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Old 06-05-2005, 14:42   #16
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Re: Travel Tales....

great pictures & narration with them lettie, iv'e been there with you, hope you havn't finished yet.
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Old 06-05-2005, 15:48   #17
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Re: Travel Tales....

I've always wanted to visit New Zealand and Lettie's pics and narrative just reinforce that desire! Great job, Lettie!
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Old 06-05-2005, 20:39   #18
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Re: Travel Tales....

Lettie.....i have just looked at your latest pics and narrative.......I am more than just a bit envious. I would love to do the helicopter thing.
Anyway what's this about you and heights.........? thought you were going to be my buddy for the Sydney Coat hanger climb!
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Old 07-05-2005, 14:57   #19
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Re: Travel Tales....

You have some great photo's there Lettie.
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Old 07-05-2005, 15:27   #20
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Re: Travel Tales....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Margaret Pilkington
Anyway what's this about you and heights.........? thought you were going to be my buddy for the Sydney Coat hanger climb!
Hehehe, I'd still do it. My knees would be knocking every step of the way but it would be too good an opportunity to miss.
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Old 07-05-2005, 19:08   #21
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Re: Travel Tales....

Yeah.......I think mine would be knocking too, but one day........one day!
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Old 08-05-2005, 18:43   #22
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Queenstown

On Tuesday we packed up our worldly goods into the car and set off down the west coast highway, destination Queenstown via Haast and the gorgeous Mt Aspiring National Park. It was a lovely drive and again, quite a long one. Mt Aspiring national park is the 3rd largest in NZ covering about 3,500 sq km. Scenery ranges from Alpine mountains to spectacular forested valleys and waterfalls.

We arrived in Queenstown mid afternoon and I was immediately blown away by the place. We had 4 days here and there was so much to do that we could've easily had a month. I've always wanted to visit Queenstown. Do you know that feeling of when you have a dream of something that you want to do or a place you want to visit, then when you actually get to do it it's not always how you pictured it would be. Queenstown was everything I had hoped for and more.

Situated on Lake Wakatipu NZ's 3rd largest lake and backed by the Remarkables mountain range the Queenstown area is extremely familiar looking. Many of the scenes in the Lord of the Rings trilogy were filmed in this district. I once had an aquaintance who swore that the scenery from this film was computer generated because nowhere on earth could be that beautiful. I have to say that my friend is completely and utterly wrong, there is nothing computer generated about this place at all.

Lake Wakatipu is unique in that it breathes. Honestly the water level rises and falls as much as 12cms every 5 minutes, this movement is caused by variations in atmospheric pressure, but of course the Maori have a different explanation. Their legend has it that the lake was formed by the burned imprint of a sleeping demon killed by the lover of a beautiful princess that he had kidnapped. Because his heart did not perish it still beats and causes the rise and fall of the water level of the lake. I kinda like this explanation.

The Remarkables (Kawarau) were formed by the folding and faulting of Schist rock to the point where many of the rock faces are vertical. They are gorgeous to look at and are remarkable for 2 reasons. They are lovely to look at especially in the sunset and they are only one of two mountain ranges in the world that run from due north to south (the other being the American Rockies).

Here are some pics of Queenstown and district. A view of the wharf on Lake Wakatipu, Sparky and the Remarkables, Thunder Creek Falls in Mount Aspiring National Park and Queenstown taken from Bob's Peak as the sun started to set.
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File Type: jpg NZ 2005 079.jpg (88.6 KB, 16 views)
File Type: jpg NZ 2005 093.jpg (35.5 KB, 17 views)
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Last edited by lettie; 08-05-2005 at 18:45.
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Old 08-05-2005, 21:52   #23
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Re: Travel Tales....

Love the photo's Lettie.
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Old 12-05-2005, 20:30   #24
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Doubtful Sound

Whilst staying in Queenstown we spent a day exploring Doubtful Sound in Fjordland National Park. A 14 hour day of pure pleasure. Travelling by coach through the rolling farmland of Southland to Manapouri where we were boarding our boat to take us across Lake Manapouri to the Wilmott Pass and on to the beautiful Doubtful Sound.

The most popular of the fjords to visit has to be Milford Sound. Fearing that Milford would be teeming with tourists we opted for Doubtful. Doubtful sound was named in 1770 by Captain James Cook. As he observed the narrow entrance to the Sound he thought it doubtful that he would be able to steer his vessel into it in order to make a safe landing.

This remote wilderness is a haven for marine life including fur seals, bottlenose dolphins and Fjordland crested penguins. The Fjord is about 25 miles long and 1380 feet deep. It is flanked by mountains and rainforest and is breathtakingly gorgeous.

