Lake Wanaka

By Krissie

November 14, 2009

We headed from Fox Glacier to the town of Wanaka, arriving around sunset.

November 15, 2009

We were greeted by three cheeky mallards in the morning.

After breakfast we went into town to run errands and update the blog (the previous post NZ 11/5-11/14). While we were at the internet cafe, fellow wover Polies Robert and Lance walked in. Those two eventually attempted to summit Mount Cook. I think the weather was against them, if I recall. It was a pretty chill day, but we were getting antsy being cooped up inside, which is why we never attempted another blog update while we were on vacation.

In the late afternoon we hiked a high hill called Mount Iron. It provided spectacular views of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea.

We finished as the sun was setting, but then we didn't have anything else to do for the rest of the night. I asked a petrol station attendant if there was a cinema. He pointed us in the direction of a motel that had a little cinema attached to it. The quaint and quirky Paradiso is the only cinema in town, and it was packed on a Saturday night. The one movie showing was 2012. We had vaguely heard about the movie from somewhere.

We were watching the movie, and all of a sudden it stopped, and the theater emptied within seconds. I thought, "That couldn't possibly be the end of the movie." During this impromptu intermission, people flooded the lobby to snatch up fresh-baked cookies and carafes of water or more beer. That car in the theater does have seats in it, but the windshield probably gets in the way of viewing. After the movie we headed back to the same campsite.

November 16, 2009

Skydive Lake Wanaka. We had originally chosen to do the 12,000 ft dive, but then, the suckers that we are, gave in to purchasing the 15,000 ft dive. Lake Wanaka is beautiful, so why not see more of it by going higher up? We signed some waivers, watched a video, and then got suited up.

Here you can see the little plane...and the Southern Alps.

This is Jeremy's jump (below). I jumped right after him. Our plane spiraled upward and let one tandem pair out at 12,000 ft. Then it continued upward to our destination. The way they have it set up makes it pretty hard to back out. Your guide scoots you up to the edge of the doorway. You try to hook your legs under the plane. He pulls your head back onto his shoulder, so you're not looking down. It's entirely up to him when you jump. They do a back flip immediately out of the plane. This is Jeremy's back flip. Notice my photog peeking out the door?

Same instant but from above. My photog jumped just before we did.

Here are several shots of us falling.

What you might not know about skydiving: it's very chilly and rather hard to breathe. Although I might be saying, "Woooahhhh!" I think I was just trying to suck in air. The chilliness is certainly related to the tropospheric lapse rate, but'uh, it was probably cold because spring is chilly in New Zealand.

Krissie falling (below). You can always tell my fall by my hook hands. I didn't know I was doing it.

Jeremy falling (below). You can always tell it's his fall because of the more incredible scenery. This was Gandalf's view from the eagle, basically.

Our photogs had bite-activated cameras. They pull their shoots later, so they get to the ground before you do and can shoot your landing.

This is the chute opening. For those with sensitive stomachs, this is the hardest part. When the chute opens there's a forceful, squishing stop followed by a huge lift. That's what it feels like, anyway.

They prepare you for a butt landing but tell you at the last second if they want you to put your feet down. It's amazing how fast you fall even with an open chute. You're only in the sky a few more minutes after it opens.

Jeremy's yellow. I'm blue.

I landed hard on my left foot, which is why I barely have it on the ground (below). Jeremy's fall was painful because his ears didn't pop the entire way down, and his leg straps were very tight.

All in all, it was terrific fun, and we would both do it again.

Next up, Queenstown.

Wow lazy lazy people

I'm going to try and get this thing updated within the next few weeks. I imagine someone may accidentally come across this thing and be thinking, hey what the heck Jeremy/Krissie, get this thing updated.


Finally Back in the US of A

Krissie and I have finally made it back to our respective home states, Texas and Colorado. I'll be flying out to Texas to see her in about a week where we plan to finally update this blog. I don't know if anyone actually reads this thing, but soon people soon!

Trying to blog while traveling with limited internet is sort of a pain, especially when you have to decide between going out and doing something or sitting in your hostel in front of a computer to blog. The latter obviously rarely won out.

We're only two months behind anyway ;}

NZ 11/5-11/14

Yes, it has been a while. We're going to start updating again. For reals this time. Neither of us are scrapbookers, so we need to actually get our story down for our children and grandchildren before it falls out of our heads. I (Krissie) am going to try to make these blogs less Krissie, meaning a lot shorter. Wait a minute...briefer. I'm reposting this first entry with dates. It will be the longest entry. I promise.

So because I (Krissie) left my wallet at the Pole, and Jeremy's credit card still hadn't arrived at the Travel office, we had to wait around for a couple of days in Christchurch. This wasn't a bad thing because it let me get over my cold more. Many hours were spent at Hotel SO recharging our batteries: watching music videos and taking very long showers. Our favorite was "Drama" by Over the Atlantic.

We went shopping for a few things for our upcoming hike. Look at this Big Red we found in a thrift store. I'm trying to make a face. It just looks odd.

11/9/09 CHC
On Monday night, our friends (and my wallet) arrived. We met them at Bailies Irish Bar for late night pizza. We highly recommend the brie, cranberry, and chicken pizza with fries and aioli sauce.

