Tag Archives: South Island

Haere Ra Aotearoa


So ends our little sojourn in Noble Zealand; six months and one week since we arrived, and 22 hours until we leave.


And what a time we’ve had. No car crashes, no thefts (touch wood), no more tattoos, two birthdays, one lost wallet, one submerged watch, two pierced ears, a lot of pies, and a fair few hellos and goodbyes. Although we’d like to think we now understand the meaning of life and we are fully qualified to impart our VAST knowledge onto others, we’re pretty sure this is not the case. So instead of a ‘here’s what we’ve learnt’ polemic, we thought a little summary of the best and the rest might be more palatable…


Best: The Tree House, Hokianga, North Island. Exactly what it says on the tin, a hostel in a tree house. Remote, quiet, beautiful.

Worst: Any Base X hostel. Only suitable if you’re 18, enjoy listening to Journey and Bon Jovi on repeat and don’t mind the reek of adolescence. 

The Tree House, Hokianga - for some reason the only picture we took here was in the garden. Duh.

The Tree House, Hokianga – for some reason the only picture we took here was in the garden. Duh.


Best: Gillespie’s Beach, Just outside Fox, South Island. Camping at a beach on the wild west coast with the Southern Alps a seeming stone’s throw away, this was unrivaled in terms of scenery.

Worst: Donegal’s, Kaikoura, South Island. The campsite is a car park. Have you ever tried putting pegs into gravel? It DOESN’T WORK.

Dawn at Gillespie's Beach. Told you it was good..!

Dawn at Gillespie’s Beach. Told you it was good..!

OK.. Base X might’ve been terrible, but we did manage to make lasagna.


Best: Miford Sound, Fjordland, South Island. There are few drives in the world where the scale and beauty of the scenery makes you stop, drop your jaw on the floor, and release a volley of expletives at every turn. But this one will. You have been warned.

Worst: Wairariki Beach, Golden Bay, South Island. As if driving alongside a sheer cliff drop isn’t terrifying enough, much of the road had crumbled and caved in down the hillside so you had to crawl along the wrong side of the road hoping desperately that it would hold. Not the most relaxing of drives.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Doing a victory handstand because the scenery was SO GOOD!

Doing a victory handstand on the Fjordland / Milford drive because the scenery was SO GOOD!


Best: Anything at Blue Carrot Catering – especially the pork belly, savory muffins and RASPBERRY CHEESECAKE. Nyom.

Worst: Packet noodles and processed cheese sandwiches. Our stable diet for about 2 months. When everything you eat is yellow, there is something SERIOUSLY wrong.


Best: The Mussel Inn, Golden Bay, South Island. Quaint, homely, eco-friendly (standard), brews it’s own beers and serves seafood. What more could you want?

Worst: The Queens Street Tavern, Auckland, North Island. You know when you arrive in a new city and you don’t know where to go and you somehow end up in a dodgy pub with evil stares and pokie machines? Well, that about summarizes our experience in the QST. Bad shout.

The Mussel Inn


Best: A Porsche Margarita – a sparkling tasty treat given as a free birthday offering after our shift at Flying Burrito Brothers.

Worst:  Michelada – Another FBB concoction but this time they didn’t do so well.This Tex-Mex mix of Sol, lemon juice and salt is about as far from the bona fide Mexican drink as you can get. Don’t try this at home.


Best: Macs Ginger Brew – delicious alcoholic ginger beer. Crabbies better watch out.

Worst: Boundary Road Lawn Ranger – Beer with lime added in the bottle. Tastes like an alcopop gone wrong.


Best: The Gods Drink Whiskey, Stephen T. Asma – a somewhat irreverent yet highly informative study on the application of Buddhism in Cambodia. Maybe not the best ‘relax-with-a-good-story’ read, but stuffed with facts and ridiculously well written.

Worst: Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps, Barbara and Alan Pease. Don’t. Just don’t.


Best: The Intouchables – Yes, yes, we know this is French. But it’s still AWESOME.

Worst: Lymelife – Another depressing American Beauty spin-off starring Macaulay Culkin’s brothers. There is a reason why they aren’t famous.


