Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Zealand Trip-Day 6

Day 6-it is almost the end of our trip.We have seen the famous and frequently mentioned Milford Sound.Now it is time for us to go back to Queenstown.

The house which we rented in Te Anau.My wife was preparing breakfast.

Posing in front of the main office after checking out.We like this place very much.
After that we went to Manapouri which is a small town 20 minutes drive away from Te Anau. It is the gateway to both Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound.It is also the starting point for many local walking tracks.This place is very much quieter than Milford Sound.

Scenery on the returning journey to Queentown.Sheep..

Colourful plants and trees..

Sad..sad...encounters.Seen many road kills along New Zealand roads.Many animals were killed by speeding vehicles.

Stopping next to a beautiful lake...

Another nice scenery...

Encounter another problem on our way back to Queenstown.The GPS was not functioning.I called the car rental hotline and they suggested I bring the GPS to their Queenstown office for checking.The staff was helpful.She just exchange the GPS without asking much.

The view of a main road in Queenstown.It is busier here compared to any other town which we have passed through.Queenstown is very much alive!!while Christchurch is "dead" .

Visited the famous bungy jumping site in Queenstown..The Kawarau Bridge Bungy - home to the original 43 metre Bungy Jump.

I did not dared to jump...I don't think my heart can take it.However there were many others lining up waiting to jump.Crazy...risking the life,giving tremendous amount of stress to self and on top of these,have to pay NZD 180 per jump.The one who dared to take the challenge and successfully jump will be given a T-shirt and a certificate.Reminds me of full marathon finisher T and certificate.Ha..ha..ha..

Found out that bungee jumping can cause different kinds of injuries and occasionally accidents do happen.

***Bungee jumping injuries may be divided into those that occur secondary to equipment mishap or tragic accident, and those that occur regardless of safety measures. In the first instance, injury can happen if the safety harness fails, the cord elasticity is miscalculated, or the cord is not properly connected to the jump platform

Injuries that occur despite safety measures generally relate to the abrupt rise in upper body intravascular pressure during bungee cord recoil. Eyesight damage is the most frequently reported complication.Impaired eyesight secondary to retinal haemorrhage may be transient or take several weeks to resolve. Whiplash injuries may occur as the jumper is jolted on the bungee cord and in at least one case, this has led to quadriplegia secondary to a broken neck. Very serious injury can also occur if the jumper's neck or body gets entangled in the cord.More recently, carotid artery dissection leading to a type of stroke after bungee jumping has also been described.All of these injuries have occurred in fit and healthy people in their twenties and thirties. Bungee jumping has also been shown to increase stress and decrease immune function.***

Later that day we drove to Glenorchy which is famous for its horse rides and the making of the movie :Lord of the Rings.Glenorchy is a small settlement at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu in New Zealand's south Island. It is approximately 45 kilometres by road Queenstown.

The facts:

Glenorchy is a popular tourist spot, close to many tramping tracks. It lies near the borders of Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park. The local scenery received worldwide attention when it was used as one of the settings in the first of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films. The scene where Boromir was slain and leant near a tree, Lothlórien and Orthanc were a few that were shot in Paradise. Vertical Limit and X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian were also filmed in the area.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Zealand Trip-Day 5

Day 5-another good bright sunny day in Te Anau.We woke up early because we plan to drive to Milford Sound by 7:30am in order to avoid those buses heading in the same direction.

Milford Sound:

"Over one million people visit Fiordland every year and Milford Sound is one of their favourite destinations. A part of UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is no wonder that Milford Sound was described by Rudyard Kipling as the 'eighth wonder of the world'."

The Milford Road is a stunning alpine drive.One needs to allow plenty of time to make the drive through this steep and windy highway.There are many viewing points and short walking opportunities en route which provide opportunities to get out of the car to admire the spectacular scenery and the sheer scale of the landscape.

Total distance from Te Anau to Milford Sound and back is 240km and it will takes about 2 hours to drive non stop one way.There are no fuel stations along the way until Milford Sound.

Proper flush toilet stops can be found at Knobs Flat, The Divide and Milford Sound.

There is no cell phone coverage between Te Anau and Milford Sound.According to the information provided:Telephone services are available at Knobs Flat (card phone), Homer Tunnel (satellite phone for emergency use only) and Milford Sound (card phone).We have our first scare with our rented car about 25km from Milford Sound when we smell something burning while we were travelling down hill.We stopped at the nearest rest area and discovered that one of the car rim was dented and there was a burning smell from the front tyre.I was feeling panic and was trying to figure out ways to look for help.Then I decided to take the risk to drive up to Milford Sound before I call the car rental emergency help line.

