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Five weeks in New Zealand

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

  1. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Day 12 - Jumping off a cliff part 2

    In the video on the previous page everything happens very fast. Here you can see things frame by frame:



    There's no going back now



    Surely things can only improve if I grab hold of the cord and start screaming



    The bottom of the chair says "CHAIR OF DEATH". I did not know that at the time.



    A 60m freefall and a 200m swing over a 109m (358 foot) high drop



    Weeeee



    These two guys made the photos look good

     
  2. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Nice of them to make sure you had the memory all recorded.
     
  3. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Nice of them, and they do this for everyone. But then you have to pay extra if you actually want the DVD burned. They probably make quite a bit of money with these. I think I paid $40-$70? At first it seems gimmicky, but in the end it is totally worth it, especially for someone like me - who has never jumped before until that time.
     
  4. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Oh, I'm sure it's part of the money making scheme. :p
     
  5. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Day 12 - Jumping off a cliff part 3

    A couple more pics from the shotover canyon jump. Here you can still see me sitting in the death chair, almost done with the freefall part of the jump and beginning the swing across the canyon. At this point you can also perhaps make out my "aww yeah!!" arm positions.



    "Did you hear that scream?"



    I went through the DVD again and found this composite photo



    The jump was kind of an awesome experience. It totally changed my mood for the rest of the day, for the rest of the week, and possibly even the rest of the trip and beyond. It's not something I see myself doing more than once a decade, but I'm definitely glad that I got to experience that incredible adrenaline rush.

    After the jump I took a short bus ride over to the Shotover Canyon Jet area, a jet-powered boat that takes you through an at times shallow and narrow Shotover canyon. It seems like a pretty cool piece of technology, and it's very fast, and takes you very close to cliffs, and it does spin around, and it is was very fun, but I sat through this ride still thinking about the jump. I should have definitely done these in the opposite order! Everybody in my boat was screaming. I just sat there.. not disappointed, but not thrilled either.

    So I obviously didn't pay to get a video of my jet boat ride.. but here's somebody else's video! A part of the exact same route that I did, so just imagine me as one of these people:


    Link to video.

    After that I was back in Queenstown for dinner - really good Thai food.. And dessert at a place called Patagonia Chocolates. I got a chocolate cheesecake with a giant milkshake. I will never forget that because I totally overdid it and could barely finish everything but it was awesome.

    I booked a bus through the Haast pass to the Franz Josef Glacier for the next day at an internet cafe, took in some last views of Queenstown, and went back to my hostel room to pack up and go to sleep. My notes claim that one of my dormmates was an "Annoying American", although I can remember no details of this person or why he might have been annoying.
     
  6. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    That looks like an awfully narrow and rocky river for that kind of speed. :eek2:
     
  7. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    The jet boats were kind of amazing really, in terms of what they did

    10cm of water isn't much, and yeah, the river bed was definitely rocky.. and in some places incredibly shallow. But this thing will just fly through shallow water, gliding and bumping over the rocks beneath.

    And I think this explains the maneuverability this thing has to warrant sending it through such a narrow canyon at such high speeds:

    400 litres of water per second per jet seems insane, but I guess I'll accept it. I've also read a couple days ago that they're going to upgrade all the boats soon, so that number might very well go up.

    The pilots also apparently undergo 120 hours of training in that very canyon before being allowed to take actual passengers.. So they must be both good to begin with, but also know the course inside out.
     
  8. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    I understand how the drive works. But a small mistake and you'll still break up the boat on the rocks.
     
  9. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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  10. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Day 13 - Through the Haast Pass

    It was time to head north, towards Mount Cook National Park. I originally wanted to see Mt. Cook from the the east, but there are 2 glaciers on the west coast that have incredibly accessible faces.. so I opted for a day's journey through the Haast Pass to Franz Josef village instead, a small support town of about 300, situated 5km from the Franz Josef glacier face. I would be able to explore Mt.Cook from there as well.

