A Travellerspoint blog

Fiji time

Our flight to Fiji was just 3 hours. We landed and made our way into the arrivals hall where we were greeted by local Fijians playing guitars whilst we waited to go through border control!

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For our first night we were staying in Nadi, just 10 minutes from the airport. It was weird having an actual room again after 6 weeks in a car! Once in our room we went out to the beach where we had our first Fijian sunset.
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We then had dinner at the hotel and got an early night as we were up at 6am the next morning to start island hopping! We were picked up from the hotel at 7am and driven to the port where our boat then left for the islands. The island we were going to was 2 hours away but the journey went really quick as we had lots of amazing islands to view along the way.

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As the islands are so small the boat cannot pull up for us to get off so a little rickety boat from our resort greeted us in the middle of the sea and we had to jump across boats to continue our journey! We were all sat on the floor of the boat and once our bags were loaded we sped off towards the island.

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Our first island was a basic resort/homestay where there was no WiFi and electricity was only turned on at night. However the resort was really lovely with great views and a private beach just for us.

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We had booked a dorm room for this stay but when we checked in the lady told us we had been put in a private room! There were still some people in our room so we left our bags and went out to relax on the beach. We had our first buffet lunch and then Hannah made some jewelry with the locals before we headed back to the beach again.
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We were then finally in our room and after a cold shower we went for dinner with everyone at the resort. After dinner the staff at the resort taught us some local Fijian dances and games! One game involved dancing and then when the music stopped the lady shouted a number and you had to get into a group of people of that size. We survived the first couple of rounds until the lady shouted 3 and we ended up in a group of 4... Sam kindly shoved Hannah out of the circle so she was out whilst he stayed in the game!! Games over we chilled with everyone and then went to bed.

We spent another 2 days at this resort. The weather had turned a bit rainy so we were constantly going back and forth from the sunbed to shelter when it started chucking it down. On our final evening the staff put on a culture demo where they showed us some of the important items involved in their rituals and culture. They then passed around Kava for us all to try which is a drink derived from the root of a plant. It looked like muddy puddle and tasted like it too. The locals loved it though!

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The following morning was the nicest weather we had had so far! It was so hot and not a cloud in the sky. However we were leaving that morning so we packed up our bags ready to go to our next island. The staff sang us the goodbye song and then we got on the little boat which took us to the larger boat for the rest of our journey.

Our next stop was Nanuya Island where we were staying at Mantaray Island Resort. This stay was a step up from the previous with WiFi and electricity all day! It was still lovely and sunny when we arrived so after checking into our 'bure' (chalet/hut) we went out to the beach. That afternoon the tide had come in so we were able to go out snorkelling just off the beach. The coral was amazing and we saw lots of fish! The current then became really strong and we were drifting towards where boats come in so we quickly got back to the safety of the beach.

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That evening we had a 3 course dinner and then the staff put on a dance show. We had to join in with 2 dances at the end which was so tiring! Everyone was very sweaty by the end.

We were at Mantaray resort for another 2 days where we spent the mornings chilling on the beach and then then the afternoons snorkelling around the amazing reef!

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After another farewell song we boarded the boat to our final island - Blue Lagoon!

We'd heard a lot about Blue Lagoon and everyone who had already been there said it was amazing so we had high expectations. We were greeted with a welcome drink and arrived just in time for lunch which was really nice (except for a fish dish we accidentally put on our plates which was disgusting!!) We then checked into our room which again was really nice and spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool. That evening we watched sunset before having dinner right on the beach.
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Once again we had another 2 nights at Blue Lagoon where we spent the majority of our time around the pool. The resort did however have an inflatable obstacle course out in the sea so we went on that with some other people we'd met...

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Our time on the Fijian islands was then over :( we got the boat back to the mainland which took 5 hours and we are now staying in Nadi for one final night before getting up at 5am tomorrow for our 10.5 hour flight to Hong Kong 🇭🇰

Posted by SamHannah 18:06 Comments (1)

4,510 miles later.. goodbye New Zealand

We finally arrived back on the North island, 2.5 hours later than expected! We drove straight to the nearest campsite and went to bed.

