It's our last few hours in New Zealand now, we have just given Colin and Steve back to the rental company and are off to the airport soon to catch our flight to Sydney. It was quite sad to give the van back, we had grown quite attached to it over the last month, we clocked up just over 5500Km so we did spend a fair while in it! As we were returning it another guy turned up to return his too, his picture wasn't as good as ours, but he did have something extra that made us both a little jealous. He only had a bloody heater didn't he, and it turned out we were meant to have one too, the rental guy said sorry, so that made up for the freezing nights in Wanaka and Mount Cook, so we don't mind at all now!
One thing that no one mentioned before we set off on our trip was about public toilets. These facilities are a some what rarity in England and if you are to find one on your travels the chances are they have been bolted shut since 1984 and graffitied to within an inch of its life. If however you are lucky enough to find one with an open door you are taking your life into your own hands once you have gone beyond the darkened threshold, the smells, sounds and sights are beyond compare! In New Zealand however public toilets are everywhere and they are great, not just in the big tourist spots but every little town has at least one spotlessly clean lovely public loo ready for you to use, there is toilet paper, soap, hand dryers, everything! This is how it should be everywhere, it certainly helped us out when we were free camping on beaches and by the sides of the road. I think when I come back I may go into the public toilet industry.
We have been doing a few walks and things since our last post. We walked up to the Tasman glacier near Mount Cook and the Hooker valley track that takes you up to the terminal lake at the base of the mountain. They are really lovely walks across swing bridges over raging glacial rivers and up to the glacier face and the terminal lakes full of icebergs! When we were there one of the mountains had a small avalanche which was pretty cool to see and really loud! Also one of the icebergs split in half and collapsed into the lake as we watched. We had really hot sun for the walk which was great, but the wind every now and then coming down the snow capped mountains was, I suppose rather predictably, freezing! We met some nice kiwi farmer types who persuaded us to try the water from one of the glacial stream which was yummy and ice cold. It was so much nicer than the vaguely swimming pool tasting water that we had in the van!
We have been so impressed by how friendly everyone is here, everybody chats to you whenever they get the chance, they actually seek the chance to talk to you rather than avoid it at all costs like we are used to! We had a funny half hour in a pub the other night with a local south islander who was convinced that the South Island was completely overcrowded and crime ridden now. This came as a bit of a shock to us South Londoners, maybe because they are so far away from the rest of the world they don't realise how lucky they are here, it's not like that at all!
All in all we have had a brilliant time in New Zealand, we absolutely loved the place and the people. It has such an amazing variety of landscapes and climates packed into such a small space. Every corner you turn reveals another fantastic view. We have got about 600 photos so far of lovely things, so those of you who have sat through the wedding photos know what to look forward to when we are back!
We need to head off to the airport now so we will write again soon in Sydney. Thanks again for the comments they are great to get, and something we always look forward to reading.
Lots of love
Dan & Jenni