    The Haast pass is only one of 3 passes through the Southern Alps, meaning that there are only so many ways you can set up a route through the south island, especially if you want to see the west coast.



    The bus ride was due to last 7-8 hours, with a short stop in Wanaka, which was originally on my list of places to check out as well. I couldn't justify staying there overnight though, given how much time I had left in the country and how many items remained on my "to see/do" list, so a 15 minute stop would have to do.

    Here's a shot of the bus/van I was on: booked via nakedbus.com. Amazing service. You go on their website, book your ride, write down the number that pops up, and when the bus driver reads off your number, you get on. No tickets.. no checks.. nice and easy. A great (and cheap) way to get around the country.



    Unfortunately it was very cloudy for most of the ride, with occasional rain, so I didn't get any good photos until we stopped at Thunder Creek Falls, more than halfway into the ride.





    A note on the roads there: The whole route was a 2 lane road - 1 lane in each direction. The bridges were all.. wait for it.. 1 lane. So basically each time the bus approached a bridge, the driver would have to stop, make sure there's nobody heading in the other direction, and then carefully proceed.

    Our next stop was at Knight's point, a lookout point on the Tasman sea with historical significance. In the 1950's, when the road we were on was being constructed, a part of it was being built through the Haast pass, and the other end from the north, from Greymouth. Knight's point was where the two construction crews met and an obelisk monument and lookout point were constructed. (and beers probably consumed)

    Not much to look at really, but at least you can see how damn cloudy it was. Plus you're learning things about history!



    For lunch we stopped at a salmon farm. I had a delicious smoked salmon on dark rye bread cheese sandwich. If it wasn't delicious I wouldn't be mentioning it here. I guess I just am not used to super fresh salmon, because that lunch was f'n memorable.

    A couple hours later and we were in Franz Josef Village, which according to my notes "I did not like very much". I forget if I had a reservation at the hostel I was dropped off or not, but either way, turns out I was bunking with two lesbians. Two messy messy lesbians. The hostel was also overrun with Kiwi Experience travellers, which is basically a large bus that takes tourists across the country, stopping at pretty sights, hostels, and so on. It's horribly overpriced if you ask me, because I did look into it as an option when planning my trip. The particular Kiwi Experience bus that happened to stop at the hostel just after I arrived dropped off a large group of obnoxious 20 year old party chavs .. or at least that was my first & likely somewhat unfair assessment of them. I was tired, a lot of them were British and loud, and let's leave it at that for now.

    I ate some of the freeze dried food I had left over from my hikes, IIRC a lot of mashed potatoes, and crashed at 9:30pm without doing any planning for the next day. I sort of knew what I wanted to do and see in the area, but I was too tired to think about any of it.
     
  11. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    I had the next day all lined up and ready to go when. . catastrophe.. my computer is dead.

    The photos are safe, but I'm not sure when I'm going to be able to post the next installment. It might be a couple days.. or a couple weeks.

    FYI
     
  12. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Bummer. Good luck with that.
     
  13. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Thanks.. I'm building a new rig from scratch and for now using my laptop to stay online. I think I have the photos backed up on an external HD - 90% sure - Hooking that thing up to my laptop today and having a look around. So I should be able to do the next installment sooner rather than later. If the photos are not there, I'll have to wait until my new rig is built.

    This kinda sucks, but the machine that died was assembled at the beginning of 2007.. So maybe this is the universe's way of telling me: "It's time to upgrade"
     
  14. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    :lol: That's about how old mine is. And while it seems to be working pretty well, I've begun to worry about it. I just added a new USB drive and backed stuff up there.
     
  15. Formaldehyde

    Formaldehyde Both Fair And Balanced

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    Commercial jet boat crashes in NZ seem quite prevalent with numerous injuries being reported. But there have apparently only been 2 deaths from 1995 to 2010.