The following day we went into Wellington so Sam could get a haircut. It took us ages to find a parking space and then once we parked up we walked around for about 20 minutes looking for a barbers. Finally we came across one so Sam went in there. After this we went to the Ta Papa museum which had lots of different exhibitions on about Maori culture and NZ war. We then left the museum and headed back to the car. As we walked back Hannah pointed out a barbers shop on the other side of the road to where we were parked that we hadn't seen. We then realised the shop we'd parked outside of was also a barbers which we'd completely missed!! Still we got a tour of the city whilst searching.

We then drove half an hour out of Wellington and stopped off for lunch by the river before driving 3 hours up the west coast to Mount Taranaki. We arrived at the campsite and stayed there for the rest of the evening.

The next morning we drove to Mount Taranaki to do one of the hikes.

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The main one we were looking at was half closed because of a landslide so we went on a slightly different route which we were told would be 3.5 hours. When we set off it was lovely and sunny and about 5 minutes into the walk it all clouded over! Still we carried on, climbing a lot of stairs and then making it to the first lookout where we couldn't see much. We continued the walk which then became really rocky and the bushes were all overgrown...

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We also had some interesting stairs to climb...
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We then reached the summit and had an amazing view of cloud...

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It had only taken us just over an hour to reach the top so we knew it wouldn't take 3.5 hours altogether. After a little break we started to make our way down the steep path, Hannah nearly slipping over exactly where a lady in front of us had just fallen! It was a lot clearer and sunnier at the bottom but it was still really cloudy at the top so we were glad we didn't hang around to try and see the view.

We made it back to the car and had some lunch before driving back to the campsite for the afternoon.

The following day we went to another point at Mount Taranaki, this time to see Dawson Falls and Wilkie's pools. We started walking through the rainforest and then came to Wilkie's pools.

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We then carried on and the path got a lot muddier and quite slippy. Sam hadn't worn his walking shoes so he tripped over a few times! Hannah was leading the way and thought she was following the orange arrows when we ended up deep in the bushes. We turned back around and realised we'd missed a really obvious path and instead Hannah had just led us into a load of bushes! Back on track we carried on and then came to Dawson Falls...

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We had then reached the end of the track so we went back to the car and headed for a free campsite. The campsite was set on a lake and home to lots of endangered birds. We had lunch and then walked around the lake as it was really sunny. When we got back we were being attacked by flies so decided to leave for another campsite to save the pain of getting bitten again!

After a peaceful nights sleep with no flies we set off to drive the Forgotten World Highway (NZ's oldest heritage trail). We set off through the twisty and windy roads where there were just a few random houses dotted along the way. After an hour of driving we arrived at The Republic of Whangamomona. This town declared themselves a republic in 1989 as the local council wanted to split them into 2 regions which they weren't happy about so they made themselves a republic instead! They even have presidents, although they have only had 1 human president and the rest have been animals!!! We stopped off at the only pub in the republic, had a drink and got our passports stamped...

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Our journey then continued along the Forgotten Highway for another 2 hours where we drove past lots of beautiful scenery and also through a tiny tunnel/Hobbit Hole as the sign called it!

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Once we reached the end of the highway we headed to Waitomo, stopping off at the impressive Marokopa falls along the way...

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After a busy day we arrived at our campsite and went to sleep. The following day we drove further North of the island, first stopping off at Bridal Veil Falls...
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We then drove to the town of Raglan and our maps decided to take us the scenic way along very twisty and gravelly roads. After a bumpy journey we arrived and had lunch by the black sand beach where everyone goes to surf (we didn't have a go!). That afternoon we went to Hamilton where we visited the gardens there which were really pretty...

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After our stop off in Hamilton we drove 30 minutes down the road to a tiny little town as there was a free camping site there! However when we arrived there was some event going on and people weren't able to camp that night so we had to go elsewhere. Free camping obviously isn't meant to be for us!!

The following day was our final full day in New Zealand! We spent the day at the campsite packing up our bags and cleaning the car out. After one final sleep in the car we drove back to the depot and dropped off Cannonball :(

6 weeks, 4,510 miles driven & 2 dead batteries later we survived campervanning!
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We are now at Auckland airport waiting for our flight to Fiji!!

Posted by SamHannah 06:41 Comments (1)

Blue planet 🐧🐳

We arrived in Dunedin and went out to explore the town. First we followed a street art trail, visiting the railway station along the way which was a really lovely building. Opposite we saw a massive Cadbury sign and realised there was a Cadbury world in Dunedin! We were so excited and planned to go and buy some of the chocolate scraps... However when we got round the corner we realised it had been shutdown :( it then started to rain so we went to our campsite and settled down for the night.