Best: Starting off Christmas day with a glass of bubbles, a Bavarian sausage and the paddling pool. There’s a first time for everything…!

Worst: Being really hungry and having no money in Dunedin but consoling ourselves in the knowledge that there was a packet of cookies on the back seat of the car. However, what we didn’t know was that there was actually both a bag with cookies in it and a bag of rubbish on the back seat of the car. Somehow, SOMEONE had managed to mix up the bags earlier, and we ended up with no cookies, smelly rubbish and A WHOLE LOT OF ANGER.

Dunedin - site of the cookie fiasco

Dunedin – site of the cookie fiasco



(please note how it sounds like the lyrics are, ‘tidy as a sunbed’. See also if you can find the part that sounds like ‘shit job, thriller’. We never tired of this)

We may still be unaware of the meaning of life and path to follow and so on and so forth, but what we do know is that our trip would not have been what it was without all the people that we met and helped us on the way. They know who they are, but just in case they don’t, we would like to thank them…

Hobnob, Carl, Fiona, Anita, Jacqueline and all the extras at Prospect Terrace – home from home; Bart and Lucy, Parker, Tux and Boots; Randolph, Laura, Helena, Ira and Aly and the AIR BED; Miss Alice Mahy and Josh, Clover and Sabbath; Rosie Bates, her lovely housemates and the soft grass in the back garden; Gordon, Nicole, Aidy, Mark, Stefan, Kir, Hayden and everyone working at Blue Carrot; Dawie, Rahul, Bernie, Kuldeep, Joe, Josephine and the other Flying Burrito Brothers; Siggy, Marina, Ole, Amy, Sophie, Jostein and Rafa – the dream team; Mama Bilton and Jeffies old, new, future and honorary – Adam, Barbara, Georgie, Igor, Jasmine, Clare, Kim, Tawanda, Jen, Vaughn, Jeff, Oz, Mothership, Tonka and Tinkerbell; Anna and Simon, the brains behind the Masterton Expedition as well as the expedition-eers themselves, Lester, Charlie and other dice-weilding crazies; Joe the photographer who picked us up and managed to score us two free ferry tickets; Tom from the Welsh Bar and his disgusting cocktails; Soren and Thomas – we’ll see you at Rosskilde; Sam the German hitchhiker who was amazing company and knew Quentin in Berlin; Mel and Ollie – laughed so much; Tim Fox intrepid explorer – next time we’ll see you in Cali; All the people who picked us up when hitchhiking and the many that casually offered us a place to stay when we were stuck.

(Some of) The Dream Team

(Some of) The Dream Team

Standard night in at Jefferson…

If we’ve forgotten anyone, we’re mighty mighty sorry and did not do it intentionally (unless you’re the guy who picked us up, drove like a maniac and then dropped us off miles from anywhere.. argughgugh). We’ve had a blast.


Why Happiness Reads White… (Part I)


As is becoming a common theme with bigclimblittleclimb, we begin with an apology.

We are both extremely sorry for going AWOL in the past few weeks and hope that it will not happen again in the not too distant future. (sad and slightly sheepish face)

All better?

While we are (quite) sorry, there are valid reasons for this. It is partly due to our recent lifestyle change; that is, from hard-working city-dwelling internet-users to wannabe free-spirited campers with no roof, no shoes, no showers and no electricity. To be perfectly honest, living under canvas for a month has been nothing but fantastic and although the first few days saw us pining for a memory foam mattress, we now feel wonderfully adept at using just the bare necessities and average a BOLT-ESQUE 5 mins 04 seconds tent erection (ahem) time.

The second, and slightly more difficult to explain, reason, is that we are a little lost for words. There is something about the South Island that is. Just. Awesome. I know it sounds as though we’re just regurgitating the worst of Kiwiana, but it really is. The places and experiences themselves are  hard to describe without releasing a volley of superlatives and meaningless descriptions about ‘majestic / towering / forbidding / enormous mountains’ and ‘sparkling / golden / pure / soft sands’ (delete adjective where appropriate). And as you all know, happiness reads white.

