New Zealand, 1996

Figuring that living in Japan was as close to NZ as we’d ever get, we booked a cheap flight and headed south. That’s when we learnt that nowhere is close to NZ, it’s literally at the ends of the earth:-)

We headed west from Christchurch, through Arthurs pass to the west coast. Then down the coast visiting Mt Cook before spending 5 days kayaking in Fiordland national park. Then onwards through Dunedin before heading north for Christchurch once more. From there to the North Island, Napier, Rotorua and finally Auckland.

After labouring up Mt Cook we finally reached the head of the main glacier ……..

Actually we took the easy route 🙂

Heading down the coast were some stunning beaches – miles of endless sand and rolling waves – sadly, beach camping was hell – the sand flies were the size of bees with a bite to match!

Once we arrived at Fiordland national park, we wasted no time in finding a local tour guide and joining a group heading into the park. We launched from Deep Cove at the head of Doubtfull Sound. Doubtfull sound is one over from Milford sound and reached via the Wilmot Pass road from the Manapouri Power Station. Since this is not a public highway and only reached by boat across the Manapouri lake it means there are far fewer people than in Milford sound – in fact we didn’t meet any others.

The Kayaking was amazing. We packed for a 6 day trip so had heavy boats but it was worth it for the scenery and the wildlife. At one point we saw a pod of about 60 dolphins (Bottlenose) as they came up the fiord from open sea and headed past us further up the fiord. The one downside is that there are very few places to camp because of the steep granite walls, so deys were long – typically 30k from camp to camp – but well worth it!

We were sorely tempted to look for jobs and stay – sadly there’s not much work down there, unless you are a sheep farmer. We even considered that but figured we just weren’t the type.

However the hiking was stunning, in the souther part of the south island its got a scottish feel but as you head north it gets more tropical and we found some amazing temperate rain forest hikes.

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