I Make Hamburgers - The Whitlams

After a leisurely departure from Te Anau we decided to take a few detours on the way back to Queenstown. 

Our first stop was at Manapouri.  A sleepy little town that I think only people visiting Doubtful Sound pass through.  We stopped for some photos and a chat with local lady who was walking her dog. More amazing scenery with no-one around.

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Next stop was The Bafe at Lumsden for some highly recommended donuts.  This cafe has all sorts of claims to fame including their massive donuts.  Even sharing this monstrosity, we couldn't get through it all.

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Arriving back into Queenstown it was time to hit the shops to purchase some trinkets.

Bryce and Crock headed to a bar that we had spotted when we first arrived in Queenstown. The Boiler Room had a connection to them after visiting a pub of the same name in northern California on the way to the 2010 Olympics. thankfully this one was of a much higher standard.

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With trinkets in hand we returned to the hotel for a final pack and to polish off some more of the remaining duty free. 

Our last mission for the holiday was to try a Fergburger.  These had come highly recommended from a number of sources.   

True to form they were very large, very tasty and very good value. There are a few places in Tassie the could learn from them! 

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Pictures in the Mirror - The Living End

Something that I have failed to mention in our blog posts thus far is a boat race the Kiwi's are quite interested in. The Americas Cup. New Zealand were looking like winning the cup with an 8-1 lead over the USA (the winner is first to 9). We have been watching the races most mornings (when racing hasn't been cancelled due to bad weather) and sadly it seems the cup is less and less likely to call New Zealand home for the next 4 years. End of racing today had New Zealand leading 8-6.
The travel time from Te Anau to Milford Sound varies by about 2 hours depending who you asked or what you read. With this in mind we set off fairly early to ensure we were in Milford with plenty of time before our scheduled cruise departure.
The road into Milford has lots to please the eye, initially following along the lakes edge through lush farming land before entering into the National Park and the luxuriant Beech forests. My grade 10 environmental science came to a fore when I was able to recognise a nothafagus!
A scenic lookout provided a great snack spot for Zoe and an opportunity for some more photos. 

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The only negative about this area is the sand flies or black flies as they are known. As per usual my blood provided great nutrition for them and my ankles now resemble a pimply teenager.  If you are visiting these parts be prepared with repellant!
The final stretch into Milford passes through the Homer Tunnel and a section of road where you are not able to stop due to avalanche risk. The road was closed last week due to avalanche activity blocking the highway.

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Arriving with time to spare we wandered around the harbour and located our wee red boat the Lady Bowen.

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The next 2 hours were spent cruising the fiord making our way out to the Tasman Sea.

Deciding it would be easier to fly home we returned to port via the underwater discovery centre.  

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Highlights of the cruise included seeing spectacular waterfalls, fur seals, happy feet penguins and Zoe getting her sea legs.

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At the underwater observatory we were able to view some black coral, normally only seen in much deeper waters. The top layer of fresh water in the fiord results in darker environments in shallower depths meaning species normally living in the deep dark depths are found much closer to the surface.

Heading back to Te Anau we stopped for some more photographic opportunities and for me to feed the sandflies.  This included a stop at mirror lakes.

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An absolutely top day out!

Spring Haze - Tori Amos

Today we put a few km on the silver ghost, driving from Wanaka to Te Anau.
Leaving Wanaka we crossed the Crown Range before descending into Queenstown.  After a brief stop we headed southwest along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to Kingston. Zoe had a brief lunch stop here whilst the boys took some photos and practiced their rock skimming.
Stu's Fishing Shop in Athol was our next stop. Crock chatted about fishing and I managed to purchase a stubby holder (flat pack model - convenient for travel).
Our final stop was a brief lunch stop at Mossburn and then we were back in the ghost on the home stretch to Te Anau.
Zoe was on her best behaviour and chose to sleep the entire car trip. Sad for her as she missed out on some more spectacular scenery.
The farming country we have seen has been predominantly sheep paddocks. As we have made our way further south these have been interspersed with paddocks of deer.  Sadly the roadside deer don't seem as friendly as the wild deer Tony had told us about in New Zealand.  There are lots of cute spring lambs bouncing around the paddocks too.
Our apartment in Te Anau is our best yet with all we could possibly need and more. The double glazed window along the front of the apartment maximises the view of the lake.  The garden is full of spring bulbs and blossom trees.
We wandered into town and booked ourselves onto a cruise at Milford Sound for tomorrow.
After some pre - dinner drinks in the apartment we headed to town in search of dinner. With most of the restaurants closed for the night we ended up at the Ranch.  Various forms of meat were consumed for dinner. We can certainly say we have eaten well this trip!