The following day was really cold (14 degrees!) and still pretty rainy. We spent the morning round the campsite and then went out to the east of the city with the hope of finally seeing some penguins! We got to Sandfly Beach at 16:30 and the penguins tend to come in for the night between 17:00-18:00. We made our way down the sand dunes to the beach. The sand was so soft we were sliding everywhere on the way down and our shoes were full of sand!

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First we walked down the beach and then back again to the main point where the penguins come in. It was now 17:00 so we stood and waited... And waited, and waited!! By 17:40 we hadn't seen any penguins and it was so cold and windy we gave up :( all of the reviews online said people saw penguins at 17:00 so they must have been avoiding us!!

Another unsuccessful penguin trip so we decided to give up looking for them!

The following day we were making our way to Christchurch. It was a 5 hour drive with not much along the way so we drove straight there. Our original plan was to go into the centre first (Sam needed a haircut) but then we changed our mind and put the map to take us to our campsite instead. We arrived at about 15:00 and heard that there had been an incident within the last hour in the centre so we were advised not to go there. We got our phones to see what was going on and that's when we heard about the terrorist shootings. We couldn't believe it. We were sitting in our car reading the news when the camp caretaker came up to us, giving Hannah a right fright!! He told us we were now on lockdown and weren't allowed to leave the camp 'until they catch the dickhead' were his exact words.

So we stayed in the car keeping an eye on the news. We were finally taken off lockdown at 18:00 but we decided to just stay put and have dinner. The following day we stayed out of the centre again and went out to Arthur's Pass.

It was a lovely drive through the mountains to get there and as soon as we arrived it started raining! Still we carried on and walked 30 minutes to a waterfall...

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We then walked further through the forest and along Arthur's Pass, seeing another waterfall along the way. After 1.5 hour walking we decided we were getting too wet so we turned back. On the way back to Christchurch we stopped at Castle Hill, an area with lots of limestone boulders...
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We climbed some of the boulders and walked around for a bit before deciding to leave. However we kept coming to dead ends where we were blocked off by the boulders, we couldn't find a way out! It took us about 20 minutes to find our way out. Finally back on the road Sam started driving back round the twisty mountains when the clouds closed in on us and we couldn't see a thing!
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Luckily it didn't last too long and we made it through with no accidents.

The following day we headed East of Christchurch to do another walk to a viewpoint. However once again the weather was not on our side and it was really cloudy and rainy. As we drove further we realised we wouldn't be able to see anything so we turned around and headed back.

We stopped off in the centre of Christchurch on our way back. First we walked around the botanical gardens which led us to the memorial area set up for the victims of the terrorist attack. There were lots of people there laying flowers and leaving pictures/paintings/letters.

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After this we walked around the city and to the Cathedral which was damaged in the 2011 earthquake and is still damaged today...

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We had one final night in Christchurch and then drove up to Kaikoura the following day. On the way up we were stuck in traffic due to roadworks and alongside us on the beach we saw some penguins! After all of our searching we'd finally seen some! We couldn't get out of the car though to have a closer look because of the roadworks, typical. But at least we'd finally seen some!

That day the sun reappeared so we had a walk around the town, stopped off for a drink in the pub and then chilled at the campsite.

The next day we were off an a whale watching tour!! We headed out on our boat tour and within 5 minutes we'd seen our first sperm whale! It sat on the water for a bit and then dove down, giving us full view of its tail as it went up in the air. We then carried on and saw another 3 sperm whales (they normally see 2 on the tours!)...
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As we headed back to shore we stopped where there was a school of dusky dolphins. There were loads of them and they loved playing around the boat and doing flips...

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Our tour was then over so we headed back to the bay and then got some fish & chips (not as good as home!). That evening we headed to a different campsite right at the north of the south island. The following day we went back to Blenheim, our first stop on the south island to do a bit more wine tasting! This time we just walked to the wineries rather than renting bikes.
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We are now on the ferry (after a 2 hour delay) back to the north island for our final week in New Zealand.

