1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

Five weeks in New Zealand

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by warpus, Mar 21, 2013.

  1. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,428
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    I'm a web developer/database&front/backend systems designer at a large Canadian university.

    I get 4 weeks of vacation time a year, but at the time was only banking 3 weeks a year. My vacation time basically keeps piling up until I use it though - something that doesn't get reset each year. Right now I have about 5 weeks weeks of vacation time banked for example. Usually my boss will get on our asses to start using up some vacation time when we have crazy amounts banked.. Technically the limit is 25 days, but way too many people are over this limit. People here just don't take that much vacation time, for whatever reason.

    I don't really remember how I brought up this particular vacation plan to my boss. Previously my longest time off was 3 weeks (My trip to Patagonia in 2008), and that's the longest I've ever heard anyone take time off here at the University (not including leaves)... Usually people take off 1 or 2 weeks max. My thinking though was that if I'm going to fly down to New Zealand, I might as well make it count.. So right away I was hoping to do at least 4 weeks. And it just sort of happened I guess? And then 4 turned into 5, or should I say more like 4 and a half. We're usually not that busy in November/December, so I guess that helped too.

    My boss is incredibly chill and his philosophy is basically: "You're a professional, if you think you can afford to take of all that time, go for it". I knew I was kind of pushing it with 5 weeks, but I just went for it and figured I'd deal with the fallout later. And there really wasn't a fallout, so I guess I made the right decision! As a result asking for 3 weeks off since that is a lot easier - there's precedent... "Well, at least it isn't 5 weeks", etc. And even if it were, depending on the circumstances, it would probably be approved again. I know my boss wouldn't love the idea, but he wouldn't stand in my way unless there was some project on the horizon that required my presence here. So I'm limited a bit in that regard, but this job is great for travelling.. and you know what, I still get jealous of Europeans who get 7-8+ weeks off. I meet people like that when I'm travelling all the time.. and I guess I should be more thankful of my own job, but compared to what they get I just can't help it but feel a lil bit jealous.
     
  2. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,428
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    Day 15 - Mt. Cook Scenic Flight part 4

    "Ok, now let's look to the left for a bit" ... "Ok, now let's look to the right for a bit".. "Ok now..


    Link to video.

    I just couldn't sit still. Everything around me was amazing





    This looks like Mt.Cook to me, there on the left



    Here it is in all its glory



    We got fairly close to several mountain peaks


    Link to video.



    The views were amazing, but the finnicky nature of the flight was getting to me. And maybe finnicky is not the right word to use here, but air currents would blow us here and there.. Every once in a while the plane would just drop a bit, which just never felt right, and everything was a bit shaky. I tried to ignore all that and enjoy the scenery

     
  3. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,428
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    Day 15 - Mt. Cook Scenic Flight part 5

    Lots of snow in all directions



    Especially down



    Snow capped peaks everywhere!









    Ok, I'm pretty sure this is Mt. Cook



    Too bad you can't really hear the pilot, because he talked a lot and said a lot of interesting things.

    Tasman Glacier can be seen for a bit on the right.


    Link to video.

    This day might just end up with the most parts. There are just too many good photos
     
  4. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2008
    Messages:
    45,355
    Location:
    US of A
    Nice stuff :)
     
  5. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,428
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    Day 15 - Mt. Cook Scenic Flight part 6

    Tasman Glacier - The largest glacier in New Zealand



    Mt. Cook I think



    More Tasman glacier





    Giant chunks of snow on this mountain peak



    A hike beside these lakes would have been amazing



    One of the many videos that I took. Watch the volume! The engine is not incredibly loud or anything, but it isn't quiet either


    Link to video.

    Another skyline shot

     
  6. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2008
    Messages:
    45,355
    Location:
    US of A
    Seems like you got your money's worth on that plane trip.
     
  7. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,428
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    Oh most definitely! I still can't kind of believe that this was cheaper than the cliff jump. I looked at a couple companies before booking this and most of the other ones seemed to be not only more expensive, but also not as long. So I went with these guys. 1 hour long flight for $280 or whatever it was - not bad at all
     
  8. Mechanicalsalvation

    Mechanicalsalvation -

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    7,072
    Location:
    -
    Hello from Christchurch! The city is damaged but at least the view of mountains southwest isnt obstructed as much. I had an amazing view on the mountains and fjords prior to landing too, which was sweet as would Kiwi say...
     