The next day we picked up the campervan. Here's Jeremy sitting in the right-hand driver's seat, making studly squinty-eyes.

We promptly headed north that afternoon. Pip celebrated his freedom (while it lasts) on a fence post. He had just scared away all the sheep. There really are more sheep than people in this country. Favorite song on the radio: "Meet Me Halfway" by BEP.

Farther up the road we pulled off the road to look at the Ohau Seal Colony. This guy was right below us looking up.

We camped in Picton that night. Cold cans of Kiwi Boyardee was our dinner. They do not have Spaghetti-O's (or any other shapes, just spaghetti).

The next morning we caught the ferry to Wellington. It was a stormy day, and it was quite rough on the sea that day -- probably 10 ft swells. (Is that rough?) Luckily we slept through most of it, only waking up when people got really excited about a huge wave. We drove all that day, largely through The Shire. Hobbiton was seen everywhere. We cooked dinner on the side of the road (somewhere near Pelanor Fields from LOTR). Breakfast burritos. Jeremy is obsessed with avocados.

We happened upon a really cool town called Wanganui. Check it out if you're down this way. Our drive was then largely in the dark. It's a good thing this isn't the most beautiful country on earth, otherwise we'd be upset about missing so much on our drive. We stopped at one point to check out the night sky. It was incredible. It was almost like the South Pole sky, except the Milky Way wasn't visible, and the sky just looked a lot bigger and higher. We camped that night in the town of Waitomo.

The next morning we checked in to Waitomo Caving Adventures. We took a little van ride to the caving site. The drive was also through the Shire. Here's a couples' shot of us in our wet suits, helmets, harnesses, and gummy boots.

They took us on short hikes around the area to show us various entrances to the cave. This is not easy to do in a wetsuit. Then we hiked to the abseil platform. Here's a look at the descent.

They hooked us in and told us to just hang.

We're just so cute!

Here's a look around.
100m abseil (382 ft repell in the US).

Once at the bottom, we ate sandwiches and cookies. Then we started the trek. Here's a picture of Jeremy on Jesus Rock.

Am I awesome or what?

Power couple.

The reason we are wearing wet suits is that we were walking upstream in an underground river. It was very chilly. The guide wouldn't tell us how cold the water was when Jeremy asked him on the drive to the cave. He just said, "It's fresh." It was quite cold, but not too bad if you kept your hands out of the water.

What they deemed the most dangerous part of the adventure was a place called "The Cauldron." It's a small waterfall, but it's extremely powerful. If you fell in and weren't clipped in, you would be pushed to the bottom of a 4m hole with a raging waterfall pushing you down. You would have to rock climb out. I found that my height made some things very difficult and scary. This was the scariest part for me. The guides were there to step on, but I could barely stretch my legs across the Cauldron.

Unfortunately our group had some rather uncool people in it. We always kept them in front of us. Our guide Scott said to me and Jeremy, "This is what we're going to do..." once all the other people had climbed up a ladder (below pic) and gone out of sight. We had to swim upstream from a strong waterfall, grab a piece of rock, and span up the wall in front of the falls. I went first and made it to that ledge you can see on the right. When it was Jeremy's turn, he got up to the first rock spot above the falls but couldn't stretch his leg behind himself to catch the second point. All I saw was Jeremy fall and go under the white water. It took a while for him to surface. I didn't know if we were supposed to jump in and find him, not really knowing if it was safe to jump in. Then I saw this picture. I guess this is something the guides do all the time. He finally did come up, coughing all the water out of his lungs. He made it up on his second attempt. This is likely where we both lost a layer of skin from our fingertips. We are now both sporting partial fingerprints. I have to say that my first rock climbing experience was very scary.

Here's a very tight spot.

I didn't have much a problem with it.

It was a very exhausting but rewarding adventure. We highly recommend it. Just keep in mind that it lasts 7 hours, 5 of them in very cold water. Our guides Scott & Sara were great.

Then it was south again. We had a dickens of a time finding a good place to camp in Wanganui, so we just slept at a picnic site.

We caught the ferry in Wellington and again slept pretty much the entire 3 hours. Here's a picture of driving onto the ferry.

Picton was just beautiful when we got there.

Then we drove south and west. The northeast part of the South Island is called Marlborough. It's wine country, and there are tons of vineyards. Here's one of them.

We made dinner in the most amazing spot -- what I like to call where Arwen took Frodo into Rivendell. Jeremy rolls his eyes at this. Dinner was tortellini, garlic bread, and corn. Delicious!

We camped on the side of the road on the way to Fox Glacier.

We were very excited to be taking a helicopter ride onto the glacier. We got to put on little boots that would eventually don our crampons.

But it was not to be. Those low clouds in the background never lifted, so we got a full refund. We drove to the glacier ourselves, and walked to the terminal face of Fox Glacier.

You can see little people on top of the glacier from here.

We still might go back in early December, during our open week.

Thankfully we still had plenty of daylight left for driving. So we headed to Lake Wanaka. It was raining on the drive. This made the waterfalls much more abundant. Here's Diana Falls -- just a random roadside falls. Gorgeous.

It cleared up on the way to Wanaka. And we finally started to see the start of the Misty Mountains (Southern Alps).

We camped near the town of Lake Wanaka. More about our lake Wanaka adventures to come.