MistyNites

My Life in Motion

Channel Island Hopping

As a keen and regular traveller, I think it can be too easy to focus on the next adventure and forget about some of the ones that have already passed. I admit to spending a large part of my life planning and saving for the next trip, wherever and whenever that may be. Sometimes it can feel like the next adventure is just around the corner, and other times it feels like it’s a lifetime away. I’m currently undergoing one of those prolonged phases where I have to knuckle down and earn some money. My partner finds my grumbles highly amusing: after all I’m doing no more than the average worker in the Western world does but for anyone with itchy feet, staying at home can be frustrating. In the Southern Hemisphere it is currently winter, and the cold and rainy weather makes even weekend adventures a rarity. I long for some snow to break up the tedium, but as yet, none has come.

Looking through old photos one rainy day, I stumbled across a trip that I had almost forgotten that I had done. A whole week away somewhere new relegated to a little-looked-at album on my laptop. It is not that it was a terrible week or a banal week, it’s simply that so much has happened since then that it got pushed to the back of my mind, and looking through those photos reminded me of what an enjoyable week it was.

There was only one city in Scotland from where I could fly there direct so I made the drive down to Edinburgh from Aberdeen to catch the plane down to Jersey in the Channel Islands. The Channel Islands are a quaint and unique group of islands that are nearer the continent than they are to the country who’s crown they sit under. They are self-governing, yet are dependents of the British Crown, and Jersey in particular has a rather French flare to it. Flying over the English Channel, out of nowhere, Jersey appeared, its rugged northern cliffs plunging down to the sea below. There was a spectacular aerial view of the island which measures just over 118 square kilometres, before we descended into the airport near the western end of the island. From there, St Helier (my home for the week) was just a bus ride away.

St HelierIt was just me and my two legs for the week. With no transport of my own, and a stubborness to avoid public transport, I decided to explore as much as I could on foot. Elizabeth Castle, St HelierSt Helier itself had a sandy beach and just offshore was a small island upon which stood Elizabeth Castle. The harbour was where ferries left for Guernsey and France and the parish centre resembled an English town with the likes of Marks & Spencer and other British high street chains. Despite using the British currency of the Pound, the stores there refused to accept my Scottish bank notes, accepting only those that bore the Bank of England on it. Both Jersey and Guernsey have their own notes also, but like the Scottish counterpart, they are not accepted as legal tender in the United Kingdom.

Mont Orgueil CastleI was staying in a nice B&B and made the most of the cooked breakfast to fuel me for the day ahead. On the first full day there I headed east, following the coastal road roughly 18km to Mont Orgueil Castle. For the most part the walk involved following the route of the A4, but wherever I could cut down to beaches, I would, and the final approach to the castle itself was along a stretch of beautiful sand. It was far from a sunny day, very overcast with occasional showers, but it was a good walk nonetheless and the castle was interesting to walk around, both inside and out, with fantastic views over the coastline. By the time I was ready to head home again, the clouds had broken and the sun was finally out. After another 18km walk back to St Helier, I limped back to the B&B after grabbing some dinner.

I knew I had as equally a long walk the next day so again made the most of the cooked breakfast for energy. This time I was not so lucky with the weather. Heading west this time, I skirted the long stretch of sandy beach round the bay from St Helier to St Aubin, briefly joining the road across the land for a bit, before descending down into St Brelade’s Bay. I barely got beyond there before the heavens opened and despite it appearing to be a very pretty place to be on a sunny day, there was little to keep me here whilst the rain fell. Corbierre LighthouseWinding my way through the streets, I followed the Rue de la Corbiere to the most South-Western tip of the island where a causeway went out to the Corbiere lighthouse, 13km away from my starting point. It had stopped raining by the time I got there although it was still quite overcast, but there were plenty of people about here, and with the tide out, I took the walk out to view the lighthouse up close. Following the coast north I continued on to St Ouens Bay, walking as far as the beach bar & diner before the next lot of rain turned me back. The return walk was in the rain nearly the whole way, and I was a bit miserable by the time I got home. With over 60km hiked in two days, I was definitely covering a good amount of the island.

Arriving to GuernseyThankfully the next day was gloriously sunny, and I’d picked a fantastic day to book the ferry over to Guernsey, nearly 42kms away. St Peter PortIt took about an hour to travel from St Helier to St Peter Port on Guernsey, and arriving there filled me with that feeling that I always get when I arrive somewhere new and unexplored: pure and utter excitement. At 78 square kilometres (which includes some smaller, neighbouring islands), Guernsey is much smaller than Jersey, but it was still too big to explore in the time that I had before the return ferry that evening. Leaving St Peter Port behind I headed north up the coast through St Samson and up across the northern coastline, skirting round to the west to reach the beautiful sand of L’AncresseNear L'Ancresse Bay Bay. It was too nice a day not to just enjoy it, so I lay back on the sand and soaked up some rays for a while before cutting back across the island to St Peter Port where I spent the last of my time before boarding the ferry again to return to Jersey. Guernsey was such a magical place, beautiful and glorious in the sunshine, and with lots more to explore, it firmly earned a place in my unofficial list of places to return to.

It was another early morning rise for another ferry, this time to head south to France. With Jersey being so near the continent, it seemed a shame to not go that bit further, and so I decided to take a day trip to St Malo in Normandy. St Malo was a stunning place to visit, and again, I did my best to see as much as I could whilst I was there. It was another sunny day, and it was lovely and warm.

The walled city of St MaloThe ferry docks near the walled city and round a bay from an expansive marina. I wandered round the cobbled streets of the walled city past boutique shops and cafes and restaurants and people everywhere. I headed round the marina in search of somewhere to get a bite to eat. I always dread practicing my foreign language skills, especially after a previous trip to Paris where I was laughed at for my attempt to order. This time proved no better. I stood in line at a baguette stall, and on my turn I misunderstood a question and again got laughed at by the vendor who obviously spoke about me to the elderly gentleman standing behind me. It knocked my confidence again. I always felt that it was better to attempt the local dialect than brazenly speak in English and assume everyone can understand me, but with the French, I’ve found myself the object of their ridicule every time.

Tour SolidorNevertheless, I headed off to explore the surrounds of St Malo. From the marina, I followed the coastline round a headland to the mouth of La Rance where Tour Solidor stood proudly on the shore. Tour SolidorNear here was a beach where many topless bathers lay soaking up the sunshine. The waterway was littered with yachts as far up river as I could see, and at the river mouth, it was a broad waterway with the opposite side a good distance away. I walked for a while up river before looping back and cutting through the streets to head back towards the ferry terminal and the nearby walled city. St MaloThis time, I kept to the outer wall of the city and walked round to the beaches on the coast of the English Channel. St Malo from the causewayWith the low tide, a causeway was exposed snaking out across the sand and I wandered out on it before heading back to catch the evening ferry back to Jersey. On the ferry leaving St MaloIn the height of the summer, the daylight was still plentiful and it was a beautiful view as the French coastline receded into the distance. Back in Jersey, it was just another night’s sleep and a plane ride away to get home to Scotland.

Alternate Mt. Herbert

From Lyttleton Harbour, it is just a quick 10 minute ferry ride across the turquoise waters to tranquil Diamond Harbour. On a glorious May day, my partner and I set off on the trail up Mt. Herbert, the highest peak on Banks Peninsula at 919m. Lyttleton Harbour from Diamond HarbourFrom the pier, it is a short walk up the road before the path turns off and down onto a rocky beach where there is a glorious view back across the water to Lyttleton Harbour on the far side. Like Quail Island a few weeks before, there was still evidence of a recent storm, and the usual path was closed. Even the path that was still open involved a bit of scrambling up over the remains of fallen trees and we had to get our hands dirty just to get back up to the main road. On another day, the track would be open and easily followed, but on this day, we had to backtrack down the road to reach the path again.

The next section followed a stream up through a copse, and again it was really muddy, and in one small section, the path had collapsed slightly, but eventually coming out at a back road, on the other side was the start of the main hike. I’d previously hiked Mt. Herbert via the Orton Bradley Park as I had read that it was the most interesting route up. To be honest, I prefer the route I took this time partly because there is more of a view for more of the hike, and also because it is a more popular route which meant lots of friendly, encouraging faces as we went. We had set off relatively late meaning that the early birds were already on their way down as we began the climb up.

The track in the lower sectionsA large part of the route is through private farm land, following a path that varies from little more than a sheep trail to a 4×4 trail higher up. Sections of the lower trail were still muddy from the storm a few weeks prior and it made for boggy diversions to avoid the worst of it. Livestock PaddockThe incline came in fits and starts, seeming to level out at times prior to the next hill, but overall the ascent was quite steady. The surrounding mountainsBy the time the 4×4 track was reached, we were in amongst livestock, with some bullocks choosing to test their machismo on the passing hikers. A group of men ahead of us were charged by a particularly challenging one. My days of working on a farm had taught me how to handle them and I wasn’t going to take any bull from him (pun intended). He and the others let us be.

