Christchurch – Canterbury

Anil and Rishi seem to be having the time of their lives in NZ. They’ve been having too much fun and I feel like joining them right this minute! In fact, I’m giving it some serious thought. They didn’t check out Fox Glacier because Rishi caught a chill and was down and out for two days. But even staying cloistered indoors wasn’t too boring for the boys. They went through their last bottle of Sauvignon and even got an aroma therapy done.

Anil and Rishi have now moved due south to Christchurch. I got a long sms from Anil romanticizing about the place. I’m sure he copied it from one of the travel brochures, but I must write it down here, it’s quite amusing.

‘From the silvery beaches of the coast to the jagged peaks of the Southern Alps, the Canterbury landscape is impossible to ignore. The scenery stretches for miles to include panoramas of ocean or mountains, great sweeps of pastureland and massive amounts of sky.’ Massive amounts of sky!?? Clearly!

Anil & Rishi are staying at the Matariki Bed and Breakfast for NZ $ 110 a night. The breakfast’ supposed to be quite nice. But that’s it from the kiwis for now.

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Franz Josef Glacier

“Hey guess what? Rishi and I just checked out the Franz Josef Glacier here in West Coast. The Franz Josef or Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere is a 12 km long glacier located in Westland National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. The Glacier is a huge tourist attraction here. We booked a helicopter from a local airline which dropped us off just before the first ice fall [frozen waterfall]. The glacier’s are beyond beautiful. We walked through ice tunnels and skated across these ice floors with water flowing beneath!”

“We travelled with Franz Josef Glacier Guides, an internationally recognized guiding operation. They lead novice and experienced clients through glacier terrain. Rishi and myself went on the full day glacier expedition, which included a heli-hike and we also got to do a little ice-climbing as well.”

“The all day expedition took us deep in the heart of the glacier with the help of experienced guides. We spent around 6 hours on the ice – squeezing through tight crevasses and sliding through ice caves! It’s simply wonderful! We began with a scenic flight, where we landed high up on the glacier and spent a couple of hours just marvelling at the blue ice formations. This is a really a fantastic side of NZ that we just discovered and hope to see Fox Glacier as well!”

Takaka – Nelson

In Takaka, the boys paid a visit to the Waikoropupu Springs, the largest fresh water springs in New Zealand. Next on the itinerary was a guided walk into the Kahurangi National Park. The highlight of this park was the Heaphy Track.

The Heaphy track follows a river which makes for a fantastic scenic hike through the forests. The park is filled with native birds like the Weka, Pipit, tui, bellbird and pigeon.

From Takaka, the boys moved on to Collingwood, where they spent the night at Skara Brae Garden Motel [NZ $ 100]

The only thing that Anil found interesting in Collingwood was a homemade Scallop Pie and a caving expedition at Te Anaroa Caves. The caves are supposed to be one of the most beautiful things in New Zealand. Filled with Stalactites and Stalagmites, the Te Anaroa Caves even have fossilized shellfish. The best part was when their guide suggested that they turn off their flashlights for a minute. In the complete darkness, the walls above filled up with glow worms! Entry fee was NZ $ 25 for a single adult.

However, judging from Anil’s descriptions, Collingwood sounds like a place to calm your nerves down from the rest of the adventure filled New Zealand. They spent the entire day sleeping, eating and making plans to move further south during the week hitting the city of Marlborough.

My guess is that Anil and Rishi would have stayed at Marlborough for about two days before travelling further south. I know Anil’s getting very impatient about reaching the southern most tip of NZ.

Nelson – South Island

Last heard, Anil and Nelson had moved to the South Island and were visiting a place called Nelson. He sent me a few photographs, but for some reason they haven’t been opening on my system.

The guys reached Nelson on a Saturday and spent the first day roaming around the market. The Saturday market is supposed to be very popular and is filled with artists and craftsmen. Nelson’s supposed to be bustling with artistic sensibilities. The guys paid a visit to the World of WearableArt and Collectible Cars Museum. On Tuesday, they set sail for Abel Tasman National Park. The park is apparently renowned the world over for its beautiful beaches.

