A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: jacquiedro

Feverish in Fiordland

Under the weather, but on the road

sunny 21 °C

We reached our destination mid-afternoon on Tuesday to a spectacularly clear-blue day. The very pretty little town of Te Anau begged to be explored, but it was clear that Lloyd was quite ill and could do little more than rest up. His throat was swollen and a very nasty deep red colour and a little internet research suggested strep throat or tonsillitis. Lloyd rested while I administered doses of medicine recommended by the local pharmacist. For the first time during the trip, we broke into the arsenal of medicines we’ve been carrying with us since California, with Lloyd taking amoxicillin to see if it would help.

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Even the Doc reacted visibly to Lloyd's ugly throat.

After another fitful night of sleep, we headed to the Doctors to make sure we were doing all we could to get Lloyd back on his feet. Sure enough, Lloyd had correctly self-diagnosed and self-administered the right drugs! There was nothing more the Doc could do for us, although for our $75 she did type up a letter that we could use as a referral elsewhere if he didn’t get better.

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Officially sick.

And with that, we were back on the road, for the relatively short two hour drive to Milford Sound. The drive to Milford was a highlight by itself, and we stopped at several places along the way just to take in the view.

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Lloyd at Mirror Lake, still feeling (and looking!) lousy. And one of New Zealand's notoriously curious Keas that came to check us out as we waited to enter Homer Tunnel, just outside of Milford.

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Arriving in Milford Sound, and with boat tickets booked for the next morning, we resisted an urge we both had to get on the next available boat to enjoy the Sound in picture-perfect conditions. Lloyd was feeling rough after the drive and we decided to rest up and give his body a chance to fight the infection. His appetite continued to be suppressed, but the antibiotics seemed to be helping somewhat and we were hopeful for the next morning.

Posted by jacquiedro 20:51 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Around the South Island Coast

Looks a lot like home!

semi-overcast 18 °C

We drove south from Christchurch and picked up the Southern Scenic Route at Dunedin. From Dunedin, you can access the 15-mile long Otago Peninsula where we visited the Royal Albatross Centre, ‘home to the World’s only mainland colony’. To say the wind was ferocious when we arrived would be an understatement. When we attempted to exit the vehicle, it practically ripped the door of the RV right off. I wish I was kidding. The resulting dent from the door bending back beyond its hinge means that our $250 excess insurance fee is now but a distant memory.

At least the albatrosses compensated us for our trouble with some good quality fly-bys. These birds are HUGE, with a wing span well over three metres! To fly, these giant flying machines simply spread their wings and allow themselves to be lifted up by the wind. They come to Otago Peninsula to mate and spend up to a year with their new chicks before heading back out to a life at sea.

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To give you an idea of scale, we took the following picture of Lloyd and a lifesize model of an albatross when we visited the Otago Museum the next morning. Can’t say too much more about the museum: it was far too extensive for us really to put our arms around in the very limited time we had. It would be fabulous to live close enough to pop in a digest a slice from time to time, but the sensory overload we experienced meant we saw a lot, but learned too little from the experience. Come here if you have three or more hours to spend.

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Leaving Dunedin, we started our drive around the southern coast of the south island and into the Catlins. We were reminded very much of California’s Pacific Coast Highway, which – like our New Zealand route – is also named Highway 1. The main difference is the volume of sheep which seem to occupy every second inch of New Zealand – indeed there are ten for every one of the country’s five million human inhabitants.

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We enjoyed very much our hike out to a lighthouse on Nugget Point, a little under half way between Dunedin and Invercargill. On our way out to the Point, we noticed a pair of returning trekkers trying to discourage an elderly gentlemen from pushing his wheelchair-bound companion to the lighthouse. And indeed it was a notorious route, with extremely steep paths working their way to an impressive vista. We were probably five hundred feet or so above the ocean allowing a perfect vantage from which to admire the fur seals frolicking in the green-blue, clear waters below as the waves crashed against the massive gold nugget-shaped rocks from which the Point derives its name.

