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Nelson - Te Wai Pounamu - South Island, New Zealand - Part Three

Nya Zeeland (Blenheim) 2006-02-13

Do you know what a "Squassom" is? Or what sorts of problem the parasite Giardia can cause. Or maybe an easier one - why are the New Zealanders called Kiwis? What is BBH? Well, we'll come back to the answers later! Since we last wrote we have been traveling from Manapouri in the south of the South Island to Kaikoura in the north - in total we have now driven more than 5.000 kilometers on the South Island and it's only a few days left before we take the ferry to Wellington on the North Island.

After our superb cruise on Doubtful Sound we went to Queenstown once more. We had to do some work on Internet, read mail, do spinning and body pump, wash our clothes and do some other stuff. It took us a little more than 24 hours and we also went to Shotover Canyon and went on the Shotover Jet. It's pretty crazy - they go in 80 km/h, centimeters from the cliffs with these special jet boats - they use something called Hamilton jet engines = no propellers) - and they do these 360 degrees spins (we did 10) with the boat. Cool - they call it Thrill Therapy!!

From Queenstown we had a relatively long journey to Franz Josef Glacier. Both Franz Josef and Fox Glacier are very popular and people go on guided tours on the glaciers and some people also go with helicopter to the top and look at Mt Cook and Mt Tasman. Very nice places but seriously - if you have been at the extraordinary Perito Moreno and Upsala Glacier in Patagonia they are just nice places. However, we enjoyed our stay and also went to Lake Matheson. Lake Matheson is famous as THE mirror lake - where you can see Mt Cook and Mt Tasman mirroring in the lake. Well, we went there very early one morning and had a wonderful hike around the lake but as you can see from our photos it was cloudy that morning. Great and calm walk - especially in the morning before people have gone out of their beds - a coffee at the cafe afterwards where you can take a shot on the postcard to show people how it could have been if the clouds would not have been there. If Deb and Rich would have known that this excursion included a 1,5 hour walk at 06.00, before breakfast, we think they would have stayed in their beds this morning. Well, no pain - no gain! It was a lovely walk and we had a close encounter with 4 Keas (parrot).

The West Coast is windy, mostly wet, beautiful, rough and soft at the same time, green and there are not so many villages along the road until you reach Hokitika and Greymouth. We went to Greymouth and stayed at super place - Global VillageTravelers Lodge. A BBH place that is Highly recommendable! BBH (Budget Backpacker Hostels) is the chain of hostels to use when traveling in NZ. We put the "busy" sign on the TV-room two nights in a row and looked at Lord of the Rings nr 1 and 2 - we plan to see Nr 3 next week somewhere! You have another perspective when you see these films after traveling around in NZ!!! Anders and Rich went on a study tour at the brewery Monteith's where they looked at the brewing process and tested their products - SKÅL!!! One of the days we went up the coast towards Westport and visited an old Gold Mine before we went to the famous Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki at Paparoa National Park - see pictures.

The Coast Road is very beautiful and there are plenty of "squassoms" on the road. It was one of our guides in Doubtful Sound that used that nickname and as it sounds it is a Possum that are flat as a pancake after being squashed by a car. Possums are Very unpopular (there are between 70 to 100 millions of them!!) and they eat a lot of precious trees and are a threat to other endemic animals. Well, sorry to say but so far we have not hit any possums!

After a relatively long drive through Buller Gorge we came to Nelson. Nelson became our base for some days to sort out our stomachs. Eva went to the doctor and after two days we got the result - (well, Anders had the same symptoms) it was Giardia. Giardia is a parasite so we got antibiotics and had a total alcohol ban for 5 days. Probably we had it with us from South America - Guardia exist also in NZ so we are not sure!?

No alcohol and we had plans to go to Marlborough Wine and Food Festival outside Blenheim?! Oh Yes, we bought tickets on the Post and where there for two days testing loads of different Sauvignon Blancs (the specialty from Marlborough), Pinot Gris, Chardonnays, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir. We eat good food and met a lot of nice Kiwis (a person from New Zealand) on the Festival. Kiwis does not come from the fruit kiwi but from the bird kiwi and one common explanation is that the soldiers from NZ during World War One had a kiwi on the uniform so they started to call people from NZ - kiwis.

Look at one of the photos; it's a real sensation - Eva in a caravan! Well, if you want to stay in Blenheim during the annual Wine Festival and all hostels and motels have been fully booked a year ahead you take what's available! The camper was OK (we had TV in the room) but the hostel was crap! Our stay at Pat and Paul's Watson's Way backpackers in Renwick the day after was great! They had worked in Papua New Guinea for the Red Cross so they got very excited when we told them we should go there in May.

Before going to the Wine Festival we spent two days in Abel Tasman National Park where we paddled kayak and hiked. Rich and Deb fixed the gears and off we went to the Split Apple Rock where we had a lunch at the beach. So nice and Rich and Deb did it very well. We where lucky - no wind and no waves so after the warm-up we took Rich with us to the gym in Nelson in the evening to make some Body Pump. First time for Rich and it was not easy for him - on the podium was a female version of Arnold Schwarzenegger who took no notice off Rich who was a rookie. We had sour muscles for two days after that - can you image how Rich felt. We hope we can be his friends also in future!!!

The hiking in Abel Tasman National Park was very easy and beautiful - we took a water taxi to Torrent Bay and took the high tide walk back to the car - we think it was approx 15 kilometer. The sea was much rougher so we where glad we did not kayak this day.

Now we are in Kaikoura and we have just been out to sea. We did not have any good possibilities to download the latest photos so we will write a separate story when we get to Wellington.

NZ have no hopes for medals in the Winter Olympics but we hope Sweden will get some medals (Heja Anja!!!!) and until we write again we wish you a good week and a Happy Valentine.

Kisses EvAnders