A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: mrmrsbode

Is this the saddle?

Gertrude's Saddle and Ben Lomond Track


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Wednesday March 15th-
Last time we left off we were peacefully kayaking the Doubtful Sound. On the way to our campsite that evening we stopped at a gorgeous lake and cooked dinner right on the water. We've found some pretty spectacular spots to enjoy a glass of wine and some homecooked dinner.

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Well, we've moved on to more intense experiences- We decided to hike Gertrude's Saddle. It was a fairly short hike (about 10k total) but extremely steep (more than 2,000 ft of elevation gain) for an average slope of 15%. I made it about 90% of the way until the steel cable that you were forced to hold onto while traversing the steep incline to Gertrude's Saddle. My anxiety took over and I just couldn't go any further! Graham did go all the way after heavy convincing on my part that it was ok to leave me enjoying the fresh air and beautiful views. Though the views from the (almost) top were spectacular, the photos he brought back were even better.
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Thursday March 16th -
We spent the majority of the day exploring Queenstown and walking around downtown. The city is very laid back and the weather was fantastic.

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Friday March 17th-
After a fun day in Queenstown on Thursday we set out for yet another steep yet rewarding hike/walk/tramp up Ben Lomond trail. This one I did make it 100% of the way and it was WORTH IT! The views were amazing! We were able to see many many mountains in the distance from the peak of Ben Lomond. There was a cool view-finder at the top that labeled the mountain you were looking at when pointed in the direction of it. I thought that was pretty amazing. On the way down the mountain we met an Israeli traveler who walked down with us telling us about his experiences so far on his holiday.
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It was a good day, finished off by a walk around Queenstown. Graham and I realized it was St. Patrick's Day after seeing all the people in green drinking in the streets- this is the first St. Patrick's Day that we haven't been among the merry seekers! We ended up eating dinner right by the lake when a storm started to roll in and gave us some great photo opportunities.
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Now we are off to Mount Cook and our next alpine hike! :)

xo,
Miya

P.S.- I guess I should explain the title... I was dragging a little on the way up Ben Lomond and kept asking where the saddle was since Graham informed me we could stop and take a break at the saddle. Graham got a little annoyed with the amount of times I asked... lol. I'll never forget that the "saddle" is apparently the low point in a ridge. :)

Posted by mrmrsbode 16:04 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Henry and Sir Reginald the Seal


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Hello Again-

Tuesday March 14th-
Kayaking Doubtful Sound. Today we took a bus, then a ferry, and then a kayak into the Doubtful Sound- yep that's how remote it was! Since we had a guide through the whole area and were happy recipients of interesting facts, here's some touristic knowledge for you: Doubtful Sound and all the "sounds" in NZ are actually fjords (the difference being the latter are formed by glaciers and the latter from rivers. The early explorers misclassified them as sounds and instead of taking the trouble to rename them all on maps, signs, etc they just named the entire area Fjordland National Park. It seems like the Kiwis typically take the easy going way- like opening stores and businesses at 9am and closing at 4pm- must be a long work day! I guess Graham and I can't complain... :) Ok- back to the kayaking experience: It was beautiful, but would I say it was everything I was expecting... not quite. The best part for me was the animal interactions. A "teenage bird" as the guide called it landed on the front of Graham and I's kayak and stayed there for quite some time! We ended up having to paddle back to a little island to let it off only to have it attacked by a larger bird and come back to the front of our kayak! We ended up naming him Henry- see Mom, there's your bird named Henry. :) It was just crazy to have such a close encounter with a bird like that.

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A little while later we ran into a sunbathing seal and one of our fellow kayakers named him Sir Reginald. While Graham was busy taking photos of Sir Reginald the seal, Henry re-joined the party and hopped back on the kayak for a short ride--- we just couldn't lose him! All in all it was a great day. The "sound" was so peaceful and serene.

