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.

We're here

Finally off the ice and beginning our much needed vacation. Krissie left her wallet at the South Pole, and I left my passport at the CDC, good start.