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Views from our visit to Nugget Point Lighthouse. It could have easily been on California's Pacific Coast Highway!

Overwhelmingly, the experience reminded us of home and many happy memories of weekends spent scuba diving or running along the Santa Cruz and Monterey coastlines. We are blessed indeed. We smiled broadly and tipped our hats when - as we made our return journey to the van - we came across the same determined gentleman and his friend-on-wheels making steady progress towards the lighthouse. We’ll never know if they got there, but I sincerely hope they did.

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Yellow lupins are everywhere here! That's Nugget Point Lighthouse in the distance.

We lunched beachside and then made a small detour to visit Slope Point, the southernmost point of the southern island in New Zealand. This was significant for us as it marks the southernmost point for our world trip, so we made the trek across a couple of large sheep-filled fields, and fought our way to the Slope Point marker. Gusts of wind endeavoured to restrict our progress and whipped up sea foam from the crashing waves around us. Even the sheep seemed perturbed, huddling together in small groups to escape the ferocity of the blasts. We were happy to make our return to the RV and escape to calmer paths, back on the road to Invercargill.

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Posted by jacquiedro 12:00 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Finding the Comforts of 'Home' in New Zealand

All with that friendly Kiwi welcome

semi-overcast 15 °C

The first thing you realize about New Zealand is just how much the authorities want to be sure you’re leaving (after spending a hefty wad of tourist dollars, of course). This is the first of twenty countries visited that has insisted on evidence of our departing flight: it wasn’t enough to share our confirmation number, or even to show the paper tickets back to San Francisco (from Sydney, via London). We actually had to pull out our computer and find proof of our e-tickets out of New Zealand. And in this day and age – honestly – who carries copies of paper tickets? If Lloyd and I had done so, we’d have been carrying a wad of paper as thick as your Sunday newspaper around for the last five months.

The fact we’ve been travelling for as long as we have means that New Zealand could be paradise-on-earth and I still wouldn’t come close to giving up that ticket home. The immigration official wasn’t too happy when I told her that, but frankly the whole exchange was a little smug on the New Zealand side, like “of course you’ll want to stay in our fabulous country, even if you don’t know it yet”. To be fair, after so long on the dive-boat, my brain was still swaying to and fro on a bumpy ocean at this point, so I might have been grumpier than usual, but if your country is so stinking great, go ahead and implement a visa system of some sort and give people a hard time BEFORE they enter the country. Rant over.

So, the start of our ten days in New Zealand! We’re sticking firmly on the south island, but even that will mean we’ll be rushing about a bit to see everything we want to. Our mode of transportation? Well, we were looking for something we hadn’t yet utilized at any other stage of our trip, so it just had to be a campervan! Of course, we are the type of people that chuckle at RVs back home in the States, but we may just be converted by the end of our trip…

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House on wheels.

The initial briefing was a little intimidating with gas tanks and waste tanks and toilet cartridges and grey water to worry about. But Lloyd quickly had it all under control and we were off to the supermarket to buy everything we’ve been missing for the last five months!

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Finally. Got Milk.

We checked into our first campervan park and – hey – these things are pretty cool! The facilities (kitchens, bathrooms, laundry areas) were spotlessly clean, and the atmosphere safe and welcoming. Frankly, far superior to many “hotels” we’ve stayed in over the last several months.

This being New Zealand, we decided to enjoy rack of lamb and mint jelly for our first home cooked meal since about the middle of May when we sold the house. Of course, Lloyd cooked a perfectly medium-rare rack, with scrumptious boiled new potatoes and broccoli, but couldn’t really enjoy it himself as he seems to be coming down with some nasty throat infection. Hopefully he’ll feel better tomorrow.

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Lambing season just behind us, we can confirm the lamb is tasty this year.

Posted by jacquiedro 23:56 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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