The Eastwood family have left their campsite at Lake Hawea, and are now on the road to the highest mountain in New Zealand…
Saturday 31st – Day 7 Of Camping
We drove up Highway 80 along the edge of Lake Pukaki when the mountains came into view. From a distance, they were stunning. Close up… breathtakingly-beautiful. We arrived at White Horse Hill campsite, right at the foot of Mt. Sefton and the Mueller Glacier. We got our tent set up in a suuuuper sheltered spot (and it needed to be sheltered, as then winds there were intense). We then bundled up and went on the Kea Point trail, a 15 minute walk to a lookout over the Mueller Glacier. There was not much left of the glacier, but the icefalls coming off Mt. Sefton were absolutely amazing, as were the colours of the glacial meltwater. It was out of this world to be there, but also very humbling. None of us had ever seen mountains on this scale before, and we were immensely glad that we had come here. We then walked into Mt. Cook village, a 45 minute wander. It was very tourist-based, with a lot of hotels and gear shops, but we were glad to be camping. Papa was able to obtain some Wi-Fi at a restaurant, so we wrote to Mama and sent her a Selfie. We then went to The Hermitage, the fanciest hotel within a 50 km radius, and bought some ice cream, which we ate gazing at the mountains. We then walked back and made supper: sausages and onion, followed by hot chocolate and biscuits. The nice thing about the campsite was that there was a shelter that we could cook and hang out in, and while it was pretty crowded at times, it was great to have. We retired to the tent to play Uno, and then went to bed.
Sunday 1st 2017 – New Year’s Day / Day 8 Of camping
Woke up to a New Year! Woohoo yay 2017! We went over to the shelter and made a Special New Year’s Breakfast: pancakes. Oh yeah. They were sooooo good, super oily and spread with jam… the perfect way to start a New Year. After that, we packed my backpack for the day and set of on the Sealy Tarns Track. It was very steep, and there were 2200 steps. We got some beautiful view of the Hooker Valley, and even heard a Kea, New Zealand’s mountain parrot. It was such a stunning walk, however, it was also very exposed, and we were being battered by the wind. When we passed a group of trampers, and they said we were halfway up, we decided to turn back. But it was so stunning, with panoramic views of the entire valley. You could see for miles! We walked back down, our strategy being that if there was a massive gust of wind, we would just sit down and wait until it died down. We walked back to the campsite and made lunch: Cup-a-Soup with bread. We then drove into Mt. Cook village (we were saving our strength for another walk) and went to the Mt. Cook Visitor’s Centre. It was really interesting, with information about the discovery and mapping of Mt. Cook, the formation of the National Park, the flora and fauna of the park and the weather systems of the Mt. Cook range. You could spend ages there, learning heaps. We then went on the Hooker Valley hike, which was all on flat ground but windier than Sealy Tarns. We crossed three swingbridges over glacial rivers, and walked through the stunning valley, until we got to the Hooker Glacier. We could see it in the distance, covered in moraine, but even more stunning were the icebergs in the glacial lake. They were massive! It was soooo cool! First glacier and first icebergs! We took loads of pictures, and then walked back. We had a noodle supper, biscuits, hot chocolate and some games of Uno, before heading off to the tent. Rosie and I were getting ready for bed when Papa came running over and got us to bundle up and come. We sprinted to the Mt. Cook monument, and there it was: Mt. Cook. The clouds had lifted for the first time in our two days at the campsite, and we could see it in its full glory. It was truly so inspiring and stunning to see New Zealand’s tallest peak in the flesh. We sat there and gazed upon Mt. Cook for a while, then walked back to the tent. The trip was certainly at its climax now: there was no doubt about that.
We woke up and ate some porridge. While packing up the tent, I was amazed at how quickly our week of camping had gone by. We were now beginning the third and final stage of our New Zealand trip. We drove out of White Horse Hill campsite and, after stopping to go to the Visitor’s Centre again, went to see the Tasman glacier. We drove for a few minutes up a side road, then parked and walked up a track to the glacier. It was a lot bigger than the Hooker Glacier that we had seen the day before, but judging by the time-lapse photos on an info display, it had retreated massively in the last few years. I was surprised at how dirty it was: with all the moraine on it, you wouldn’t know it was a glacier unless told. Still, it was very humbling, and the massive icebergs were really cool. Then it was back on the road again. We drove for a while, stopping for a Danish pastry on the way. After several hours of driving, we came to the outskirts of Christchurch, and from there went to May’s house. May is Papa’s sister, and she and her partner Brett live in Lyttelton, a port town in Christchurch. We were greeted by them on their front doorstep. It was lovely to see May, and properly meet Brett. The last time we saw them was during our first South Island tour that we did when we lived in New Zealand. We sat and chatted for ages, then got supper ready. It was a make-your-own pizza affair, with oodles of toppings and cheese! We also had Sodastream (for those of you that are not in the know, this is a make your own fizzy machine). We got sorted and chatted some more, then went to bed. Rosie and I were downstairs, Rosie had the double bed and I was on the floor.
