Friday, May 15, 2015

Freedom Camping

 Today we left Wanaka and started the drive to the west coast.  This was where we really saw how few people live on the South Island.  Once we left Wanaka it was just amazing views and nothing else. 
 Playing at the water in Wanaka and eating lunch before we head out for the day.

The view at the beginning of the drive.

 I climbed up to take a picture and then looked back and saw our convoy waiting for me:).
 A pit stop to let everyone stretch their legs.

 The bank of the river was covered with stone statues.

 We reached the coast around sunset.  Ben was SUPER excited to try freedom camping.  Basically as long as your camper is self contained you can camp anywhere off the road unless otherwise posted.  So we found this pull out off the road and set up for the night.  As it is so sparsely populated it doesn't matter that you are by the main road, hardly any cars so by at night. 
 The beautiful sunset.
Ben setting up the tripod for night shots. 
Janet and Yared enjoy a beer (root beer for Yared) while the BBQ.
Warm and snug in the camper for dinner. 
 Another sleep over for the kids. Girls stayed in our camper and the boys went in the other. 
 Home sweet home away from home.


Day 12
What a day today was.  We had gone to sleep to rain pouring on the camper and woke to sunshine and beautiful snow covered mountains all around us.  We decided to make a picnic and go try to hike to Rob Roy Glacier.  The drive there was amazing enough.  We even got to see some sheep dogs at work again.  We arrived at the car park and it was freezing.  The orginal plan was to walk 15 minutes to first swing bridge and then let Ben and another adult go on up.  But kids were challenging each other and they all made it to the first look out about 2.7 miles.  It was an amazing hike almost surreal.  Once we got out of the wind now and it was easy hiking through a forest along a beautiful rushing river.  Then it started to snow.   It wasn’t a lot but so strange to be a green forest and have snow falling.  I felt like I had fallen into Narnia. At this lookout the kids and moms turned around.  Ben and Graeme kept going while we headed down.  By now poor Mari was freezing as she was sitting still.  She finally fell asleep and we stopped to give kids a cookie when the guys caught up with us.  They had brought a huge snow ball for the kids to eat.  In the excitement we accidentally knocked Mari over in her back pack.  She now was cold and had a BIG bump on her head.  She decided she had had enough.  She cried the entire way back to the car.  Once in the car she was warm again and stopped crying immediately.  

At the beginning of the hike..the littlest hiker getting a ride. 

The swing bridge we thought would end the hike for the kids but they just kept going and going.

Snowing?  That is the white specks on Yared's hair.
Ben got to see a Kea at the top.  I was so jealous until later in the trip I got to see one too. 
At the top
snowball time
sweet dreams.

Our camp setup in Wanaka
Kids still trying to warm up.
Time for dinner.  We felt we had earned a big dinner in town. 
Our crazy wonderful friends. 
Warm and waiting for food.
Tired boys
and tired girls.
Happy friends.
Probably one of my FAVORITE shots that Ben took on the trip.  It is just a time lapse but the light reflected so mysteriously off of the campers.  I love it. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Queenstown - adventure capital of the world. Day 9 and 10

 Day 9 We woke up at the same DoC campground in Queenstown.  But as usual we woke up to a RV with a dead battery for the camper side. This had been happening every morning.  It would recharge while we drove for the day.  We called the agency and they suggested getting it checked out that morning.  We did and they replaced it.  This worked out well for us down the road.  NZ lets you do something call freedom camping.  Basically if you can find a spot off the road and have a self contained camper you can camp there.  We did this twice and it was nice to know we wouldn't run out of electricity or heat!!!

The kiddos ready for another great day.
 Last night at this Doc Site
 After leaving our DoC campground, getting our battery replaced we met up with our friends at another campground right in the middle of Queenstown.  Graeme had driven their 5th wheel down the night before with the kids.  Janet had a class so she was going to fly down that night.  Ben and Graeme enjoying a coffee in the sun.  This day was SPECTACULAR for weather. 

I had felt so sad for her losing her sheep that I let her buy another one and it was her best buddy the rest of the trip.
 Our campground.
 I looked out the window and saw Janet's little man with his helmet on his back.  It hit me, he was being one of his heros, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle:).  I love kid imaginations.
 We decided to seize the beautiful day and go up the gondola to the top of the mountain. 
 On the way up
 Look at this town...isn't it amazing.  We had heard rave reviews about Queenstown and it lived up to all what we had heard.  Any adventure you want to do can happen here. 
 Gondola rides.
 Bungee jumping...that you can watch while you ride up and down the gondola
 Jet boating
 Underwater sub boating
 I don't even know what to call it but cool right??
And best of all THE LUGE

This is where we you ride the gondola to the top of the mountain

 Put on a helmet, take a quick safety lesson and go crazy fast down the first part of the mountain.
 Then you get to ride a ski lift back to the top and do it again.

 I have pictures of the others but I LOVED this so you are going to get two of me!!!

 Joy pure joy

 But we couldn't do it all day as we needed to go pick Janet up from the airport. 
 Janet and Graeme took us from the Queenstown airport to a town called Arrowtown.  It was the MOST beautiful town for fall colors.  But we arrived at twilight so we couldn't really capture it in pictures.  But the way up was amazing.
 Walking through town.
 Another great coffee sign.
 In Arrowtown is one of Janet's favorite pubs called The Blue Door.  I love a good cider and New Zealand had a lot of these.  Graeme bravely took all the kids next door to Mexican food alone, while Ben, Janet and I enjoyed a drink by the fire. 

They were all munching dessert when we went to meet up with them. Notice Graeme was still smiling:)
The next day we woke to the all the mountains around us being covered with snow and a huge drop in temperature.  We almost left town as it looked cold and miserable but we held out and it was worth it.  We ended up booking a steamboat trip to a farm.

 The fall colors with the snow on the mountains.
 The beginning of the trip.
 The ride there was rather squishy but the kids still had fun.  Little leopard.

 Lunch was pies that we bought at the snack bar.  This brought out the British girl in me....yummy I like a warm steak pie.

 The Farm.
 Almost there and realizing that we didn't dress warm enough..snow was on the way.

 Once there we were shown around by an older farmer who was great.  Now I have to give a BIG shout out to Janet and Graeme.  They both grew up on farms themselves so having them pay money to go to a tourist farm is a sign of how far they were willing to go to show us NZ. We were allowed to feed the deer, sheep and cows.

 This bull was super snotty and watching Yared's face was classic.
 They both posed for me.
 While it was great to see the animals, it was FREEZING so we were all glad when it was time to go inside for tea.

 Mari and E loved tea time. 
 Great window seat to enjoy the warmth and food.
 After tea we went back outside but this time we were in a barn so it was doable.  The best part of the whole time there was watching the farmer work his dogs.  He had such control of them. 
 His dog bringing the sheep in.
 We got to see a sheep being sheered. 
 Our patient friends watching something that was totally everyday to their childhoods.
 Family shot at the end of our day. 
 Our steamsboat
 Back at Queens town, we packed up and drove on to our new destination..Wanaka.  The view as we went over the mountains.
A plane coming in to land at Queenstown.
 This would be our view from now on, following our our friends camper.  It was the beginning of a great adventure together.  It was also the beginning of relief for Mari as she was able to ride in their truck sitting forward with her best bud and never got sick again.:)