 

 

 

The 4x4 section of the trackThe view to the summit from this route was rather deceiving. The higher we climbed, the more convinced I was that we should be near the top, yet every ridge we reached revealed the next hidden ridge behind it. This upper section felt slightly tedious in its monotony, the one downside to which the other route won over. It was lunchtime, and we were both eager to stop and eat, but didn’t want to rest ahead of the summit. Eventually we reached the path that splits to head round to the shelter, and took the fork that headed directly up the final steep section to the summit. Dodging gorse bushes on the way, we finally summitted to be met by lots of other hikers milling all over the place, eating and taking pictures, and we found a flat spot that we could stop for a bite to eat. The view from the summit with Mt Bradley to the leftBeing May, it was cold at the top despite the sunshine, and we had to wrap up to keep the wind from slicing us in two. Lyttleton Harbour from the summitIt was the first mountain of this height that my partner had hiked and we took in the view over Lake Ellesmere & Banks Peninsula in one direction, and Lyttelton and Christchurch in the other.

As we headed down the way we came up, the clouds had rolled in from Pegasus Bay and Christchurch was suddenly barely visible through the sea fog. Cutting through the lower farmlandFacing out towards the harbour, it was a beautiful view on the descent too. We missed a turn in the path, staying on the 4×4 track too long, meaning we had to cut across an open field to get back to the field that we were supposed to be in. Cutting through farmlandIt was easy to negotiate our way though, being very open and easy to spot where we needed to get to. Back through the lower muddy sections and down through the muddy river-side walk we returned to the main road and opted to follow this down to the pier to avoid the tree scramble we had negotiated on the way up. Calling in to the local shop we partook of some ice cream before heading down to the ferry. On the ferry looking back to Diamond Harbour with Mt Herbert behindWe had just missed the ferry and thought we were in for a long wait till the next one, however we lucked in because the ferry returned straight away due to too many people waiting for it first time round. It was a beautiful run across the water back to Lyttleton, looking back up towards the summit that we had reached that day. Whatever route up you choose, it is a satisfying hike up with a view that is well worth the effort.

Pictorial Guide to Scotland

I have to admit to feeling a bit homesick of late. I live in a beautiful country, which has many similarities to the beautiful country I grew up in. Having recently been to Adelaide in South Australia, a state which feels it has been left out of the tourist stakes by its flashier cousins to the east, it got me thinking about my home country of Scotland, an amazing country that is often overlooked. In some parts of the world, Scotland is considered as nothing more than a state of England, or a country of little significance in the world, or one not worth making the effort to visit. Worst still, is that many people who do visit go nowhere other than Edinburgh and maybe Loch Ness to try and spot a mythical creature that doesn’t even exist. The amount of people I’ve met on my many travels who regale me with their trip to Scotland when in actual fact they saw little more than the capital city is astounding. Certainly, being a Glaswegian, I can’t deny my biased preference for the country’s largest city, but the beauty of Scotland lies in its myriad of islands scattered all up the west coast and to the north, and in the ruggedness of the mainland’s west coast and stark isolation, as well as the endearing draw of the National Parks. Whilst I could write multiple posts about this amazing country, I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves.

NATIONAL PARKS:

Cairngorm National Park.

Loch An Eilein in the Rothiemurchus forest

Loch An Eilein in the Rothiemurchus forest

Cairngorm Mountains

Cairngorm Mountains

Glen Clova in Cairngorm National Park

Glen Clova in Cairngorm National Park

Mountains near Loch Callater

Mountains near Loch Callater

Lochnagar ridgeline

Lochnagar ridgeline

The old bridge at Carrbridge

The old bridge at Carrbridge

Heather in bloom in Glen Muick

Heather in bloom in Glen Muick

Loch Muick

Loch Muick

Old boathouse at Loch Muick

Old boathouse at Loch Muick

Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park.

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond

CITIES & TOWNS:

Glasgow.

Glasgow's West End

Glasgow’s West End

The city of Glasgow viewed from the south

The city of Glasgow viewed from the south

Flying over the suburbs of Glasgow

Flying over the suburbs of Glasgow

Strathclyde Park in Glasgow

Strathclyde Park in Glasgow

Edinburgh.

Forth Rail Bridge across the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh

Forth Rail Bridge across the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle as viewed from the back

Edinburgh Castle as viewed from the back

The city of Edinburgh viewed from Arthur's Seat

The city of Edinburgh viewed from Arthur’s Seat

Aberdeen.

Union Square Gardens, Aberdeen

Union Square Gardens, Aberdeen

River Dee frozen in winter

River Dee frozen in winter

Aberdeen promenade

Aberdeen promenade

Inverness.

The river Ness passing through Inverness

The river Ness passing through Inverness

Kessock Bridge spanning the Beauly Firth near Inverness

Kessock Bridge spanning the Beauly Firth near Inverness

Fort William.

Boats moored at Fort William

Boats moored at Fort William

Crinnan Canal outside Fort William

Crinnan Canal outside Fort William

Perth.

Flying over Perth

Flying over Perth

ISLANDS:

Isle of Arran – Firth of Clyde.

Goatfell on Arran

Goatfell on Arran

The view from the summit of Goatfell, Arran's highest peak

The view from the summit of Goatfell, Arran’s highest peak

Glen Rosa

Glen Rosa

Barra – Outer Hebrides.

Traigh Sgurabhal with Beinn Sgurabhal in the background

Traigh Sgurabhal with Beinn Sgurabhal in the background

Cidhe Eolaigearraidh, with Fuday across the bay

Cidhe Eolaigearraidh, with Fuday across the bay

On Barra, looking towards Orosaigh

On Barra, looking towards Orosaigh

Benbecula – Outer Hebrides.

Benbecula

Benbecula

Benbecula

Benbecula

Rueval summit, Benbecula

Rueval summit, Benbecula

Berneray – Outer Hebrides.

Berneray

Berneray

Sandy beach on Berneray

Sandy beach on Berneray

Looking across to Ensay & Killegray from Beinn Shleibhe on Berneray

Looking across to Ensay & Killegray from Beinn Shleibhe on Berneray

Looking towards Ensay & Killegray from a beach on Berneray

Looking towards Ensay & Killegray from a beach on Berneray

Sand dunes on Berneray

Sand dunes on Berneray

Weather forecasting stone at the Lobster Pot Tearoom on Berneray

Weather forecasting stone at the Lobster Pot Tearoom on Berneray

Bute – Firth of Clyde.

Cows on the Isle of Bute

Cows on the Isle of Bute

Looking towards Isle of Arran from Isle of Bute

Looking towards Isle of Arran from Isle of Bute

Cumbrae – Firth of Clyde.

Millport on Cumbrae

Millport on Cumbrae

Eriskay – Outer Hebrides.

Eriskay harbour

Eriskay harbour

Eriskay

Eriskay

Flodda – Outer Hebrides.

Flodda

Flodda

Gigha – Inner Hebrides.

Achamore House on Gigha

Achamore House on Gigha

Looking towards Islay from Gigha

Looking towards Islay from Gigha

Beautiful Gigha coastline

Beautiful Gigha coastline

Grimsay – Outer Hebrides.

Grimsay

Grimsay

Iona – Inner Hebrides.

Iona

Iona

Iona Abbey

Iona Abbey

Isle of May – Firth of Forth.

Looking towards the lighthouse on Isle of May

Looking towards the lighthouse on Isle of May

Lismore – Inner Hebrides.

Flying over Lismore Island

Flying over Lismore Island

Isle of Mull – Inner Hebrides.

Tobermory, Isle of Mull

Tobermory, Isle of Mull

Torosay Castle, Isle of Mull

Torosay Castle, Isle of Mull

The barren west of Mull

The barren west of Mull

West coast of Mull

West coast of Mull

Abandoned boats on the Mull coastline

Abandoned boats on the Mull coastline

North Uist – Outer Hebrides.

North Uist

North Uist

North Uist

North Uist

Triagh Iar, North Uist

Triagh Iar, North Uist

Oitir Mhor, North Uist

Oitir Mhor, North Uist

Farming North Uist-style

Farming North Uist-style

Isle of Skye – Inner Hebrides.

Portree

Portree

Uig bay

Uig bay

Quiraing

Quiraing

Waternish

Waternish

Point of Ness, Durnish

Point of Ness, Durnish

Loch Slaplin

Loch Slaplin

Loch Slaplin with the Cuillins Range behind

Loch Slaplin with the Cuillins Range behind

Isleornsay

Isleornsay

South Uist – Outer Hebrides.

Road sign at the South Uist to Eriskay causeway

Road sign at the South Uist to Eriskay causeway

Looking towards Eriskay from South Uist

Looking towards Eriskay from South Uist

Ludag, South Uist

Ludag, South Uist

Beautiful, secluded, white sandy beach

Beautiful, secluded, white sandy beach

Loch Druidibeag

Loch Druidibeag

South Uist

South Uist

Staffa – Inner Hebrides.

Fingall's Cave, Staffa

Fingall’s Cave, Staffa

Ulva – Inner Hebrides.

Ulva

Ulva

Vatersay – Outer Hebrides.

Vatersay beach

Vatersay beach

MAINLAND REGIONS:

Highlands.

Mountains in the Glencoe area

Mountains in the Glencoe area

Loch Carron

Loch Carron

Loch Alsh

Loch Alsh

Kyle of Loch Alsh with the Skye bridge

Kyle of Loch Alsh with the Skye bridge

Eilann Donan Castle on Loch Duich

Eilann Donan Castle on Loch Duich

Loch Duich in the lowering sun

Loch Duich in the lowering sun

Gairloch

Gairloch

Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness

Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness

Flying over the mountains to the east of Oban

Flying over the mountains to the east of Oban

Loch Etive

Loch Etive

Ben More & Loch Lubhair

Ben More & Loch Lubhair

Grampian.