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Off to more driving, tramping, and photographing.

xo, Miya & Graham

Posted by mrmrsbode 16:01 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Living like a Queen in Queenstown!


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Good Morning!!

I will begin where I left off on my last entry: Wednesday March 8th, 2017 Graham and I took the ferry crossing the Cook Straight from the North Island to the South Island of NZ. The ferry crossing was quite an experience... as many of you know I suffer from severe motion sickness so I spent 100% of the time outside on the viewing deck- which was pretty cold and wet (from the 5 meter crests) while Graham was inside hooked up to precious power supply editing photos. It was actually quite enjoyable- I was able to listen to super old music on an iPod I haven't used since college and have a introspective couple of hours to myself. Once we landed in Picton on the South Island we headed towards Blenheim and the heart of the Marlborough wine county. We visited a winery immediately after arrival since they were all about to close. It was pretty lucky that we got there just before closing time though since they then wanted to finish off all the open bottles of wine for tastings and we were given rather large pours! :) I think I might have made Graham a wino along the way. The scenery was simply picturesque!

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We ended up getting a free night stay at a car-park for a community center. As we were setting up for the night Graham saw a bunch of women heading into the Community Center with yoga mats and convinced me I should join them. I proceeded to walk in like I belonged, yoga mat in tow, and joined the class! People here in NZ are so happy and friendly. Even the view from the carpark was incredible

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After another day of exploring the wineries it was off to Punakaiki and Hokitika along the west coast of the south island. Yet again, Graham captured some amazing shots as we were exploring the beaches, gorge and mountains. We stumbled into an extremely secluded area of the coast and it felt like we were the first ones to ever see it. Graham claims to have had an epiphany on that beach...he wants to "find instead of see"...deep thoughts
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Since we made it to the Gorge (with its beautifully turquoise alpine waters) fairly early we decided to go for a swim (or as backpackers say- a shower). The water was so cold from the glacial run off, but it felt amazingly refreshing after we got out. Unfortunately the area was overridden with sandflies and Graham got eaten alive! He has proceeded to call his legs one giant bug bite- poor guy! Amputation may be necessary.
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From there we continued south down the west coast immersed in the eerie clouds that hovered over the peaks. With the weather being slightly cold, rainy and overcast you would think it would affect the views, but I think it made it that much more beautiful. I can't even begin to describe it- never seen another place like it.
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We made it to Queenstown after a short day hike up Roy's Peak near Wanaka at around 3pm. The rain and clouds made the hike challenging but we were able to catch a few amazing photos.
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Unfortunately the hostel we had chosen to stay at was full and most other places were pretty busy so we decided to use some of Graham's Hilton Honors points and grab a room at the Double Tree. Stepping into the hotel in our grimey backpacker clothes was like stepping into an oasis! We took full advantage of the time here (I'm currently sitting on the couch in our living room typing this entry)-- washed ALL our clothes in the tub, drank free coffee, used the gym, swam in the gorgeous lap pool, soaked in the hot tub and charged all our devices! The room also had a kitchen complete with stove and all! We dinned on roasted brocolli, quinoa salad and wine in our clean warm hotel robes after long hot showers and slept like babies in a REAL bed. :) Needless to say I feel pretty good right now, but it won't last... Its back to our campervan and off to kayak Doubtfull Sound tomorrow.

xo,
Miya

Posted by mrmrsbode 16:30 Archived in New Zealand Comments (4)

"Tramping" & Wine!

