Wine O’clock

What is a reasonable time to start drinking on your last full day in NZ? Well according to @maccagraeme and @streampnkpharaoh rule book, any time after 10am.

It was the winery tour day and @maccagraeme’s sister had kindly offered to be our driver, as we got sampling. Really this is a short blog; Pegasus Bay and seven wines, Waipara Hills and six wines (2 bought) and then Greystone and four wines (2 bought). Safe to say by 3pm and time to collect the kids from school we were a little tipsy. Add into the mix a Dalmatian mum and pup and you have a surreal alcoholic day.

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We are now packed for a midday flight tomorrow, neither sure if we want to go home……

Whirlybirds are go…. ™*

Having never been on a helicopter, from the moment of booking I was excited.

It was an EARLY start from Queenstown, well it was planned to be a 7:30 am departure but morphed into an 8:05 pull away from the mountainside kerb. We had an 11 am helicopter fighter time so @maccagraeme bolted the Getz oven the hills and passes to get us to Glentanner heliport. From there we had no time to reconsider our choices, straight on the 50 minutes flight with snow landing over Mt Cook.

The first think about helicopters, the take-off is weird…. Up a few metres and then straight forward. It is such an odd sensation but, probably cause it is new, completely adrenalizing.

The flight took us up the meandering river that flows from the Tasman glacier, to a huge 3km long lake that was not there 30 years ago, yup that is global warming in action.

Also, having never really thought about it, I was surprised that the glacier was black…. Well at least the lower flat portion of it, they apparently pick up dirt and gravel….. due to ablation….

Our snow landing on a 7500ft opposite Mt Cook was awesome, to literally swoop in and land and then to look across the valley and glacier below to Mt Cook…. Words don’t do it.

We had a good     15 minutes up top before the real helicopter adventure began…. Straight across the valley, climbing to about 9000ft and over the range to the western side of the island. From up there we could see the Tasman Sea stretching out towards Australia. Circling around we took in the Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers before circling the peak of the mountain, seeing climbers scaling up the cliff edges. It was then the Hooker glacier and home.

It may have been only 50 minutes, but it was the most awesome incredible 50 minutes.

One thing to note, when you hit turbulence in a helicopter, and as you might imagine there is a fair amount of it as you the Southern Alps, you feel very vulnerable and just a tad nervous. 😌

 

*@maccagraeme claims all trademarks and copywrite

Party on…..

…… in Queenstown! I think it is fair to say that Queenstown is the youthful party town of NZ. It is what a place like Aviemore should be; skiing in the winter and adventure sports and sightseeing in the summer. It also appears to the place that European packbackers repository, if you are travelling the world then you will end up in Queenstown to recoup some costs and have a bit of an adventure.

Arriving from Dunedin we must have curried some kind of favour from the Sun Gods as, from a rather drab Dunedin we arrived in a high 20s Queenstown nestled on beautiful Lake Wakatipu. It does feel like a youthful town and from our experience it is full to the brim with adrenaline fuelled activities that, with all that I have said to now, are being undertaken from the teens to the septuagenarians (who said the youth have to be young?).

Our afternoon was leisurely by the Lake, enjoying the warmth, taking in the sights and (I) had to recovery from the drive. It is a chilled city with some awesome scenery. We dined posh, had a nice wine (after driving through some nice looking vineyard and orchard country to get there) and had a few beers in preparation for the almighty climb back up the mountain to the motel that @maccagraeme had booked.

Saturday was to prove that we were not on top of a mountain, we had to get a cable car to the top of the mountain, and that even on the top of a mountain it gets roastie tastier while you luge. Ok, so there was a deal on; gondola and 7 luge runs, wow so much fun, including almost flipping on the corners, beating and getting beaten by @maccagraeme; superb. There were grins firmly affixed to faces for a wee while after.

We WALKED down the mountain, safe to say it buggered my knees, but dropped us off in town ready to visit the iSite. OMG we have a helicopter tour booked!!!

Queenstown brings home some of the best aspects that I have come to like about NZ; it is a place where ages mix, yeah it is a high young population, but everyone seems to fit in; there is outside drinking allowed until 10pm, and people do, but they also clear out by 10pm and clear up after themselves, there are no piles of rubbish in the park or on the beach; there are free, uncontrolled gas BBQs that are used and cleaned but everyone.

Saying all that I can imagine there are some issues, Queenstown also appears to be the NZ and Oz stag town; it has the bars, restaurants, outdoor events etc. everything that makes a good stag (?)

Post observing frizzbe golf observing (another great thing that we should import) we had the best ice cream ever and watched the tandem paragliding. The place is simply great for a holiday.

