at Lake Rotoroa

Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

Offline Ianab

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #24 on: December 26, 2016, 02:39:10 pm »
Checking in from Franz Josef, a small town near the bottom of the West Coast.

West Coast is rugged and exposed to the prevailing weather. Rough seas and LOTS of rain. (It's raining this morning).

Stopped to check the sights at Punakaiki.





Still have palm trees this far south.



Then we stopped at Hokitika for some groceries (last supermarket f, or a couple of days). Kids spotted a "Native Wildlife Centre" across the street. Although a bit dubious we went and had a look. Was actually surprisingly good. They had a lank of BIG freshwater eels, and it was feeding time. You could hand feed them, and even touch them, just keep your finders away from the sharp end.



They also have Kiwi, Tuatara, and a big pond of Koura (like Crawfish) that you could try and catch / release. They had been there a few years and knew the game, but still wanted the bait. I did eventually catch one.

Having a look around here and on the Haast (onle 1.5 hours South). Rain is supposed to ease off at lunch time
Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

Offline Ianab

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #25 on: December 27, 2016, 01:39:34 am »
Staying in Haast tonight. This place is pretty remote. Lost cellphone coverage 2 hours up the road, and wont get it back for 2 more hours across to the other side of the Alps. Glaciers where pretty much clouded in that part of the trip was rained out. So we pushed on South to Haast as the weather was clearing from the South.

This basically the end of the road at Jackson Bay. If you want to go further South, you need a boat.



So we went back and looked around Haast. This is by the river.



Check out the bridge. It's 730 metres long, and ONE lane. There are a couple of passing bays in the middle, because if it's raining, you can't see a car at the other end.



Tomorrow we follow the Haast river up into the Mts and over the pass into the lakes area. Next stop is Wanaka

Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

Offline Ianab

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #26 on: December 29, 2016, 12:15:23 am »
OK, bit late on the 28th, had connections problems last night.

Here we are heading up the Haast river to the pass over the Alps



And over into Otago district and the Mt Aspiring National Park. This is the Blue Pool, named for obvious reasons. The snow melt water has a bright blue colour all year round.



And yes that's some tourist getting ready to jump off the bridge. I did mention the part about Snow Melt didn't I

Walking back through the Beech forest back to the road



And then on down the road into Wanaka...

Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

Offline Ianab

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #27 on: December 30, 2016, 12:26:15 am »
Thursday 29th, day tripping around Wanaka.
Went up to Mt Aspiring National Park. 12 miles of badly corrugated gravel road, with tourists that have no idea how to drive on gravel. With the surface like it was you had to be up around 40 mph to smooth it out a bit, and things tended to get a bit loose..

But the scenery made it worth the trip.

Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #28 on: December 30, 2016, 12:55:07 am »
OK, we got put of Wanaka before more drunk teenagers arrived for New Year. Called in at Queenstown, which was basically a huge traffic jam. Luckily we hadn't booked there, and pressed on to Te Anau, which is a much quieter place.

Looking out over the lake at Queenstown



This is on the other side of the lake, under the Mts in the first picture.



Then on to Te Anau, which is basically the last town before Milford Sound. This is more like it



This shop was featured in a recent TV advert for ice cream, so the girls wanted to stop and get ice creams  :D



Tomorrow, day trip through to Milford Sound.
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #29 on: December 31, 2016, 05:33:30 am »
OK, Day trip to Milford Sound today.

Forecast was for rain, so we knew what to expect, and weren't disappointed.  :D



Waterfalls.... LOTS of waterfalls.



Waterfalls up close ...



And waterfalls further away. See the little boat in the corner, that's a 3 deck tour boat nosing in under the same waterfall.

View from the open ocean. Early explorers  missed the place completely.



But 100 yards in and look what opens up.



In inside the fiord. looking back toward the open ocean.



