Posts Tagged: ‘hiking’

Picton, New Zealand

February 6, 2016 Posted by Deb

What a road. When locals put up signs saying “The bends are killing us” you know it is tight. We saw bikers on that road, too. We made it in true go-cart driving style but we were truly done with crazy left side driving at the end of the day.


We unloaded the rental the next morning, hiked the Bob’s Bay trail one day ahead of the big NZ triathalon that uses the same trail, and jumped on the ferry.PhotoPictureResizer_160208_175305582

MBC in St. Paul Has You Beat on that Date. Rowing is a Big

MBC in St. Paul Has You Beat on that Date. Rowing is a Big Deal in Small Towns All Over NZ

Back on the Ferry to the North Island

Back on the Ferry to the North Island

Abel Tasman National Park

February 2, 2016 Posted by Deb

images-700x456This region was a target for our trip because it has a reputation for having great weather. We had cloudless skies for a couple of weeks but it was supposed to get worse so we boogied to Nelson.

The Amber Court Motel manager, who was great, had us signed up for a ferry/hike combo in Abel Tasman within an hour of checking in and he gets no commission … just helping us out. This area a was true warm-beach-party area with campervans everywhere and a real vacation atmosphere. We hit the tide right and were able to take some beach shortcuts so we did the 4-hour hike in under two hours. More time to kick back. Oh … the bad weather completely bypassed us and we had clear skies.PhotoPictureResizer_160208_174139655_crop_725x507-700x489PhotoPictureResizer_160208_174629155-700x525PhotoPictureResizer_160208_174435186_crop_733x478-700x456

No Docks With a 15-Foot Tide. Torrent Beach.

No Docks With a 15-Foot Tide. Torrent Beach.


The Baths: Abel Tasman Style

Mt. Cook

January 31, 2016 Posted by Deb

We missed Mt. Cook on the way south to hop over the mountains and hike the glaciers. We definitely picked a great day to catch it on the way north. 

The lake and the mountain started getting our attention from about 30 kilometers out and the morning haze was great but didn’t come out on the shots too well. We picked the Hooker Valley four hour hike that took us to the upper lake where the glacier was calving. Very cool stuff.IMG_20160201_112124-700x518IMG_20160201_105945-700x522IMG_20160201_121730-700x945IMG_20160201_112558-700x529IMG_20160201_115414-700x518IMG_20160201_130943-700x518~2IMG_20160201_125822-700x520~2IMG_20160201_133025-700x525IMG_20160201_114849_crop_1123x729-700x454~2IMG_20160201_160448~3-700x453IMG_20160201_153931~2-700x269

Milford Sound

January 23, 2016 Posted by Deb

It was a must see but the weather forecast went from partly sunny to 100% rain at around 2.5 inches per hour. We toyed with heading east to drier areas but they were all 60-100% rain as well. Barb held tight to the Milford trip, rain or no rain, so we headed west in an increasing downpour. What we saw that day was … well, check out the shots.

Note from Deb: Waterfalls have always been a passion of mine. I once had a goal of skinny dipping under all the waterfalls in the world. Here in Milford Sound there were really thousands of incredible, mind-blowing waterfalls. It made me cry!! In the Caribbean we would often hike all day to see a tiny one of these. They are all so astonishing. I don’t think the photos can capture the emotion.

 IMG_20160123_142951-700x518IMG_20160123_122832-700x525cruise warerfall 20-700x1244IMG_20160123_155757-700x945cruise waterfall 25d-700x1244IMG_20160123_151229-700x945IMG_20160123_150341-700x945IMG_20160123_151110-700x945IMG_20160123_150310-700x945IMG_20160123_150451-700x945IMG_20160123_151333-700x945IMG_20160123_155634-700x945Seals on rock 1-700x393IMG_20160123_160705_crop_529x713-700x943rain dependent waterfalls and shasta daisies and foxgloves-700x1244IMG_20160125_100919-700x518-700x518

View from Our Campervan

View from Our Campervan

The New Zealand Silver Fern Flag, A Powerful and Emotional Symbol of Inspiration. My Hot Chocolate Has Been Blessed.

The New Zealand Silver Fern Flag, A Powerful and Emotional Symbol of Inspiration. My Hot Chocolate Has Been Blessed.

Te Anau: Jetboat & Kepler Tramp

January 20, 2016 Posted by Deb

We were moving into real backpacker country and Te Anau is a jumping off point for the ledgendary Milford Sound. Our plan was to hole up there and wait for a break in the rain to make our move on Milford Sound.IMG_20160120_135730-700x933

The backpacker crowd in southern NZ has to rank among the toughest on the planet. Some say Milford is the second wettest place on earth with 252 inches per year on average. We had a campervan and access to laundry and we could barely stay ahead of wet gear. They have tents, huts, and, new to us, drying rooms. Oh … the huts are nice with lots of stoves but the sleeping dorms are a combination of flat racks and tightly spaced bunks.IMG_20160119_192045-700x525

Back to the drying room … imagine a room about motel size with pegs on the walls and clothesline ropes strung every few feet running the length of the room. Now try to visualize that every possible space on a peg or a rope is draped with wet backpacking clothes that have been out for who knows how long. Now add heat from the drier and breathe in through your nose. When you regain consciousness, you’ll be happy to know the have great medical care.images (4)-700x519

To survive backpacking you have to see through all the wet and nasty stuff for those days or moments that are incredible. Still, our hearts went out to the fairly old couple who said they were out for days where they could barely see the trail in front of them.Lake Te Anua with palms-700x393Little Hobbit Hole-700x393Ron, Deb, Chuck @ picnic table-700x393

We clicked off another Lord of the Rings filming location with a jet boat tour of the Upper Waiau River to down to what some call the prettiest lake in NZ, Lake Manapouri. A little over a minute of the Lord of the Rings exit by boat from the Woodland Elves was filmed on that river. It took 3,000 people and three months for that 90 seconds and our Maori driver had the “feed everybody” contract. He’s never seen the movie.