Near Loch Kinnord

Near Loch Kinnord

Loch Kinnord

Loch Kinnord

Loch Lee

Loch Lee

Invermark Castle

Invermark Castle

Balmedie beach north of Aberdeen

Balmedie beach north of Aberdeen

Slain's Castle

Slain’s Castle

North Sea coastline at Slain's Castle

North Sea coastline at Slain’s Castle

Slain's Castle

Slain’s Castle

Castle Fraser

Castle Fraser

Ythan Estuary at Newburgh

Ythan Estuary at Newburgh

Sand dune near Newburgh

Sand dune near Newburgh

Beach south of Collieston

Beach south of Collieston

Perthshire.

Loch Turret reservoir

Loch Turret reservoir

Queen's View, Loch Tummel

Queen’s View, Loch Tummel

St Fillans on the bank of Loch Earn

St Fillans on the bank of Loch Earn

Fife.

St Andrews

St Andrews

South-eastern corner of the Kingdom of Fife

South-eastern corner of the Kingdom of Fife

Patchwork quilt of farmland in Fife

Patchwork quilt of farmland in Fife

Flying over Elie

Flying over Elie

Argyll.

Inveraray bridge

Inveraray bridge

Loch Awe

Loch Awe

WILDLIFE:

Reindeer calf in Cairngorm National Park

Reindeer calf in Cairngorm National Park

Adult reindeer in Cairngorm National Park

Adult reindeer in Cairngorm National Park

Pheasant in Cairngorm National Park

Pheasant in Cairngorm National Park

Red deer at Glen Muick

Red deer at Glen Muick

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Seals on Berneray

Seals on Berneray

Bug at the beach

Bug at the beach

Terra Australis – South Australia

If I’m honest, I didn’t have any desire to go to South Australia prior to my friend moving there. I had previously read about Adelaide when I was considering taking the train from Perth to Sydney, and nothing about the place really sold it to me. Living in New Zealand, we are constantly fed images of Sydney and the Gold Coast as ideal holiday locations, and whilst the east coast of Australia is cheap to fly to, any further west than Melbourne is more expensive. Having not seen my friend in over 2 years, and with her now living in Adelaide, I decided to make use of an airline sale to venture over there to see her.

Adelaide CBDFlying low over the Adelaide Hills, we swung round the edge of the city and approached the airport skirting the north of the CBD. My initial impression was how small it was. Adelaide CBDThe CBD itself is a tightly packed cluster of high rise buildings surrounded on all four sides by parkland, separating it from the suburbs which sprawl out in all directions. It was a very quick bus ride into the city, and I was immediately struck by how devoid of people it was. After checking in at my hostel, I went in search of somewhere to have dinner and everything I came across was closed! For a Saturday night there was barely a soul about and even the takeaways and fast food joints were in the dark. I was shocked. I came to realise that I had arrived on a long weekend, with a public holiday to celebrate the Queen’s birthday. The shops had shut early, and only certain areas of the city were open for business. Thankfully, I eventually stumbled upon Rundle Street where there was plenty of choice to both eat and drink to my heart’s content, and finally there was a flurry of activity about the place with many of the restaurants and bars already packed both inside and out.

The first thing I had done on my arrival was book a day trip to Kangaroo Island for the next day. It was an early start, getting picked up at 6am for the 1.5hr drive down to the ferry terminal. The sun rose as we left the city behind, but unfortunately the further south we headed, the rain clouds rolled in and the mist came down. Still, it was possible to see many kangaroos roaming the fields at the side of the road, and when we arrived to board the ferry, it was clear that the clouds were moving away. Kangaroo Island ferryAfter a 45 minute ferry ride over to Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island, the sun was out and we bundled back onto another bus for a long day of driving. I had been recommended to spend a couple of days on the island, as the day tour would be quite rushed, and if I had had more time I would have done so. As it was, it was quite an expensive excursion for 1 day, never mind 2, and I just didn’t have the time. It was definitely one of those days where more time was spent sat on a bus than was actually spent at all the stops we went to, but it was a good over-view of a very enchanting and idyllic island.

Australian Sea LionThe first stop was at Seal Bay Conservation Park where a colony of Australian sea lions come ashore to rest. Australian Sea LionsEven on the walk down the path towards the beach, there were several lying in the way or in the dunes either side. Pup suckling from mumA pup lay suckling from its mother as we walked by, and several sea lions lay fast asleep, oblivious or unperturbed by our presence. Australian Sea LionsReaching the sandy beach, groups of sea lions lay fast asleep, whilst others mulled at the water’s edge. Australian Sea LionsThey’re such pretty creatures, and having only ever seen them in a zoo before, it was fantastic to see them in the wild.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KoalaA short drive from there, we reached a park area where we were to be guaranteed to see some koalas. Sure enough, wandering through a group of eucalyptus trees, it wasn’t long before some were spotted. I saw 6 in total, and 5 of them were doing what koalas do best: sleeping. Koala climbing downThe other one was climbing down the tree, the most activity I have ever seen a wild koala doing. I once saw a juvenile koala running, but it was in a zoo, and it was running away from older koalas who were attempting to beat the poor creature up. Every tree it climbed it was met by an angry adult koala who swiped at it and groaned at it. I’m sure similar behaviour occurs in the wild, but no matter what time of day I see them, all the wild ones I’ve ever seen are curled up on a branch, fast asleep.

 

KangaroosNearby there were some kangaroos mowing the grass, and we watched them for a very short time before heading on to our lunch stop. Suitably refreshed, we continued west to the Remarkable Rocks. Remarkable RocksOn the southern coastline within Flinders Chase National Park, sits some bizarre shaped rocks on a smooth granite rock base. Remarkable RocksThey are naturally formed, but very localised to one area, and have been sculpted into their current shape by the wind, sea and rain. Our guide told us that tours on the previous two days had spotted migrating humpback whales passing by and I stared out to sea ever hopeful for a glimpse of my favourite marine mammal. By this point it was a gorgeous sunny day, and despite my mild disappointment at not seeing any whales, it was a beautiful spot to be by the sea under a clear blue sky.

 

 

 

 

 

Cape de Couedic lighthouseCape de Couedic with its lighthouse was not much further round the coast, and from the viewing platform it was possible to look east along the coast and see the Remarkable Rocks in the distance. New Zealand Fur SealDown a walkway from the lighthouse was Admiral’s Arch, a sea-blasted archway in the rock, around which was the home of a colony of New Zealand Fur Seals. New Zealand Fur Seal mother and pupI have seen plenty of these guys in New Zealand, and if you know where to go, especially in the South Island, they are everywhere, but this colony was bigger than any I had seen back home. The size of the colony also meant a stronger smell, and with little else happening other than sleeping, I didn’t mind the restricted time that we had been allowed to stay for. It was a beautifully rugged coastline though, taking the full brunt of the southern seas.

ParrotsI got a nice surprise when we stopped at the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre on the way back towards the ferry. Aside from some gorgeous red parrots near the entrance, I went for a short wander to kill time whilst everyone else meandered round the gift shop. EchidnaMeandering round the car park, my attention was caught by some rustling in the under growth and a movement in the corner of my eye. I couldn’t believe my luck to see a wild echidna snuffling through the leaf litter looking for an evening meal. It wandered oblivious to me, and I looked around excitedly wanting to share my find with somebody. I caught the attention of a girl on my tour bus, and the two of us silently watched the echidna rummage about, enjoying our private wildlife experience away from the noise of our tour group. Soon enough, we had to leave it behind, and head back to Penneshaw to catch the evening ferry back to the main land. It was a long day, arriving back in Adelaide at 10.30pm in the dark, and hitting my pillow, I was out like a light.

Church in Adelaide CBDWith my friend not returning from a camping trip till the afternoon of the Monday, I took the opportunity in the morning to explore her home city. Haigh's Chocolates near Rundle MallArriving in the dark and being away all day the day before, I had yet to see much of the place. It was the Queen’s Birthday holiday so still a lot of places were closed, but there was a bit more activity going on with many people having the day off work. Adelaide Railway StationWhat I came to love about Adelaide were the heritage buildings which were all over the place within the city. From churches, to offices, and private residencies, there are some stunning colonial-style buildings from the 19th century, many of them baring the date of build or with plaques detailing some of the history of the place. Like any city, it has its modern multi-storey glass offices, but there was plenty of old architecture to keep me happy.

 

 

 

Artwork by the river bankI didn’t have a plan, just wandering the streets from west to east and vice versa, working my way north towards the Torrens river. Adelaide Convention CentreOn its banks stands the casino and convention centre, and on the north side is the AFL stadium. The riverbank was in the process of being improved, and a relatively new bridge spanned the river. Pelicans by the Torrens RiverPelicans slept by the water’s edge, and I followed the south bank to the east until I reached the edge of the CBD. River TorrensCutting south to the Botanical Gardens, I came upon a group of trees filled with colourful rainbow lorikeets feeding. Rainbow lorikeetWinter time is never the best time to visit gardens, as they aren’t in their prime, and the city council was clearly in the process of doing some renovations. Ibis in the Botanical GardensAfter meandering past the university, the art gallery and the museum, Adelaide UniversityI finally met up with my friend for a much needed catch up and dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t think I’ve ever been on so many wrong turns in my life, but by the time we reached the Barossa Valley, South Australia had really grown on me. Barossa Valley wineryIt is a wine-lover’s paradise, and we set about stopping at vineyards to do some wine tasting. I’m a white wine girl, and my friend is a red wine lover, and between the two of us, we worked our way through several winelists at each place. The first place we stumbled upon thanks to yet another wrong turn, but it had that quintessential Mediterranean feel to it, and it was exceedingly picturesque. Jacob's Creek Visitor CentreWith some more wrong turns, we eventually reached the Jacob’s Creek Visitor Centre. For me, Jacob’s Creek had always been that cheap wine that everyone drunk as a student, so I wasn’t fussed about going there, but my friend had loved their special red from a previous visit and she wanted more, so we duly turned up, and I found myself buying some delicious wine that blew me away. The grounds were stunning, and having packed a picnic of cheeses and spreads, we sat out in the cool winter sunshine and pigged out on the most amazing picnic I have ever had.