Then we stopped at an underwater viewing place. Walk down 30 ft underwater, and you are in a reverse aquarium, looking out at the fish, and even coral. The white fern like thing is a coral, growing here at 44 deg South



Cloud lifted a bit to give an idea of the scale. Again, one of the bigger tour boats in the corner



Then we stopped on the way out at a viewing spot, and Lil got to tick off another native bird from her list. Kea parrots hanging out in the carpark waiting to dismantle rental cars. These are a large native parrot that live up in the high mountains (usually in the snow). They are dangerously smart, and will steal your windscreen wipers and window rubbers if given the chance.



Then just water cascading down the side of the Mt as we wait to go through the Homer tunnel, which is an adventure in itself..

 

Tomorrow we head off South to Invercargill and Bluff, where the road ends again. After that, we head North towards home. But lots to see still.
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Offline SawyerBrown

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #30 on: December 31, 2016, 07:28:17 am »
Milford Sound was definitely on our list of things to do, so I guess you would give this a thumbs-up?

Are you planning to go out to Stewart Island when you head south?

Thanks again for the updates and beautiful pictures!!
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #31 on: December 31, 2016, 12:14:56 pm »
The falls are absolutely beautiful. My favorite part of the tour so far. It's really great of you to have brought us all along.  :new_year:
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #32 on: December 31, 2016, 10:54:11 pm »
Milford Sound was definitely on our list of things to do, so I guess you would give this a thumbs-up?

Are you planning to go out to Stewart Island when you head south?

Thanks again for the updates and beautiful pictures!!

No trip to Stewart Island this time. It's a bit far out of the way even for us. Be different if you wanted to get in some hiking / fishing / hunting.

Milford Sound is awesome, just it's ~1100 miles from Auckland by road. With only a 2 week visit you would spend a LOT of time driving. If you flew to Queenstown for a few days I guess it would be practical.
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #33 on: January 01, 2017, 12:28:16 am »
OK, end of the road at Bluff. Can't drive any further South.



View looking back North from the Bluff Hill. Not much to see to the South today as the weather was pretty rough. Stewart Island was out the some place in the cloud and haze.



So time to heas back North again. 2768 km on the trip meter so far, and another 12 days left on the trip, with lots more to see.

Tomorrow we head for Dunedin, the only place in the world that's more Scottish than Scotland.(based on bagpipes per capita anyway)
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #34 on: January 01, 2017, 02:05:18 am »
Oh, and they do know how to make park benches here in Invercargill. Get a tree, and cut away anything that's not a bench.  :D

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #35 on: January 01, 2017, 11:31:43 am »
Now that is a bench.
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #36 on: January 01, 2017, 08:27:50 pm »
I look forward to reading this topic every day.   :)
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #37 on: January 02, 2017, 03:58:38 am »
Todays road trip was from Invercargill to Dunedin, via the Caitlins (coast road).
This is basically across the Southern coast of the South Island.

First stop was a place called Slope Point. Turns out that although Highway 1 ends in Bluff, it's not as far South as you can drive. That's this place. Well technically you have to walk the last 1/2 mile, but that's just what you do.



Looking down at the sea and rocks below. Wasn't a particularly rough day, but some big swells rolling in.



Then around the corner to a place called Curio Bay.



Famous for several reasons. On of the breeding places of the rare Yellow Eyed penguin.

And we get to see one.



You have to stay 30ft away from them (by law) so you don't disturb their breeding or molting.



The other thing is the petrified forest buried in the rocks. This is a 160 million year old forest, gradually being uncovered by the sea. You can see the logs and stumps clearly.



Then a quick bite of lunch at a lookout. Looks like Summer, but air temp was about 12C, and wind was reminding us we where closer to the South Pole than the Equator.



Last stop was a place called Nugget point.


View from up at the lighthouse



And looking down at the Fur Seals swimming and basking on the rocks below.



Checking out the sights of Dunedin tomorrow, then heading North to Oamaru.



