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:
    49,429
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    Which one's that?

    If you're into nature, you are going to love New Zealand.. especially the south island. Where exactly are you headed?
     
  2. JohannaK

    JohannaK Careless Whisperer

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2011
    Messages:
    13,529
    Location:
    Last Christmas
    Looks great. I'll be reading. I actually just decided that I want to go to Australia next year at latest, and I'm gonna start planning everything myself with next week's break... some tips for long trips overseas? :D
     
  3. ace99

    ace99 Chieftain

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Messages:
    3,453
    @Warpus have you seen this blog? http://monsoondiaries.com/

    This thread combined with that blog have inspired me. I must travel. Somewhere outside the US.

    I was think about hitting the Med circuit, the crisis ridden countries Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Egypt. They should be cheapish now right?
     
  4. Optical

    Optical The Fall of the Eleventh

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    5,734
    Location:
    Help me. I don't know where I am.
    The Forgotten World Highway, between Stratford in the Taranaki and the central North Island. It'd be OK if the scenery was anything but ordinary but it's basically 5 hours of slow driving through forestry plantations (with a few patches of bush) on a winding road which makes you want to vomit. Somehow made it onto the 101 Kiwi Must Do's list. Not recommended. I hear there are some interesting side-roads if you have the time, but as a road to drive on it's awful.
     
  5. Mechanicalsalvation

    Mechanicalsalvation -

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    7,072
    Location:
    -
    I have just start working on it. I should meet some people in Christchurch so I will start from there. Not sure if I will go to the north island yet since the south seems to be the better of the two but people seem to recomend it as well.

    The thing about Australia is that almost everything is/seems super expensive I guess in NZ is the same, right?
     
  6. Optical

    Optical The Fall of the Eleventh

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    5,734
    Location:
    Help me. I don't know where I am.
    The central North is definitely worth going to, and the Bay of Plenty/Hawke's Bay as well. I personally haven't gone north of Auckland, but apparently it's nice up there too.

    Probably even more, I'm afraid.
     
  7. Camikaze

    Camikaze Administrator Administrator

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2008
    Messages:
    27,012
    Location:
    Sydney
    New Zealand is much cheaper.
     
  8. Optical

    Optical The Fall of the Eleventh

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    5,734
    Location:
    Help me. I don't know where I am.
    Really? I wouldn't have guessed.
     
  9. classical_hero

    classical_hero In whom I trust

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2003
    Messages:
    33,255
    Location:
    Perth,Western Australia
    The cost of living in Australia is one of the highest in the world.
     
  10. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,429
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    When looking up flights online, use chrome's incognito mode - you will probably end up with cheaper tickets, especially if you do a bunch of searching, which you should.

    These are the sites I use to find good deals: http://www.skyscanner.net, http://www.kayak.com/explore/, http://hipmunk.com, http://airfarewatchdog.com, http://matrix.itasoftware.com/, http://www.google.ca/flights/

    How long are you going for?

    Actually, at least in the case of Spain and Greece, that does not appear to be the case. I saw the overall cost of travel in places like Iceland drop, when they were having issues with their economy, but that was because of a concentrated effort by the country to attract tourists... I think.

    South America can be a good option - it's closer to the U.S., flying there is generally cheaper, and everyday things like food there are much cheaper too. The most expensive country there is Chile, and I found it very cheap. Sometimes flights will cost as much as the ones to Europe, but, you can often find better deals.

    And btw I haven't seen the blog, but those guys are seeing all the things! Good place for inspiration. And if this thread inspires anyone to travel anywhere then :goodjob:

    Just looked it up - this never came up during my research when I was planning for this trip 3 years ago now. At one point I was considering checking out Mount Taranaki though, which is right there. Flew right beside it on the way to Queensdown, but there wasn't any time to check it out from the ground.

    It really depends on what sort of things you want to see and are into, but the south island seems to have a lot more to offer in terms of natural beauty.