***Another beautiful scenic view along the State Highway 94 which is one of the highest and most scenic state highways in New Zealand. The highest part of the road is at 940 metres above sea level. Posing in front of the Homer Tunnel while waiting for our turn to cross this tunnel.The road leading to this tunnel-before and after the tunnel is very steep and winding.I suspected my car rim might have knocked onto some rocks which I was not aware of.

We came across this aggressive bird during one of our stops.This bird is not afraid of humans and it is fierce.This bird tried to "force open"my car door by biting on the car rubber!!

The info on this bird:

"The Kea (pronounced keɪ.ə/; Māori: [kɛ.a]) (Nestor notabilis) is a large species of parrot. (family Strigopidae) found in forested and alpine regions of the South Island of New Zealand. About 48 centimetres (19 in) long, it is mostly olive-green with a brilliant orange under its wings and has a large narrow curved grey-brown upper beak. The Kea is the world's only alpine parrot. Its omnivorous diet includes carrion but consists mainly of roots, leaves, berries, nectar, and insects.

The Kea's notorious urge to explore and manipulate makes this bird a pest for residents and an attraction for tourists. Called "the clown of the mountains", it will investigate backpacks, boots or even cars, often causing damage or flying off with smaller items."

**Playing along a small stream on our way up to the Homer Tunnel.

***One of the stops along the Milford Road is The Chasm...massive rock formation and great water falls.
We took 3 hours to reach Milford Sound from Te Anau because of the frequent stops along the way.
***Inside this cruise terminal building waiting for our departure.Surprisingly there wasn't many people in Milford Sound,not like what described in travel websites or books.

We took the 3 hours long Discover More Cruise which also provides us a buffet lunch which was good,delicious and filling.There was also unlimited serving of coffee and tea throughout the trip.

***The Milford Deep Underwater Observatory which claimed to be the only floating underwater observatory in New Zealand.It was refurbished and re-launched in January 2010 with striking new information panels where one can learn the natural history, geology and environment of Milford Sound.There is a 10m underwater viewing chamber with a 360-degree views of the marine life which I find to be nothing special.

**Seals lying on the rocks.This was the only wildlife encounter during our 3 hours cruise in Milford Sound.

***Our ship getting near to a waterfall...We enjoyed the majestic surroundings and natural beauty of the Milford Sound including the wildlife , waterfalls and snow capped mountains.

On our way back from Milford Sound,we stopped by Lake Gunn as my son was very eager to try out his new fishing rod.The water was clear and we can see fish swimming close to us but unfortunately my son was unable to hook anyone of them.

My son was frustrated and he insisted to continue fishing at a river mouth in Te Anau.This location was provided by the owner of Stu Fish Shop.Despite spending another hour here,he still unable to get any fish.Arghh.....!!

We were out for almost 14 hours today.It was so nice to have a long day time during spring and summer.

We had a great trip to Milford Sound and the trip/cruise was definitely worth the time and money.

Monday, November 28, 2011

New Zealand Trip-Day 4

Day 4,Sunday-Woke up to a beautiful bright sunny morning in Queenstown.When I switched on the TV,I was surprised to see there was a live telecast of Sunday church service.Maybe I live too long in Malaysia until I got use to live telecast from mosque but not from a church.

The view of the nearby hill from my hotel room.Hotel: .As usual,we checked out early since we have a long drive to Te Anau,the getaway to Milford Sound.

On our way to Te Anau,we passed by the small town of Garston.Garston is New Zealand's most inland village with a population of only 106. It is located on the main tourist route between Queenstown and Milford and Doubtful Sounds, in the picturesque Upper Mataura Valley of the Southern Lakes district.

**My son peeping through the shop window...he just can't wait to go in and explore all the fishing gadgets.**

My son was looking forward to visit this shop after he discovered a brochure on this fishing shop in Queenstown.When we arrived in Athol, a small town in Southland, New Zealand located 55 km south of Queenstown, half way between Lumsden and Kingston,the shop was closed.The owner went out to teach students fishing.The shop website:
Since my son was so eager to see what was inside the shop,we decided to wait for the owner to return from fishing.We waited for almost an hour under a tree.There wasn't much to explore in a small town like Athol.

Finally,the owner appeared and he was very helpful and friendly.My son bought a fishing rod and 2 artificial baits from him.He even suggested to us the locations for fishing in Te Anau region by providing us with a free map and a free children fishing licence.My son was so happy.

Our house for the next 2 nights in Te Anau.This is a big and well equipped house.From outside this house looks like every other common house but interior it was almost all furnished with nice woods.There is a small garden,a car garage,satellite TV,heater for the whole house etc.We have the whole place for ourselves!!

The TeAnau main street..a very quiet town.A nice place to be for a few days or holidays but I think I will get mad if I were to stay for a long period in such a town.