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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #38 on: January 02, 2017, 10:51:45 am »
Really appreciate you taking us with you on this tour.  It is really interesting looking at the pictures.  I could tell with today's postings things had turned a bit cooler in the area you were in.  Y'all went from summer type shorts and short sleeve shirts to coats!

Offline Ox

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #39 on: January 02, 2017, 01:39:18 pm »
Love the pictures!  Thank you for taking the time to post them!
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #40 on: January 03, 2017, 05:53:21 am »
OK, saw some of the sights of Dunedin this morning.

An actual Castle.


Mostly restored to original condition.


Then a railway Station. They don't build em like that any more.


Then we walked up the steepest street in the world. Note how the footpath on the side is actually stairs...


No camera tricks involved


Then up the coast and stopped at the Moeraki Boulders. Weird, these perfectly round boulders that have eroded out of the small cliff, and now lay on the beach, for people to climb on and take pictures. So of course we do this too.



We are in Oamaru tonight and have just got back from watching the local penguins come ashore in the evening. These are the more common Little Blue penguins, but the locals have set up a protected reserve and nesting area for them and now have nearly 200 breeding pairs there. They are used to the lights and people in the viewing area and just come ashore each evening like normal and scamper up the beach / boulders and into their buried nest boxes. Can't photograph there because the camera flashes would disturb them. So if you want to see them, go here.
http://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/native-animals/birds/birds-a-z/penguins/little-penguin-korora/

Tomorrow, an the road again, but only a short trip inland to Omarama to check out the sights there.
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #41 on: January 04, 2017, 12:23:24 am »
OK, left Oamaru and headed inland. Short trip up the road to Omarama. Very different landscape here in the middle of the Island.

Here we are at Lake Benmore.



Looking the other way down to the power house / switchgear. The lake is man made behind this 300ft dam. power station is rated for 540 mw, second largest in NZ.



Then we had some time to fill in, so found this road sign says "Clay Cliffs"  ???
OK, we put our $5 in the box at the farm gate and drove off up some gravel track to a little car park.
Walk a bit further up a track and Lil is thinking thinking "We paid $5 to see this?  ::)"



Then we turn the corner and find a little passage way into the hill.



That open up to this.



Looking down the gully, you can see the Lil (Black Jacket) and the kids at the bottom of the picture.



Relaxing at the camp ground this evening with some drinkies. Still a bit cool, with fresh snow on some of the taller hills around us. Heading up to see the other lakes and Mt Cook, then on to Geraldine.

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Offline Ianab

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #42 on: January 05, 2017, 03:48:55 am »
Woke up to a 2C morning and frost on the car. How that for the middle of Summer

But it was a brilliantly clear  day for a trip up to Mt Cook



And from the Tasman Glacier side



The lake at the base of the glacier. The terminal face is that small cliff at the top of the lake. Mt Cook is the peak in the top left corner.



The bottom end of the lake, and looking down the river. Note the little iceberg floating in the lake.



This one. It was hard to judge scale.



Until a tour boat with a dozen tourists on board sailed past.



Lake Pukaki which your drive up the shores off to reach the Mts



And Lake Tekapo a bit further on.



Staying tonight in Geraldine, then on to Christchurch tomorrow
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Offline Logger RK

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #43 on: January 05, 2017, 07:28:11 am »
Very nice  :o

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #44 on: January 05, 2017, 07:03:04 pm »
Our glaciers are not that big.  :o
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Offline WDH

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #45 on: January 05, 2017, 08:21:22 pm »
Oh yes they are  :D :D :D :D.
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #46 on: January 07, 2017, 02:48:33 am »
OK, quick test.

Where are we going today?