  9. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,428
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    Day 15 - Mt. Cook Scenic Flight part 7

    More photos from the scenic flight.

    Enjoy!





    Please keep camera lens off window



    People! Crazy people, but people



    No people here (but I guess there could be)







    The snowfields were just crazy huge

     
  10. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,428
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    Wow, has it been a month already? Sweet as bro!

    The landing in Queenstown was incredible. I'd fly there again just to experience that
     
  11. Mechanicalsalvation

    Mechanicalsalvation -

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    7,072
    Location:
    -
    Hey what up bro?:scan:...I found this on page 3!? :deadhorse:Currently I am pondering I should go out of Christchurch at least for one week and hit the road around the south island before I leave for Sydney at the end of September. Or perhaps make several trips out of Christchurch to different locations as the city is located nicely in the middle of the east coast of the island.
     
  12. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,428
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    You definitely should. I would head to Milford Sound via Queenstown, checking out Mt. Cook nat. park along the way (or at least lake tekapo and/or pukaki). Then you could drive up the west coast, via the glaciers and then back to Christchurch via Arthur's pass. That should be very doable if you have your own vehicle and a week and a half of available time... and some people would probably say that it'd be a rushed tour of the southern island, but assuming the weather was in your favour you would probably have a great time and see some amazing sights. Alternatively you could head to the Abel Tasman/Golden bay area, which has pretty nice beaches and scenery as well. Just no mountains, I don't think.

    I'm back from vacation now, so I should be able to post some more pics soon.

    edit: You should definitely go to Kaikoura and walk at least a part of the Peninsula walkway.. or at least go there if you're going to be heading towards Abel Tasman or in that direction. I really liked it in Kaikoura, although the pictures are a lot less.. dramatic. Still very beautiful .. I can't quite put my finger on it but it was in a way the favourite part of my trip - and not because there are whales there which you can see.. which I did not
     
  13. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,428
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    Day 15 (part 8) - On to Greymouth

    Right before we made the descent over the Waiho River plains towards the airport the plane took us overtop Franz Josef Glacier, which gave me a much better view of the whole thing.. A much much better view!



    We followed the valley formed by the glacier while losing altitude, ending up over the Waiho river, which drains the meltwater from the Franz Josef glacier into the Tasman sea.



    The landing wasn't anything out of the ordinary, but I have it all on film, for anyone who wants to see. The touchdown itself felt a bit rough, but maybe that's how these planes usually land... I really have no idea.

    edit: Youtube is being read-only right now for me, so I will have to edit the video in later


    Link to video.
    A bus took me back to the village, where you could now see that the clouds had indeed slightly withdrawn. You could even see into the valley which contains the relatively rapidly receding glacier.



    I had lunch and at 2pm was on a bus to Greymouth, 4 hours to the north. Why Greymouth? It was my stepping stone to Christchurch, the largest city on the island, which I could reach by taking a train through Arthur's pass, a rail line that basically connects the largest cities on both coasts at a relatively fairly narrow part of the island. For reference's sake, Franz Josef glacier is in Westland National Park, to the south-east.



    With a population of only 10,000 Greymouth wasn't exactly a large city at all, but it was a bit of a hub for a number of west-coast oriented places worthy of potential visit... I wasn't planning in indulging in any of them really and wanted to get to get to Christchurch in time to squeeze in a stop at Abel Tasman park later on in the trip... but.. there would be options if I wanted to stick around longer and lounge around for an extra day for some reason.

    Along the way we made a stop in Hokitika, which seemed to contain nothing of importance other than this large centrepiece bearing its name:



    At 6pm I was in Greymouth and at my hostel, the Noah's Ark, which I believe was recommended to me by somebody on the bus. By this point in time I had also decided that I would want to see the Monteith's Brewery, if possible, and then take the first train out of town the next morning. There just wasn't that much to do in the area and Arthur's pass, Christchurch, and beyond sort of beckoned.

    The Monteith's Brewery tour was kind of awesome. I got picked up right from my hostel not too long after I booked the whole thing through my hostel's info desk service. The tour included 7 beer & cider samples as well as a full course dinner at a choice of 2 restaurants. I was starving and looking to relax a bit on this leg of the journey, so that seemed perfect.

