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Picton, Queen Charlotte Track, Kaikoura

World Trip Two

Friday, April 10, 2009: Lower Hutt-Picton, New Zealand

Happy Julia in Picton.

The day was spent crossing on the ferry from the North to the South Island of New Zealand. We left the magnificent views of Wellington city behind us and spent four hours on the ferry never getting sick, which is an amazing feat for both of us.

When we arrived in Picton we parked the NAV Bertha (which is the name we have now given to the monster truck) and then made a short walk. Picton is a real beauty spot. We walked to Bob's Bay (no idea who Bob is) and found ourselves lost in a forest of unknown flora.

Picton Video

Saturday, April 11, 2009: Queen Charlotte Track, New Zealand

The Sound.

Our walk on the Queen Charlotte Track is what we came to New Zealand for; it was absolutely fantastic. The weather was perfect, no rain or clouds; just gorgeous blue, bright sunshiny skies. The 10 mile walk took us from the beginning of the Queen Charlotte Track at Ship Cove to Furneaux Lodge.

We walked through wondrous forests, with spectacular views of the Queen Charlotte Sound and were surrounded with exotic bird song. Ship Cove is where Captain James Cook made several landings on his voyage of discovery of New Zealand and Australia. At the end of this most pleasant walk we arrived at Furneaux Lodge, where we were able to buy a beer and relax in the afternoon sunshine. Who could ask for anything more than this?

Queen Charlotte Video

Sunday, April 12, 2009: Picton-Kaikoura, New Zealand

Snow peaked mountains peeking up.

The drive we made from Picton to Kaikoura was an Ooh! Ahh drive. This is because every time we turned a corner in the road we were presented with another beautiful vista; which would cause us to go: Ooh! Ahh!We left behind the native forest covered jutting hills of Picton for rolling brown grass covered hills; which remind us of the Northern California Sierra foot hills.

The New Zealand side of the Pacific.

We had speculated, last night over dinner, where the grapes were grown for all of the very pleasant wines we had been drinking. The question was answered for us today; everywhere we looked were fields of grapes growing in a very Napa like climate. To add to the grand panorama of the vineyards and brown rolling hills were snowcapped Alp like mountains in the background. After an hour or so of this scenery the road took us to the Pacific coast. We were then presented with the aqua blue ocean and rugged kelp covered shoreline; also very reminiscent of the Northern California coast.

The issue today was the continuation of our brake problem with the van. Even though we had, had the brakes checked earlier they continue to cause problems. So we called the owner once again, and once again organized to meet a mechanic this time at Kaikoura. The mechanic took only minutes to diagnose the problem which he claimed was a faulty master brake cylinder. This made sense as the brakes work, even though they are very spongy, but if you hold your foot on the pedal, it will eventually creep slowly to the floor. As the next part of our trip has us driving through the New Zealand Alps we felt it was not wise to go on without fully functioning brakes. We must now stay in Kaikoura until Tuesday when a replacement van will arrive.

Monday, April 13, 2009: Kaikoura], New Zealand

A view from Kaikoura.

Campervans or RVs are an interesting way to travel. There are many grades of van, some are quite spartan and others are palatial. But they all have one thing in common; they are just fancy camping. Think back to the one time you woke up in your tent on a cold morning; remember how the cold would penetrate your sleeping bag. Like icy fingers the chill would claw at your poor luke warm flesh.

Fortunately for us our van has two heaters in it. One is driven by electrical power drawn from an electrical outlet in our parking area and the other uses propane gas. This morning we had both running full blast to fend off the cold. It was very, very cold in Kaikoura this morning.

Tumultuous sky over Kaikoura.

The walk we did was quite surprising. Surprising in how long it took to complete and what we saw on it. We walked from the campground through the little beach town of Kaikoura along the esplanade, to the tip of the isthmus. At this point we walked out on the rocky point of the peninsula to spot seals in a seal colony there. As we looked back behind us we had views of the ocean town with snowcapped mountains for a backdrop.

After eating our lunch, in what must have been one of the most scenic spots to do so, we continued our trail walk. The hike climbed up the limestone cliff and at its top gave us more wonderful views of the rugged coastline. It continued around the edges of the isthmus which was once a Maori Pa; which is a fortified village. The highly eroded tiering of all the hillsides was clear evidence of the past inhabitants industry. We ambled along on this walk for five hours before returning to the campground. After a well deserved cup of tea I fell fast asleep and dreamt of snowcapped mountains and Maori Pa.

Well our replacement van did arrive as planned. But when I got in it to test its brakes they were in worse condition than the current van. So we left both vans behind in Kaikoura and took the bus to Christchurch. We hope to continue our trip around the South Island in a rental car, but only time will tell how this works out. P.S. do not rent a campervan from Apollo they are an untrustworthy company with no customer service; and they have unroadworthy vehicles.

Kaikoura Video

Trip stats

Miles Flown: 7,111

Miles Hiked: 51

Miles Driven: 664

Miles Sailed: 89


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