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The South Island, Part 1

Christchurch, Lake Tekapi, Dunedin, Milford Sound and Queenstown

We start our New Zealand leg of the trip in Christchurch. Here we hire a car, a zippy little pink one, to explore the South Island with. Our first stop is Lake Tekapo, in the centre of the island. It's a beautiful, turquoise blue lake. Powder deposits from glaciers float in the lake, creating the inbelievable blue colour. We climb Mount John to get an impressive view of the lake, along with some lovely carrot cake.

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Driving on to Dunedin we pass more of these lakes, one with a spectacular view of Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain.

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Dunedin's a city that we'd been told not to bother with, but we like it a lot. There's an impressive art gallery there, and some nice bars. Here we meet Sandra, a German who's going to travel with us in our car to help save some money on the rent and petrol. We all drive to the Otago Peninsular, a wild bit of land right by the city. It looks remarkably like Scotland and is a great place to spot wildlife. We see seals and sealions lazing about on the beaches.

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After a bit of waiting we spot yellow eyed penguins popping out of the sea and heading inland to their nests. Some of them have nests high up on cliffs, it looks like quite an effort to get to them, they're not the most agile walkers afterall. You're not allowed to get close to the penguins, or they won't want to come on to the beach, so I don't have very decent pictures of them. Three of them waddled up the beach together, these are their tracks.

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After Dunedin we drive all the way round the south of the island to Te Anau over on the west side. From here we take the incredibly scenic drive to Milford Sound. We're in Fiordland, where there are a number of fiords (mistakenly originally named as sounds), Milford being the most well known. The landscape is just stunning on the 100km or so drive.

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Once at Milford Sound, we go on a boat all the way through it and out to sea, taking in waterfalls and more seals along the way.

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We continue our journey to Queenstown, the adrenaline capital of New Zealand. They say you'll never get bored here. That's if you have money and lots of it. There's certainly plenty to do, bungee jumping, skydiving, white water rafting, kite surfing, paragliding, yadda yadda yadda, but it all involves parting with a lot of cash. The town is nice though and it's apparent that the local economy is booming, with plush looking buildings all around. While we're there we do mange to play some frisbee golf. This is free, so long as you can get your hands on a frisbee. There's a course in the park and it's essentially like golf but throwing frisbees. We prove to be pretty rubbish, but it's still fun.

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The area around Queenstown, much like the rest of the South Island, is beautiful though, so we make the most of our car and get out there.

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On leaving Queenstown we find one of the bridges where bungee jumping happens. I feel nauseous just watching. They seem to have someone jumping every minute. And at $185 a jump, they must be making an absolute fortune.

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Posted by EllenM 19:24 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking

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