All Blacks going gold and Milford’s beauty

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Congratulations to New Zealand and your All Blacks to the Rugby World cup gold. You finaly reclaimed the gold position and it seems that the Kiwis got there pride back. We missed the big game since we stayed in one of these gorgeous camp spots in the middle of nowhere at a river, in a valley all surrounded by the mountains – guess I’ve described similar spots before but you can never get enough of heaven. Lina was the most nervous one about the game and she pooed all over her supporting All Black’s body right before the game started.

Travelling down the windling west coast of the south island you really don’t need a navigator – there is only one road and you only have the choice of going north or south. If you are lucky to come by an odd town it’s typical setup is a main street with one store a few houses and if you’re really lucky they have a gas station as well. There is only living some 30000 along the west coast so you can imaging it’s not crowded. They seem to be happy about one lane bridges since they are the only ones around and there are heaps of bridges. If the bridge tends to get too long you just build a meeting platform or a few along the way. This is not really necessary though since we never met any cars going over a one lane bridge. The roads are actually quite deserted and you probably meet more sheep on the road then cars as you can see in the picture. When the road turned inland from the west coast due to the fiords we actually had the choice on a few different roads heading in different directions – leaving the untouched paradise and some kind of civilization picked up again.

Leaving Queenstown and the adrenaline behind we were in the need for some more of this peace and quite and we just found the right spot. After some free camping we came to Milford Sound. If I’ve described beautiful nature before this is even better. Our camper van struggled to climb the mountains and the brakes smelt bad going down to the coast again. When we arrived we had a really bad storm with strong wind and hard rain so the view wasn’t too good. Walking throug the camp sight through covered path ways hindering the rain to get you bad you understand that they are used to bad weather and you get the feel of beeing at a polar station. They get some 7 m of rain here a year and it felt like we got 1 m of that during our stay. The second day Hanna had her go in a kajak in Milford Sound with ok weather and the next it was Emil’s turn who was lucky to catch a sunny day with blue sky which seems to be scarce here. The Sound or more correctly the fiord since it was carved out by a glacier was just stunning. You feel the awe and quite small when paddling away on the fiord some 300 m deep with mountains going straight up to some 3000 m. The trees tried to cling onto the bare rock and often failed, creating many tree avalaches during the heavy rain falls. All mountains where also stripped with the masses of water falls from the last rain. We were also lucky to see some wild life such as the Yellow Eyed Penguin and Fur seals.

We then turned south again and the mountains disappeard replaced by undulating grass hills spotted by white armies of sheep, a landscape similar to the north island. Hitting the south coast we were welcomed by the beautiful see again pounding against the cliff faces. We were also greeted by the strong southern wind rocking us to sleep in our camper van when we stayed just on the cliffs by the rough see on the very southern tip of the south island. You can almost feel that this icy wind derives from the south pole. Hanna was lucky when it was here turn for penguin spotting and saw the last one tumbling out of the see searching its way to its nest up the beach. We then followed the coast eastward to Nugget Point where we spotted heaps of see lions in a very nice cliffy scenery. This was the warmest day so far and we felt the urge of actually leaving the fleece behind – haven’t done that too much lately. Looking at the turquise sea you also feel the urge for a dip which we weren’t brave enough to do. But we at least dipped our feet which was cold enough.

In Dunedin we got our sweet tooth sweetened by going to the Cadburry World. We were litterally stuffed with chocolates of a wide variety. This was the first time Emma has been allowed to eat as much as she wanted till she got fed up with it. They also had a chocolate fountain with one ton of chocolate. Fed to the brink with chocolate and seeing these grotesque amounts of chocolate you don’t really get that hungry anymore, you just want to have some water.

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Pancakes, glaciers and bungy

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Next stop was Punakaiki or Pancake Rocks which was an extraordinary rock formation constituted out of many different layers. Here was also a blow hole which cascaded water up into the air during high tide. We also made a stop in the dump of Pukekura with a population of two at the Wild Foods Restaurant with a somewhat different menu. Emil had the bunny burger and Emma the possum pie while Hanna wanted something more safe and tried the local White Bait fish, which was heaps of tiny fish probably good for using as just bait.

Two other wonders of nature was the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers. We took turns so Emil did a half day tour on Franz Josef so Hanna could do one the next day on Fox while the other one relaxed with the kids. It was two very scenic walks looking at ice formations and caves, while walking between crevasses of ice. You feel quite small walking on these masses of ice carrying rocks and bolders, making its way down the walley at a speed of 1-10 m a day. All along the coast the soil was covered with a subtropical rain forrest. This meant we had rain every day a few times. The forests where dense and lush and every tree had probably hundreds of other trees and bush growing on it. The glaciers where both surrounded by the rain forest at the lower half which made a quite bizarre scenery mixing ice and lush forest.