A few more cellar doors later and we had both purchased enough wine to see us through for a while. It was great fun, and a fantastic way to explore the region, sampling so many local flavours along the way. Lowering sunAs the day wore on, we headed back towards Adelaide and continued that little bit further west to reach the sea at Henley Beach. Setting sun from Henley BeachIt is a beautiful coastline with several beaches and suburbs littered along the way, and we parked ourselves on a bench with fish & chips to watch the sun set over the sea. It was cool, but beautiful, and we headed to the local gelato shop prior to calling it a night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adelaide CBD from Mt Lofty summitTo the south-east of Adelaide lies Mt Lofty in the Adelaide Hills. From the viewing area at the summit, the city and coastline beyond are visible in the distance. It was a hazy day, so the view wasn’t the sharpest, but still you could pick out the airport and the various buildings of the CBD. I had read about the Waterfall Gully Track and managed to convince my friend to do it. First waterfall on the Waterfall gully trackStarting from Mt Lofty summit, it steeply descends down the mountainside through a eucalyptus forest, round bends and past waterfalls to a car park and visitor centre on a lower summit. It was a busy track, and the whole way down we passed red-faced sweaty runners and hikers slogging their way back up. It seemed like a never-ending hike down, but in actual fact, the way back up didn’t seem as bad as we anticipated, although it was definitely a tough walk. Surprisingly, there was very little wildlife in the forest, only a few cockatoos flitting between the branches near the top.

Art in HahndorfIt was only a little further along the road to reach Hahndorf, a quaint little German town which I loved purely because most of the shops were unique and sold cakes, and cheeses, and meats, and chocolates. HahndorfIt was fantastic, walking round sampling all the locally produced foods, and we bought plenty of it to take home and eat later. Cheese & wine nightAfter a delicious lunch in a cosy restaurant, and a bit more wine tasting, we headed back to Adelaide to prepare for a fantastic evening drinking Barossa Valley wine and eating cheeses, and spreads and cakes from our Hahndorf hoard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japanese gardenThere was still plenty to explore in Adelaide, and with a bit of time to myself to kill, I headed to the southern parks and wandered round the Japanese garden before heading up to the Central Market. Fruit & veg at Central MarketI had read that it was a must-do activity in the city and I wasn’t disappointed. Getting there late in the morning it was absolutely packed, and it was an unbelievable sensory overload. Cheeses at Central marketRow after row of stalls sold meats, cheeses, fruits, veg, fish, bread, cakes, nuts, chocolates, coffee and flowers. Freshly baked bread at Central MarketThere was so much to look at and smell, and with my belly craving lunch, there was just too much choice. Eventually I picked the most amazing sandwich I’ve had in a long time and some fresh yoghurt which I ate whilst waiting on the tram to Glenelg.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glenelg town hallGlenelg lies on the coast to the south-west of Adelaide, about an hour on the tram from the CBD. GlenelgBeing winter, the beachfront was quiet and windy, but it reminded me of a quieter version of Surfer’s Paradise with its high rise apartment blocks lining the promenade. Had it been a sunnier day I probably could have sat by the beach for hours, but as it was it felt a bit exposed on that overcast day, and with my friend driving down to meet me, we wandered the streets instead, sampling a local coffee shop before taking a drive to Harbour Town for some outlet shopping. On the way home, we took a detour to go to Ikea, a store which I desperately wish would come to New Zealand, having furnished my flat in Scotland from there. It felt slightly surreal being at the opposite side of the world wandering round that oh-so familiar layout.

Pig on a rainy Rundle MallMy last full day in Adelaide, the heavens opened. After breakfast at Central Market, I took refuge at the South Australian museum. Pigs on Rundle MallIt passed a couple of hours, but I was quite disappointed with it. The exhibitions were average and nothing really wowed me. To make matters worse, there were multiple school classes jostling about the place, and they got in my way and under my feet. With the weather not amenable to wandering further outdoors, I had a lazy afternoon prior to meeting my friend on Rundle Street for an evening of sampling the local nightlife. We ventured only between two bars, one of which had a dance floor upstairs, and I was impressed by the selection of bars, and restaurants in the area. My night club days long behind me, I felt old, but endevoured to last as long as I could, hitting the pillow after 1am.

With more time, I would love to get north to the Flinders Ranges, a region I’d hoped I’d get to on this trip until I realised how far away it was, as well as the Murray River. Having spoken to several other travellers, Adelaide seems to be a great starting point for heading north to Alice Springs and Darwin beyond, and eager to see these places myself, I would most likely head there from Adelaide in the future. Whilst not having the glitzy draw of Sydney and the Gold Coast, South Australia still has plenty to offer, albeit in a more laid back fashion. With wildlife, beaches and vineyards on Adelaide’s doorstep, I think it doesn’t deserve to be so overlooked.

Quail Island

Nestled in the depth of Lyttleton harbour on Banks Peninsula, lies OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAQuail Island. Once the home of a (very small) leper colony, it was subsequently used as an animal quarantine station where dogs and ponies trained prior to several expeditions to the Antarctic continent. Now, just a 10 minute ferry ride from the mainland, it is a great day out for a family-friendly walk with plenty of places for a picnic at the end of it all.

The view west from Quail IslandUp the hill from the pier, it is merely a case of choosing to go round the island clockwise or anti-clockwise. Heading anti-clockwise, some old buildings are nestled amongst the trees. Some of them were old stables for the horses, and a building with an interpretation room is a just a little further along the track. Once out of the tree line, there is a 360 degree view of the surrounding Port Hills and Banks Peninsula for large sections of the coastal track, and the ferry company Black Cat Cruises, provides a leaflet and map of the island detailing important sites to visit on the way round.

Volcanic CliffsContinuing in this direction, there are some dramatic sheer volcanic cliffs, a reminder of how the island (and the peninsula as a whole) was formed. This is also one of the best vantage points to view back towards Lyttleton and the mouth of Lyttleton Harbour. Overgrown historyScattered along the path round this coastline are various remnants of the early inhabitants, from rusty machinery to old quarries, Old quarryone now filled with water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking across to Governor's BayOpposite Governor’s Bay, the Quail Island coast was used for scuppering old ships, Shipwrecksand a collection of 8 ship wrecks can be seen just off a stony beach. Round from here, on the more southern facing coast, the beaches are sandy. King Billy Island across from the beachThe first one to come across is the more secluded one, accessible down the hill, and just a stone’s throw away from the neighbouring King Billy Island.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After passing another quarry and the sole grave from the leper colony, the path became a bit more of an adventure. Visiting on Easter weekend, a storm had blown through the week previously, and there were a lot of trees down occluding sections of the path. With a long detour to take to avoid this, we simply climbed over and under the large trunks, getting a few scratches along the way. The path had a closed sign at the other end for those walking clockwise round the island, but there had been nothing at the end that we came from. It wasn’t too much of a problem for us, but a few families that were coming behind us struggled to negotiate the fallen trees with their young children and picnic bags. Beach on Quail IslandThe reward though, was reaching the main swimming and picnic area at a time when many other people were leaving. Looking across to Mt HerbertThis southern facing coastline looked across to Diamond Harbour and Mt Herbert, the highest peak on the Banks Peninsula. It is a beautiful spot to soak up the sunshine whilst enjoying a picnic, and we spent the rest of our time sunning ourselves first by the beach, Looking towards Diamond Harbourand then a little round the coast on a grassy ridge near a dilapidated pier.

Quail Island is a fantastic place to go for a lovely non-strenuous walk within the beautiful surrounds of Lyttleton Harbour and the Banks Peninsula. Accessible only in the summer months, it is a popular day trip, so don’t go there expecting solitude, but it is easy to find a place for that all important peace and quiet.

Guide to Christchurch

The more you travel, the more people you meet. The more people you meet, the more you learn about different people’s home towns. I’m always intrigued by the opinion of those people that have been to Christchurch, and I can’t help but get a little bit defensive when people don’t like it. Usually, when I press them on it, they skipped round the damaged city centre and then left again. They didn’t find out enough about what the city is all about, and where are the best places to go. If my previous posts don’t give enough information on where to go and what to see, I enjoy giving recommendations on where to eat and drink in the city. The following are very much my own personal recommendations, and I encourage others to give their own favourites. I’m still discovering new places to go, and regularly there’s an opening or a re-opening going on somewhere in the city, so I’m always eager to find new gems. Discovering all the gastric delights of this city is a work in progress.

CAFES:

C1 Espresso185 High Street, Central.