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Helicopter- Bloc Party

An earlier start than usual saw Crock and I heading up the Mt Aspiring Road for a helicopter flight over the Southern Alps.
Our pilot Charlie, had been farming in this area since 1971. With 5 of us squeezed into a not very big Squirrel 500 we took off towards the mountains. The scale of the peaks and valleys is (insert superlative) amazing. More magnificentness!  One attempted landing on the snow was abandoned due to a "sink". We dropped quickly in the cold air and moving on was the best option. After flying around a large glacier and the summit of Mt Aspiring our next landing site was on a snowy saddle. As the chopper flared a building came into view. The owner of the Myers chain has built a "cabin" high in the mountains. I don't think there is a more spectacular location for a holiday home. Amazing what a lot of money and a good lawyer can do!

After that speccy trip the girls were picked up and the silver ghost was pointed out to Lake Hawea and James and Amy's house.
We visited with them for a couple of hours then headed back out the other side of the Lake to Max and Sal's.
Another wonderful meal and company was enjoyed while taking in the view. We reluctantly said our goodbyes and headed back to town.
Big drive tomorrow down to Te Anau on our way to Milford Sound.

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Good Stuff - The B52's

Wanaka hosts the famous warbirds over Wanaka air show over Easter every 2 years. Crock and I headed out to the airport to have a look at a museum about the history of the event.
There was a Hurricane fighter from WW2 and few other planes. The cars section showed off lots of old Packards, Mustangs and a very expensive Dusenberg.
As we left we noticed the National Transport Museum next door. Thinking it might worth a look we stopped in. Initial impressions looked ok so after paying we entered.
What a place! The collections of stuff is incredible! It ranges from full size fire engines to typewriters, Star Wars figures to outboards motors. The place is huge and spread over 3 enormous sheds. One shed has 3 aircraft, several tanks and armoured cars and tons of normal cars in it. Moving anything would be a huge process.
My favourite was a 1973 Corolla in perfect condition. Nice.
This place is amazing and well worth a look even if just to wonder how one person could collect this amount off stuff!

Us girls wandered around the town having a wee look in the local shops. Despite seeing lots of nice things our only purchase was some nappies from the supermarket. Not very exciting but necessary nonetheless.
Meeting up again back at the hotel for some lunch, we polished off some more biscuits, cheese, dip and pâté. Nice nibbles.
Packing ourselves into the silver ghost we cruised the outer suburbs of Wanaka.  There are heaps of places around town that we could happily call home.
After a photo stop on the shores of the Clutha River we returned to town to check the bank accounts, mortgage rates and job opportunities in Wanaka.
Spaghetti was on the menu for the evening and after a bit of a search we found the highly recommended restaurant The Cow R. 3 huge bowls of spaghetti and some of the best garlic bread I've ever had saw us returning to the hotel with very satisfied tummies.
An early night for all with helicopter flights booked for the morning.

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The Wine Song - The Cat Empire

The boys did a fab job of packing the silver ghost, even managing to fit in the push chair! With all our possessions in the car we departed Queenstown for Wanaka via Cromwell and the Central Otago wine region.
This area is apparently best know for its Pinot Noir. So Pinots we tasted.
Our first stop was Gibbston Valley Wines in the Gibbston Valley. Crock purchased a bottle of Pinot, weather he felt obliged or enjoyed it I'm not sure.  Gibbston Valley Cheese was on the same premises so we purchased some cheese to consume with our wine.
Our second stop was a smaller vineyard called Remarkable Wines.  The gentleman at Remarkable Wines was very passionate about his wine making and provided information way beyond my viticulture knowledge. His award from a world wine show was proudly displayed behind the bar.  This was also home to the Gibbston Tavern. Despite New Zealand having many drinking holes, there is a distinct lack of stubby coolers (or hand warmers as they would be used for in these climates). Still zero stubby cooler purchases!
Continuing along the highway we arrived into Cromwell - home of the giant fruit. This area is very proud of its stone fruit producing abilities.  Sadly none of us took a photo of the giant fruit, needless to say if we had the PG rating of this blog may have needed to be upgraded to a M15+.
Our final winery visit of the day was to Wooing Tree Vineyard. The staff here were very friendly and once again the Pinot was very nice.
Arriving into Wanaka mid afternoon we settled into our new digs before wandering into town to meet James and Max for a wee pre-dinner drink.
We decided on dinner and drinks back in our apartment. The boys managed to put a dent in our newly acquired wine supply along with some accompanying duty free. Zoe and I retired early!