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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #47 on: January 07, 2017, 05:59:26 am »
Amberly.
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Offline Ox

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #48 on: January 07, 2017, 11:34:34 am »
I'm not sure.  You said you're going to Christchurch tomorrow, which is today.  I looked back through all your pictures but couldn't find anything that looked exactly like what you're showing...  but I'm loving all the sharing!  Thanks
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #49 on: January 07, 2017, 02:13:08 pm »
The place is called Mt Sunday. In the LOTR movie the capital of Rohan was built on this hill, and the Mts around it are in the background of many of the Edoras shots.
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #50 on: January 07, 2017, 10:26:10 pm »
Oh, I see now!  Thanks for that - it makes it even more magical.  I love those movies.
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #51 on: January 08, 2017, 12:53:21 am »
Looking around Christchurch. The city still isn't "normal" after the big quake there. Lots of empty sections, but also lots of construction going on. Most of the larger buildings "survived" the quake, as in, the didn't fall down. But many where damaged and over-stressed beyond repair, and had to be demolished later.

But there is a new kids playground, where the old swimming pool used to be (that didn't survive) A well known NZ children's author died a while back and left a large amount of $$ to the city to build a kids playgound. So this is the Margaret Mahey plaground, and it's pretty dang awesome. The kids just didn't know what to do next  :D



That spiral slide tower is basically 3 stories tall, with a spiral cargo net to climb up. But even Taylor gave it a go.



Then we went and took a gondola ride up the hills and had lunch up there.



View looking down the other way into Lyttleton Harbour

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #52 on: January 08, 2017, 02:51:23 am »
Double post to "catch up"

OK, heading East from Christchurch we have come all the way back to the West Coast, just for the fun of driving over mountains really. OK, the scenery IS awesome.

Before we left Canterbury district, we drove through a small town called Springfield. Guess what their town "mascot" is?



Then on through the Arthurs Pass and the Otira Gorge. Picture doesn't show how steep the downgrade is over tha curved viaduct.



Stopped in the car park and this guy came to check us out.



Then here in Greymouth I "suggested" we do the local brewery tour. ;D



Came home with some supplies 8)



Might be a later start tomorrow to head back over the Mts to Hamner, but we can live with that.
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #53 on: January 09, 2017, 01:28:10 am »
Before leaving Greymouth we went and had a look at the Shantytown museum. Lots of old gold rush history there.

Admission includes a steam train ride.





Check out the waterwheel. It's a working replica of an older one that was used to crush gold bearing rocks locally.



And their "wild" Weka birds are so tame they will eat out of your hand which the kids loved.



Then we drove back East to Hamner Springs, which is a small tourist town build around some hot water pools. The drive is usually pretty scenic, but it was all mist and rain today, and heavy traffic due to the main road still being closed. Will go for a dip in the pools tomorrow, then on to Kaikoura via the partially patched up inland road...


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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #54 on: January 09, 2017, 08:31:21 am »
Oh no, your checklist is almost checked off!  :o  But I am still enjoying seeing that which I will never see in person.
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #55 on: January 10, 2017, 02:18:51 am »
Well we checked out Hamner Springs this morning. To be honest, it has hot springs, and that's about it.

But, at least they are very nice hot springs  :D Lara is big enough for the regular hydroslide and had fun on that. But they had this smaller kids water slides / sprinklers etc that kept Taylor happy too.



And a soak in the 38C mineral pool



Then we had lunch outside the pool.  With the young Oak trees.



And baby Redwood trees.



Hamner is a small sheltered basin in the inland hills, and has it's own little "micro-climate", a bit like Rotorua where redwoods also grow well.

Then we hit the road for Kaikoura. This is the small coastal town was hit by a big Earthquake at the end of last year. Road from Hamner is now open again, but a lot of this sort of thing.