Posted by SamHannah 12:41 Comments (3)

Swinging into Queenstown

After another dead car battery in the morning and paying to get jump started we arrived in Queenstown, parked up the campervan and took the short walk into the town centre. We stopped at the AJ Hackett office and after debating whether we should or shouldn’t, we finally booked the Nevis swing for the following morning. Once we had paid there was no going back as we would lose our money!

We jumped back in the camper van and drove along the lake to Glenorchy to charge the car battery. It was a small town with not a lot going on so we had a quick walk by the lake and then went back to Queenstown and straight to the pub in the sun! Hannah had gone quiet all of a sudden and then said she didn’t want to do the swing anymore. What a pain.

After Sam (scared of heights and thinking we were going to plummet to our deaths) had reassured her it would be fine, we headed to bed for an early night.

After a rather restless night we woke up the next morning and it was time for the swing! We headed down to the office to check in, were weighed and took a nervous trip to the toilet before getting on the bus to take us to the canyon.

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It was a 40 minute drive to Nevis and once we arrived we were reweighed and then put into a harness. We were then told to go to the platform. It was all very quick! We crossed the bridge to the platform with only one couple in front of us. Sam was more scared of the bridge than the actual swing!! We watched them go and then it was our turn.

We were strapped in, posed for photos and were then told to sit and put our feet over the edge. Sam done this straight away whilst Hannah wasn’t sure and had to ask the staff if that’s what we have to do and how to do it!! Finally with us both hanging over the canyon it was time to go...3...2...1 and we dropped. 70m free falling and then swinging between the canyon, it was over so fast but it was brilliant! We were pulled back to the top and were unstrapped before heading back over the bridge to see our videos and pictures!

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We then watched some people Bungy jumping before getting back on the bus to Queenstown. It was all over by 10:30am!! Back in Queenstown it rained for the rest of the day so we watched our video back again and again and then watched some films.

The sun reappeared the following day so we did a two hour return hike to a viewpoint over Queenstown. We had lunch at the top of the mountain and then watched people taking on the luge and some downhill mountain biking before heading back down ourselves.
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That evening we walked around the Botanic Gardens before having dinner at the well known Fergburger where some people claim it’s the best burger in the world! We hadn’t heard of it until just before arriving in New Zealand but had to give it a try. The queue was about 10 minutes to order and then a 10 minute wait for food. It was a nice burger but we wouldn’t say the best in the world, the chips were really good though :) We both ordered massive burgers and were sooo full after!!

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We were leaving Queenstown the next day and headed for Milford Sound. After a 3 hour drive we arrived and had a walk around the edge of the lake. It was nice but there were too many sandflies around for us to hang about even (they weren't fazed by the bug spray either!). So we left for the smaller town of Te Anau for two nights where we just chilled out.

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We then headed right to the south of the South Island for a couple of days and drove along the coast. First we stopped off at gemstone beach where Hannah went searching for some gemstones, she found some nice looking stones but not sure if they’re actual gems! We then stopped off at the most southerly point of the South Island and at a couple of beaches to try and see penguins and seals (we didn’t see any). The following day we went to another beach where we saw some sea lions laying on the beach! Wooo! We also went to a penguin lookout but as it was daytime we didn't see any. We will try again one evening when they are coming back from sea!

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The coastal road had now come to an end so we started to make our way up the East coast, stopping first in Dunedin where we are currently staying.

Posted by SamHannah 05:54 Comments (2)

Stars in our eyes

We woke up for our first day in Franz Josef and it was pouring with rain! We drove the car for a little bit so it didn't die again and then had a day in the car watching movies.

The next morning was so cold we were awake early shivering in the car. It was forecast to be a sunny day so Sam decided there was no time to lose and had us up and out of the campsite by 8am! Hannah just about had time to brush her teeth! We got some petrol and headed to the glacier for a 5 hour hike to Roberts point.

The hike was described as winding up the valley and then an upwards climb to the viewpoint. They failed to mention that it was essentially  rock climbing!! We started the walk on a nice easy path and crossed a swing bridge. After this the walk turned rocky, muddy and quite steep. We then got to another swing bridge and as we were walking across it started creaking, Sam crapped himself and got across as quickly as possible! Turns out it was maximum load of 1 person at a time and we'd missed the sign! We carried on, crossing a few streams/waterfalls along the way. About an hour into the walk we then had to cross a very long swing bridge...
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After crossing a big stream the walk then became a lot harder and we actually had to vertically climb up some rocks at one point! It was also quite slippy from the rain but luckily we didn't fall.
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At one point we came across a deep puddle blocking the way. Hannah saw that there was a little rock peeping out so she stepped on that and got across safely. Sam however decided to go his own way and ended up a bit stuck as he couldn't get up the other side without slipping...