GO FOR: location; atmosphere; the biggest range of teas I’ve ever seen; food flying through pneumatic tubes; the best ice coffee in town

Vic’s Cafe132 Victoria Street, Central.

GO FOR: freshly baked bread for sale

Cafe Procope205 Fendalton Road, Fendalton.

GO FOR: cheerful staff; amazing food

Beat Street Cafe324 Barbadoes Street, Central.

GO FOR: quirkiness; great food

WHEN NOT TO GO: Sunday brunch/lunch when the queue for cooked food on a busy day is >1hr

Black Betty165 Madras Street, Central.

GO FOR: location; atmosphere; Shakshuka

WHEN NOT TO GO: Sunday brunch/lunch when the queue for cooked food on a busy day is about 1hr

Coffee CultureVarious: Beckenham, Upper Riccarton, Riccarton, Airport, Lyttleton, Merivale, Rangiora, Redwood, Sumner, Shirley, Sydenham. – although a chain, I love these coffee shops

GO FOR: great coffee and consistency across the various branches; join their loyalty card for 20% off hot drinks

The Cupcake Collection140 Colombo Street, Beckenham.

GO FOR: the most delicious assortment of cupcakes ever!

Salt on the Pier195-213 Marine Parade, New Brighton.

GO FOR: yummy food within reach of the beach

Ocean Cafe & BarEsplanade Clock Tower, Sumner.

GO FOR: great coffee by the beach

Red Rock CafeGondola Summit Station, Mount Pleasant.

GO FOR: delicious food and coffee overlooking the city and Lyttleton harbour; red velvet cake

Cafe Lumes107 Fitzgerald Avenue, Central.

GO FOR: friendly, welcoming staff who remember your name and your order; yummy food;

WHEN NOT TO GO: at the weekend when it is closed!

Coffee Lovers25 New Regent Street, Central.

GO FOR: location; the best hot chocolate in the city

WHEN NOT TO GO: >4pm when it is shut

Bean Scene Cafe & Cargo Bar, 359 Lincoln Road, Addington.

GO FOR: size – there’s plenty of tables between inside and out, and it has the best of both worlds: a cafe and a separate bar trading out of the same place

Oddfellows Cafe, 5 Disraeli Street, Addington.

GO FOR: great menu; fantastic coffee and it is attached to a local coffee roasters

WHEN NOT TO GO: on a Sunday when it is closed

Underground Cafe, 359 Colombo Street, Sydenham.

GO FOR: Fantastic selection of very tasty food

Antigua Boat Shed Cafe, 2 Cambridge Terrace, Central.

GO FOR: fantastic location next to the Avon River and near the Botanical Gardens; friendly, smiling & helpful staff

RESTAURANTS:

Tutto Bene192 Papanui Road, Merivale.

GO FOR: Italian restaurant run by Italians, and the owner is always full of smiles; the best Italian in town

WHEN NOT TO GO: if you haven’t booked a table in advance – it books out!

Strawberry Fare19 Bealey Avenue, Central.

GO FOR: divine and delicious foods and a huge dessert menu

WHEN NOT TO GO: if you haven’t booked a table – it’s very popular; or if you’re looking for a cheap eat as it’s far from the cheapest place in town

Flying Burrito Brothers77 Main North Road, Papanui.

GO FOR: great mocktails; extensive range of Mexican food; good food at an affordable price

WHEN NOT TO GO: if you want a quick feed at the weekend – they don’t take bookings and the wait for a table can be as long as an hour at busy time

Pomeroy’s Old Brewery Inn, 292 Kilmore Street, Central.

GO FOR: delicious food (my favourite is the pulled pork) in a cozy, welcoming pub-style restaurant; extensive and changing range of craft beers

St Asaph Street Kitchen & Stray Dog Bar, 236 St. Asaph Street, Central.

GO FOR: scrumptious snack menu; central location

Himalayas, 830a Colombo Street, Central.

GO FOR: delicious and extensive range of Indian fare

Spagalimis, Various: Riccarton, New Brighton, Central.

GO FOR: a wide selection of pizzas which are also available to takeaway

The Town Ball Restaurant & Bar, 52 Manchester Street, Central.

GO FOR: delicious food in a buzzing environment; great location to watch rugby

WHEN NOT TO GO: if you want a quiet meal, as with rugby playing on the big screen all the time, it is a very noisy place to eat

EDIT NOTE 23/06/2014. As of today, the Town Ball has closed for business. It was a temporary (though large) business, and will be removed to make way for a permanent structure.

Speight’s Alehouse Ferrymead, 2a Waterman Place, Woolston.

GO FOR: sharing platters; pub grub

Curator’s House, 7 Rolleston House, Central.

GO FOR: location – snuggled at the corner of the Botanical Gardens next to the Avon river; private dining rooms available for bookings and functions

Passengers & Co, 92 Russley Road, Russley.

GO FOR: delicious food and coffee, friendly staff

WHEN NOT TO GO: at the weekend when it is closed

Venuti, 791 Colombo Street, Central.

GO FOR: scrumptious Italian fare; friendly & helpful staff

DRINKING HOLES:

Pomeroy’s Old Brewery Inn, 292 Kilmore Street, Central.

GO FOR: an extensive, and ever-changing, range of craft beers

Cassels & Sons CBD Bar, 208 Madras Street, Central.

GO FOR: location; atmosphere; live music in the summer

Revival Bar, 92-96 Victoria Street, Central.

GO FOR: location in the popular and ever-expanding Victoria Precinct; unique style of a container bar; al fresco drinking on a gorgeous sunny day

The Running Bull, 1 Riccarton Road, Riccarton.

GO FOR: walking distance from Hagley Park; pool tables and large screens for watching sports

Curator’s House, 7 Rolleston House, Central.

GO FOR: a few drinks in the beautiful Hagley Park

WHEN NOT TO GO: when the wasps are out!

No. 4 Bar & Restaurant, 4 Mansfield Avenue, Merivale.

GO FOR: a great location for a few drinks after work

WHEN NOT TO GO: it can get quite packed on Friday nights once the offices have shut

Elevate Bar & Grill, 2 Colombo Street, Cashmere.

GO FOR: great place for holding functions; a nice place to go that’s away from the CBD

The Bog Irish Bar, 50 Victoria Street, Central.

GO FOR: All your Irish desires – Irish staff, Irish music, Irish-style fare, Guinness; scrumptious bar snack menu; live music venue; the decor is fantastic

TAKEAWAYS:

Himalayas, 830a Colombo Street, Central.

Food: Indian

Order in the restaurant, online or over the phone, but be aware that online orders are slower to process

Spagalimis, Various: Riccarton, New Brighton, Central.

Food: Pizza

Beats the likes of Pizza Hut and Hell’s hands down, but it comes at a price

Dimitris Greek Food, Cashel Street Re:Start Mall, Central.

Food: Greek souvlaki

The best, and one of the most popular, souvlakis in the city. Sold out of a food truck in the Re:Start mall there is always a queue, so be prepared to wait

Burger Wisconsin, Various: Cashmere, Papanui.

Food: Burgers

It’s no Fergburger, but although I know some people that would disagree with me, this is my favourite burger joint in the city

Fritz’s Wieners, Cashel Street Re:Start Mall, Central.

Food: Wieners

Quick and tasty sausage fare. They often have a mobile unit at lots of events.

Muffin Break, Various: The Palms, Riccarton Mall, Northlands Mall, Eastgate Mall, Colombo Street.

Food: Muffins, Toasties, Hot & Cold drinks

A chain of food-court style coffee shops, the coffee is good, and if you sign up to their loyalty card, every 5th one is free

Mrs Higgin’s Cookies, 10 New Regent Street, Central.

Food: Fresh baked cookies

Very more-ish and yummy cookies baked fresh

The Sausage Sisters, Unit 5, 456 Colombo Street, Sydenham.

Food: sausage rolls

Listed as a courtyard cafe, it’s little more than a kiosk with a table and chairs outside but the sausage rolls are delicious, especially the moroccan lamb

New York Deli, Various: Addington & Papanui.

Food: New York Deli-style sandwiches

Made to order sandwiches. Choose the bread, the meat filling and the salad, and enjoy. Not as cheap as Subway but worth the extra dollars.

MARKETS:

Riccarton Market, Riccarton Racecourse. Sundays 9am – 2pm

Stalls: fresh produce, bric-a-brac, private sellers, crafts, and a myriad of food carts

The market is on every week of the year regardless of the weather. As an ex-pat Scot, this is my go-to place to get some much loved British foods

A Right Royal Christchurch

Eighteen months after the excitement of seeing his father, I found myself thrilled to discover that my scheduled weekday off work coincided with the visit of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge to Christchurch. Prince Charles at the Canterbury A+P Show, Nov 2012I had previously been present when Prince Charles and his wife Camilla visited the city, and despite not being a Royalist, nor to the pleasing of my partner, Camilla at the Canterbury A+P Show, Nov 2012I took great thrill out of following them around the annual A & P show in an effort to get up close for a picture. It made my day to shake hands with Camilla, and the giddy child within was even more excited that my handshake made it onto the national news.

