Ready... Set... Go!

Tuesday 26.12.2006

Odometer (Rental car)


Quad bikes, tractors and tons of sheep.

One of the things we have been looking forward to do in New Zealand is to visit Christine and John on their sheep farm. We've met them on a sailboat in Tonga and they've invited us over to their place near Gore. First we get a tour of the whole farm and I get to drive around the farm on a really neat quad bike :-) Christine shows us how she controls the sheep with her dogs and explains how the farm works. After John has shown us how to shear a sheep it's my turn: I can't even pull the damn thing to the shearing place because it's way to heavy. After John puts the sheep on the floor I have a go. It's a very strange feeling, because everything is warm and oily. I have to watch out to not cut off some body parts the sheep might still need. I'm convinced now that I better keep my daytime-job as a designer :-)

The next day we help to sort wool while Christine and John are shearing the sheep. Having done that I'm shown how to drive the huge tractor with the mower attached. I feel like a real farmer, mowing 4 fields while listening to some terrible country music :-)

Of course Chris is fascinated by the new-born lamb and helps to bottle feed the older lambs. She cuddles sheep, dogs and helps to move the sheep around by making funny noises and gestures and shouting at them in swiss German (which they obviously don't understand)

Being Swiss we wouldn't have left the farm without preparing another fondue for dinner.

Even though the whole farm experience was great it left me puzzled: should I buy the jet-boat or the quad bike first?

Shotover River Jetboat

The Jetboat on the Shotover River dashes through narrow canyons. The ultimate Jetboat experience.


Milford Sound

The road to Milford Sound is already worth the trip. For a closer look at the Fjord a boat or a kajak has to be boarded.

Only drawback: thousands of hungry sandflies


Penguin Tour

The Otago peninsula is one of the best places to spot the rare yellow-eyed penguins. Penguin places offers not only a very informative tour but a simple lodge to stay the night.

At Pilots beach the little blue penguins can be observed at dusk returning from the sea to their nests. (free of charge)


The queen of adventures

Queenstown is the capital for action-packed adventures. You can choose between bungee-jumping, river rafting, jet boating and a thousand other completely useless adrenalin pumping past time activities. After watching a few other people bungee-jump we decide to go on a ride in a jet-boat in the shotover canyon. After getting equipped with splash-proof jackets and life-wests we board the small jetboat. The difference between a jet-boat and an ordinary boat is its ability to race over very shallow waters (only 10cm deep). The two jet-engines thrust water at a rate of 800 liters per second and are extremely manoeuvrable. The ride is just spectacular. I think one of those boats would look good in our backyard too, unfortunately they come with a 300'000.- price tag.

Next we hop on the sky gondola just to race down again on a luge, which is great fun. You can actually take off with the luge at certain points of the track.

Having spent enough money on completely useless things, we head south to Te Anau, the starting point to see the Milford Sound.

Milford sound

On the way from Te Anau to the Milford sound the road winds uphill up to a tunnel. Unlike Swiss tunnels this one is barely lit and features deep potholes and some sort of waterfall inside the tunnel (we're not sure if this was intentional). Luckily this is a one-way tunnel, so we don't have to fear dutch campervan-drivers hitting us in the dark :-)

In Milford sound we board one of the tourist vessels. Fortunately we are very early and can escape the crowds arriving later with tour-busses. The boat takes us along the steep coast to several spectacular waterfalls. Dolphins are surfing in the bow wave of the boat for quite a while. We almost go all the way to the open ocean. On the way back Chris sees her chance to finally get wet when the boat is approaching a waterfall.

On the way back, while waiting our turn at the one-way tunnel, we see some Kea's (mountain parrots) dismantling a parked car. Kea's are known for their destructive behavior, because they like to rip rubber-sealings of car windows and windscreen wipers apart. It's fun to watch (as long as it's not your own car).

Penguins and Albatrosses

Because Chris didn't get to see the real penguins in the Antarctica, as it was initially planned, we decide to visit the Otago Peninsula near Dunedin to join a penguin tour where we walk around to different shelters to observe the yellow eyes penguins. The Otago Peninsula is one of the few places where you can see the yellow eyed penguin in their natural environment. At night we head to the beach to witness the home-coming of the small blue penguins. At around 10pm the penguins come out of the ocean and walk across the beach to climb to their nests in the steep cliffs. They don't seem to be too impressed with our presence and pass just a few steps away from us.

The Otago Peninsula is also the home of the only albatross colony on the main land. These huge birds are fun to watch during landing and taking off. Due to the time they spend on the water (80% of their lives) their leg muscles are underdeveloped and they don't know how to land on hard surfaces. That's why most landings turn into summersault and their take off's are rather clumsy.

Albatross Tour

The only place in the world, where the Royal Albatross is breeding on mainland can also be found on the Otago peninsula. If the birds aren't flying above you, the only way to see them is by joining a very informative tour and to visit the observatory


Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa

The Thermal Pools in Hanmer Springs are a treat specially in wet and chilly weather. 13 modern outdoor pools, sauna, steam-bath, etc. are waiting to be visited. The entrance fee is relatively cheap.