Hence, we’ve said nothing.

Take a peek at the photos on our facebook page, which collectively should give you many thousand words and, in order to make some sense of them, here is a brief whirlwind tour of the past few weeks…

We started off here…


The Abel Tasman National Park

This was a four-day freedom kayak trip around the renowned Abel Tasman coastal National Park. Contrary to popular belief, freedom kayaking is NOT the same as a Newport ‘freedom taxi ride’ (where no cash is followed by a quick dash). It just means that you start at point A and arrange to meet back there however many days you want later. In the interim, you choose a couple of campsites up and down the coastline and as long as you make it to the correct campsite on the correct night with the correct number of people / kayaks / other necessary and unnecessary equipment, then all is well. The park itself deserves its pristine reputation and despite the floods of trampers, campers and kayakers in the area, it was one of the most unspoilt areas that we have seen thus far. If you want paradise, you’ve got it here…

Note for your bucket lists: if you can, stay at Mosquito Bay. Access by water only, dramatic tidal variation, and one of the best early morning views that you can ever ask for. There’s a reason why we found a picture of this on page 4 of the LP (fame).


The eagle… (as she is known)



Morning view (Incubus?)

Mosquito Bay

Mosquito Bay



We saw Tom Hanks...

Pretty sure that was Tom Hanks…


Siggy and Marina training for the next Olympics

From there, we somehow got stuck here…

Motueka and the Nelson Lakes

By stuck we mean we just couldn’t leave. Perhaps it was the hippy vibe (ex-Luminators, dontcha know) in the area; perhaps it was the free campsites that we stumbled across; perhaps it was that we wanted to spend a few more days with our soon-to-depart Norwegian and Argentinian travel buddies. Whatever it was, the whole of the Golden Bay area was without a doubt one of our favourites, and our reluctance to leave is testament to that.

Dragging ourselves kicking and screaming (note: WRITER’S HYPERBOLE) from Golden Bay, we took the Wild West route down the coast, straight into Glacial Valley. Which is as exciting as it sounds. Home to the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, as well as a ton (not literally) of other, smaller glaciers, this is the Southern Alps at its finest.

View of the Southern Alps (plus cloud) from the Tasman

View of the Southern Alps (plus cloud) from the Tasman

Same again but at dawn (YES WE GOT UP FOR THIS SHIZ)

Same again but at dawn (YES WE GOT UP FOR THIS SHIZ)

Does anyone else distinctly remember studying glaciers at GCSE / Standard Grade / O-Level (we’re not judging here) and learning a whole load of concepts and formations yet never EVER seeing one? We certainly do. Everyone always seems to be able to explain the formation of an arret or a hanging valley or an ox-bow lake but, let’s be honest, how many times have you actually seen one? Do they even exist?

Well, here’s the thing…

THEY DEFINITELY DO! We’ve SEEN them and we can CONFIRM their existence. Panic over. And to put another dusting of snow on an already very cold, couple of kilometre long tongue of ice, these glaciers are one of a kind due to their position close to the sea; during the ice age (around 15,000 to 20,000 years ago) the glaciers actually reached the sea… probably the greatest slide ever.

The Franz Josef is the bigger of the two, but is so over-hyped and over-stated that you’re practically vomiting information on the glacier before you’ve even seen it.

FJ Glacier.. from the pauper's viewpoint

FJ Glacier.. from the pauper’s viewpoint

A few ks down the road you come across the miniscule town of Fox which starts at a solid good and only gets better. Over the (many) years, the glacier has retreated and left a Lord of the Rings type valley; sheer rock faces on each side and an ice-grey flat bottom. Tourists can walk for around 20-minutes to reach the glacier tip, which is both hugely impressive and quite terrifying at the same time. The great tongue of ice, light blue in the centre and dirty grey on the top, is enormous. You can see the guided tour groups walking on the ice looking like miniature action men, with a guide in front hacking out a path for them to follow. At random, chunks of the ice fall off and rock debris and shards of ice tumble into the slate grey river rushing out from underneath the glacier. Funny as it sounds, it was all pretty humbling. Partly because of the size, partly because of the insane raw beauty, but mostly because of the actual danger of it all – only a couple of months ago some snap happy tourists crossed DOC barriers and ended up under the ice. Rescuers couldn’t even retrieve the bodies because it was too dangerous for them.