 

 

 

 

Duke of CambridgeFast-forward 1.5 years, and I found myself getting up early and heading down to Latimer Square at 8am to stand by a fence for 4 hours as a gathering crowd arrived. Duchess of CambridgeMy patience was rewarded with a greeting and a handshake with Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge as she made her way down the crowd, speaking to as many people as she could. Duchess of CambridgeShe is an exceedingly pretty and amiable person, and across the walkway, her husband, the future King, William the Duke of Cambridge, was greeting the people of Christchurch too. Duchess of Cambridge battingAs they made their way towards the centre of the square, they started the countdown clock for the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015 before both of them took their turns batting with some local kids. Duchess of Cambridge chatting to the kidsDuke & DuchessThey chatted with many of the kids as well as some cricket officials before smiling and waving to the crowd, and getting back in their car and leaving. It was a brief visit, but they left a very satisfied crowd behind, including myself.

Key Summit

The beautiful Fiordland National Park contains 3 of New Zealand’s 9 Great Walks: the Kepler Track, Milford Track and the Routeburn Track. On the road to Milford Sound from Te Anau, is an area called the Divide, near where the Milford Highway skirts round the end of the Hollyford Valley. It marks the start (or end) of the Routeburn Track, a multi-day hike that cuts through the Humboldt Mountains. With my appetite whetted from hiking the Kepler Track, I vow to come back one day to hike the Milford and Routeburn tracks as well, but on my way back to Te Anau from Milford Sound, I pulled in at the Divide to walk to Key Summit which had been highly recommended.

WaterfallThe first 40 minutes or so of the walk is along the Routeburn Track, winding upwards and round the end of the Livingstone Mountain range. It is a simple gravel path, past a few small waterfalls, hidden amongst the trees but within ear shot of the Milford Highway and its passing traffic. Humboldt MountainsNot until the path has skirted round quite far does the canopy allow a view of the Hollyford valley and the Humboldt Mountains. It is, like so many parts of the National Park, a stunning sight. Hollyford ValleyBoth the valley and the mountains were thick with vegetation and far below, the Hollyford river sparkled under the glorious sunshine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humboldt Mountains from key SummitA sign marks the split up to Key Summit, and the path winds back and forth through an increasingly alpine vegetation until the summit is reached. Alpine lake on Key SummitThe summit (919m altitude) is relatively flat and has a self-guided alpine nature walk around it, encompassing a mixture of alpine wetlands, lakes and alpine vegetation. Alpine lake on Key SummitNo matter what direction you look, there are mountains on all sides: Humboldt, Darran, Ailsa and Earl Mountain ranges.

 

 

 

 

 

Key Summit from the lookoutA track heads up to a higher lookout where most of the alpine nature walk is visible below, and also the hidden Lake Marian comes into view. Lake Marrian is nestled within the Darran mountain range to the west. Returning via the same path, it rejoins the nature walk which, via various lookouts, forms a loop back to the path to take you back down to the Routeburn track and back to the Divide the way you came. At just over 2 hrs, it is a fantastic walk to do on a sunny day, and gives a good taster of the spectacular views that I’m sure the Routeburn Track offers.

Kepler Track – New Zealand Great Walk

I was thankful that the weather man got it wrong. For days I had watched the MetService predictions and the weather on the Breakfast news, and I prepared myself to get very wet. I bought new waterproofs and packed my bag carefully with multiple dry bags to protect my belongings. I expected to get soaked. Start of the Kepler TrackBut on day 1, I woke in the hostel in Te Anau to see the sun rising, and a clear sky. By the time I drove to the car park at the start of the Kepler Track, it was sunny, but I could see a heavy bank of cloud rolling in from the west. I might get to stay dry for an hour, I thought, as I set off across the Control Gates at the start of the walk, looking out over Lake Te Anau. Beyond that, I could only hope that the thick forest would protect me somewhat.

Forest walkThe DOC sign stated 1 hr 30 min to Brod Bay where the water taxi comes in. The walk was through forest the whole way and fairly flat making for an easy, though slightly uninteresting start, to the day’s hike. Brod BayAs I neared Brod Bay, I met a few walkers heading the other way and I reached the beach as 2 water taxis were leaving. A group of hikers had come over on the boat and they headed off on the track to Mt Luxmore as I paused to put on my waterproofs, ever wary of the incoming clouds. I needn’t have bothered, as not only did the rain never come, but the forest canopy offered good protection from the elements and I was soon sweating in the extra layers. They didn’t last long before the whole lot came off again. From here, the DOC sign stated 4 hr 30 min to Luxmore Hut, my destination, and the path started to slowly incline soon after leaving the beach behind. I learnt many years ago to control my pace on uphill sections, especially with my pack weighing 13kg. It had been a few years since I’d done a multi-day hike with such a weight to carry, and I was nervous of hurting my back which has been so fragile for the past 8 months. I found my pace quickly though and settled into it. There’s not a lot to see for the first hour other than trees. The big group of hikers that had left ahead of me were hiking light so they motored ahead but stopped regularly, meaning that we were repeatedly passing each other as I caught them up on their rest stops but they overtook me on their pace. It became a bit of a joke and offered some light relief from the monotony of the hike.

Limestone bluffsWith increasing altitude, eventually some breaks in the canopy allowed me to see back down to Te Anau and out of nowhere the path came out at some limestone bluffs. Skirting them involved a few flights of stairs and the path was quite narrow in places. With rain clouds arcing around the mountain, a rainbow was visible towards Lake Manapouri. I had read a brief description of the hike which showed a slow incline followed by a steep incline. In anticipation of this steeper section, I stopped for an early lunch on a dead tree which offered a relatively comfortable seat. I was rather surprised on rounding a couple of corners afterwards to reach the end of the tree line, and realise that I had already gained nearly all of the altitude for the day. I met a couple of other hikers here who also were surprised at how easy the hike up had been. Lake Te AnauFrom here onwards, it was an alpine hike, cutting across a rolling summit with views down to Lake Te Anau and over to Lake Manapouri. Lake Manapouri in the distanceThe rainbow hung over the neighbouring mountain as I continued on the gravel path which later turned into a raised boardwalk through the expanse of alpine plants. Alpine boardwalkThe clouds had by now reached the Murchison mountains across the branch of Lake Te Anau, and they curled around the summit, threatening to jump across the expanse of water and reach us. Luxmore HutBy now there were quite a few hikers on the alpine section of the walk and from the boardwalk it wasn’t much further on the gravel track again till Luxmore Hut (1085m altitude) came into view around a bend with the summit of Mt Luxmore behind it. I reached it exactly 4 hours after leaving the car park, quite surprised at how quickly I had hiked there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balcony VistaThis was my first experience of staying in a hut, and being a Great Walk, it was pretty big, well maintained and quite well stocked. The view from the balcony was impressive: back towards Lake Te Anau with the Murchison Mountain range across the water. I picked a spot to sleep for the night, made myself some nice warm soup and settled down for a chat with my fellow hikers. As the hours passed, the hut got busier and busier, and I decided to take the side walk to Luxmore Caves to go exploring. My torch didn’t provide as much light as I would have liked to go deep in, so after a brief delve into the entrance way, I headed back to the hut in the heavy rain that had finally broke. It was a long afternoon to pass, made easier by having someone with a lot of common interests to talk to. Eventually it was time to make dinner, and by 8 pm, the local ranger came to speak to us. His name was Peter Jackson, and he was quick to point out (as if we didn’t know!) that he was not the director of the Lord of the Rings movies, but he was funny and informative, telling us about the local conservation projects that were taking place in the area, mainly the trapping and killing of stoats which are a major pest and threat to the native fauna of New Zealand. By the time of his talk, the hut had filled to its capacity of 50 people, and the sky was growing dark. There was still a gale blowing and rain falling, but half-way through his talk, 2 people hovered outside the hut, refusing to come in. Peter went outside to speak to them whilst we waited for the gossip. Much to everyone’s shock, the 2 hikers had decided to continue on the walk to the next hut, a 6 hr walk away, across the exposed ridge in the dark during a storm. As Peter said, he couldn’t force them to stay, but he wasn’t impressed and it was all we could talk about. With the lights automatically set to turn off early, and the darkness set in, everybody retired very early.

Sunrise on day 2With the smallest inkling of dawn light coming into the window, the bunk room seemed to jump to life. I wasn’t the only one that was surprised about how early some people leapt up to get going that second day, but after trying to shut out the noise for a while, I gave in and joined them. The sun wasn’t even up yet, and I waited to capture a photo of the sunrise. There was a low bank of clouds hovering over Lake Te Anau and it was certainly a beautiful spot to wake up. Lake Te AnauI headed off in the company of the hiker that I had got chatting with yesterday and we left the hut behind to continue climbing towards Mt Luxmore summit. It was a beautiful day: blue, cloudless skies, glorious sunshine, and not too windy. The climb was steady and winding, with a few alpine lakes dotted about the higher reaches of the mountain. Panorama of Lake Te Anau with the Murchison MountainsThe expanding view over Lake Te Anau and the Murchison mountain range was sublime and ahead of us we could see the coloured dots of various hikers. Forward PeakAs we neared the top, the path became narrow with steep drops to the one side, and in places there was a scree that the thin path cut across, and we both wondered how the 2 hikers from last night had negotiated this in the wind and rain in the dark. On top of this, they would have missed out on the spectacular views, and again we found ourselves musing at their stupidity.