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Paradise - Bruce Springsteen

Well folks Crock was going to do a guest post today but his epic month of 40th celebrations combined with a wee bit of jet lag has seen him retire to bed early(ish).
Here is a brief summary of the day:
- hung out in the mall for brunch
- drove to Glenorchy and had a look around
- hung out in the mall for dinner
Now if we were in Tasmania this day would not be very appealing and people's worst holiday nightmare. BUT in New Zealand this is a relaxing, lovely way to spend your day.
Brunch was consumed at a lovely cafe in the mall. Apart from the front of house chap having an obvious hangover the food and service was great.
Our hotel is right in town and a short path to the back of the hotel pops us out conveniently right down town.
Another quick look around the town centre and we were back at the hotel packing for the short drive to Glenorchy. 
The 46km road to Glenorchy follows the edge of the lake and has numerous scenic lookouts along the way to stop and take in the well... scenic views (has there even been a non scenic lookout?).
I'm sure this road would be in the top 10 scenic drives in the world. Well it is in my top 10 anyway.  If you imagine driving from the centre of Hobart to Glenorchy well it is nothing like that!
Being tourists on our arrival at Glenorchy we partook in numerous photographic opportunities and clicked away on various cameras, videos and iDevices.
After a quiet bevvie at the local pub we struck out for home. We returned to the Tatler for dinner with a largely cooperative wee one.
Early to bed all round was the call.

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New Kid In Town - Eagles

We heard the motorbike crew in Africa were on a rest day and thought we would follow suit!
The morning was spent wandering around the town centre, venturing into the occasional souvenir and outdoor shop. The shops seem to cater for the Japanese tourist and / or skier, with us fitting into neither category. So the wallets remained packed away in the pocket.
After lunch we ventured to the airport for the much anticipated arrival of Crock.
Crock's arrival was followed by some frosty adult beverages and a lovely meal at the Pub on Wharf.
Zoe was on her best behaviour and slept in the push chair whilst we enjoyed dinner and a few local Pinot's.
In typical Tasmanian style we were seated next to a midwife from the Hobart Private and Carrie a friend of Maddi and Cuzzin Anna. Small world!
Tomorrow we plan to do a touristy drive to Glenorchy. The pretty NZ version, not the Tassie version.

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The Greatest View - Silverchair

Breakfast consisted of free range eggs served on Vegemite toast - an unfamiliar but very tasty combination!
After breakfast Max arranged personalised tours of Borwood on the John Deer Gator.  Borwood is situated on Roy's Peninsula in West Wanaka.  There are only 5 properties on the peninsula and it is private land so we were fortunate to be able to access this spectacular part of the world.
Max had organised perfect weather conditions and the views were breathtaking.  The surrounding snow covered peaks were glistening in the sun with their reflections below on Lake Wanaka.
We found a block of land for sale that we were quite fond of.  Unfortunately Jaks' paid parental leave doesn't cover the 5 million + price tag (just the land no house!).
Homemade sausage rolls for lunch, consumed on the deck and life really doesn't get much better!
We set sail late afternoon for the short drive to Queenstown ready to meet up with Crock tomorrow. The drive was quite twisty but the silver ghost negotiated the corners with ease.
After unpacking into out apartment in down town Queenstown we took the wee one for a spin around town in the push chair we had arranged to hire.
Fortunately the wee one settled fairly easily tonight. She must be excited about meeting Crock tomorrow!