Anil pre-booked a Wainui Hut. I’m not sure if that’s a kind of hut or it’s just a name for the hut, but the Wainui Hut is a four bunk Standard hut which comes with heating, mattresses, water supply and toilets. Anil and Rishi took time exploring the coast track, which is roughly a 50 km stretch. They travelled from Marahau to Anchorage and from Anchorage to Bark Bay all in one day, which is around 7 hours together!

The Park is supposed to have loads of activities and there’s plenty to choose from.

Post their park exploration, the boys headed back to the main city and spent the next day visiting Farewell Spit on a safari. A bird sanctuary since the early 1930’s, Farewell Spit is home to 90 bird species. Anil sent me a list of the birds along with photographs, but again the images can’t be opened.

From Farewell Spit, the boys travelled to the neighbouring town of Takaka. More on that later.

Visiting the Capital

My pal Anil is now in Wellington. He flew down to the capital city a couple of days ago to meet a friend. I’ve read a bit about Wellington and my wife’s got a few friends living there. It’s supposed to be a nice city with a beautiful harbour and a few wildlife sanctuaries.

But Anil’s been up to plenty more in this place. His friend and he being great fans of The Lord of the Rings, went on a tour of the LOTR sites! Interesting, I thought. The boys went on a mountain biking expedition on Makara Peak and bird watching on the Tasman Sea coast. Anil was staying with his friend in Wellington and quite enjoyed the change from the hotels.

If you want some good theatrics, then Anil suggests a trip to BATS, Wellington’s theatre. He missed the Fringe Festival, which took place in February, but was very intrigued with the Laugh Fest, which happens in May. Anil said he watched two performances, but refuses to give a review [art is not up his alley].

“Wellington is a good place for hunting game. We went on this guided hunting tour with New Zealand Adventure Specialists Ltd. These guys have got their own exclusive hunting estate! Firearms and ammunition were provided for and the hunt was on! We were told there was plenty of deer and chamois. We spent the whole day waiting and watching, traveling around guns cocked and ready for some action, but nothing happened! We got a few sights on deer, but those things move like the wind!”

The only hunting Anil has done before was shooting chameleons with his catapult; I’m not surprised at his luck, nevertheless, lucky deer!

Anil’s NZ travels

My wife and I watched the film The Beach a couple of years ago and desperately wanted to go see Thailand after that. The same happened after watching Lord of the Rings; we were dying to see New Zealand. Has that happened to any of you?

My cousin Anil who has just recently moved to Auckland, NZ, went on a trip to a couple of the neighbouring towns and had quite a lot to report on.

Anil is an architect and amateur rugby player with a life mission to bungee jump off the Empire State building. I think that’s the most succinct description I can manage.

What I found interesting about Anil’s expeditions are his ‘Day in the Life’ touches of random drives, walks, etc. For instance, Anil’s first stop was a rural town called KatiKati, in the Bay of Plenty area, which is about a 30 minute drive from the town of Tauranga.

Katikati is also commonly called mural Town for its handpainted streets!

‘Katikati has a two kilometre Haiku Pathway,’ he writes, ‘which is a one of its kind in the world.’ The entire walkway is filled with boulders inscribed with haiku poetry written by local and Australian poets.

Anil stayed at the Cotswold Lodge Countrystay which boasts large kiwi fruit and avocado orchards. Cost of stay is approx $NZ 150 – 165, which is pretty reasonable he says. However, there is also a backpacker lodge in the area which is around $NZ 20 – 30.

The town is filled with murals, sculptures and paintings that depict the history of the place.

And here’s what got Anil [and me!] really kicked about the place – Matakana Island, which is one of NZ’s most popular surfing haunts. Anil hitched a ride on a boat to get to the island, which was his only option. He also visited the inner harbour side of Matakana island on a guided tour of historic sites and bbq lunch.

His next stop was Waihi, half an hour from Katikati. It’s interesting to note that Waihi has got the richest gold mine in the world producing about a million dollars worth of gold and silver every week. Apparently there’s a tour of the open pits conducted on weekdays by the mining company, which sounds quite exciting. His next stop was at Paeroa [5km] where he spent just a couple of hours at the Bullswool Farm Park which is a pretty popular picnic spot with unusual rare-breed farm animals for company!

Anil’s NZ travels to be continued.