Glenorchy: Horseback Riding

Rain has plagued a large portion of our trip. This morning we were given a little grace so that we would have time to do the River Wild tour with Dart Stables. They picked us up from our hotel, and off we went to the scenic drive to Glenorchy. The driver even pulled over so that we could take a quick picture of one of many rainbows that were dotting the countryside.

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We were each given horses in accordance to our level of experience. Or at least that was the general idea…Kevin wanted to ride western style saddle, and it looked like there was only one horse for the job: Bob.

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Just so you know, Bob is massive. In fact, everyone in the paddock was joking about who would get to ride the intimidating creature. One of the more well versed horse folk guessed he was some 19 hands high.

I rode on Scar. Scar was a wild horse that had been found as a baby with a large piece of wood lodged in his side. He healed up, and has been apparently the only horse that can deal with Bob’s ornery nature. Fitting, yes?

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Most of the time, I held on for dear life until Scar and I got to know one another better, so not many pictures. Which is a shame, because it truly was magnificently beautiful.

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There were tons of blue and pink wild phlox as we crossed over icy blue rivers, that looked like opals from the glacier melt. This area truly is a “gateway to paradise.”

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Looking back from where we came from, you can see the storm clouds rushing in. We got out just in time.

And now our butts really, REALLY hurt.

Kawarau Bridge Bungy Jump

Kawarau Bridge is the world’s first bungy site. Bungy jumping came from the ancient tradition of “land diving” by the Vanuatu people in the Pacific. It began commercially available in 1988 by A.J. Hackett, and is said to have given birth to New Zealand’s “adventure tourism.”

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I went first. That brave face is a lie. I took me a good 5 minutes before I could be convinced to what amounted to, at best, a lean forward into the void.

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Do you see that crap? That is wicked far down…43 meters.

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Looks like I’m enjoying it, right? They are good at their photography.

Kevin did much better. He was cool, calm, and ready.

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Although, he did do a magnificent yell as he toppled over the edge.

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I can fly high as an eagle…

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GERONIMO!!!

And I can’t figure out how to flip those pictures on their side. The photo editor is not letting me select the flip tool. Whatever. You get the idea.

Bungy jumping the Kawaru Bridge

I did it. Barely. Kevin definitely did it, no worries. I had to be talked into it. For about 5 minutes on the ledge.

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Kawaru Bridge bungy platform

There’s a video of me looking like a vomit-run-away combo before finally doing it. As usual, better pictures to come.

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What you look out over

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The raft that pics you up

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Franz Josef Glacier

We were supposed to do a heli hike to the top of Franz Josef Glacier and have a 2 hour hike on the glacier. Our flight was cancelled due to weather conditions. And the next day’s flight was probably cancelled. Would we want to come back next week? uh, no.

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So we took the Valley Trek up to the base of the glacier.

It took us a while to shake off our disappointment, but soon were treated to some very nice views and a decent hike.

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Trident Falls

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It was quite the scrabble up to the terminus. The glacier is now the smallest it has been since the 1960’s and is receding more every day. The unusual thing is that is showing growth on the top of the structure. They are unsure what this means for the future of the glacier.

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There were waterfalls all around the valley, bursting all around. It, of course, was raining, so it was difficult to get shots of them all.

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In front of this cave is where the helicopter is supposed to land. The clouds and fog only shifted for a few seconds in time for me to get this shot. The only helicopters going in were to grab the guides who had been left up there for the day.

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Some of the ice chunks break off of the glacier and tumble down the river. Our guide jumped down and grabbed a hunk so we could all hold or touch a piece of glacier!

And here is a koru from Lake Matheson just because it was my favorite pic from that day, and nothing else really turned out.

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Abel Tasman Sea Kayaking

Let me just say, Kevin and I are NOT kayakers. We’re not good at it. And for some insane reason, I booked 3 separate times for us to kayak. This was our first one. We got the crash course in how to use the skirt, pedals for the rudder, and general ways not to kill ourselves.

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And lucky us, we got to put in at the river bank, which added a good 30 minute extra paddle, since we were avoiding a large group of school girls. 

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The whole point of this trip was to be able to see some seals, and possibly dolphins. 

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Adele Island

This was as close as we got to the seals. 😦 We were able to see them, but you cannot see them in any of the photos- they just look like shadows on the rocks. You could definitely HEAR them. 

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Then we finally cruised over to the beach where we had lunch and chilled for about 1.5 hours. We were not interested in swimming or sunbathing, so it was a pretty boring time for us.

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But the rocks were pretty…

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Rotorua: the NZ Riverjet

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We’re heading back a way in our journey for a moment to see NZRiverjet on the Waikato River. The Waikato (meaning “flowing waters”) is the longest flowing river in NZ, about 425 km/264 miles. We picked up the river in lower Rotorua.

It was raining. It was cold. We were waffling. We were glad we went because it was all worth it.

This is Andy and Susie from Bristol, UK.

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These guys rock. They let us have pictures from their waterproof camera (mine with housing was just too big to bring) AND brought us back to their campervan for coffee and hot chocolate! Incredibly kind, funny and generous people. We hope to be able to return the favor  someday, as well as visit them in the UK. I have it on their authority that they live in TRUE cider country, and it shouldn’t be missed.

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Did I mention it was raining? In a speedboat?

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At least we weren’t alone in our misery!

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Along the river was this cool, seemingly unreachable cave. Our guide, Adam, said that the tribes buried their chiefs there to guard the water and that they had some use of abseiling even back then.

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If you’ve been paying attention, then you remember that Rotorua has tons of geothermal activity. The Big Squeeze is no different! We gladly jumped out of the cold, rainy boat and jumped into warm water from the hot springs.

Beautiful bush surrounded us, and we learned about the Silver Fern, one of the many symbols of New Zealand. It’s underside is highly reflective and can be used to signal search planes or helicopters from above, when placed in a triangle.

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We crawled through the Big Squeeze, warming up in the shallow waters when we needed.

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It all led to this amazing, WARM, waterfall in between the rocks.

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Once again, all these wonderful photos wouldn’t be possible without Andy and Susie. Cheers to them!

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Queenstown: Gondolas and Fergburger

Today was one of our free days in Queenstown, so we went up the gondola up Bob’s Peak to take in the sights. And the luge. The ride rises 450m/1475 ft above the town.

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So far, we have had nice weather – warm with a nice cool breeze.

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Queenstown is home to NZ’S longest lake, Lake Wakatipu .

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For lunch, it was time to try out the famous Fergburger. And this place is a touristy destination all it’s own.

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There’s a 15-20 minute line to place your order, then 20-25 minute wait for your food to come out. But when it does. ..

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Look at the size of this thing

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Last night, we stopped in for dessert by the waterside at Patagonia Chocolates. I panic ordered a cheesecake. Delicious, but very different than our own in the states.

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Not to mention this piece was huge- at least 4 inches tall and bigger than my hand! We didn’t finish it.