a semester abroad in New Zealand

Archive for December, 2011

South Island Trip (Part Three)

Addition to the last post: This is an impression of one type of landscape you see a lot when driving through New Zealand (taken out of a car, sry for quality :P ), in this case between Dunedin and Invercargill.

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Those grass areas are all man-made, mainly for sheep and dairy-farming. Of course there are other types as well, like introduced forest (for example from Europe) and native New Zealand bush (pics later).

Catlins Coast

Sparky’s was the only place on the South Island we stayed at for two nights. On our second day we did a day trip along the scenic Catlins Coast.

Sea Lions :)

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We were strolling along the coast for a bit when we suddenly heard Alison shouting “Come over here, quick!”. At first we thought something happened to here so we rushed over there… but it turned out she just wanted us to see this:

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At that very moment we couldn’t decide if that was a tiny adult fur seal or a baby sea-lion. We were a little afraid the two big sea lions on the pictures before could be the parents :P But when you look at the sign at first picture you can easily see it must be a fur seal, probably a fur seal teen.

Slope Point (sort of)

Next big stop: the most southern point of the South Island (not of New Zealand though, because of Steward Island).

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This is me standing at standing somewhere near the southernmost point (the actual point is called Slope Point):

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random waterfall

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Nugget Point

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Who can spot the seals in this one?

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the lighthouse and the “nuggets”

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Queenstown

The next day we got up early to reach Queenstown in time for Alison’s and Elysia’s canyon swing (basically a big-ass swing in a canyon ^^). Queenstown is a really nice and also pretty expensive city at lake Wakatipu. Someone compared it to St. Moritz in Switzerland, because it is expensive, a lot of rich people live there and also a lot of young people party there. Here are a few impressions of the road along the lake up to Queenstown:

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After we checked in at the YHA Lakefront, Elysia and Alison went for their swing, while Susi and me explored the town and the surroundings by car.

Lakefront:

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Gondola and view on Queenstown:

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We also tried to visit various spots around Queenstown where scenes for Lord of the Rings where filmed. We couldn’t reach all of them (due to private land (various scenes/Rohan) or multiple hour walk with no signs where exactly the spot is (Furt des Bruinen)), but here is the river Anduin:

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And here is the spot where Frodo and Sam watched the Oliphants:

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Just imagine this would be Frodo ^^ (and there are Oliphants down in the valley)

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Milford Sound

The next morning we had to get up reeeeally early to catch the pickup bus for the Milford Sound cruise. The drive to Milford Sound was quite long and we stopped several times for photos:

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During one stop some Keas joined us and one immediately tried to eat parts of the bus door.

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And now the sound (which is actually a Fjord, not a sound) itself:

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Oh yeah, we saw dolphins, seals and penguins during the cruise :)

So much for today ;)

PS: Later that day in a bar I discovered that tonic water emits a blue-ish glow when exposed to UV-light :D How cool is that, a glowing drink :)

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South Island Trip (Part Two)

Dunedin

Back to our continuing coverage of the south island road trip! — As mentioned in the last post our next stop was Dunedin (again a YHA hostel).

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Nothing interesting happened that evening, but the next day we went on not only one, but two tours through local factories. First we did the Speight’s brewery tour and learned all about how beer is made (I also realized I haven’t done a brewery tour in Germany so far Oo). At the end we could try all their different beers… they even do a Pilsner… it didn’t taste like a Pilsner though :P

I’m relatively sure I took pictures during the tour… but I can’t find them -.- So I’ll use Elysia’s and Alison’s photos to give you an idea of the brewery:

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The second tour was the Cadbury chocolate factory were we got a lot of chocolate (yay)… and yeah, we also learned something about the production of chocolate :P They have same pretty weird chocolate products… for example kind of a pink marshmallow (shaped as a fish) covered in chocolate… not my cup of tea :P

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Before we left Dunedin we stopped at the railway station, which is supposed to be the most photographed building of New Zealand. I don’t know why, it is not that special… but while I was taking photos myself, I got it! So here is the Dunedin-railway-station-conspiracy: Initially the station wasn’t the most photographed building, it was just a building. Nevertheless someone made up that story… visitors heard it and took photos… told other visitors about it… and so on…. and at some point (it may have already happened or will happen in the future) the initially made up story became/will become actually true! And I was part of this evil plan -.-

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The first two pictures nicely show the effect of the polarization filter I bought for my camera right before the trip :) The effect can be seen at the car windows in the bottom left area and at the sky. Basically the filter allows me to get rid of or enhance reflections (on plane surfaces) and to reduce the brightness of the sky resulting in more visible details and better saturation of the rest of the photo. Long story short: I love this thing (and it was only about $10) and it is really helpful for landscape photography.

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Invercargill

Our next stay was Invercargill, the only place we stayed two nights in a row. Invercargill even was a venue for the Rugby World cup (as I found out later), but only as a replacement for the Christchurch stadium which couldn’t be used due to the earthquake. Anyway… in Invercargill we stayed at Sparky’s backpackers, the first one on our trip which wasn’t a YHA. It was privately owned by a guy (Sparky) who lives in the place himself as well. It was definitely the most colourful and unique backpackers I’ve seen so far. The place was decorated all over with all kind of stuff and some doors where connected to items hanging from the ceiling with a string, so that stuff would move around if you open a door.

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I couldn’t put a needle in the visitors map, because Germany was already full :P

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And even German “ketchup” was around…

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Aaaand… Sparky knows icanhascheezburger :)

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Oh yeah, and Sparky’s has a motto: “Sparky’s backpackers, where everyone gets chocolate cake”

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And this is how it’s made… you need:

Cookies

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More cookies

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And milk

The first batch of cookies has to be crumbled. They go in a plastic box together with the milk and the other cookies are then pushed into the resulting mush. The whole thing goes into the microwave for 10 minutes or so (depending on the amount) and when it’s all done it looks like this:

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It tastes surprisingly good, especially combined with ice cream :) And of course we were lined up on benches to observe while Sparky was doing the cake and given instruments to play background music. Also Sparky was wearing a helmet as a safety measure, that’s how you do chocolate cake! :P

Next time: driving down the Catlins coast, sea lions, a lighthouse and Queenstown.

PS: finally some sunshine today, after days of rain :)