To be honest it was a winding back road to start with, throw some  broken bridges, subsidence and rock falls at it, and it was a bit of a slow trip. Places where the straight road isn't even straight any more. I will try and get a pic when we leave, but at one point there where the words GIVE WAY painted on the road. Half way though the word GIVE, the road shifted 2 ft to the right. The road crew has stuffed a bit of hot mix in the crack, and moved on to fix more serious problems. :D

Anyway, for a tourist town in the middle of summer, things are pretty quiet here. Every other place we have stayed has been pretty much booked out, here we are in a line of 4 cabins, the other 3 are empty, and I can see 2 camper vans in the 10 spots down the other direction. Camp manager actually thanked Lil for not cancelling when we booked in, and as a bonus, the camp Wifi actually works pretty well (not overloaded)

But we couldn't book a Whale Watch boat because they can only operate their smallest boat. The sea floor around the harbor has actually lifted about 6ft, and the water is now too shallow for their bigger tour boats. They have their helicopter tours running from 100 yards across the rail track, but there where no bookings for the boat ride.  So we opted for the Airplane whale watch, and will head out for that tomorrow.  We figure a scenic flight in a 6 seat Cessna should give us a good overview. Not cheap, but we are near the end of the trip, and haven't blown the budget yet.

Clicked over 5,000 kilometers (3100 miles) today.  Little Toyota has done us well, and is just the trick for blowing past slow camper vans on the occasional straight bit of road or slow vehicle lane. We've spent a LOT of time on steep narrow and winding roads, with corners that have a 15 km (10 mph) advisory speed. When you see a sign like that, you know they are serious. Some of them seemed to be more than 180 by some quirk of geometry., and where about like doing a U-turn.

Anyway, looks like a good day tomorrow. Airplane ride, Lil wants to buy a Crayfish for lunch, and then an early night. Because of the road closures we have a huge back track and detour to get back to Picton and catch the ferry North again. What we had planned on taking 2 hours might be closer to 7...
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #56 on: January 10, 2017, 11:15:40 pm »
Doing the tourist thing at Kaikoura ;D




All aboard. Lara got to ride shotgun up front, but we all had window seats.



Climbed up to ~1500ft and head out over the sea... Suddenly the pilot points out to the side to this little dot in the ocean and throws us into a spiral turn.



As we get closer it's not just a dot any more.





Then on the way back a huge pod of Dolphins,



The general idea is that for every dolphin out of the water, there are 9 more you can't see.

Anyway, it's our last night in the South Island, so taking it easy so we can get an early start tomorrow. Long detour from here to get back to Picton because of roads still being closed. Then a night in Wellington before heading for home the next day.
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Offline WDH

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #57 on: January 11, 2017, 07:38:49 am »
Do you know the type/species of whale?
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #58 on: January 11, 2017, 09:28:31 am »
Do you know the type/species of whale?

Big Arsed Whale.   8)
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #59 on: January 11, 2017, 12:22:40 pm »
Look at the long long head in front of the dorsal. My guess it has to be a sperm whale.
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Offline Czech_Made

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #60 on: January 11, 2017, 12:55:35 pm »
Didn't Ahab chase Moby Dick somewhere near New Zealand?

Offline Ianab

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #61 on: January 11, 2017, 10:17:41 pm »
Yup. MALE Sperm whale. About 60ft long and ~50 tons.

Just sitting in Picton now waiting for the ferry North.
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #62 on: January 13, 2017, 12:51:15 am »
Finally home.  :-\

Long day yesterday. We had planned to leave Kaikoura, in the morning, drive about 2 hours North to Picton and catch the ferry around lunchtime. That would leave time to drive home from Wellington. Was not to be.

Instead we got out of Kaikoura at 7am (luckily ahead of a lot of the traffic, and had a 7.5 hour drive, on narrow winding roads, most of it in driving wind and rain, with all the other traffic that had been detoured (heavy trucks / campers / buses etc) Then we get a TXT the ferry is running late  ::)

Not the end of the world, and gave us a chance to check out the Classic Fighter museum in Blenhiem. At that point we knew we where 1/2 an hour from the ferry, and had 4 hours till final check in.

The roads around Kaikoura are a MESS. There are only 3 roads into the place. State Highway 1 North and South, and the "Inland Road", which is basically a back road through to the middle of nowhere.