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After a little while trying to work out what to do he then found a way over and made it to across! The walk continued and 2 hours later we made it to the viewpoint...

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We spent 30 minutes at the viewpoint, getting some pictures and our energy back! It was then time to make our way back down which Hannah was not looking forward to. Going down the slippy rocks was definitely harder than going up but we made it down with no major falls. In all it took us 4.5 hours with the break :)

That afternoon we headed down the road to Fox Glacier and spent the rest of the day chilling. The following morning it was really sunny so we set off to Lake Matheson, which is famous for its reflections of the mountains. We parked up and walked around the lake, which had amazing views all around...
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We then drove to Fox Glacier but the road leading to the main viewpoint was closed so we went to one a little further away and saw the glacier from afar. After that we drove for 2 hours down to Wanaka, stopping at some blue pools and waterfalls along the way, the water was so clear!...

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To get to our campsite for the night we had to drive along an amazing lake and then down a gravelly road where we got stuck behind some sheep! That evening we spent all wrapped up in the car as we (Hannah) had been bitten loads and didn't want to get anymore!

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The following day we explored Wanaka, visiting the famous tree and walking around the lake. We had lunch by the lake before driving off into the mountains to Lake Takepo.

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Once we arrived at Lake Tekapo we checked into our campsite and sat out in the sun as it'd finally got warm again after a cold week! Tekapo is an international dark sky reserve so we decided to book onto a stargazing tour for the following night, leaving at 1:15am.

So we went off to bed and then Sam woke up at 3am to check the football scores and had a missed call and voicemail from a NZ number who rang just after 1am. A bit confused he woke me up and we guessed it must've been the tour group. Hannah looked at the email confirmation and then we realised we'd booked for Sunday 3rd March at 1:15am which meant that technically we were going Saturday night - we'd missed our tour!!! An email then came through to Hannah's phone from 20:30 reminding us that our tour was tonight. We couldn't believe we'd messed it up, especially as the tour was pretty expensive!

We were then wide awake and finally got back to sleep around 6am. When we woke up Hannah rang the tour company and they said people make that mistake a lot and thankfully we were able to go on the tour the following night which is the one we thought we'd booked on anyway. Phew!!!

Panic over, we headed out to the observatory to see views of Lake Tekapo from above. After lunch we walked into Tekapo along the lake path, stopping at the famous Church of the Shepherd. We then went back to our campsite, had dinner at sunset and then got a couple of hours sleep before waking up at midnight for our tour! We made sure we were nice and early so we didn't miss it again!

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We met with the tour group and our bus driver drove us up to Mt John Observatory, an active university researching astronomy. We were given red lights to guide us around so that no white light affected what we could see in the sky. The view was amazing - it was a perfect night for skygazing with no clouds and the moon wasn't out yet so the stars were even brighter! We were able to see the milky way, Jupiter, 2 galaxies orbiting our universe alonf with thousands of stars! We spent an hour and a half at the observatory, looking up at the sky and learning about different stars. We got to take a closer look at some stars through the huge telescopes. They also showed us Jupiter through the telescopes and we were able to clearly see the ring around it and also some of its stars, it was amazing! Because we don't have a proper camera with us our phones just got black screens but we did get one professional picture taken...

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We were then dropped back off at our campsite just after 3am and we went straight to sleep. After chilling for a day at our campsite we left Tekapo and headed for Mount Cook. On the way we stopped at Lake Pukaki which had very blue waters due to rock flour from the glaciers which once were there...
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We then drove to Mount Cook and did a 2 hour walk along the mountains to a viewpoint. This walk was paved all the way so much easier than the others we've done :) Once we got to the viewpoint we sat down for a drink and snack and after 5 whole minutes we had to leave because Sam was being attacked by bees again (not stung though).

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After this we headed to our new campsite where we are staying for one night before going to Queenstown.

Posted by SamHannah 11:55 Comments (3)

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