Main image
20th December
written by Hazel
This might be a long one because we’ve been busy!  I’ll hit the highlights.  We’ve had several days of amazing weather which has allowed us to get in some really great hiking.  We’ve also had several days of torrential rain and horrible sandflies.
We had an awesome uphill hike to Rawhiti Cave.  It was absolutely huge and full of awesome cave stuff.


It was HUGE!

We camped at a great campsite at Karamea (the middle of nowhere – very NW of South Island) and had lots of fun adventures, including being offered a bacon sandwich on the beach by a Brit and a Kiwi who were out fishing.  We hung around and a family pulled up in a Jeep.  After a chat they took off only to back the Jeep over and onto a log – STUCK!  They ended up having to dig it out while we stood observing.  It was very, very funny.  Minutes later the fishing rod went crazy and they pulled in a very large red snapper.  Awesome.

That campsite was at the start of one of the Great Walks – the Heaphy Track. We hiked just the very beginning of it, but it was incredibly beautiful.

Awesome view from the beginning of the Heaphy Track!

The next day we went to the Oparara Basin to see the Limestone Arches.

Gates of Moria Arch

Apparently this arch was named even before LoTR was filmed in New Zealand.  It was awesome because you had to climb in through the back of the arch and then could walk around inside.  A little drippy, but so cool!!!

Oparara Arch - too large to photograph!

The Oparara Arch is the really famous one.  It’s over 200 meters long, and pretty much impossible to photograph.  You can go right up inside it and a river runs through the middle.  The arches were really worth the long gravel road up to them!

These birds would hop right up to us in the woods

Today we went to the Franz Josef Glacier.  They have a path to the glacier that lets you get right up to the base of it.  It was pouring with rain and fairly misty, but an awesome short tramp across the rocks to the base.  We got some good pictures and then pretty much swam back to the car.

Us at Franz Josef Glacier

We got right up close to it - no zoom needed!

We decided yesterday it was about time to do something about Christmas, so we went to The Warehouse (like Target or Wal-Mart) and got some gear.  Mini Tree, Tinsel, CD of Christmas songs and we’re much more in the Christmas spirit.  Our van is all decked out.  We named the tree Sir Edmund Christmastree in honor of New Zealand’s great mountaineer.  I’m hoping to find an ice-pick ornament to complete his look.

Sir Edmund Christmastree

So that’s the update from here.  We’re heading up into the mountains tomorrow and then over to Christchurch for Christmas.


  1. Cynthia

    But do you have the Dominique the Donkey-the Italian Christmas Donkey song?! :-D

  2. 20/12/2010

    Tree is up at home. I missed you when I went to the farm to pick it out and cut it. All decorated now and it looks pretty – it’s modest 5.5 foot Noble Fir. Glad you are celebrating and enjoying all the natural beauty around you.
    Lots of love, Mumsies

  3. Nigel Ball

    Toutouwai, New Zealand Robin, I think.

  4. Bob D

    Hazel, I’m surprised you didn’t identify the bird! I’d say its probably a small :)

  5. 24/12/2010

    Merry Christmas! The pictures are great! Enjoying your travels – vicariously. Now – the big question your parents want to ask – did you make your bed (in the camper) today? Have fun!

  6. Hazel

    Definitely a small! There are also a remarkably large number of “larges” in New Zealand. So many birds!

  7. Hazel

    It’s a little unfortunate – the weather hasn’t been cooperating with my bird photography. There are TONS of weird birds here and so far I’ve only managed to photograph the imported magpie thing and the robin. I’ll get on this…

  8. Joyce Butler

    Dear Hazel and Justin ,Sorry we are a bit late wiyh Christmas reply So pleased you were able to see the Franz Joseph Glacier We had booked to go on the helicopter but it was cancelled due to fog.and we weren’t fit enough to hike there .It’s good to see all the photographs Lots of love Gran and Kenxxx

Leave a Reply