What strikes you the most here is the absolute silence. Miles away from any kind of civilisation when the engines to the boat were cut you could hear nothing except the occasional splash of the dolphins leaping out of the water. The water is very dark in colour due to the high rainfall in the area washing down the colouring from the vegetation which surrounds the Sound. This makes the water so dark that some of the normally deep water marine species live relatively close to the surface. We caught a glimpse of a couple of the penguins swimming rapidly underneath our boat. They were gone in a flash and we were unable to photograph them. The stars of the day had to be the dolphins who came out to play.

It was a lovely sunny day and the views were amazing. It was the best weather they had had down there all year and we were very lucky to be there. I'll never forget the tranquility of Doubtful Sound watching the seals and the dolphins. It does your heart good to watch these creatures playing and living in their natural environment without a care in the world.

Here are some views from Wilmott Pass overlooking Doubtful Sound, Doubtful Sound from the boat and the little island where the seals hang out. I couldn't resist including a couple of pics of our playful dolphins saying hello to us.
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Old 13-05-2005, 07:05   #25
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Re: Travel Tales....

lettie how serene & peaceful it looks, thanks once again .
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Old 15-05-2005, 10:03   #26
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The Lady of the Lake

By far the best way to see Lake Wakatipu is to take a relaxing cruise on the TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship. Built in 1912 in Dunedin the TSS (Twin Screw Steamer) Earnslaw was dismantled, railed to Kingston on Lake Wakatipu, reassembled and put into service on the lake. The grandest ship to service the remote farming communities around the lake she was given the title The Lady of the Lake. She was originally a cargo ship and was capable of carrying 1,500 sheep and 30 cattle on her decks. Presently the TSS Earnslaw can carry around 350 passengers.

The TSS Earnslaw was one of many steamers which graced the lake from the 1860's onwards and she is now the only surviving vessel of this fleet of steamers. After a major re-fit in the late 60's/early 70's The Earnslaw was restored to her former glory and opened as a tourist venture. The engine room was exposed so that passengers can see the workings of a steamship. There is a charming little cafe and piano bar area on board where people have a sing-song on the way back from their tour of the lake. It was quite amusing to see hoards of Japanese tourists singing along to 'Daisy Daisy' and 'Roll Out the Barrel.'

While touring the Lake, the Earnslaw takes supplies to Walter Peak High Country Farm. Some of these farms are still only accessible by lake. Walter Peak has a restaurant where passengers can stop off, see the workings of the sheep station and grab a bite to eat. The Earnslaw runs several trips a day around the lake, so you can stay at Walter Peak for several hours and just wait for the Lady of the Lake to take you back to Queenstown on one of her journeys.

A couple of hours aboard the TSS Earnslaw is a very civilised way to spend an afternoon. The Lady of the Lake has the reputation of being one of the last remaining coal-fired passenger carrying steam ships in the Southern Hemisphere and this is a journey not to be missed.

Here are some pics. The Lady of the Lake, a view of Walter Peak from the Earnslaw, TSS Earnslaw engine room and deck, and Walter Peak High Country Farm.
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Old 16-05-2005, 09:52   #27
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Bungy!!!!!!!

There's loads to do in this district and while staying in Queenstown it would be rude not to visit the Kawarau Bridge which is the home of the first ever commercial bungy jump. The bungy was pioneered by Mr AJ Hackett, inspired by the natives of Vanuatu who had used vines to perform a type of 'land diving' since the 1500's. AJ Hackett and Chris Skigglekow performed the world's first bungy in New Zealand in 1986 after inventing the first latex bungy cord. In 1987 AJ shot to fame with a daring bungy from the Eiffel Tower and he opened the first commercial bungy centre at Kawarau in 1988. There are loads of bungy sites in NZ, the Kiwis are a lovely race of people but they will jump off just about anything. Around Queenstown thrillseekers from all over the world have no shortage of bungy sites to choose from. There's Kawarau Bridge 43m
The ledge bungy from Bob's Peak 47m
Skippers Outback Pipeline bungy 102m
Nevis Highwire Bungy 134m

You can even bungy jump over Lake Wakatipu from the paragliders......Yikes!!!!!

A visit to Arrowtown is also worthwhile. About 20km from Queenstown, Arrowtown is a picturesque little village which is the most well preserved gold mining town in the area. Not overrun by modern development Arrowtown has lots of old colonial style buildings and tiny little cottages. There's an old Chinese settlement which has been restored, as Chinese miners played a big part in filling the gaps when European miners had left for the West Coast goldrush. The whole town is just gorgeous and there is a very good little bakery, which made our trip even more enjoyable, great pies.