Fox Glacier valley walls

Fox Glacier valley walls

Valley view from the glacier end

Valley view from the glacier end

The ACTUAL glacier (Fox. Naturally)

The ACTUAL glacier (Fox. Naturally)

Fancy a swim under there anyone?

Fancy a swim under there anyone?

Outdoorsy gimps (matching trousers?)

Outdoorsy gimps / geography teacher wannabes (matching trousers?)

One thing to rival seeing the glaciers? Seeing them reflected in a lake. Formed when the glacier retreated and left an ice block in its wake, neighbouring Lake Matheson should without a doubt be in the list of ‘Top Ten Photo Ops’. Have a look for yourself…


The view of Mounts Cook and Tasman from Lake Matheson



All glaciered out, we got back on the road and drove inland through the Haast Pass to Wanaka, Queenstown and Glenorchy*; New Zealand’s very own Jane Bennett, Lizzie Bennett and Mary Bennett, respectively. Wanaka is another place that we found near impossible to leave; a small town hemmed in by a vast lake on one side and impassable mountains on the other three. It has something of an alpine village feel to it – probably because that is what it is in winter. Tourism is big there, but it hasn’t completely taken over and there is a real familial and cutesy without being kitch atmosphere. Perhaps the highlight was watching the Super 15 rugby match in a local pub – Otago Highlanders (the home-ish team) vs. Waikato Chiefs. The rugby set Celyn into raptures; the happy hour prices and free hotdog with every drink (we need that more in the UK) worked for Imogen.

Wanaka is often compared to its neighbour, Queenstown. Both famous for their second to none scenery, busy ski season, and ‘adrenaline junkie’ appeal, Queenstown is supposed to be the lashy crazy older brother while Wanaka lingers a bit behind in a sort of almost-but-not-quite second position. To be honest, I can’t stand the way that guidebooks compare the two towns. Yes, Queenstown can be lashtastic and you can down ten shots of Bacardi whilst doing a 1,0000 m bungee jump and then frogging (it’s not as dirty as it sounds) down a river. But, that’s not all, and it means that visitors nearly always arrive with preconceptions neatly etched on their minds. We felt as though we arrived with an idea of what we were in for and I think our opinions on the place were formed before we’d even crossed the Crown Range. Which isn’t fair for any town, no matter how good or bad it might be. Cursing guidebooks aside (our Lonely Planet is now lounging in a charity shop somewhere in Christchurch… but that’s another story), Queenstown is a great place to quietly fritter away a few days (if you’re poor) or alternatively, spend a fair bit of cash and knock a couple of years off your life (if you’re rich). Either way, it has a huge range of bucket list activities (although they come at a price), a café culture that rivals gay Pareee, a lot of Brits, and some really really good drinks deals.


Actually, who are we kidding? We know that one massive draw in QT was our happy camping in the backyard of Miss Natalie Farmer’s former house. And Ferg Burger.


We’re going to have to stop here, it’s getting late and the only other person left in McDonald’s appears to have died over one of the tables.


Hold that thought – we’ll be back for the second instalment shortly…







*For some reason we hardly took any photos there. Weird.

Mutton or Lamb


Contrary to popular belief, we are still alive. Reluctantly dragging ourselves away from the sparkling shores and sunny climes of Golden Bay, we’ve moved southward, following the wild west coast.

By the by the by, wild west is not just gimmicky alliteration. It seriously is WILD. Quick bit of trivia, 1% of New Zealand’s population live the West Coast of the South Island – although it makes up 9% of the total landmass.  As we said, it gets pretty rural out here.