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Voodoo Child - Jimi Hendrix

The jet lag has settled in nicely thank you. A very restless night saw us up and about every couple of hours catering to the wee one's requests.
Thus we were a bit slow getting away this morning.
A short 8 km drive along a nice gravel road and across a few one lane bridges took us up to the Tasman Glacier car park.  It took 15 minutes to get wee Miss into her down suit for her first tramping experience (as the Kiwi's call it).  It was a short, sharp rise up to the lake but the view was well worth it.  The scene up to the base of the glacier and the surrounding mountains was amazing. There was even a gentleman there taking photos on FILM with an old Hasselblad.
Next stop was Wanaka and the drive here wound through the hills and mountains as we headed south west.  After 2.5 hours we arrived at Bowood.
Max and Sally greeted us warmly and showed us to our room. We had a short walk around their amazing property and enjoyed a pre dinner drink in the warm sunshine.  A lovely dinner was slightly interrupted as we tried once again to settle the wee one. She gave up the fight after a lengthy battle and finally headed to the land of nod.
After dinner James joined us for strawberries and ice cream. Jaks and James worked out it had been approximately 20 years since they had last seen each other.
Driving through Wanaka we once again thought that it would a great place to live. There was talk of a future house swap with James and his family spending some time at The Tavern and us spending some time in their place in Wanaka!

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Tasman Awakens - Augie March

As we peeked out the curtains we saw that another beautiful day was underway. The temperature had dropped to a bracing 2 degrees but it was clear as a bell.
We partook of breakfast at the local cafe and utilised their free wifi.  The produce at the cafe was mainly sourced from a local property and was scrumptious. The French waiter assisted Zoe with her French skills. Bonjour Zoe!
The Mt John Observatory on a nearby hilltop provided spectacular views up and down the lake and of the surrounding mountains.
The superlatives will run out soon as we are using so many of them!
The day was not warming up much so we left the hilltop to the hoods and started heading south-west towards Mt Cook.
More mountains kept us company as we dropped down towards Lake Pukaki. Turning north we were met with (insert superlative) views of the lake and in the distance, Mt Cook.
The township of Mt Cook does not seem to have changed much in the 13 years since I was last here climbing on the Tasman Glacier.  A few more buildings and the the very nice Aoraki Court Motel where we are bivouacing for the night. This is another great find and we recommend it highly.
A nice walk around the village in the afternoon covered most sights and tomorrow we will attempt a short walk to the Blue Lakes and views of the Tasman Glacier.

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Lakeside - Australian Crawl

Jet lag caught up with one of us last night. Those of you who can't stand up by yourself put your hand up. The wee one decided that trans Tasman travel was so much fun that she would not sleep for a few hours. Jacquie's mothering skills came to fore and we had her calmed down and in bed by 10:30pm.  Zoe not Jaks, although we followed soon after.
Saturday morning dawned bright and clear. We left our digs in Christchurch and went in search of some polar fleece trackies for Bryce. It's amazing that any tramping gets done in NZ, the prices on outdoor gear are massive.  The Internet must be making a fortune.
After abandoning our search we headed to the Curators House in the botanical gardens. It seems to have not suffered from the earthquake. We were last here 7 years ago on our Honeymoon and had a meal courtesy of Lou and Mitch. This time we just enjoyed a coffee and hot chocolate.
The beauty of this city stills amazes us. The gardens and buildings are so nice to sit and enjoy.  An elderly couple in need of hip replacements commented on our wee one.
Time to go. The GPS said head for the hills so off towards Lake Tepako we went. It's about a 2.5 hour drive and we took the scenic way through Mt Hutt and Geraldine.  It was a glorious day and the silver ghost cruised along mostly empty roads. We had the mountains of the southern alps on our right and green paddocks all around us.
The recent damaging winds were evident in the amount of trees that were strewn about. It looks like a tornado has gone through with untouched stands of trees right next to massive uprooted ones. It made a hell of a mess. We only had one detour to get around fallen trees and it was a short one.
During our lunch stop a "helpful" lady informed us that our wee one should have something on her head so as to not get cold through her open fontanelle.  Bryce informed her that since the wee one had mastered calculus during the morning her brain needed to cool down over lunch.
Our amazingly scenic drive concluded at Lake Tekapo.  We came over a rise and were greeted by the glacier-blue waters of the lake with mountains framing it. Truly spectacular.
An afternoon ale in the Tekapo Tavern saw the sun disappearing behind the mountains and the temperature dropping off.
This is our stop for the night. We are holed up at Peppers Resort, a 2 minute stroll from the town centre.
The jet lag seems to have subsided slightly and the the wee one is slumbering near the door protecting us from drunken rugby supporters.
Tomorrow sees us at Mt Cook!
Wee one tally - 5.
Stubby holder tally - 0.
Unwanted parenting advice - 1.