SH1 North is still buried. 9 BIG landslides to clear. Might be open by Christmas...
SH2 South to Christchurch is sort of open. Daytime only, and may close again at any time if more rock falls on it.
And the Inland Road that we took. It's "Open", but it wasn't a great road Before the quake, and it hasn't improved since. This is the sort of thing you see everywhere. I stopped and took a picture because the lettering showed how the earth actually moved.



You found this all over the place, and especially with things like bridge approaches. The bridges survived, but they didn't line up with the road any more, and you had a little 12" ramp built to get on and off the bridge. Most of the serious damage had been temporarily patched, and lots of work crews doing more permanent repairs.

This is one of the bigger issues where they have built a new temporary road down into the gully, across the stream below and back up the other side.



Anyway, couple more pics from the Aircraft Museum. Some of the aircraft are original, and others are modern replicas, and fully flight ready. Like this replica of the Rad Barons plane. Note the authentic oil drip trays under it  :D



And a fully airworthy Spitfire.



Then on to the Ferry in Picton. Although it was running late the weather had cleared from earlier in the day ( the reason it was late) and we had a nice evening sail. This is coming out the Tory Channel between Arapawa Island in the left, and the Mainland on the right. Wellington Coastline is under the white cloud on the horizon, another ferry is just heading out in front of us.



We gradually caught up to the other ship as the sun began to set.



Bye Bye South Island



We stayed at a friends house in Wellington, and had a leisurely 4 hour drive home today. Back to the familiar Mt.



So there you have it.  How to tour the South Island of NZ in just 3 weeks.  ;D
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #63 on: January 13, 2017, 02:06:54 am »
Trip total...

6,029 kilometers. and 80 hours of driving.

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Offline sprucebunny

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #64 on: January 13, 2017, 06:23:53 am »
Thanks for taking us on your trip, Ian !

Great pictures ! Really makes me want to visit but pictures will have to do.
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #65 on: January 13, 2017, 06:47:08 am »
A nice tour indeed. The LANE sign was quite the sight.
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #66 on: January 13, 2017, 12:10:47 pm »
Oh, how I love the old warbirds!  I was surprised to see a 5 bladed prop on that Spitfire, though.  I thought they were all 4 bladed.  Thanks for taking us with you on your trip - the pictures are all fantastic!  8)
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #67 on: January 13, 2017, 03:27:13 pm »
Oh, how I love the old warbirds!  I was surprised to see a 5 bladed prop on that Spitfire, though.  I thought they were all 4 bladed.  Thanks for taking us with you on your trip - the pictures are all fantastic!  8)

Spitfire Mark XIV from near the end of WW2. It has a 2300 hp Griffin engine and hence the bigger prop
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #68 on: January 13, 2017, 03:34:28 pm »
A nice tour indeed. The LANE sign was quite the sight.

There are other places where the road has shifted the full width of the road, and lifted 6ft in the air!. But that road is still closed.
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Offline Ox

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #69 on: January 14, 2017, 06:22:11 am »
My lord, it must have been able to just about go vertical with that kind of power and prop.  Any methanol or water injection for emergency power in that engine do you know?  I wasn't aware of this version of the Spitfire.  It must be about like the Bearcat which could do a barrel roll around a P-51 when they both took off at the same time and then climb away.  End of the war machines were mean.
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Offline samandothers

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #70 on: January 14, 2017, 09:52:58 am »
Thanks for the tour.  I'll miss the trip!  I enjoyed the pictures of your family vacation!