    The brewery tour itself was very interesting. The place almost closed down a couple years ago due to the impracticality of brewing beer on the west coast or something similar, but the parent company was in the end forced to resume operations due to a very strong local outcry. The brewery is not very big and these days they mostly brew cider, and I guess I've never been in a brewery before, but this one seemed low capacity and had that family owned feel to it, if such a feel is possible.



    Kiwi humour can be very subtle and at times I did not know whether the signs around me were real warnings or elaborate jokes.. There's probably real acid in there somewhere, but with Kiwis you just never know.



    I was then driven to my choice of restaurant, which suited my relaxed demeanor just fine. It turned out to be a pub. Even better! More beers and a hearty lamb dinner followed .. and a burger too. and sides. It was just a good ending to a busy yet good day generally and I forget what the sides were, but they were probably good too.

    Back at the hostel I bought TranzAlpine scenic train tickets for the next day - to take me to Christchurch. I was out by 10.
     
  14. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2008
    Messages:
    45,355
    Location:
    US of A
    That plane has a freaky propeller. :eekdance:
     
  15. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,428
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    Day 16 - Arthur's Pass

    The TranzAlpine Express is a 223km, 4 and a half hour long scenic train ride that takes you from east coast to west through 19 tunnels. It also only runs once a day (in each direction), which sort of limits any other travel plans you might have, especially if you're trying to save time. Either way, my ride left at 1:45pm. That left me with enough time to have breakfast, lunch, a brief stroll through town, and 1 hour's worth of free internet at the train station.. which turned out I was entitled to by virtue of possessing a Monteith's Brewery tour ticket stub. So cheers to you Monteith's! If you had beers for sale in Canada I would buy them.

    On my stroll through town I came across this amazing mural, which I will later post a larger version of:



    So I left Greymouth behind and embarked on a journey of spectacular scenery and rock and roll.


    Link to video.

    At first I spent a lot of time in that outside car that didn't have any windows.



    It was great for photos, but in the end those taken from windows weren't that bad either.



    And then we were at the Arthur's Pass stop, where several hiking routes and other attractions awaited.. Unfortunately I didn't have enough time to squeeze in an extended stay..



    A shot of the outside car where I later got some really good photos from



    And here's me beside a regular car.



    Eventually we were on the move again, this time on the eastern part of the Southern Alps... which unlike the western slopes wasn't covered in clouds - very welcome developments by all with cameras.

     
  16. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,428
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    Hah I just noticed this. You'll like a video that's coming up soon with a similar - yet much cooler effect.
     
  17. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,428
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    Day 16 - Arthur's Pass part 2

    More interesting scenery, now only an hour or two from Christchurch.



    I spent a lot of time in the open car just because the weather got so amazing.. blue skies again! There were a lot of tunnels (19 total) so it was at times annoying, but I put up with it



    It looks like we must have stopped for this photo, but I don't remember us stopping once, except for at Arthur's pass. What happened here was probably that we were moving slow enough and I was sufficiently zoomed in for everything to stay sharp. I really like this photo for that reason - it just looks like I spent all the time in the world picking a good spot to take it from.



    The line also contains 4 viaducts, the tallest one being 73 metres (240 ft) high. This is a photo taken from one of them



    I really like what happened here



    And here

    The music is there to drown out the noise.. Google's music library doesn't have an incredibly huge selection, but this works well enough


    Link to video.

    Cantenbury plains



    I had a hostel in Christchurch already booked - I went with one that was close to the train station, which I would be using for the next leg of my journey as well. So that was sweet, but what was also sweet was that the hostel was unique in that it used to be a jail

     
  18. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2008
    Messages:
    45,355
    Location:
    US of A
    It looks like there's a lot of varied ecologies in really close proximity there. You've had rainforest, glacier, and now semi-arid scrub-lands.
     
  19. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,428
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    The reason for that has something to do with the fact that New Zealand is relatively small, but sits right on two tectonic plates... so I guess erosive forces like glaciers stand out. The southern island is also split in two parts by the Southern Alps, leading to more variation in geology and.. what do you call them.. biomes? The western coast gets a lot of rain and there is jungle like terrain there for example.
     
  20. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,428
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    Here's a larger version of that cool mural I saw in Greymouth. It's a historical account of the major stories that the Greymouth Evening Star reported on, from the first automobile on the west coast to the first world war (which New Zealand contributed quite a bit to the effort of) and beyond

    Spoiler :


     

Share This Page