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Boulevard of Broken Dreams - Green Day

Another beautiful day in paradise. Clear blue skies and lots of sunshine. A good dose of Vitamin D - tick.
A scenic coastal drive was on the morning agenda. Our GPS didn't seem to know about the city road closures and lane blockages (due to the earthquake) but after a few townies we managed to navigate out way out of the city.
Heading over Dyers Pass Road we wound our way down towards Governor's Bay. We both commented on how good this windy road would be on a bike. Zoe agreed.
Following Governor's Bay Road along the water we stopped at a few lookouts before arriving in Lyttelton (Christchurch's Harbour). This town was obviously fairly damaged by the quake and there is a lot of scaffolding and ruins about the town centre.
The original plan was to continue the scenic route out towards Godley Head and Sumner but road closures prevented this. Instead we made our way back towards the city through the tunnel.
We had a lunch date with Chelsea in the container shopping mall. A cool place with shops, cafe's and restaurants in modified shipping containers surrounded by condemned car parks and buildings.
What an awesome idea for a temporary city!
After a very tasty roast beef roll and a beer in the sun we wandered around the containers, once again Zoe wearing her shades got a lot of attention. No more additions to the wee one tally today though.
A quiet night in before heading to Lake Tekapo tomorrow.
BTW - our hotel in Christchurch has the loveliest owners and is nice and clean and quiet. Thanks for the recommendation Marcus & Deb!
Anyone coming to Christchurch should stay here.

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Orange Blossom Special - Johnny Cash

After a leisurely start we wandered down the road to the local shopping precinct and had some brunch at a small bakery.
Zoe seems to attract a lot of attention and to be a conversation starter with complete strangers. So far she has been called a "wee lass" 3 times. I'm guessing the tally will continue to rise over the next 2 weeks.  And yes I am keeping score.
After brunch we hopped into the silver
ghost (our rental Camry) and did a few blockies of town and the surrounding suburbs.
I didn't realise the extent of damage caused by the earthquake. Hard to comprehend. It is sad to see this beautiful city like this. The clean up and rebuild is in full swing.
Hagly Park was full of people walking dogs, pushing prams, playing sport and generally being fit. The spring bulbs look beautiful and the blossom is in full bloom.
We plan to walk into the city tomorrow so we will endeavour to take some photos to post on the blog.
After purchasing some sushi for dinner and some booze from the supermarket (how convenient) we have retired to the room to let the wee lass get some sleep.

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Three Down - The Waifs

Well it's 11:00 am and we are still in bed.
Getting across the ditch went very well. Zoe played a big part in that with very little carry-on ( mood wise not baggage, she has plenty of that).
We were lucky to have an empty third seat on both flights and both planes were quite empty.
A slight hiccup leaving Sydney at the gate when they discovered that Zoe was not mentioned on the manifest. As we already had boarding passes from Qantas this proved to be a bit bemusing for the Jetstar staff. Full credit to the girl on the desk who typed furiously away and produced new passes for us. They even asked to hold our carry on bags while they did it.
We made it on to the plane without the walk of shame.
The three hours passed quickly and Jaks managed to feed Moonshine which kept her quiet.
NZ customs passed easily with an express line for wee ones!
We arrived at our hotel around 2:00 am local and 00:00 our time.
So we have slept ok and will join NZ time with lunch today.
Off to have a look at what's changed here since our last visit before the quakes.

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New Zealand

We have gone from being that couple that sit on the plane and watch the family walk down the aisle hoping they are not sitting anywhere near us to being that family. 

Zoe's passport has arrived and we are off to New Zealand.  We are hoping that Zoe will catch the travel bug from an early age. 

We fly into Christchurch, then make our way to Queenstown via Mount Cook.  We meet up with Crock in Queenstown for a week of 40th birthday celebrations (Crock's).  The plan is to spend the week sightseeing, snow boarding and wine tasting around Queenstown, Wanaka and Te Anau.  

The plan is to blog as we go.