Jackson Peaks from Mt LuxmoreThe path to Mt Luxmore summit (1472m altitude) splits from the Kepler Track and cuts up a rocky slope to reach a rocky summit with a trigger point. Looking towards the Kepler Mountains from Mt LuxmoreIt was slightly crowded as we waited to get our photos of the view. The clouds over Lake Te Anau were lifting and had moved over the land, and looking west there were mountain ridges as far as the eye could see. Kepler TrackIt was spectacular, and in fact the rest of the hike on day 2 was just an overload of beautiful mountain scenery at every turn. The path remained narrow in many places, with occasional scree or steep drops on one or both sides. As it curled across the neighbouring ridge line, it afforded new views of the deep branch of Lake Te Anau as well as Mt Luxmore summit behind us. At times we could see the path snake across the mountain top for what looked like miles.

 

 

We paused only briefly at the Forest Burn Shelter (1270m altitude), again wondering whether the two hikers had given up here or kept going in the dark. Lake Te AnauI was having a fantastic time as we continued on through the low alpine vegetation, round more bends with more views of Lake Te Anau until we saw the final ridge crossing. Hikers on the ridgelineWith steep drops either side it was totally exposed to the elements but on such a beautiful sunny day it was amazing to be so high up surrounded by so many peaks. RidgelineBy now I could hear the call of the world’s only alpine parrot, the ever-cheeky kea. It took a while to locate them, but I could see them landing ahead of us on the track. Kepler Mountains viewed from the second summitWe took another brief detour to climb another peak (1383m altitude) before arriving at the Hanging Valley shelter (1390m altitude) where a group were having a lunch break whilst being marauded by 3 loud keas. KeaI love them. KeasThey are big and beautiful with a personality to match. They are very bold and very cheeky and they enjoy playing dare to see how close they can get to stealing your food. Like all parrots, they are highly intelligent, and looking at them, you know that they are regarding you with some intellect. We took a food break here ourselves and I enjoyed watching the 3 of them bicker amongst themselves in between jumping and flying about around us whilst we ate. I could have watched them for hours, but the wind was starting to pick up, and now the clouds were starting to roll in from the west again, meaning the potential for stormy weather again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iris Burn Valley towards Lake ManapouriBy now we could see the Iris Burn Valley, and we were trying to work out where our hut Iris Burn Valleywas. The ridge line walk continued for a while longer, dropping in altitude slightly to a last lookout (1167m altitude) before zig-zagging back into the tree line and down the mountainside. There were varying signs of slips having taken place, with great spaces where the trees had careered down the mountainside. Old man's beard lichenThe trees were rife with old man’s beard lichen which of all the lichen species, needs the purest of air to grow. Six hours after leaving the Luxmore hut, we arrived at the Iris Burn Hut (497m altitude) in time for the sky becoming overcast. Luxmore FallsFrom here there is a brisk walk through the forest to Luxmore falls. It is reported to be a great place to go for a dip, but on getting there we were immediately attacked by a great swarm of sand flies. We lasted as long as it took to take some photos, but with them landing and crawling through our hair, and swarming round every inch of exposed skin we had, it wasn’t long before we got moving back to the hut. Whilst a few hikers motored onwards, most of the same faces from last night were also joining us at this hut, and by now, we were all starting to get to know each other quite a bit. There was quite a mix: Kiwis from varying parts of the north and south islands, Australians, Brits, Americans, Germans and a Swede. I did my best to promote Christchurch as a tourist destination, always saddened to hear about people’s shock and lack of love for the place when as usual they have seen so little of it, rushing in and rushing out again. The ranger that night was fantastic, again very funny and entertaining. The elusive wild black orchidHe told us where to go and see glowworms in the local forest, and took us to see an exceedingly rare black orchid. All of us that had walked to the falls had walked past it without knowing, but it wasn’t in flower so was easy to miss. In the darkness of night, we headed blindly into the forest in search of glowworms and saw the faint glow of a handful scattered amongst the bushes.

 

 

Iris Burn ValleyDay 3 was dry but overcast. The Kepler Track set off uphill initially to skirt round a hill, before cutting down to follow the Iris Burn. Not too far from the hut is an area known as the Big Slip, where a heavy storm in 1984 brought down a large section of the trees and vegetation on the hillside. It takes about 100 years for it to fully regenerate back to full tree coverage again after a slip, and 30 years later there is still only bush growing back in. Walking through the forestThe rest of the walk was easy going through forest, and with my companion setting the pace, we motored through, chatting away not paying much attention to our surroundings. Iris BurnEventually the mouth of the burn came into view and we found ourselves on the shore of Lake Manapouri. Mouth of the Iris Burn into Lake ManapouriOnce at the beach, we could see the final hut not far away and decided to stop for lunch. The sand flies had the same idea and quickly set about us as we tried to eat and once again we felt forced to get moving. Skirting the end of the lake, we arrived at Moturau Hut (185m altitude) after just 4 hours. Lake ManapouriA lot of people continued on to finish the hike that day, but again the rain came in for the afternoon, and the time was passed chatting with other hikers. Lake ManapouriBy sunset it had stopped and we got a brief chance between showers to take some photos from the beach of the dramatic sky over the surrounding mountains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With a couple of exit points for the hike, my companion headed off alone to catch a bus, and I set off on day 4 at a leisurely pace, keeping my own company. WetlandsStarting off in the forest, it breaks out of the trees briefly at a wetland area which was apparently used for the ‘dead marshes’ scene in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. WetlandsFrom here it was possible to see the very spot where the Kepler track broke out from the trees on the ridge on day 1, made possible because of the loop nature of the track. The sun was struggling to push through the clouds at this stage of the day, and from this point on, I barely saw another soul until the end. Walking across the clearingThe track cuts in and out from the bank of the Waiau river, often hidden from view by the thick foliage. At Rainbow Reach there is an exit to the shuttle bus pick up, but I continued on through the meandering forest path, broken in place by the occasional clearing. Finally, the control gates came into view round a bend in the river, and after 4 hours, I stepped out of the trees to the end of the hike. Lake Te Anau from the carpark with Mt Luxmore to the left of the pictureThe sun was by now out to greet me and a few hikers that had already finished ahead of me, greeted me on my arrival. Lake Te Anau sparkled in the sunlight, welcoming me back to civilisation, and with my first Great Walk under my belt, I headed back to my car with a huge grin on my face.

Fiordland National Park

You know you’re in one of the most beautiful and unique places in the world when there just aren’t enough superlatives to describe it. Fiordland National Park covers the south-western corner of the South Island of New Zealand and large sections of it remain unexplored by humans. This simple fact leaves me in awe. In 2014, there are still parts of New Zealand that are rarely witnessed by human beings. Hectares of thick bush, or dramatic mountains that make it hazardous to adventure in to.

It was a long and tiring 8 hr drive south from Christchurch via Queenstown, and I arrived in Te Anau in the lowering sun. I was making the most of my YHA membership by staying in the local hostel but it was the start of a week of not getting enough sleep. It had been a while since I’d shared a dorm room and I’d forgotten how much a good night’s sleep was determined by those people you shared a room with. Between the people coming in late and those leaving early, it was a very disturbed sleep that first night.

Lake ManapouriThe next morning, I headed out into the early morning darkness and the rain and drove to Manapouri on the shore of the lake with the same name. In the greyness of a wet morning, I boarded one of the boats to head across the water on a 45 minute cruise to the far side. Lake ManapouriThe surrounding mountains looked dramatic with the low cloud hugging and framing their silhouettes. The deeper into the lake we got, the higher the mountains seemed to climb. It was a wet start to the day but I couldn’t get enough of the cloudy view. On the western shore, the boat moored next to the Manapouri power station, a rather controversial feat of engineering that changed not just the landscape, but the local ecology too. It was completed in 1971 to produce power for a smelting plant in Southland, but in doing so, it not only changed the level of Lake Manapouri, but it altered the movement of some aquatic species, most notably the eel which has to be physically captured and relocated to the sea to allow it to carry on its life cycle.

Doubtful SoundFrom the shore, our group was transferred by bus across the pass towards Doubtful Sound where another boat waited for us. Thankfully, albeit unusually, the weather on the seaward side of the mountains was actually drier with occasional bursts of blue sky breaking through the higher cloud bank. There was still the occasional low cloud to add to the dramatic landscape of steep mountain sides rising steeply from the wall of the fiord. Doubtful Sound is utterly breathtaking. It’s quite broad in places, but is made up also of multiple branches that delve into valleys amongst the mountains. We headed initially to the mouth of the fiord which is protected to a degree by a few relatively large islands. New Zealand Fur SealsOn a few of the smaller ones right at the entrance, New Zealand Fur Seals haul themselves up on the rocks to dry out and digest a belly full of fish. Several more frolicked in the lapping waves, showing off to us as we hovered for a while to watch. Heading back in to the fiord, the boat took us down a couple of the branches. Fiordland PenguinsIn the first one we were very lucky to see a pair of exceedingly rare Yellow-Crested Fiordland Penguins. They were cruising along together, floating on the surface looking nonplussed by our presence. Doubtful SoundThe water was still here, and with the sun trying to break through, the mountains reflected beautifully on the calm water. The captain turned the boat’s engine off so that we could appreciate the peacefulness of the area. The only thing breaking through the silence was the occasional cry of a bird amongst the foliage on the mountain sides. The serenity was fantastic.