    I can't compare NZ to Australia, but I can compare it to parts of the U.S. and Canada. Eating out in New Zealand seems more expensive on paper, but from my experience it was pretty much on par with what we pay in Canada, if not slightly cheaper, if you consider that taxes are already figured into the price and there is no tipping. Other everyday things cost maybe a bit more than here on average. I find the U.S. generally a lot cheaper than Canada generally when it comes to everyday goods, and for sure cheaper than what you can expect to pay in New Zealand. So.. NZ isn't a cheap place to travel to. but it is possible to budget your trip well enough and not spend an arm and a leg - as long as you don't mind staying in hostels and such. Oh and as far as the U.S. goes, I could probably compare parts of California to New Zealand in terms of how much eating out costs at least
     
  11. JohannaK

    JohannaK Careless Whisperer

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2011
    Messages:
    13,529
    Location:
    Last Christmas
    I dont really know, I have just decided on it, and its quite likely that I will have to go next year at the earliest, but the idea is to be there for a few months. I want to get away from everything I know, live a truly different and unkque experience, and I have long had a curiosity for the antipodes, so there we go.
     
  12. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,429
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    I've found http://travel.reddit.com a good resource when planning trips, not only for inspiration, but also because the community is very open and if you ask your question the right way, people will respond and help you out. And once you get enough into planning a trip like that enough, you almost forget that it's possible to back out :p But anyway, that is a great excuse to go somewhere new, but whatever reason you use in the end will probably result in you having some sort of a new perspective on life, even if just something minor. You don't really have to go far for that anyway, I learned some things on my various travels to other parts of Canada and the U.S., but.. the weirder things get, the more you learn about yourself
     
  13. LamaGT

    LamaGT Chieftain

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2011
    Messages:
    1,107
    Location:
    Turin, Italy

    From my experience the cost of food in Southern France is higher than that of Italy, but gas is cheaper and housing has pretty much the same prices. For an American everything would be expensive though.

    Anyway those Monsoon guys are awesome, they make me want to do the same. Unfortunately I'm underage...
     
  14. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,429
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    Day 2 - Queenstown - Photos from the Gondola Lookout point

    The short walk to the gondola from the Queenstown Gardens and the ride up were fairly uneventful. There's a restaurant up there, a downhill luge/cart/thing course, a ski-lift type thing that pulls you up to the top of the luge track, a couple lookout points, a couple trails you can walk, a store.. and more.

    The view was breathtaking though. Those mountains in the background are The Remarkables



    This guy sure saw something



    Central Queenstown. The large peninsula sticking out into the lake like an arrow up top is a fancy golf course. The peninsula right below are the Queenstown Gardens.



    A bungy jump setup overlooking the city. I did not jump..



    But she sure did (or maybe that's a he?)


    Link to video.


    This lookout point really drove home the fact that I was actually in New Zealand now.

    Warning: very wide panorama shot
    Spoiler :


    The ski lift thing taking people up to the luge track



    Better view of the (probably expensive) golf course



    One unfortunate aspect of the trip was that I found out about the miners dying basically as soon as I got there, on day 1. Spirits were low.. You could feel it in the air



    I finished off my exploration of the gondola lookout point with a short hike through the forest, after which I found the best spot for a break



    The day wound down with some hokey pokey ice cream, a Kiwi staple, and then fancy pizza and beer at a place called 'Winnie's pizza'. Which at first seemed gimmicky, but ended up being really good.

    On my walk back to the hotel I got an interesting shot of The Remarkables, partially ruined by a lamp post



    I crashed early but would have to catch a bus at 6:50am to Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park, the next day.
     
  15. Ayatollah So

    Ayatollah So the spoof'll set you free

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2002
    Messages:
    4,388
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    Nice photos dude. The scenery is staggeringly awesome.
     
  16. Nobody

    Nobody Gangster

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2001
    Messages:
    5,449
    Location:
    Wellington New Zealand
    No photos of the beautiful wellington!?
     