Movements so far: Golden Bay – Hokitika – Lake Kaniere – Lake Mahinapua – Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers – Gillespie’s Beach – Wanaka.. we know this means ABSOLUTELY nothing. Well, not yet anyway. Have a look at our marvellous map to follow the path and we promise that there will be  more than a three-liner (and perhaps some photys if you’re lucky) coming very soon.



Peace, peanuts, mutton pie and enormous chairs.

We. Are. Co-Creators.


Luminate is an earth friendly festival of music, art, dance, creativity and sustainability.

Returning for an epic sixth year, Luminate 2013 is a place to re-energise on the dancefloor, participate in workshops, be inspired about living sustainably, receive a massage, join in drumming around the fire, relax with a warm chai, watch an enlightening movie, be in harmony with nature, and celebrate a sense of conscious community


Excuse the relative silence for the past week or two, we have been very busy enlightening ourselves, casting off the shackles of society, liberating our souls and spirits, joining in harmony with other creative beings…


That’s enough, Ed.



OK, so perhaps we didn’t get THAT into it, but we have been at the hippiest, free-est and in our opinion, one of the loveliest festivals in Aotearoa. Very enlightening indeed.


The location, biblically named Canaan Downs on Takaka Hill, could not have been more fitting for this week-long ‘creative meeting of souls’. Much like Bristol’s Clifton Downs, Canaan Downs consists of an enormous flat expanse of grassy land although unlike Brizzal, they are located on a mountain top, surrounded by towering forested peaks. The Luminate Festival organisers must know how to sort the wheat from the chaff in terms of their punters, because actually getting there was almost off the scale in terms of effort. After a stomach-churning drive to the summit of Takaka Hill through a series of uphill hairpin bends, a 10km gravel track takes you alongside terrifyingly steep drops until you arrive at your destination, a veritable hilltop oasis. For the record, 10km is a VERY LONG WAY when you’re going about the same speed as a lame sloth, avoiding potholes deep and numerous enough to rival Edinburgh city centre, and getting gradually covered in fine film of white dust.


In spite of this, all 3,000 ticket holders, volunteers, artists, acrobats, animals, hare krishna fanatics and general weirdos managed it.


And it’s well worth it.




Arriving was akin to reaching our very own hilltop paradise. The downs are covered in tufts of yellow-green grass (think Russell Crowe in Gladiator) and dotted with forests, handily separating the various areas. As if having a festival on a mountain wasn’t quirky enough, the whole site is covered with random sink holes. No, we don’t know how they were created (next 20 questions?) but we are taking about huge holes, almost inverted peaks, in the ground. Some might view this as irritating. The Luminators (can we say that?!) made them into features of the festival; for example, the epic (for that is the ONLY way we can describe it) opening ceremony took place in a giant sinkhole – think of it as a natural amphitheatre. Oh, and did we mention the crystal clear bubbling mountain stream about 10 minutes walk from the campsite. Most refreshing shower facilities we have ever experienced. FACT.


So we’re all set for our idyllic, at-one-with-the-earth, hippy fest. To be honest, we approached it with a little bit of trepidation. For a start, it was a strictly no alcohol no rubbish get up. As in NO ALCOHOL. AND NO RUBBISH. AT ALL.


Yeah, we were a bit confused too. In fact, it was utterly brilliant. The no rubbish thing was definitely something that we could use more of in the UK. Instead of wading through used noodle boxes and crushed Strongbow cans by day three, the site remained pristine for the duration of the festival. Each person was advised to bring their own mug or plate or bowl or fork or spoon or chopstick or whatever suited their culinary needs. Whenever you wanted something to eat, you merely handed over the required piece of crockery and it was promptly filled up. If you forgot it (which happened often) you could hire a piece of miscellaneous kitchenware for a pittance (50c) and return it when you were done. Absolute genius. On the campsite, it just made you a hell of a lot more aware of what you were wasting, and a lot more respectful of the environment because you knew that you’d have to clear it all up at the end (and no one wants to tidy up a broken tent that smells of fish. Ray)


The no-alcohol thing was a bit different. As confirmed beer-wine-whatever’s-going-we’re-not-fussy drinkers, we never thought we’d say this, but it actually wasn’t so bad. Although we definitely lost the ability to dance until the early hours (we just got SO TIRED so QUICKLY!), waking up each day without a sandpaper mouth and a brass-band headache was absolute bliss! Also, we remember the WHOLE THING. The names of each act, what we learnt in our Yogic Sleep and Mbira classes, how to do contact juggling – we REMEMBER IT ALL.