Te Anau as described by a website:

"The township sits on the edge of Lake Te Anau, lying on the border of Fiordland National Park and Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area. Te Anau is the town that connects Queenstown to Milford Sound by road. 2 hours drive from Queenstown, the famously scenic Milford Sound begins in the centre of Te Anau.

Two of New Zealand’s great walks also start at the lake. The world renowned Milford Track starts at its northern tip, while the popular Kepler Track starts and ends at the lake’s south end, within walking distance from Te Anau town centre. The tracks offer a sense of freedom and inspiration to rival any in the world.

Lake Te Anau is the largest lake in the South Island and largest in the country by water volume getting to depths of over 400m.The lake sprawls at the feet of high rugged mountains, and during the summer the hot dry weather encourages water skiing, swimming, fishing and kayaking on the lake. During the winter, days are crisp and clear with frosty mornings and sunny days."

Went to the local office of Southern Discoveries to book my Milford Sound cruise and the trip to Te Anau Glowworm Caves. .This is a must to do itinerary for many who travel to Te Anau.There is also Internet kiosk available here for NZD1/10 minutes use.

"Described by Rudyard Kipling as the eighth Wonder of the World – and more recently voted the number one spot in New Zealand by Kiwi's and visitors alike – Milford Sound’s deep icy waters, sheer rock faces, glacial hanging valleys, thick native forest and local wildlife are best seen by boat."

The boat bringing us across the lake to the Te Anau Glowworm Caves.It was a beautiful cruise across the lake before we drop off at a briefing center.

A short briefing by our guide on the do's and don'ts before entering the cave.Then there was a short walk into the cave which was somewhat not exciting.I think Mulu Caves walk is even better.Then we sit in a boat for 5-10 mins in mostly darkness and look up for the glow worms which in few little cluster groups.Not many of them.

After the cave,the guide recommended us a short nature walk.Nothing much.Just a path across the jungle.Wasted our time walking and by the time we were back to the briefing center,all the coffee and refreshment were finished.We were rushed off to the waiting boat to go back to Te Anau.

Conclusion:AVOID!!Not worth the expensive entrance fees.It is nothing like what they shown on the websites or the promotional have been warned.

It was 8:30 pm when we reached Te Anau town.It was still bright but there wasn't many people around.We went for dinner at a local pizza shop.

Look forward to Milford Sound tomorrow...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Nike We Run KL 10K

Event;Nike We Run KL 10K
Place:Padang Merbok,Kuala Lumpur
Date:Sunday 27 Nov 2011,7:00am

I managed to register for this run immediately after running The King of The Road a few weeks ago.However Teng and Heng did not managed to register in time as the registration was closed very much earlier due to popular demand.

Initially I wasn't very keen to run at this race as there is no finishing medal and I thought running timing chips will not be used too.I was wrong as I did not bother to find out about this Nike event.Everything from collecting the race pack,information and route of the run was handled by Lau and Steve.

I just drove both of them to the Padang Merbok and run......

and I have no regret waking up so early today and joining Lau/Steve for this short 10km run.

***Immediately after finishing,plenty of mineral bottle drinks,bananas and a free Nike shoe shaped USB for all runners.***

It was a flat route,maybe a mild slope or two.No killing hills as intially thought.However there were many runners all dressed up in the red Nike T-shirts.From far,we all looked like colonies of small red ants.A very beautiful scene but too bad,I did not bring my camera.

***"Red ants" Padang Merbok taken after the run.The time printed on the picture is wrong as I did not set the time on my old hand phone.Nowadays I usually carried my old hand phone during run as I am afraid of losing my new handset...after the bad experience in Seremban Half Marathon***

Steve wanted to "pia"from the start and he found his way to the front of the crowd while Lau and me stayed somewhere in the middle of the crowd.It took us almost 3 minutes to get to the starting line after the race has started.This reminds me of the same situation during the starting of the full marathon event in Singapore Marathon.

***Runners hanging around the road leading to the finishing line.There were still many runners returning as we were walking back to our car.***

Lau intended to run at his marathon pace of 6min/km and I just followed him as I have not been running for some time.My plan was just to take it easy and see if my legs can still take it after such a long rest from running.

Lau and I ran together from the start until the end.We crossed the finishing line together.Hopefully I can find of a photo of us crossing the finishing line together .

The results of S2 runners:

Uu Ban 49 minutes

Steve 54 minutes

Lau and myself 58minutes 42 seconds

***The only gift after the run...a nice beautiful cutely shaped Nike shoe USB.I like this.Runners also get a nice red Nike T-shirt and a plastic Nike tumbler given out earlier in the race pack.***

Generally it was a well organised run.