    Shotover Jet had 11 "safety recommendations" during that period, the most for any operator. But that may very well have a lot to do with the size of the operation. Only one operator had 10 boats in operation, and the vast majority only had 3 or less.
     
  16. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Here's a snippet from that study:

    Well, I guess that settles it. Hiking (tramping) is more dangerous than jet boating.
     
  17. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Day 14 - Franz Josef Glacier

    Franz Josef Village is a small service town of about 300 located a couple kilometres from the Franz Josef glacier face. As you might or might not expect there isn't much there other than a heliport, a couple stores, restaurants, pubs, hostels, and.. a Kiwi sanctuary! (with free wi-fi)



    There are five species of kiwis, all native to New Zealand. Out of those five species two are endangered and two are vulnerable. See, kiwis evolved on an island with no predators and have had a very hard time adapting to the arrival of Europeans.. Deforestation and the spread of little furry mammals was just something the flightless birds couldn't cope with very well.



    These days a lot of their traditional forest habitats are found in well protected reserves and national parks... but some of them hang out in sanctuaries like the one above. Kiwis are nocturnal though, meaning that you can only see them during the day in a mostly dark room, while they sleep at night with the lights on. That is just how they roll. You can't really see much at first, but once your eyes adjust enough you can kinda eventually see fuzzy outlines of kiwis running around doing stuff behind the fence. I got close enough to one to watch it eat, but unfortunately photos were not allowed as that would probably freak the poor little kiwis right the f out.

    I had my eyes on a particular scenic flight that I wanted to do in the area, but when I made my way to their office the previous day all flights were grounded due to poor visibility. I stopped in after finishing with the kiwi sanctuary and all the flights were grounded again... They told me to come in the next morning and try again. So I though to myself: "I might as well hike to the glacier face now.. try the scenic flight again next morning.. and then probably leave town". There wasn't much more to do there other than drink, really..

    This was the entrance to my hostel. There's an outdoor hottub right around the corner, which I did not dare step into.



    I just barely missed the last shuttle bus to glacier park, so.. whatever, I packed up my day pack and started walking to glacier park and the glacier face.



    I had pain meds with me just in case my left knee flared up again, but the 5km walk to the park went fairly well. From there the landscape changed a bit:



    A bit further and the glacier face was within view... but not quite within reach yet. Those little dots on the right are people; there's still over a half an hour of hiking left.



    The clouds made everything a bit annoying, but I considered this payment for all the amazingly beautiful weather I got on the great walks and in Milford Sound.

     
  18. Mechanicalsalvation

    Mechanicalsalvation -

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    I should be going to Christchurch in less then month. So I am waiting for that...:smoke:
     
  19. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    I like how the glacier is a short walk from the tropical rainforest. :p
     
  20. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    It should be posted before a month's time, I'd think. I have a lot of material to post from my Mt. Cook scenic flight, then only a couple photos of Greymouth, a bit from the Arthur's pass train ride, and then Christchurch. I only spent an afternoon and evening there, but it's not a big place, I saw a bunch of the tourist attractions. Mind you I'm not sure if the cathedral is rebuilt yet, it was sort of destroyed right after my trip by an earthquake, so I'm not sure if you'll be able to see it when you get there. I hope they rebuilt it!

    Yeah, that was kinda neat. It's a bit more gradual in real life than what you see in the photos, but the approach to the glacier used to be a lot more spectacular.. it's been receding quite a bit over the last couple decades... and apparently a TON over the last 5 years.

    Compare the glacier in 2008 vs 2012 for example. It's crazy how much it's changed in just 4 years! Pretty dramatic stuff. I saw photos somewhere showing the glacier stretch out to a spot that was about a 30-45min walk from the current face.. It was a couple decades old I believe, but can't remember any details. It must have been a far more spectacular sight! You'd be able to see it through holes in the jungley bush a lot more often, and then once you get out into the first clearing.. the glacier would be a giant ice sculpture right in front of you. Unfortunately these days you just see it far away in the distance.
     

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