Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

29th December
written by Hazel

Christmas Eve at the Octagon

We’ve had a pretty busy time of it, and as always my internet time is running out, but I’ll hit the highlights.  We had a wonderful Christmas in Christchurch with a delicious dinner out on Christmas Eve at a restaurant with live music and then went to the late night Christmas service at the Cathedral.

Christmas Eve at Christchurch Cathedral

Christmas Day we went for a punt ride (they don’t let you punt your own because the current is very fast) and got to see the city from the Avon, which runs right through the middle.  Really nice!  Then we had BBQ lamb.  In New Zealand many people do BBQ for Christmas dinner because it’s so nice outside.

The next day we set off for the Banks Peninsula and had an incredibly gorgeous drive.  The weather was perfect and the views were amazing.

Birds are everywhere!

Banks Peninsula Views

Unfortunately, the next day the weather took a turn for the worse and it started absolutely pouring.  The views were still good when we could see them, but the clouds were so low that there wasn’t much to see.  We tried to make the most of any breaks in the rain, but didn’t feel like we saw the best of Lake Tekapo.

Very BLUE Lake Tekapo in the rain

Horse in wildflowers


The next day it was still pouring, but we decided to head up to Mt. Cook with the hope that the weather forecast was accurate and the rain would break.  It wasn’t promising.


We did a hike, and got sopping wet, attempted another and had to turn back because of flooding.  All of the trails were underwater and so was most of the campground.  We hunkered down with books, and I didn’t even realize that the weather was changing.  Luckily, Justin was on the watch and we quickly did a repeat of the first walk we had tried.  You can see the difference above and below!

Same view 4 hours later!

Mt. Cook is FABULOUS.  The campground was really good, the mountain is so, so beautiful and we had a really good hike this morning (if somewhat crowded – one of the busiest places we’ve been in New Zealand).

Mt. Cook

This afternoon we headed back to Lake Tekapo and are enjoying the continuing sun.  At midnight tonight we’re going on an observatory tour where we will get to use university telescopes and find out about the Southern Hemisphere sky – so we’re extra happy that the skies are clear!

So beautiful now the sun is out!

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.