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #71 on: January 15, 2017, 09:14:04 pm »
From Page 2. Blue Pools was in the news today. Tourist jumped off the bridge, and didn't come up.  Luckily bystanders where able to rescue him, carry out CPR and save his life, then help the local fire crew carry him out to the road to meet a rescue chopper. Pretty lucky as it's a remote area, 10 km to the nearest phone etc

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/88442692/man-saved-from-blue-pools-now-in-dunedin-hospital
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Offline WDH

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #72 on: January 16, 2017, 07:42:12 am »
Dude should get a Darwin Award.
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #73 on: January 16, 2017, 12:32:39 pm »
I've wondered in the past:  if you jump off a bridge trying to suicide, get knocked out, get rescued, then come to eventually.... are you mad or grateful or what?  Pretty bad if you think the only answer is to suicide...
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #74 on: January 16, 2017, 03:15:51 pm »
Dude should get a Darwin Award.

Dunno. Here in NZ jumping off bridges is almost an official summer sport. :D If you look at my pic on page 2 there is a guy sitting the railing ready to go, and a steady stream of jumpers.

Heck if I was a bit younger, and the water more than 5C I might have been tempted.  :D

Not sure what went wrong for the guy they had to rescue. Maybe just landed funny and stunned himself. At least the water is clear enough they could see him on the bottom and haul him out.
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #75 on: January 16, 2017, 08:39:00 pm »
The vagaries of youth  :)
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #76 on: January 16, 2017, 09:13:31 pm »
At a Cub Scout camp, they have to do a swim test in every new body of water before they can go out in boats.  This particular large pond was 54 (12C).  I did it too - took my breath away.  It was all I could do to make the 4 laps of perhaps 25 yards.
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #77 on: January 18, 2017, 08:46:05 pm »
Thank you Ian for taking the time to allow us to tag along.  I enjoyed the journey.   smiley_thumbsup
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #78 on: January 31, 2017, 01:48:49 am »


This is a quick video clip of our Whale Watching Trip I thought some of you might enjoy :)

Cheers
LIL
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #79 on: January 31, 2017, 08:53:58 am »
Thank you for sharing that video.  Watching the whale "blow" caused me to Google "whale breathing" and learn some very interesting whale facts that I had no idea about.   :P
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #80 on: January 31, 2017, 12:55:35 pm »
What kind of whale was that, Lil?

Thanks for sharing that video - it looked like a wonderful trip with a wonderful family!
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #81 on: January 31, 2017, 12:58:48 pm »
Great view!
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #82 on: January 31, 2017, 01:27:55 pm »
Thank you for sharing that video.  Watching the whale "blow" caused me to Google "whale breathing" and learn some very interesting whale facts that I had no idea about.   :P

That was a MALE Sperm whale. About 60ft long and 50 tons.  We managed to see two which apparently is a good day :) Just one of the most amazing things on this earth to see, feel extremely fortunate to have been able to do this :)

Cheers

LIL
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #83 on: January 31, 2017, 08:05:25 pm »
That gets  thumbs up  ;D
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Offline florida

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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #84 on: June 13, 2017, 10:30:48 am »
Man that looks  beautiful! NZ is on our bucket list for sure! We had to cancel our annual trip to Scotland so I'm sure the dear wife will insist on a do over next summer but I plan on NZ the year after. My son and family are on there way to Tahiti tomorrow for a couple of weeks. Sure wish I could go!
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #85 on: June 13, 2017, 05:01:59 pm »
Tahiti sure looks nice. We got to the Cook Islands which is another group of Islands just South of Tahiti. Harder to find flights there from any place other then NZ, so it's more like a little tropical extension of NZ, rather than a foreign country.

Winter has set here now, and a tropical island is starting to sound pretty good. Rarotonga will probably be our next trip, although Lil wants to revisit the Soutth Island in Autumn or Winter
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #86 on: June 14, 2017, 05:08:37 am »
Rarotonga will probably be our next trip, although Lil wants to revisit the South Island in Autumn or Winter

Don't forget the piggy roast too! Man I need to start saving!!  :laugh:
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Re: Middle Earth Tour 2016/17
« Reply #87 on: July 11, 2017, 09:13:56 pm »
This video showed up today showing the work that's still going on to get the main road and rail open Nth of Kaikoura. Some idea of the amount of rock they are having to move to rebuild the road.

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