In fact, despite the clear no alcohol rule, there were definitely one or two or a few hundred people swigging suspiciously coloured liquids from water bottles. The same went for the ‘no dogs’ and the ‘no camping under trees’ enforcement; hush puppies were prancing around the grounds and people cheekily hooked guy ropes onto the signpost of the latter. Yet, the disregard for rules at Luminate was (if possible) the most amicable disregard that we have ever seen. Unlike other festivals, where there is a clear us vs them rapport between punters and security, this casual rule bending was taken as a given and any sense of insolence or tension was totally non-existent. The organisers knew that they had to state basic rules for box-ticking purposes only; if a tree falls on a tent, or an inebriated nutter falls into a sinkhole, any liability is tactically avoided. And with these stated rules (guidelines), the authorities can leave the hippies alone.




For fear of boring you, we ain’t going to do a blow by blow account (we’ve just checked the time and using a computer is VEE EXPENSE here), so here are a couple of highlights.


THE MUSIC, of course. Some amazing global beats on the Live Stage, which would not be out of place on Glastonbury’s Glade Stage (if that even still exists). Check out Beyondsemble, The Underscore Orchestra, Matiu Te Huki, Carolina Moon and Adam Sheikh if you can. THE KIDS were also fantastic. Never before have we seen so many little ones running around a festival and what made it all the more cute was that they were all mini-hippies! Mullets, face-paints and mud everywhere. Very very sweet indeed. The array of MASTERCLASSES and WORKSHOPS made us do things that we would never have thought of doing before. Contact juggling, acrobalance (which ended up with a broken toe, but we have SO MANY tricks to show you on our return), yogic sleep (recommend this SO much), regular yoga (so sweaty. Regular exercise needs to be on the agenda from now on), contact staff, mbira and many others. Although we’re not accomplished in any of it, by any stretch of the imagination, at least we can say we tried. Another quirk (how bloomin’ quirky is this festival?!) was the proliferation of BIKES at the festival. Can’t be bothered to walk from your tent to the main stage, then cycle.. GENIUS! Standard mention to the FOOD – organic, handpicked, handmade, healthy, superfood goodness. Nyom. (And we did manage to find some meat. Win). There was also a hella lotta FIRE. Never quite appreciated how mesmerizing it is, nor how WARM it is. It gets awful chilly beans up the top of a mountain I’ll have you know. A final mention must go to the overall friendliness of everyone at the festival; volunteers, stall owners, artists and general punters, everyone was a bona fide happy camper.




Saying that, I think we weren’t so fussed on the excess nakedness (including Naked Man. Always lived up to his name), nor were were taken by the slightly weirder masterclasses, such as Family Shamanism (eh??!), Mantra Music and a whole lot of Co-Creator bullsh….




Is seven days of festival too long? Don’t think so. We had an absolute blast and it was the first time we’ve ever left a festival feeling more refreshed than when we went in. However, fun as it is talking about yoga and tantra and the importance of spirulina (?) in your diet and homeschooling and unicycling and doing fire-poi and dancing naked before having a cup of organic sugarless milkless everything-less herbal tea, we have come to the conclusion (in the words of Celyn Thomas) that being a hippy occasionally is fine, but perhaps ‘surf and beer’ is more our style.



For the time being, we’re still walking barefoot and learning how to do hairbraids..








We’re Off…


South Island it is bais.


Ferry to Picton at ridiculous o’clock tomorrow morning and then on to Takaka Hill for Luminate Festival.



Don’t be alarmed if there is no contact for a week or so. Proof of life not needed. We’ll probably be playing the didgeridoo and making bracelets out of recycled flip flop like the filthy hippies we would love to be.


Click the orange writing to check out where we are heading