Another Queenstown highlight has to be the Shotover Jet. This is labelled 'Thrill Therapy' and is an unforgettable adrenaline rush and even terrified chickens like myself enjoy the whole package. The Shotover Jet takes you on a mad rush through the Shotover Canyon. With the canyon walls towering over you and rocky outcrops protruding into the river, the driver will skillfully steer the boat at breakneck speed, performing 360 degree turns and churning up loads of cold water spray in the process. Covered with waterproof ponchos, lifejackets and sunglasses, Sparky and I embarked on our thrilling package. With heated handrails and comfy seats it's one hell of a ride. I loved it and could have stayed on there all day.

Queenstown really does have something for everyone and I loved the place. I sometimes feel reluctant to tell people about Queenstown as I am afraid that everyone will flock there and make it too touristy, but I can't help myself, it's the best place I've ever been to.

Here are some pics. The Kawarau Bridge with one poor ****** flinging himself off it! A view of Arrowtown and Me and Sparky on the Shotover Jet (third row right side of the photo)
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File Type: jpg NZ 2005 084.jpg (85.0 KB, 14 views)
File Type: jpg NZ 2005 082.jpg (51.5 KB, 45 views)
File Type: jpg shotover.jpg (100.9 KB, 17 views)
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Old 18-05-2005, 01:24   #28
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Re: Travel Tales....

sparky where was your fishing rod when them big buggers where surfacing , they would have put up a real scrap and you wouldnt have had to feed lettie for a month.
dolphin curry, dolphin kebab,dolphin soup,dolphin coq au vin,its endless!.....lol.
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Old 18-05-2005, 10:06   #29
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Dunedin

It was with deep regret that we said goodbye to Queenstown and made our way through miles and miles of fertile farmland to Dunedin. Dunedin has a very Scottish theme and some wonderful architecture. The home of the University of Otago it also has a very lively social scene.

On arrival, we headed for the town centre and made our way to Speight's Brewery to book a tour for the following day. These brewery tours are very popular but we were lucky enough to snaffle the last two places on the tour. Sparky being a real ale fan and me being a fan of any type of alcohol, this tour was right up our street. Probably one of the oldest working gravity breweries left in the world Speights really is the 'Pride of the South.' After our tour we had a quick beer tasting session (which explains my lack of photos of Speights) then we headed for the railway station to board the train to take us through the Taieri Gorge.

Dunedin railway station is one of the best examples of railway architecture in the world. Designed by George Troup, it was opened in 1906 and earned the designer the nickname of 'Gingerbread George.' It's a lovely building and with stained glass windows, mosaic tiled staircase and wrought iron balustrades it has a very grand feel about it.

We caught our train and travelled through the Taieri Gorge. This is the longest private railway in New Zealand and runs for about 60km. Lovingly restored and maintained by the Otago Excursion Train Trust after the public raised over $1 million to buy the line, the Taieri Gorge Railway is one of the areas leading tourist attractions. Work originally started on the railway in 1879 as a means of linking the Dunedin region in the East with Cromwell in the West. It was finally completed in 1921 and when you see the terrain that this railway covers it's an absolute miracle of engineering. The Taieri Gorge stretch of the railway crosses some very rugged areas and with the construction and restoration of the huge wooden bridges up to 47m above the Taieri River, it fair makes your stomach churn. The river is so inaccessible on foot that there is said to be massive trout in there which die of old age because nobody can get down there to fish it. I bet Staggers would try.

Here are some pics, Dunedin railway station, Taieri river, the surrounding terrain and one of the impressive bridges taken from the train.
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File Type: jpg railway 1.jpg (83.2 KB, 13 views)
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Old 21-05-2005, 07:06   #30
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En route to Christchurch.

After leaving Dunedin we drove North to Christchurch. We decided that we would pay a visit to the Moeraki Boulders whilst we were en route.

The Moeraki Boulders have long been a curiosity and a source of legend. Thought to have been formed by the accumulation of lime salts on the sea bed. These boulders are perfectly spherical, some of them have a circumference of up to 4m. In Maori legend the boulders used to be the food baskets from the Araiteuru Canoe which was one of the great ancestral canoes which brought the Maori to NZ from Hawaiki their ancestral home. The canoe was wrecked on a greenstone gathering trip. It is said that the kumara on board became rough rocks, the food baskets became the boulders and the canoe became a reef.

Thousands of tourists turn up per year to see the Moeraki Boulders, they are probably amongst the most photographed of NZ's sights. Therefore Sparky and I turned up to take some piccies and have a look at the boulders. It would've been rude not to.

Here are a couple of pics of the Moeraki Boulders. As you can see, Sparky is suffering for his art in order to get some decent piccies. I can confirm that the sea was freezing, even by our hard northerner's standards.......
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File Type: jpg boulders.jpg (54.8 KB, 15 views)
File Type: jpg boulders2.jpg (55.7 KB, 32 views)
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