We woke up feeling really rested, and then wandered upstairs, where we had some breakfast: muesli for me, eggs for Rosie. We then had a day of chillaxing. We sat and chatted, read from May and Brett’s large collection of books, and stroked their cats, Cupcake and Mary Jane. In the afternoon, we went for a walk around Lyttelton and had a look at the shops there. We went to a super cool local co-operative, which I loved! We also went to the shops to buy stuff for a brunch the next day. After that, we came walked back to May and Brett’s home and chillaxed some more. Brett then started to make supper: smoked salmon! He actually had a manuka smoker that he set up, and set the salmon to smoke for and hour. May made some salad, and then we were ready. The salmon was delicious! excellent food, excellent company… what more could you ask for?
We woke up, and I went and started making pancakes for brunch. They were great, maybe because of May’s awesome non-stick pans. Papa fried up some bacon and made scrambled eggs. We had some orange juice with it, and I slathered everything in maple syrup. Yummy!Then we opened some Christmas presents from May, Brett and our English family, the Knopps. May and Brett gave us a lovely pounamu (greenstone) necklace and a gingerbread house kit! The Knopps gave Rosie a cool nail polish set, and I received a book that I had been hunting for about 3 years! So kind of all of them. We then got into the car and drove into Christchurch. Brett drove and May was the tour guide. It was a shock to see how much Christchurch had been damaged by the earthquakes that had occurred in previous years. We stopped at the new Christchurch Cathedral (the original having been knocked down in the earthquakes). It was very modern, and super beautiful, but also quite melancholy. We also saw an art piece by the side of the road. There was a chair painted white for every person that died in the earthquake. It was very poignant, and stayed in our minds for a long while. We went and wandered around a bit, then went to the Christchurch museum, which was really interesting. We went to the Antarctic section, which I loved. My favourite part was a booth that played whale calls; they are so fascinating. We then went to see the school that May teaches English at: Cathedral Grammar School. It looked really lovely, and I think that May would be a great teacher. We then drove back home, and after some chillaxing, we had some supper: May’s cauliflower and cheese. Yum yum yum! We then watched a kiwi movie called “Hunt for the Wilder-People”, about a boy (a fatty called Ricky Baker) and his father survive in the New Zealand bush, on the run from the police. It was hilarious, and made even better by mince pies and hokey-pokey ice cream.
Thursday 5th – Last day in New Zealand
We got up, and had some breakfast. After that, we just chillaxed for a while, then May got a phone call saying that the adventure that she had planned for today had to be cancelled! We were supposed to go sailing around Lytellton Harbour, but it was too windy, so the owner of the boat sailed it off. However, we planned an alternative adventure. We hopped in the car and drove around on the Banks Peninsula a bit. We went along the coast, hopping through these small towns: beautiful. We stopped at the end of the road. There was a tree with a rope swing, which we all spent a long while on. Suuuuuper fun. It was a lovely little town, with just a handful of houses, a marae, and this beautiful bay, perfect for canoeing around. We drove back, and stopped in at another town on the way to have a wander around and take some pictures. You could see Lyttelton right across the bay. The wind had dropped, and the sky was so clear and beautiful. We then drove back to Lyttelton. Papa, Rosie and I walked to the chippie and got five fish and chips. We ate them with Sodastream. There was so much, so I ended up finishing several people’s chips. We then sat and chatted, did some last-minute packing, and then went to bed.
We woke up at 3:30 am, and started getting ready. May and Brett came downstairs, and we said our goodbyes. We are so lucky to know the two of them, and they are truly so kind to take us, especially after they had visitors only a few days before. Such generous people. We drove to Christchurch airport and dropped the car off, and then got a shuttle to the airport. We jumped on the plane to Sydney. We had breakfast, and I watched sections of loads of movies (I just can’t watch movies on the plane). We arrived in Sydney, and found that we had a 6 hour wait until we boarded, so we found a comfy spot and just relaxed. Rosie and I both slept at various times, and we played Uno. Then we hopped onto the Sydney-Jakarta plane, and flew home.
Our New Zealand holiday was truly amazing, and I loved every second of it. However, there were so many people involved which we have to thank, so here they are in no particular order.
Everyone who helped us along the way, whether it be finding meths, hunting out a tent spot or many other things.
All the DoC Rangers that helped us through our travels. Without you, where would we camp and tramp?
The Cockerill-Ghanems, for having us at their home for a week. You were so kind to us, and devoted so much of your time to be with us. Such great friends.
Richard, Diana, Kirk, Tui, Ben and Annie, for being friends with us now and when we lived in New Zealand and Fiji, and for the lovely food and company you gave us.
Otto, for still remembering me, and remaining my friend for all these years.
All the Sisters at the Home Of Compassion, for accommodating Papa for a week, and for all the love.
Sr. Cabrini, for being such a great friend to us, and for being such a lovely person. We loved spending time with you, both during the trip and when we lived there.
May and Brett, for having us and for the presents, fun and love over the four days we spent with you.
Mama, for planning the trip for us, and writing to us. Your planning was invaluable, and your moral support along the way was deeply appreciated by all. We love you very much.
Rosie, for being the ultimate travel companion, being someone for me to goof around with, and helping me with the tent every time. You made the trip super fun, and your thoughtful and loving heart will never be forgotten.
Finally, the biggest thanks go to Papa, for making the trip happen. You drove us some 1,250 kilometres, did most of the thinking and organising, planned things to do, and put up with Rosie and when we were dinks. We were so lucky to be able to do that trip, and it’s thanks to you that we were able to. Thank you sooooo very much for an amazing holiday!