At Haast we headed east leaving the west / wet coast behind. We were also pleased to leave the hated sand flies behind which had left all the girls with red itching marks, but left Emil quite unharmed. Instead of meandering along the coast with its blue sea and rain forest, we now meandered along and over the highly undulating landscape with its tree covered mountains, rivers and beautiful lakes. We camped both by a lake and one of the rivers both surrounded by snow caped mountains more beautiful than any postcard. Around every corner you have another photo op in this ever changing paradise.

We have actually also made some smaller walks with the kids. Either we carry Lina in a carrier or she can sit in the stroller. Emma can actually cover some distances if she’s in the mood and we take it in her pace playing along the way. Some sweets as bribes can also do wonders on her motivation. As you can understand our trip requires us to cover even longer distances (=time) in the van. In the van Emma is one happy camper – painting, telling us about how the world works and singing songs she’s making up as she goes. Lina on the other hand does in general not like driving and is quite persistent making her voice heard when we do, so we always try to drive when it’s time for her naps.

We have now arrived in the world’s capital of adventures – Queenstown. You can spend your buck on every imaginable and unimaginable way of ride, transport, swing, sling or thing. And you can spend it big time. If adrenaline isn’t your cup of tea you won’t be left out of being able to open up your wallet by doing more sophisticated activities such as wine tasting, cruises and you name it they have it or they will invent it. We had the intention to go to New Zealand to experience the great nature which we have accomplished by far. We never intended to do any of the thrill rides which NZ is famous for but being down in Queenstown you’re almost obliged to try something out. So Emil even if not being very depressed felt the urge to jump a bridge – the actual first place for bungy jump itself. That was really scary for sure and after the jump Emil was all doped on adrenaline for quite some time. Hanna tried her luck with a jet boat speeding in a canyon trying to avoid the walls while doing 360 turns. That was also good fun! Tomorrow we’ll try to find something better for the nerves.

Sunday New Zealand comes to a halt when it’s time for the Rugby World Cup final where New Zealand’s All Black will beat the French. I guess there will be a lot of prayer done on Sunday here, where Rugby probably is the most common religion. Good luck and go All Blacks!

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Heading south to Lord of the Rings country

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Ok ok we never had to build our own camper van, we booked one well in advance. We actually got a really cool green and purple camper van, having most things we do need even in the somewhat cramped space. Day time it seats five people, have a kitchen with fridge, stove and sink with water. Night time it folds into two large very comfy double beds. It even have a TV with DVD and a toilet which we’ll never use. We picked up the van packed all our belongings and started our journey south. Emma has given the van the very short name of “Siri Elliot Viggo” from some of her friends in Sweden.

First pit stop was in Taupo a nice relaxed town very nice situated by a lake with snow caped mountains in the distance – the mountains of Mordor from The Lord of the Rings. The next day with passed through the actually very beautiful “Mordor” without being haunted by hordes of strange beasts. The only beast haunting us was our own van which was struggling for sure to make it over the passes high up in the mountains. Trying to give the accelerator an extra squeeze it protested loudly. Next stop was in Palmerston North a town lacking any point of interests what so ever except for staying the night with a good Swedish friend Carl-Johan Isacsson with family who decided to live in this place for a year.

We then literally sailed down to the very south of the north island to Wellington. Wellington is famous for its constant hard winds and our van is infamous for its huge profile picking up any gust of wind making the journey less straight at any higher speed. Down in Wellington we stayed two nights with Iain and Jane also good friend from the Middle East trip Emil did. We had some nice dinners, memories to share and some rugby to watch. We also saw the small capital with a nice water front with masses of people all dressed up for the evening game. It wasn’t too hard to guess who was playing for us non rugby fanatic people – a hard breed to come across down here.

The next day we took the three hour ferry down to the south island heading over the open sea as well as the beautiful sounds north of Picton where we came ashore. After a very scenic drive we dared to try our first wild camp and survived. In the relaxed town of Nelson we relaxed, lunched at a Swedish bakery longing for some non toast loaf bread and spent the night.

We then camped at the lake Rotoiti beautiful set by a lake all surrounded by steap snow capped mountains. It was peaceful enough for us to spend two days here doing a walk and being able to have an our of me-time each which is quite luxurious for us. The lake also hosted some giant fat eel over a meter long and some 10 cm in diameter which Emma where keen on feeding.

