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Tracey’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Location: Queenstown, New Zealand


Arrived in Queenstown late this afternoon and from what I have seen so far it seems to be a very nice city. Since I left Rory and Hilda the van I lived in I travelled down the West Coast. It was pouring with rain from Westport, but luckily saw the fur seal colony before it got too bad, but by the time I reached the pancake rocks the rain was terrible. I reached Greymouth where the roads were like rivers by that time and stayed in the dry and watched the film 'The Hurricane' with a few others. In the morning I drove on down the coast stopping at Hokitika where I looked for washed up jade on the beach. Reached the farm I had arranged to stay at about lunch time where I met Phil (the farmer) and his mother Vera. My waterproofs finally came in handy whilst helping with the stock. The farm was very wet, with bogs and quite a bit of bush. The area reminded me of Snowdonia with the surrounding snowy mountains. Phil kept Hereford and Angus cattle, and sheep that were half perendale, quarter finn and quarter texel. The first day was the worst when I got the electric fence into a tangle but after that I didn't do anything else wrong. At the time Phil was about to sell all his stock as a dairy firm had put in an offer to lease the farm. Friday night I went to a pub quiz, then Saturday morning I left for more exciting adventures.

Off I went to Fox. After hearing different people's opinions I chose to go up Fox Glacier rather than Franz Josef. We were split into two groups and at first I thought oh dear why am I in this group because we had four very slow walkers who we had to wait for all the time - and the one person looked as if she was going to collapse. But, once we had got onto the ice my annoyance waned and I was glad that our time on the ice did not get cut short because of the slow people. The ice forms were quite amazing. After the ice hike I enquired about a skydive over Fox and was told I could do it later in the afternoon. I was surprised I could do it so soon but when I went for the dive I was advised to wait till the morning as the cloud cover had got worse. So instead I walked around Lake Matheson. Unfortunately I had missed the Hereford Bull Sale by then. So Sunday morning I went for my skydive at 8.30am. It had rained during the night but by the morning it was clear. Also taking a skydive with me was a lad called Richard Powell from Ross (only 15 miles from where I live) and he asked me many questions about who I knew, my family and where I live as he has also been brought up on a farm and it is possible our fathers may know each other from market. Anyway only managed to find out one person we knew in common before I jumped out of the plane. The flight was very good which flew over the glaciers and had views of Mount Cook (The highest mountain in NZ). The scenery was probably very calming because I was quite calm even though I was about to jump out of a plane at 12000 feet. I don't remember my heart beating frantically at all. I suppose I had complete faith in the instructor attached to my back and I had my mind on getting the banana position right more than anything else. So first there is the freefall, then suddenly wooosh the parachute is opened and you have time to float around and look at the view. I managed to take some pictures while I was in the air but it was over too soon. I had better value than Richard because I was first to get out of the plane but he landed before me - not sure how that happened - perhaps me and my instructor were a bit lighter. We landed in a field with some sheep - I asked the instructor to avoid the fence and the water trough - actually we landed in Phil's (the farmer I stayed with) brother in law's field.

After the skydive I headed south to the start of the Copland Track. John who is rich from finding gold and is a friend of Phil's had told me about the walk which ends up at a hut with some hot pools. I had thought he had told me the distance was 7km but when I reached the track it said 17.6km on the sign taking 7 hours. It was midday and it generally gets a bit dark a bit after 5pm so I was a bit unsure whether I would reach the hut but I reckoned that based on other walks I was a bit quicker than the times they generally put on the signs. Straight away there was a river to cross - the first one I took of my boots, socks and rolled up my trousers but soon after I realised there was little point as it was quite a wet and muddy walk. The walk is in a valley with a blue/green river running through it between amazingly high mountains with snow on top. A valley walk sounds quite easy but there was some climbing, and it was quite strenuous carrying a large rucksack with all the supplies. There were avalanche warnings at some stretches of the walk where you were advised not to stop and the bridges were quite exciting (I think this walk was better than the skydive). Managed to get to the hut just before 5pm by that time the hut named Welcome Flat hut was very welcoming - there was no indication until a sign with 30 minutes to go how far you had to go. I then had a relaxing bath in one of the pools with a beer. John had told me that I should take a bottle of wine to drink whilst bathing in the pool under the starry sky but he gets to Welcome hut by helicopter so he isn't so bothered on how much he has to carry. Apparently when couples go here together they then get married.

At the hut there were two other couples and a German guy. The German guy had told me that he was walking on to the next hut and a bit further nearer to Mount Cook which sounded a good idea. I had only supplies for 2 days but I thought they could be stretched an extra day and the guy also offered me a couple of packets of his noodles. But, in the morning I couldn't find my wallet and was worried I had lost it. Finish later......