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The Glaciers

January 17, 2016 Posted by Deb

Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are on the west coast and we hiked both. They are the only remaining glaciers that extend into a sub-tropical rainforest. We toyed with the helicopter rides but visibility sucked and the sticker price screamed sunny day.

Franz Joseph Glacier Entrance. What??

Franz Josef Glacier Entrance. What??

Rockslide Danger ... Where?

Rockslide Danger … Where?


At that point we hadn’t quite realized that if you don’t do things in the rain in the south, you might as well stay home. Good rain coats were not in our bags and we went shopping at Fox Glacier. They definitely knew how to charge with some in the $200 NZ range. We stopped by a helicopter shop and asked if they sold raincoats that were cycled off the bottom. They checked with management and hauled out a great set of coats and if we had told them we were jumping on a plane in a few days, they would have been ours. When they found out they were not souvenirs and we were going to use them for weeks, they balked because if we got hurt in NZ with their logo … it’s a lawyer/insurance thing. They hauled out a “Logoless” set and we were off. That was the day the rains began in earnest.IMG_20160118_145648-700x933

We stayed in the town of Fox Glacier, and Deb and I hiked Lake Matheson while Ron and Barb watched the Broncos in a sports bar that happened to have a waiter from Denver who was an NFL fan.IMG_20160118_114349-700x525IMG_20160118_114426~2-700x367

Lake Matheson's Famous Reflection View

Lake Matheson’s Famous Reflection View

Where's My Reflection?

Where’s My Reflection?

Jacksons Rainforest Hike

January 17, 2016 Posted by Deb

Christchurch got nuked by a nasty earthquake in 2012. We’ve been running into folks who bailed out of there scattered all over NZ. Google Maps hasn’t quite caught up with some of the relocatons. Thankfully, we took a cab and didn’t haul our bags for the 10-minute walk that was more like a 15-minute cab ride.
Christchurch was the pickup point for our new home, a 7.3 meter campervan. After a 10-minute orientation, we were handed the keys and off we went driving an even bigger vehicle on the left.IMG_20160117_165422~2-700x525-700x525

We headed straight up into the mountains to Jacksons, rain, one-lane bridges, and great scenery.IMG_20160115_150230-700x525IMG_20160116_143906-700x933IMG_20160116_135502-700x933IMG_20160116_134446-700x933

Out of the Rainforest Heading for the Jackson Tavern at the Bottom of the Hill

Out of the Rainforest Heading for the Jackson Tavern at the Bottom of the Hill

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Chateau Tongariro

January 14, 2016 Posted by Deb

FB_IMG_1454226836928-700x525We drove south to the Tongariro National Park and were a little hesitant to check into the Chateau. Anything called Chateau usually means you pay a lot more, sometimes for less. It turned out to be expensive but pretty nice and the hiking was good. Oh … they had Mt Doom in the background. They also had pickleball courts.IMG_20160113_120418-700x933

Chuck's Yellow Shirt Behind the Waterfall

Chuck’s Yellow Shirt Behind the Waterfall


My. Doom

Mt. Doom

North Island: Hobbiton

January 12, 2016 Posted by Deb

I have to admit that the Lord of the Rings sites were a major reason for coming here at all. We had Australia on our bucket list for years but NZ aced it out.

Ron and I were in Shire heaven when we visited the now rebuilt Shire topping the tour off at the Green Dragon with free beer only made there. The guide pulled out Trivia questions and our group did well. I know Elvish a little and got him on one question which is actually pretty easy. What is Elvish for “Farewell”?IMG_20160111_144446-700x525 IMG_20160111_144132-700x525 IMG_20160111_150653-700x525 IMG_20160111_152220-700x525 IMG_20160111_154039-700x525 Inside Dragon Pub-700x393 IMG_20160111_150311-700x525 IMG_20160111_152637-700x525

We would eventually see more Rings sites but Hobbiton has been the best. There are lots more out there.


January 4, 2016 Posted by Deb

Legs one and two were flights from Phoenix to LA followed by an eight-hour-plus jump to Tahiti. That’s a minor jump for our traveling friends but a record for us.

We met Deb’s cousin Ron Borchert and his wife Barb Parry in LA, and we would be traveling companions for the next three weeks through planes, rental cars, a camper van, bikes, boats, and a train for good measure. We booked into the InterContinental Resort and stayed in cabanas out over the ocean for a three-day pause before the next leg.Our bungalow @Intercontinental Resort-700x1244IMG_20160104_143310-700x525

We lapped the entire island in one day without much of a hurry. Tahiti is a beautiful laid back place and a humidity shock from AZ.IMG_20160105_184916-700x525IMG_20160104_172658-700x525IMG_20160104_193256~3-700x525

We were not quite sure if our breakfasts were included but we still did the huge breakfast buffet complete with an omelet speed chef and individual tables for the good stuff like desert and fruit. We got a bill for over $150 US for the four of us. Oops. We checked at the front desk to see why we were billed and at first were told that breakfasts were normally not included. They dug further and, sure enough, our breakfasts were part of the deal.Sunset 4-700x393