Dunedin

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  1. They have bagpipe buskers;
  2. They put HAM in their muffins;
  3. The place closes down at 9pm; and
  4. The Cadbury chocolate factory is AWESOME.
So we have made it to Dunedin, flew down from Christchurch yesterday and picked up Jeri the Juicy motor. Dunedin is really nice, it is like a little chunk of Scotland on the southern tip of NZ. The city is modelled on Edinburgh (if you couldn’t guess), complete with Princes Street et al, they love the Scottish accent but the local beer is a bit tasteless.
Our afternoon in the sun was complete with bagpipe buskers in the “Octagon” (the city centre or CBD), where we watched the All Whites drummed out of the World Cup by Mexico. However, unlike it’s northern equivalent, the day was warm and sunny…. Dunedin was roasty toasty.
Today Dunedin lived up to the northern, misty and damp, reputation. That did not dampen my excitement, it was Cadbury factory day and OMG was it fantastic. Apart from having to wear a hair and beard(!) snood, there was a goodie bag that slowly grew fatter with the free chocolate. Antipodean Cadburys is slightly different, they make Jaffas, but they are spherical orange Smarties, but they also make Pebbles which ARE Smarties!!
The smell of molten chocolate the minute you enter that factory is awesome and seeing them make buttons, roses and (their version of) jaffas, just made me hungrier and hungrier. They then handily drop you off in the discounted shop…… nom nom nom….. there goes $20.
As the Scottish drizzle progressed we meandered to the Otago Museum; somewhere where the stuffed animals kept M&S back away for @maccagraeme and I even got to see the Egyptology section!! It was all going great guns until the coffee shop; they put HAM in their scone. HAM in a scone. The one thing that I thought a veggie down south was safe with….. well it turns out the further south you go in NZ the less veggie friendly they are. The saving grace was the lush veggie/vegan cafe that was brunch venue today, even @maccagraeme liked the falafel burger.
The reminder of the avo was spent climbing the world’s steepest street, and bloody knackering it was.
Dunedin, thumbs up, Scotland Shop et all. Tomorrow is Queenstown!
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A shade of Gilmour Hill??

Weta’n’Wellington



Sorry playing a bit of catch up, Sunday was our Wellington day. With the Cook Straight ferry chaos we managed to get booked on the 8pm, so had a day to fill.

It started off the breakfast of kings, even better than Napier’s effort; scrambled egg on sourdough bread followed by a three pancake stack with maple syrup. @maccagraeme indulged with the full fry up and to say that we were stuffed was an understatement.

The grand plan for the day had been to head out to the Weta Cave and explore. We had really wanted to do the Window on the Workshop tour, a behind the scenes tour of Weta, but it was fully booked until mid next week….. undaunted, I found another way in…. to go on the Lord of the Rings movie tour… a bus trip around filming sites near Wellington.

So the morning was spent in Te Papa, the national museum which, due it being a Sunday, was rammed with kids and was hosting the Thai festival. It was a bit of a quick tour, but the early warning signs of a grumpy @maccagraeme were there and I failed to notice.

So come 2pm we boarded the bus for the movie tour, there were about 14 of us and some were a little excited (even more than me!). The main part of the tour was to the woods where the initial scenes of the Fellowship was filmed. The tree Frodo sat in while Sam cooked breakfast, the hill the hobbits fell down with Merry and Pippin (a shortcut to mushrooms) and the escape to bucklebridge ferry.

From the first step off the bus #mcgrumpygraeme was present and correct; tired, uncooperative and huffy. There was no way of getting him up a tree or in a pile on of hobbits or as the horse’ ass, but i smiled through and snapped on though. Eventually we got #mcgrumpygraeme back on the bus and off to Weta.

A bit WOW at Weta. The Weta Cave is somewhere I could spend a fortune….. as it is I spent some 😉. The Window on to the Workshop was very impressive. Seeing the design and manufacture process of all of Weta’s various films and some that are in progress.

Weta brought the happiness back out in @maccagraeme, though he did appreciate that he been a grumpy sod and posted his “selfie“.

From Weta it was a dash back to Morag, who had developed a slow puncture and needed some gas and air in the morning, to get on the ferry. It was a shame it was a night time crossing as we really only got a view of leaving Wellington harbour before the darkness consumed the Cook Straights. Picton at night was nothing to write home about, but the nice campsite people had left a wee cone out to mark our spot.

The Monday drive down the south island had some stunning views and Kaikorura was a lovely lunch spot with a great beach and roaring sea.

Morag has been dropped off and now, Tuesday, we are chilling in Christchurch before heading further south tomorrow; flying to Dunedin and then driving up to Queenstown and Christchurch.