 

 

Doubtful SoundHeading into a second branch, we came across another pair of Fiordland penguins, followed by another pair deeper in. It seems we were exceedingly lucky to see 6 of what is a very threatened species. In this deeper branch of the fiord, the mountains were especially steep, too steep for vegetation to grow in places, and these cliffs were grey and barren. On one aspect of an especially tall mountain, a deep gouge was evident running down from the summit towards the sea. This is one of a few visible fault lines in the world, and shows the dramatic meeting of two small tectonic plates. New Zealand as a whole has multiple fault lines running in various directions, and whilst always posing a risk for an earthquake or a volcanic eruption, it is these same potentially deadly movements that provide a lot of the beauty and dramatic landscape that the country is so famous for.

Turbine Hall of Manapouri Power StationReturning by boat and then bus, we headed underground the Meridian-owned Manapouri power station to visit the turbine hall. Sitting 200 metres below the level of Lake Manapouri, the power station is the largest hydroelectric station in the country and produces 800MW of power. It is an amazing feat of engineering that took a lot of time and manpower to excavate and construct. A few people lost their lives in the process and a plaque of remembrance is attached to the wall at the depth of the road tunnel deep under the ground.

Lake ManapouriIt was still dull over Lake Manapouri but at least the clouds had lifted giving a better view of the surrounding mountains. Lake ManapouriThe following day I was to set off on the Kepler Track, one of the country’s Great Walks, that spans an area of land between Lake Te Anau and Lake Manapouri. Lake ManapouriI looked to the summit, trying to fathom out where I would be heading, and couldn’t work it out. It would have to be a surprise. Back in Te Anau, I decided to go out to the glowworm caves across the far side of Lake Te Anau, but by the time the trip set off, the rain had moved in for the night, and once again, the cloud level dropped and the view disappeared. Lake Te AnauLuckily the caves were underground and away from the worst of the weather, but unfortunately I was not allowed to take photographs on the cave experience which was disappointing. There were some incredible waterfalls within the cave, carved out by thousands of years of water carving a channel through the limestone walls. At the end of it, we boarded a small boat and were guided round a cavern in the dark where the only light was from the small blue glow from a myriad of glowworms. Having visited Waitomo caves in the north island, there was a slightly disappointing amount of glowworms at the Te Anau caves, but it was still a good way to spend a few hours, and there was a couple of interesting videos at the end of it which were quite informative about glowworms and their life cycle.

Lake Te AnauA few days later after completing the Kepler Track, I returned to Te Anau in glorious sunshine. The lake glimmered under the blue sky, and after a drive round the waterfront in Te Anau itself, I followed the lake to its northern edge and continued on the Milford highway for some distance. The scenery changed dramatically, from lakeside, to pastures, to steep mountains rising up from the valley floor. Eglinton ValleyAmongst these impressive vertical mountain slopes lay the Eglinton valley with the Eglinton river. The river courses a seemingly calm route through the valley floor, providing a perfect environment for the exceedingly annoying sand fly. The route is littered with picnic and camp sites, but everywhere I got out to enjoy the view and take photos, it would be a mere few minutes before the pesky creatures would have me swatting like a madman and running back for the safety of the car. Next time I will come armed with repellent, for they regularly interrupted my enjoyment of this staggeringly beautiful region. Mirror LakesThere is a collection of small lakes known as the Mirror Lakes because on a still day, they produce a perfect reflection of the mountains that tower over them. Whilst the sun shone over head, there was a breeze when I stopped there, so the reflection was distorted, but it was still a lovely place to sit and watch the local fowl swim around and daydream in between the incessant swatting of flies. Eglinton ValleyFurther along the road, there is a sign marking a latitude of 45o south: the exact half-way point between the equator and the south pole. Eglinton RiverThe river was particularly wide near here, and again I would have loved to have stayed here longer if it weren’t for the sand flies. I drove as far as Knobs Flat before heading back to Te Anau for the evening. The local cinema regularly shows a movie called Fiordland on Film which is a brief but incredible aerial display of the National Park, including many areas that haven’t really been explored on foot. Having watched it that evening, I would definitely recommend a viewing whilst in town.

I rose early the next morning, heading off in total darkness, to push on at a good pace before the tourist traffic built up for the morning. It is a long and winding drive on the Milford highway heading north-west towards Milford Sound. I passed the Mirror Lakes and Knobs Flat in the low sun and pushed on, passing Lake Gunn, and the Divide where the Routeburn Track finishes. Past here, the road turns sharply and follows the Hollyford river for a while. There are some single track sections, and the road bends and winds and dips and climbs towards the dramatic entrance of the Homer Tunnel. By this point I was struggling to stop my jaw dropping open. The scenery was phenomenal, and at the end of it all, the road comes to a massive wall of rock through which the road was blasted. The tunnel was opened in 1954, prior to which the only access to the west coast was by boat. It drops quite steeply to the western side and the walls have been left unlined, bearing the granite surface which drips water from the rock face. Coming out the other side in the Cleddau valley, the road winds downwards following the natural flow of the Cleddau river, and eventually coming out at Milford Sound and that famous view of Mitre Peak that is borne on hundreds of postcards across the country. Mitre PeakThe sun was still low, struggling to break over the Homer Saddle, so Milford Sound still lay greatly in the shadow whilst I awaited my boat trip. By the time we set off mid-morning, the sun had broken high enough to bathe the fiord in light. Being late March, the sun was already struggling to attain enough height to light up the entire fiord and the one side remained in shadow for the entire trip. Nevertheless, the side with Mitre Peak was illuminated and we followed this steep mountain side towards the sea.

Mitre PeakI had been blown away by the rugged beauty of Doubtful Sound, but with the added benefit of the blue sky and glorious sunshine, Milford Sound was stunning. Though smaller in length, the mountains are much steeper here which lends an intensity to the landscape which begs your constant attention. There were several people kayaking as we passed by, and in a few spots where the rocks allowed, there were some New Zealand Fur Seals hauled up out of the water. WaterfallsThe fiord is most famous for its waterfalls which increase in number quite dramatically after heavy rain. WaterfallWhilst only the main ones were still flowing, it was still incredible to see such high drops of water splashing down the cliff side. At two of them, the boat moved in quite close so that the people at the front got wet, and a rainbow was visible in the spray. Entrance to Milford SoundThe changing prospect of the domineering Mitre Peak framed our passage out to sea where the altitude dropped dramatically. Near the entrance, we briefly saw a pod of bottlenose dolphins skirt the coastline before heading out of sight.

 

Mist over the coastThe coastline looking north was shrouded in a low mist, and we bobbed on the Tasman Sea for a short while admiring the view before heading back into the fiord. Milford SoundWe hugged the opposite shore which still remained in the shadow, New Zealand Fur Sealsstopping briefly to watch more fur seals. We passed close to another waterfall before we pulled in at the discovery centre where I disembarked for a look under the water. Floating on a pontoon attached to the cliff wall, the underwater observatory descends 10 metres below the surface. The water in these fiords offers a unique marine environment. With the freshwater cascading from the cliffs into the sea, it picks up the tannins from the plants which taint the water a dark brown colour. As salt water is heavier than freshwater, the darker fresh water sits in a layer about 2 metres deep above the sea water. StarfishThe darkness of this freshwater layer blocks the sunlight filtering through meaning that marine species which elsewhere would only be found at great depths, actually grow well remarkably close to the surface. Rare black coralAt just 10 metres below the surface, they have beds growing rare black coral (which actually appears white in colour). From one side of the viewing chamber, the rock face had starfish and sea slugs amongst other things attached, and from the opposite side, there were shoals of fish of varying sizes flitting about past the windows. FishThe water was murky but the fish came quite close up and it was fascinating to watch them. I overheard the staff telling someone that they occasionally see dolphins from the windows and the odd fur seal or penguin. Waterfall near the ferry terminalBoats passed regularly so people could leave on any boat as they pleased, and after a while, I headed back to the main terminal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milford SoundIt was a glorious day, and after a wander along the shoreline to get a differing view of the stunning Mitre Peak and surrounding mountains, I headed back onto the Milford highway to head back towards Te Anau. There was plenty to see on the way, which I had rushed past in the morning in an effort to beat the crowds at the ferry terminal. I stopped first not far up the road at an area called The Chasm. A short walk from the car park brings you to a rather noisy part of the wood where the Cleddau river has carved a deep chasm creating a raging waterfall below a bridge. It is quite impressive to see although the view is somewhat blocked by the positioning of the bridge that you walk across. Homer TunnelFrom here I followed the winding road up to the immense granite wall where the Homer Tunnel entrance lies. It looks solid and towers above the entire valley, looking indestructible, making the fact that a hole has been blasted through it that bit more impressive. During the summer months, the flow of traffic through the tunnel is controlled with traffic lights, but in the winter months, there is no such system. Inside the tunnel, the road is uneven and poorly tarred, not to mention wet from the regular dripping of water from the roof and sides. Hollyford ValleyHeading out of the Cleddau valley, it went uphill, eventually returning to the Hollyford Valley where the mountains look equally as high.  Before the sharp turn at the Divide, a lookout spot gives a view up the Hollyford Valley with the Hollyford River down below.

 

 

 

 

I stopped at the Divide to hike to Key Summit before taking the long drive back to Te Anau. Arriving back at the top of the lake I got the best view of the lake yet under a near cloudless sky. It was a fitting end to my trip to Fiordland. The next morning I headed off on the long journey home to Christchurch, deciding on an impulse to go via Invercargill on the south coast, and swinging up via Dunedin. It was a long drive and a long day, but I was ever keen to drag out the holiday as long as possible. With my taste buds whetted for more hiking in the area, I will definitely aim to get back to this beautiful National Park soon.

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