North Island- New Zealand

semi-overcast 62 °F
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Hello Again-

We've had limited access to internet lately so I apologize for the lapse in postings. I'll try to catch everyone up now and not forget too much! March 2nd: we were picked up at the Auckland Airport by the rental camper-van company, which took us to pick up our camper-van. We ended up waiting there for about 3 1/2 hours which was a bummer, but it did allow us catch up on some research for the upcoming days. Once we got the van, we filled up on "petrol", grabbed some food and gas for our camping stove from Warehouse and headed on our way to Lake Taupo where we stayed for the night on the way to our first "tramping" adventure. The Kiwis call hiking tramping so we are trying to fit in by doing so as well! :)

Lake Taupo was absolutely beautiful! In the AM we walked/ran up to Huka Falls right by the lake and then took a swim in the natural hot springs and pools that were right there! The water here is so clear and blue, definitely not like the lakes back home. Graham was able to get some great pictures of the falls.
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After our exploration of Lake Taupo it was off to Lake Waikaremoana Holiday Park to get ready for the first Great Walk. We woke up early to drive the long gravel roads into the small town of Onepoto. Along the way, we saw the most amazing sunrise over the hills.
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The first day was tough since we hiked up hill for the first half of the day and went about 16km. The scenery was absolutely amazing though, which made it worth all the effort. The forests looked like something out a fairy tale- very lush, with huge trees, and you could hear bird song every now and then. The trail was mostly untraveled, but we did end up meeting a few groups of people at each campsite. A young couple and a group of locals were going the same direction as us and staying at the same sites. The locals were super nice and offered great advice! It was a group of about 8-10 middle aged men who had been friends since they were about 11 and go on 2-3 hiking/camping trips together every year. It reminds me of Graham and his friends- still connected after so many years! The first campsite had a great hut where you could cook food and wash your dishes and was right on the lake. Everyone went in for a swim in the cool water which was much appreciated after the hike we just completed!

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The next two days went on pretty much the same way - long hikes during the day and then relaxing, swimming and cooking at night. The water taxi picked us up and the end of the hike and took us back to our camper van. We had a beer to celebrate completion of the Great Walk, showered and headed back out on the road towards Napier where we visited a winery and stayed at a carpark right on the ocean. It was great hearing the waves crashing the shore during dinner. Graham has a great story about our night there, but I'll let him tell you.

From there, we drove through Napier down to Wellington where it was raining and gloomy during our stay. We dodged into a coffee shop to use their wifi and enjoyed a few great flat whites. We did manage to catch a beautiful sunrise on our way out as well.

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So there you have it... that was how we spent our first few days in NZ. We are in Marlborough wine country right now and are about to visit a few wineries. :)

We've been moving pretty quick so we haven't had a lot of time to upload photos. Once we have more time, we'll make sure to upload a ton more!

Until next time- xo, Miya

Posted by mrmrsbode 14:59 Archived in New Zealand Comments (6)

We are in NZ!

sunny 60 °F

Coming to you from the Auckland Airport where we've found a lounge that is part of our Priority Pass membership. Before we head out and grab the van (our home for the next three weeks), we wanted to give everyone a quick status update. We made it in early this AM from LAX where we were staying with Miya's sister for a day…Thanks Rayna! As a nice surprise, Miya's parents were able to drive in from Las Vegas so it was great seeing them one last time before heading out. The weather in LA was fantastic and we had the chance to make it out to Venice Beach to explore before putting the finishing touches on our planning. The planning really doesn't stop so we're constantly making reservations and planning the next few days. I don't see that changing for the next six months so I'm hopeful we hit our stride soon. This one has to be quick since we've got to grab our bags and get moving. We likely won't have internet access for the next few days so I wanted to share our rough plans:

Today 3/2 (Auckland)
Find a SIM card for our phone (number TBD but please contact via email or Skype)
Explore Auckland
Last minute camping gear purchases
Grocery Store
Drive to Lake Taupo - 3.5 hours

Tomorrow 3/3 (Lake Taupo)
Day Hike
Drive to Lake Waikaremoana

Saturday 3/4 (Lake Waikaremoana)
Lake Waikaremoana Great Hike

Sunday 3/5 (Lake Waikaremoana)
Lake Waikaremoana Great Hike

Pictures will be coming soon once we have some time to get them uploaded and have decent internet.

Happy Trails!

Posted by mrmrsbode 12:37 Archived in New Zealand Comments (3)

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