Wednesday, 20 February 2008

paddling the fiord

Kayaking, Doubtful Sound, NZ
A few weeks ago, we had some time to spare between our wedding, and flying out for the Cook Islands and London. On the spur of the moment we decided to fly to Queenstown in NZ and go on a 2 day kayak trip in Doubtful Sound, Fiordland. One of the best holidays I've been on, and I think K enjoyed himself too :)

I'm a kiwi, and lived 23 (I think!) years in NZ without ever going to Fiordland, which I always associated with Japanese tourists on coach trips, but turned out to be the opposite of what we encountered!

We went kayaking with Fiordland Wilderness Experiences, a company with years of experience in Doubtful Sound where we went. They provided a guide, all the equipment you could want, and most of the camping gear we needed. We had 6 other kayakers on our trip, so 4 kayaks in total.

Kayaking, Doubtful Sound, NZ

So... we got up at some horrid hour in the morning on the first day, stumbled out of the Backpackers in Te Anau, and got picked up at 6AM for the first leg of the journey. After a 20 min van ride, we unloaded all the gear (all our personal gear + the camping gear) into a boat, and took a 1hr ride across Lake Manapouri, then got changed into wetsuits etc (as it was pouring with rain, and that was the last 'dry' spot to get changed and pack our dry bags). Then load up a second van, and a 45 min drive over a huge pass to get to Doubtful Sound, and about a hour to load the kayaks, and have the saftey and paddling demos.

It was pouring with rain when we left Deep Cove where the kayaks are stored, but that made for some fantastic scenery, with the famous Fiordland waterfalls in full flow. As the Fiords are so steep, there is barely any soil to hold water, so when it rains, it creates these beautiful huge waterfalls everywhere.

Kayaking, Doubtful Sound, NZ
By lunchtime, the rain eased off, and it was dead still. The waterfalls dried up within a few hours, just leaving a few smaller permanent ones. We went to our campsite for the night up Hall Arm, set up our tents and dropped off our gear, cooked up some lunch, then carried on for another few hours kayaking. The guide was great, and just let us all cruise along at whatever speed we wanted. Then back for dinner, and a few tall stories and glasses of wine in the mozzie shelter.

Next day was sunny and calm, and we had time to kayak another 10-12km, with a stop for lunch. Sadly, no Dolphins showed up on the way back, and the normal tail wind didn't kick in, so no sailing back to Deep Cove. It was a beautiful day however.

Sunrise in FiordlandKayaking, Doubtful Sound, NZ
Stopping for Lunch on Day 2

Over the two days, we saw about 10 boats, and one other kayak group on the other side of the sound, but nobody else. Totally unlike Milford Sound, which has been totally overrun by tourism (on the two hour drive from Te Anau to Milford, there are up to 300 coaches a DAY on the road!). A little piece of paradise which I'll be revisiting in the future.

Tons more photos are on my flickr set here.

Our route:

View Larger Map

I'm a married woman!

The wedding has been and gone - went by so fast!
The good:
  • Outdoor ceremony - would have been ultra hot in the sun (hit 24-25 degrees, and no clouds. NZ is pretty harsh when there are no clouds). Also we had lawn games set up which gave some of the guests stuff to do - croquet and petanque, which was a bit different
    BRK3620 BRK4084
  • Getting the 'formal' photos done before the ceremony/guests show up, as that gave us about 30 mins to actually socialise with guests before going in for dinner
  • My 'tealight' candles - looked great, went with our slightly 'English' theme, and got lots of comments! Idea was found in a NZ home decorating magazine (can't remember which right now), and the total cost was about NZ$30 for all the cups, saucers, teapots and jugs and another NZ$60ish for the candle wax and wicks - cheaper than buying nice candles in normal holders, and some of the cups and saucers are really nice (Queen Anne, Royal Doulton etc). Can't find many pics of them actually in the venue tho.
    tea candle
  • Paper parasols for outside - still got a bit sunburnt, but they looked nice and worked well!
    Got three of them in Wellington, NZ at a store called redcurrant I think (I'd buy most of the store if was living there! Gotta find a link for them), but Lucy and Abi forgot to use them! Never mind :)
  • Having the bar open when guests arrived - got heaps of good comments from people that they could sit with a beer/wine while the ceremony was on!
  • The cake! It was HUGE (probably still some of it floating around Nelson), and tasted great. Thanks to Chocolate Velvet in Nelson for this.
  • My dress! Thanks Vera Wang, and The Wedding Shop at Selfridges. And thanks to my sisters and cousin for making the matching sashes on the dresses (sorry Vera, I wasn't paying £400 or whatever for a bit of taffetta silk!)
  • Four days of no carbs for the leadup! Didn't really loose much weight, but lost some of the fat on my face (yup, chubby cheeks!). Might try to keep up the no or low carbs in the future if I'm not hard out exercising, as I felt pretty good. Was hard tho, as I pretty much live on pasta and rice!
  • The 'first dance' song... 'Let's stay together' by Al Green (ya know, the one from Pulp Fiction). And since our wedding, I've heard it played at least 4 times in different places, spooky
  • And so much more that I can't remember!

creme egg suicides

Some funny commercials from Cadbury featuring Creme Egg (mmmmmm) suicides :)

Found on Serious Eats