Good points:

Plenty of drinks stations;4 stations for a 10km route.

Post run:Plenty of bananas,free ice creams,drinks and entertainment.

Bad points:

Human congestion!!At certain points,hardly can run.Can only do slow jog as it was too crowded with so many runners running on one lane of the road.Have to watch out for runners in front to avoid colliding into them and have to pay attention to moving cars on the next lane.Bad!!Bad!!Bad!!


Organiser should close the whole road throughout the entire route in the future.Remember...there are ten thousands runners!Half a lane is definitely not enough space for all of us to run.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

New Zealand Trip-Day 3

It was a wet morning on our day 3 in NZ.It has been raining since last night.We decided to check out earlier to get away from the rain.

After discussing with the caretaker of my motel,we decided to go to Queenstown instead of Mount Cook.The lady told us it was not worth the time to drive up to Mount Cook in a bad raining weather.Nothing much can be seen during bad weather.

On our way out of Lake Tekapo,we diverted to visit a Salmon Farm.

But the farm was closed one month for maintenance!!So there was no farm tour available.We just snapped some pictures and continue our journey.

"This unique farm has evolved from the first salmon farm in the world to operate in a hydro-electric canal system. Located on the Tekapo canal, the farm produces over 100 tonnes each year of high quality Chinook salmon - principally for export. Pristine water from Lake Tekapo and a pollution free environment mean no chemicals or antibiotics are required.

Visitors to the farm can have a self-guided tour of a production raft, and feed the fish."

A common view in New Zealand...many sheeps and cows.Occasionally we can see deers.The farms are usually located by the road side.

Today we drove from Lake Tekapo to Twizel,Omarama then south to Cromwell.

The Fruit Sculpture located adjacent to The Mall and State Highway. This was erected by a local service club and has become the symbol for Cromwell.Many tourists stop by to take pictures with this huge structure.

"Cromwell is strategically located as a holiday centre for the whole of Central Otago.Located at the shores of Lake Dunstan,about 55km to Wanaka and 62km to Queenstown."

Shotover jet ride at the outskirt of Queenstown.We went to have a look but did not ride.

Just before reaching Queenstown,we visited Arrowtown.

Nothing much here except for some shopping.The town is beautifully designed and well planned.

This is our hotel in Queenstown,the Shotover lodge.Nice place with beautiful view of surrounding mountains.

After settling down in our hotel rooms,we went off to explore Queenstown and the Lake Wakatipu.

There are so many activities to choose.One do not need to book in advance before arrival.The are plenty of spaces for every trip and activities.Do not believe those tour operators and websites who wanted you to commit earlier by paying up.

To quote:
"Our region is renowned for our incredible adventure activities and spectacular outdoor terrain. You could try skiing, snowboarding, bungee jumping, paragliding, jet boating, sky diving and more! Or, if you want something a little more relaxed, you can choose from numerous family activities,nature experiences,tours and beauty spas. Apart from our winter sports, nearly all activities can be enjoyed all year round - Queenstown's a four season resort with distinct and beautiful seasons"

One of the popular and busiest outlet in Queenstown is this burger outlet.Out of curiosity,we decided to give it a try.Click on this link to know more of this popular outlet in Queenstown:

This page takes time to be patient.

Nice big burger but expensive!!Price range from NZD 10-20 per burger.Spent almost RM150/family just to eat burgers.

We decided to try the jet boat along Kawarau River: .It was an exciting and thrilling ride.My children had a great time and they were pestering me to go for a second ride.Second ride??No way!!Its all about and money.

After the thrilling ride,I wonder if this ride is really safe.I decided to search for more info after I came back to Malaysia.I was right!!There were accidents..

Sept 2008-A Chinese tourist was found underneath the boat about 90 minutes after the Kawarau Jet boat flipped on the Shotover River after it collided with a sandbar.

July 1981- Five people die when jet boats from Helijet and Goldstream collide just above the Arrow Junction.

May 1996- An Alpine Jet boat hits rocks on the Kawarau River, putting five passengers and the driver in hospital.

December 1997- Eleven people escape serious injury when a Kawarau Jet boat flips on the Shotover.

March 1998- Twelve people are injured when a Dart River Safaris jet boat hits a rock.

November 1998- Four people are injured in a Helijet accident on the Kawarau River.

November 1999- One man dies and 11 are injured when a Shotover Jet hits a rock face.

June 2000- Two people are injured when a Skippers Canyon jet boat hits a bank on the Shotover River.

March 2003- A jet boat collides with a Dart Wilderness Adventures jet boat on the Dart River; no-one is seriously injured.

Spent the rest of the evening after our thrilling ride by going around Queenstown.The town is not very big and one can cover most of the important places on foot.