Well, well, well… where did the first part of the year go? I have had such an amazing Summer and have meet some wonderful people. One of highlights of the Summer for me was a tour I was lucky enough to co-guide with the most wonderful and ever so knowledgeable John Houlton and a group of 32 South Korean Geology students, I had a blast throughout the entire tour, but the last night is one I will never forget. I have had the privilege to enjoy the Milford sound cruise a couple of times now but I have never seen it so crystal clear and smooth before, so much so that the staff of the boat decided to change the itinerary to make the most of it. We spent the afternoon kayaking around a small cove and doing bombs off the back of the ship. As if we thought this night could not get any better the staff took the boat out of Milford where not only did we get to witness an amazing sunset over the ocean, and a variety of sea birds including the wandering albatross but we even had an evening show put on for us by a pod of at least 20 if not more common dolphins. No matter how many times I see dolphins, it always feels like its the first time, it fills me with such excitement like a child on Christmas eve. I can almost guaranty that I was not the only person who felt this way. As this was the last night and after the excitement of the day’s events we were all feeling sleepy even though we decided to stay up for a few hours to do some star gazing. I have shared some great times, loads of laughs and stories over this summer… Bring on next season.
As of Sunday I will be pretty much on the road for most of February and March. Starting with a 10day tour with a group of Geologist students from Korea. I’m really excited about this as I will be sharing this tour with another guide, the well seasoned and ever so knowledgeable John Houlton. The other bonus is that it starts in Arthur’s Pass, down the West Coast, Queenstown and Milford Sounds. To be honest I never get sick of doing this trip, the big reason is that as soon as I cross the main divide in Arthur’s Pass I get butterflies and a sense of feeling that I’m going home. I love the whole drive, so much beautiful and diverse scenery along the way. Lush native bush, crystal clear streams, mirror lakes, and amazingly blue flowing rivers. Another bonus is that we get to spend a night on a boat cruise in Milford Sounds… Yippeee, as you can imagine I’m pretty excited about this one.
Well it’s been a wonderful start to the year and I have enjoyed a couple of day trips up to Arthur’s Pass. The Air up there always seems so beautifully fresh. No matter what time of year the views up here are fantastic. Doing the Bealey chasm always makes me smile. In the snow it looks magical like something out of a Disney fairy-tale, The rain adds a bit of mystery and the forest offer’s shelter for the walk and the sunshine well what can I say… Picture Perfect!! I have spent a bit of time here growing up, it was a great place for sometime out and a weekend camping and tramping trip, a good choice for school outdoor education classes and camps, and always a stop on along the way to Christchurch and back.
I’m back on the road tomorrow, heading down to Queenstown. Will back with more tales soon.
Happy New Year…. Wow what a busy last few weeks its been, and I’m guessing I’m not the only one who feels that way. I have been all around the South Island and back, and been lucky enough to have been chasing the sun the whole time and sharing some beautiful days along the West Coast through into Queenstown with fantastic guests. In the days leading up to Christmas I had some really fun day tours to Akaroa, Aoraki/Mt Cook and Arthur’s Pass with great families and people. One of the trips to Arthur’s Pass was with a Singaporean family who were delightful, we had fun walking up to Devil’s Punch-bowl, through the forest and to the Bealey chasm.
There has been a few wee surprises awaiting the guests in Akaroa, Mama’s showing off their pride and joy… their babies, which is enough to make even manly men make wooing and nawww noises.
I had a blast with a family from Chicago who I also had the pleasure of spending Christmas day with. Our trip took us to the West Coast and on to Franz Josef, they were all an active, out-going bunch so their time there was spent in helicopters, hiking on the Glacier and sky diving. I had a bit of free time so I used it to do some exploring and walks that I have not checked out yet around the area. I love nothing more than being in the middle of the forest, amongst the native trees and ferns, the sweet smell of the bush, and the sounds of nature with songs from the Bell-bird, Tui and Kereru.
Wow let the fun festivities begin… I’m really looking forward to the next couple of weeks/months as its beginning to look like I have less days in the office and more days on the road. One day-tour I really enjoy doing is a trip to the quaint little french town of Akaroa. If you strike it on a sunny day it is absolutely beautiful, a picturesque view of the bay as you come over the peninsula. The stillness of the waters is enough to calm a busy mind.
The town itself is a early French settlement. Many of the houses and buildings are in fact historic and have been re-stored to give you that true feeling, it’s a bit like stepping back in time. One of the biggest and main attractions once in Akaroa, is that this is one place in New Zealand you are pretty much guaranteed to find one of the two smallest and rarest dolphins in the world. The Hector dolphin is about 1.4metres in length and they have a ‘Micky-Mouse’ ear shaped dorsal fin. As tough as It may sound, as part of my job I had to go swimming with these inquisitive and playful cuties. There was four of us from Canterbury Trails, both the bosses Irene and Chris, one of our other fantastic guides John.D and myself. Well who would’ve thought but almost as soon as we hopped into the water these little guys were totally interested in me and kept swimming around me. It could have been the squealing noises I was making with excitement that drew their attention as the high pitched sounds could have been considered similar to the ones they make giving the impression I was one of there own, however I like to think of myself now being a dolphin whisperer.
I am no longer feeling quite like the new kid on the block and have enjoyed the last few weeks around the South Island. I have heard many times the saying ‘ If you love your work, you will never have to work a day in your life.’ I’m really starting to understand the meaning of this, even the days in the office aren’t too bad. I managed to get myself onto a flight over Kaikoura with Wings Over Whales, such an amazing view of Kaikoura and it’s ranges. I enjoyed the scenery so much so, that I kept forgetting to keep an eye out for the whales. However, luckily I was also able to do the Whale Watch boat cruise in which I had a front row seat in seeing 5 magnificent sperm whales. Watching them as they rest and catch their breath before they set themselves up to go in for that gracious dive into depth below, this was definitely a highlight.
I have been lucky enough to share my time on the road with some great families and couples. I had an awesome time with a Singaporean family, where I had the privilege of joining them for a helicopter ride with Over the Top in Queenstown. We landed on top of a snow covered mountain, being from Singapore snow is something of a rarity. So we all had a blast playing in the snow. Their 6year old daughter is a big fan of the Disney movie ‘Frozen’ so it was an important part of their trip to New Zealand and getting to witness her touch snow for the first time was one of my favorite moments too. There were snow-ball fights and we built a snow man.
Another tour I have had recently is a lovely New York couple. Bill and Karen, I had a lot of fun with these guys. We shared stories and many laughs while we walked through the bush and forest on the west coast. Both were really interested in the history of New Zealand and especially the Maori culture. To make their stay a little more special, while staying in Franz Josef the boys at Te Waionui, Melvin and Chance preformed a private Haka for them and then were more than happy to pose fiercely for a photo.
Having recently started with Canterbury Trails as a guide, Irene has delegated the blog to me. I will attempt to do this justice giving regular updates on my life as a guide with this wonderful company (extra brownie points in case Irene decides to read this). I started with the company in July and I must say that the first few weeks learning the ropes were difficult. Getting to experience swimming with dolphins, watching whales, flying around in a helicopter.