The scenery is just stunning. All landscape we’ve seen so far on the south island has been very steep mountains all covered in dense forests. They can’t have normal logging machines in these mountain, guess they have to chop the trees down and let the logs make there way down to the valleys. The nature is all deserted by man and the few roads are meandering over and clinging to the drops when its not following the rivers which can be found between every mountain chain. I don’t think you find many flat surfaces down here, if you find any the Kiwis probably allready founded a small town there. Hitting the coast you’re struck with the astonishing blue see with enormous waves beating onto the cliffs and beaches along the coast.

We’ll try to write sooner to keep the post shorter. Next up is how to have a rock for breakfast!

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Camper truck ready to rumble

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Due to the Rugby World Cup all camper vans were booked out. So as you noticed we’ve not been updating our blog for some time now. We’ve been busy building our own camper truck before heading to the South Island. You can have a look at our creation and also the architect we invited over before leaving. Nice job or what? Hanna was very determined about making these rocking chairs as well, to have something comfy when we rock up at a new spot.

Soon we’ll write more about the journey itself. Stay tuned.

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Thermal capital of Rotorua and wild life in different habitat

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Hi all,

Last week we went for a week to Rotorua the Maori and thermal Mecca of New Zealand. You can’t really walk anywhere in town without the smell of rooten egs or spotting a boiling mud pool around the corner. Rotorua was a nice small cute town which seems to be all built around tourism exposing all kind of hot actitivies and to get a glimpse of New Zealand’s past before the English arrived. We did visit two thermal areas Te Puia with its Whakarewarewa geyser, boiling mud pools and a Maori village where they did made a show for us doing there greetings, Poi dance, some music and also a Haka. The Haka many of you probably now have experienced if you have catched any of the games from the ongoing world cup in rugby. There is a great rugby frenzy all over New Zealand supporting there national team The All Blacks who do there Haka before every game, some kind of ancient Mauri war dance. We also visited Waiotapu thermal area where we except for the tons of mud pools we also could see a geyser which was set off by some soap every morning at 10.15 and just beautiful lakes coloured in all different colours depending on which chemicals was present in the soil.

We also visit two very special “zoos”. Paradise Valley Springs was all set in the dense bush where we could see and feed everyting from trout, tons of different birds and wallabies to emus, donkeys, pigs and more domestic animals. The main attraction was the Lion cubs only six weeks old but almost waying as much as Lina with her seven months. It was very exiting to be able to pet these cute animals before their parents got even more exiting about digging into parts of a horse. The Agrodome had a sheep show including of course the performance of maybe some 20 different breed of sheep, sheep sheering and lamb feeding contest which Emma won probably after her studies at the family where we are living. There was also a possibility to milk a cow and much more such as to cuttle with the 1 week old lambs.

After returning to Pukekohe – as you can see most of the names except for the major cities has Mauri names, which are as hard to pronounce as they are to spell and remember – we had our third reunion with Steve, Emily, Mark, Rani and Kelvin all from the truck trip in the Middle East some 12 years ago. It’s great to catch up with them all and it feels like we did travel together just last year. We also had time to see some more of the beautiful city of hilly Auckland having lunch at the top of the sky tower looking over the city. Auckland feels like a big small city. For being just having half the population of a not too big city as Stockholm, Auckland’s skyline is filled with an impressive amount of sky scrapers in the centre feeling much bigger than Stockholm. We also had the time to see the surrounding areas and visited some really nice beaches, did wine tasting at some wineries and a micro brewery. We also could not resist grabbing the opportunity to go to church when they had a ceremony for the animals. Everyone then could bring their own animals which meant there was donkeys, cows, horses, sheep, dogs, cats and rabbits in the church. It was a quite loud ceremony spoken in many tongues.

We complain about our sleep in every blog update and it probably hasn’t been better with two kids with colds, bad cough and fever. But we’re hanging in there and this night was Lina’s best night ever so now we believe in the great change. We are leaving Mark and Rani with their kids tomorrow. It has been great to catch up with them as many others in the area and we have also enjoyed there hospitality of a place to stay and lending their car. It was a tough choice choosing which fragrance to put in the car when we washed and vacuumed the car – we hope they’ll be happy with New car fragrance or should we have gone for the Pina Colada? Tomorrow we’re picking up our camper van and we’ll be heading south. This will be another part and another type of our adventure.

Cheers everyone, thanks for reading and keeping in touch!

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