  17. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,429
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    Thanks! It's mostly the scenery, I think. :p The camera that I had on this trip was not nearly as good as the one I brought with me to Peru, but I knew it fairly well and what it was capable of at that point. I also took a lot of photos - shooting the same scene with different settings. Partially because I read the whole manual and a bit on photography basics just before the trip and got some ideas.. and partially because I like taking breaks and photography is a great excuse for a break

    Either way, there are a lot of photos for me to choose from! And New Zealand is just that beautiful. It's like a magical land, where every direction you look in is a beautiful vista, and every town is inhabited by super friendly people. And you don't have to tip them either.

    I got to Wellington on day 21, so there will be photos, but... at that point it was incredibly cloudy and kinda wet. A shame - the ferry ride over from the south island was mostly me watching football and drinking cheap beers in the ferry pub. It was too cloudy to take photos of anything from the observation deck. It was also cloudy on the Tongariro Crossing, which made it even more alien and a bit crazy and definitely interesting.
     
  18. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,429
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    Day 3 - Te Anau

    This was the last day before my glorious attempt to hike the Milford and Routeburn Tracks back to back and I had to be up at 5. A $1 (thank you nakedbus.com!) bus ride took me to Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park, where I had a hostel booked and ready to go. The bus ride there was 2 hours of awesomeness, taking us through pretty terrain, and commentary every once in a while given by the bus driver who knew a lot about Lord of the Rings and where things were filmed.

    I checked into my hostel. Turns out I was sharing my room with 3 other dudes (and this is almost word for word from my notes):

    1. Peter, a guy from Cambridge who doesn't follow football
    2. Grumpy British guy
    and 3. American kid from Washington who has been travelling through Vietnam and Australia and was also starting the Milford Track the next day

    I got settled, talked to the dudes a bit (except for the grumpy British guy), exchanged a couple stories with the American (who's name will come up in my notes later I'm sure), and went on a walk around town.

    Te Anau is a very small town. It has direct access to 2 of the great walks, is a place you have to pass through to get to Milford Sound, and not too many people really live there. The waterfront is very neat though, with parks, docks, a helicopter pad, seaplane port, and a lakeside path you can walk all the way from the centre of town to the Kepler Track. There is a bird sanctuary on the way there too, which is where I walked and back, after a steak, mushroom, and bacon pie, which was as amazing as it sounds.

    One of the first photos at the waterfront that I took was this



    Then I came across this





    The very route I was going to be walking in under 24 hours! As evidenced by these tickets, which I had just picked up. Holding them in my hands was very exciting! There was one per hut I was going to be staying in (7), 1 for a bus to Te Anau Downs, 1 for the boat to Glade House and the beginning of Milford Track, and 1 for a boat right at the end to pick me up after I finish the walk and take me to Milford Sound.



    But back to Te Anau. It's basically there on the waterfront on the right, among/behind some of those trees. The bird sanctuary was to the left.



    The walk to the bird sanctuary took you through some interesting flora. Interesting plants, interesting trees, interesting plantlife, in all varieties.



    But the birds were far more interesting. Here's a video of two Keas playing. Keas are the only mountain parrot in existence and also possibly the smartest birds on the planet. They are some of the smartest at least, very curious, and comical & entertaining to watch. Keas are also considered pests in New Zealand, because the combination of their intelligence, curiosity, and strength and flexibility of their beaks. They will rip things off other things, and even solve puzzles in order to get to their goal, whatever it may be at the time. A big problem is that they will just mess your car up in terms of ripping every single piece of plastic off it and more. They are protected, so you can't do much, but "Kea-proof" is definitely a thing around those parts.

    You can watch David Attenborough talk about Keas here, if you are interested. They give Keas puzzles to solve and the results are very interesting. If you're into that sort of thing, I highly recommend learning more about Keas.


    Link to video.

