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9th January
written by Hazel

It has been a while since I’ve managed an update.  We’ve had a busy and amazing time recently and have been very, very lucky.

Since the last post we took the southern scenic route around the bottom of the South Island.  This took us through the Catlans region and then up into Fiordland.  All in all we’ve had pretty good weather (except at Milford Sound), so we’ve been able to do some really good hikes and see lots of incredible scenery!

Beach in the Catlans at Sunset

We saw more penguins, did a beautiful river walk and met some incredibly nice people who shared their campfire one night.  There are loads of waterfalls in the Catlans, so I had a chance to practice taking some waterfall photos.

We had a huge adventure getting to Milford Sound as we realized part-way that we would not have enough gas in our tiny tank to make it back if we went all the way to the Sound.  There is no gas anywhere along the route, so running out would be pretty annoying, as would turning back and not seeing it.  We found ourselves at a hut where a few of the hikes start and managed to talk our way onto a bus that was passing through.  It ended up being really good because the road was incredibly scenic (despite the rain) and we both got to enjoy it instead of having to think about the very windy road.  It also ended up giving us only about 1.5 hours at the sound, but we didn’t mind that because we were saving our boat trip for Doubtful Sound and it was really poor visability.  We paid the bus driver and he told us “this never happened” and we went on our way.

The road to Milford is just incredible, with waterfalls everywhere and the steepest cliffs – highly recommend a whole day just to explore that road.

The next day we did a hike up to Key Summit (still before getting gas) and got some incredible views of the valleys and mountains.  I’m not going to have time to get pictures up, but I really will try in the next few days!

Our boat trip to Doubtful Sound was absolutely AWESOME!  We went with Fiordland Expeditions and it totally exceeded anything I had imagined.

Doubtful Sound

We had all the lobster and blue cod we could eat.  Which it turns out is quite a lot!  We also got to catch both of these things and they were cooked fresh right there on the boat.  I caught not only my first fish, but three more as well!  We actually went all the way out to the Tasman Sea for fishing and it was totally unreal (unreel?) how easy it was to hook a fish.  Except for the guy who caught a 5 foot shark!  Absolutely incredible!

We also went kayaking, did a little stargazing and Justin jumped off the ship’s helicopter pad.  I jumped off something a little lower, but it was awesome that we had such perfect weather that we could swim.  Everyone kept saying that they hardly ever have that much sun there.

But that wasn’t even the end of the seafood.  The kind people who shared their campfire invited us to their beautiful home to try Paua (abalone!).  So straight off the boat we drove back across the country and had another amazing seafood feast and wonderful evening of conversation (and showers and laundry!) at their house.  Much to my surprise I really liked the Paua and ate both strips of it and ground up patties. It’s a pretty off-putting black and blue color on the outside, but it tastes delicious!  We also had fish and chips style blue cod.  It’s amazing how generous people are as we would never have been able to try Paua like that.  Chris knows how and where to dive for them and snatched them that same day off the rocks!  You aren’t allowed to tank dive to get them, so it takes quite a bit of know-how.  We’re hoping that one day we’ll be able to return the favor, but we were having trouble thinking of truly American food besides hot dogs and twinkies.

My internet time is almost run out, even though I could go on and on about the last week.  We’re on our way back to the North Island now and going into intensive Spanish practice mode to get ready for South America at the end of the month.


  1. judie dewitt

    hi!! what a fabulous account your week!! its so nice that you have met up with some kind people–makes the adventure even better! we have skiied one daywith conditions
    not much better than the east coast…however it is snowing now(first time here in several weeks)so
    we are really looking forward to tomorrow!
    love you both

  2. Carol Gregory

    Hi Hazel and Justin,

    I’m so enjoying reading about your wonderful trip! Dick and I visited New Zealand several years ago and I can certainly appreciate your comments about Milford Sound trip and all the rain. It is indeed a great drive. We had rain that day too and I wiped out a video camera just trying to get all the waterfalls. Too much water and video camera don’t mix well together. Milford Sound reminded me much of Hood Canal and the Olympics. What do you think, Hazel?

  3. Cynthia

    Yay your first fish catch!

  4. 10/01/2011

    Wow, what amazing pictures you have! Not sure what’s doubtful about Doubtful Sound, but it certainly isn’t the natural beauty or sense of calm. Happy travels to both of you.

    (It’s Steve from Wednesday Night Hop.)

  5. Leah-Anne & Chris Bunting (NZ)

    Hi Ya :-) You guys are both truly amazing! So glad you came for dinner but gutted you couldn’t stay. Will be keepin up with your travels, Cleighton & Nickada are so keen to know where your at and what your up to so your hit number has probably increased to 80 hits per day!!! ;-) I’ve had to explain that your only on maybe once every week or two. Take care & Luv 2 u both xxx

  6. Nigel Ball

    It seems like the month for eating seafood – following the feast of the seven fishes, we had three kinds of chowder a week later.
    It’s really good you met some nice people. If they’re ever in these parts we’ll happily reciprocate the hospitality.
    safe travels.

  7. Jess

    Your lives are so exciting! I am glad to hear you are having fun. You will be happy to know that I used my camelback this past weekend to Great Effect, it was very comfortable and handy and besides the mouthpiece freezing occasionally, it was nice to stay hydrated on my hike! Additionally, I passed my national boards! Woo! I miss you guys, keep having an awesome time!

  8. justin

    Congratulations, Jess, on your passing! This is a big milestone! Yay!

  9. Justin & Hazel

    Both times we had a blast hanging out with you! Glad our lives are so interesting, I hope it can give you travel ideas both at home and abroad! We’ll post as often as we can!

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