    It wasn't easy to get a good photo since all the birds were in cages.. but it did lead to some interesting ones



    The bird sanctuary had a whole bunch of cages and a whole bunch of types of birds there, so I spent a good half an hour checking them out. These were birds that were being rescued from whatever unfortunate scenario they found themselves in. Bird conservation is a big thing in New Zealand. Europeans brought with them a lot of mammals that hunt birds, and these birds evolved on an island with no predators pretty much, so.. the european imports had it easy.. but hopefully with some of these programs a lot of these species can be rescued and preserved.

    On the walk back to my hostel I made my way through the diverse park-like surroundings and took my time taking it all in.



    After the walk I had a boat booked to take me to a glow worm cave, just on the other side of the lake. The deal with the glowworms is that they live in caves, are worms, and they glow. And are cool to look at, but you have to go down a system of caves in a boat to get to the main chamber where most of the glowworms are. So it was kind of cool, but not really amazing or anything.



    It's hard to see, but you only ever make it to that first "little" chamber on the map, the one on the right. The rest of the cave is only open to professionals and possibly crazy monsters. There are no lights allowed in the parts of the cave where there are glowworms, as to not disturb their natural habitat, and you're supposed to stay quiet, so it was a bit of a serene experience. Also a bit weird, I guess.

    After the glow worm cave tour me and the American guy repacked our backpacks, made a plan to wake up at whichever hour in the morning, to walk together to the Department of Conservation office for pickup, and to for the time being be a bit of a team. An unholy North American alliance was forged.
     
  19. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,429
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    More photos from Te Anau





    Kea fu



    Very curious and very playful

     
  20. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,429
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    The Milford Track

    The Milford Track is a 55km (34 mi) long hiking trail that takes you through rainforests, wetlands, and an alpine pass, to Milford Sound, the main place I was in New Zealand to see. It is the route that Quintin McKinnon took to get to Milford Sound in 1888, the first European to do so, and is now the most popular hiking trail in the country.

    Milford Track, one of New Zealand's 9 Great Walks, is known as "The finest walk in the world" and so it is incredibly popular with hikers and tourists. A maximum of 90 hikers a day can start the trail during the regular season though, in one direction only, and everything is tightly regulated, so for the most part the hike is a very peaceful experience; if you're walking by yourself, like I was, you could walk for hours without running into anyone, although usually you would see someone every 30-90 minutes or so.

    Hikers have the option to sign up with a very expensive guided tour, not have to carry much, get all their gear, food, and clothing taken care of, and stay in fancy lodges... or to walk it independently, figure out their gear and clothing stuff on their own, stay in Department of Conservation huts, carry everything, and not have a guide. I went with option B.

    Here's a map of the trail



    And this is how the Milford Track breaks down for an independent hiker:

    Day 1 - Get dropped off at Glade Wharf, walk to and sleep at Clinton Hut
    Day 2 - Walk to and sleep at Mintaro Hut
    Day 3 - Cross the MacKinnon alpine pass, visit the Sutherland Falls, then walk to and sleep at Dumpling Hut
    Day 4 - Walk to Sandfly point and wait for a boat to pick you up and take you to Milford Sound.

    The huts have 1 ranger there each, a person who checked our tickets, gave us weather updates and other advice, offered optional short hikes around the hut, and just generally looked after the place. Each hut had 1 common room/kitchen, where you could boil water and make whatever food you brought with you. There were also dorm-room style rooms with bunk beds, of varying sizes, and a bathroom/restroom. There were also no garbage bins, so you had to carry all your rubbish after you were done with it, for the duration of the hike.. and there was no food you could buy there, at all.



    As you can see day 3 was by far the most challenging, although day 4 had the most walking, and day 2 wasn't that easy either. Day 1 was a breeze, but it also included a bus and boat ride at the beginning, not to mention a very early wakeup call.

    More on the Milford Track will be coming soon... There a lot of photos I need to sort through before I can post the next update
     

Share This Page