We live in the era of war and tragedy and accidents and some mayhem.

So usually, when we hear of the gallantry of a fire fighter who fought and saved people from burning to death, or the man on the border, who fought an attack from the enemy, or a bus driver who rescues passengers from the bus, even while risking his life, we do find ourselves applauding these brilliant acts and the people responsible for them.

And rightly so.

And yet, there are possibly many many more who need to be acknowledged, but who don’t get the same (or any) credit.

Let me give a few examples:

1. Recently there was a fire in a commercial building in Mumbai, causing a lot of damage, injuries to many firefighters, and even the death of one of them. This is the incident I refer to:

http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-mumbai-building-fire-one-fireman-dies-in-multi-storey-building-fire-in-andheri-2003106

Most certainly the fire fighters did a commendable job. Perhaps against a lot of odds. And they ensured that damage was restricted to the minimum, even at the cost of their own lives.

Think however, if there could have been another bigger hero.

The building inspector maybe, who spotted inadequate fire fighting facilities, or some changes made in the building which made it a fire hazard, etc. and who orders those to be fixed, much before the fire happened.

The building secretary maybe, who against all odds of the clout of the owners, who insist on having their way, manages to get changes done, so as to make the building a safer building for fires.

And ensures that the fire does not even happen!

Will such people even be acknowledged?? They will, in fact, be hated because they cause inconvenience, and force changes, and cause discomfort and expenses!!

2. War heroes or security forces who fight terrorists, are always celebrated. Those who combatted the insurgents in Kargil and won the war for India. Or those who fought off the terrorists at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai.

Absolutely deserved heroes of our times!

How about the ones on the border who day in and day out, look for the gaping holes from where enemy could sneak in. And keep covering those gaps. Keep ensuring that an enemy attack does not even happen. Perhaps risking their own lives, as they expose themselves to risk out there.

Or in case of the terror attack in Mumbai, what if a Coast Guard had identified a weakness in the system, ordered for fixes, ensured that some new equipment was ordered and installed, and fundamentally prevented an attack of this sort. We’d probably be thinking of the large capital expenditure, and whether there are kickbacks involved!

Leave alone giving him any due, for potentially preventing a Mumbai terror attack of that quantum, from happening!

3. This post was inspired in fact, by this story about an Air India plane that averted disaster,on account of some quick and smart thinking from the pilots on board.

http://www.rediff.com/news/report/how-air-india-crew-averted-a-major-air-disaster/20140718.htm

With 315 passengers on board, we could have been staring at a major disaster. Which thankfully, did not happen, due to the adept handling by the captains on board.

But as the article says, there was little or no mention of this heroic deed. As against that, if there had been a crash, God forbid, it would have been all over the papers!

That is the sad situation where a lot of heroes who ensure that disasters don’t happen, remain unsung heroes in society.

There is a certain apathy around those who are process oriented, who are finicky to the detail, who seem to have an eye to spot mistakes and alert.. they are not celebrated, but in fact, made fun of. Little realising that, these in fact, are the bigger heroes in our lives.

Let’s learn to respect processes, respect these individuals who work at it, relentlessly..

politician-cartoon-in-india_sIt was quite a unique and interesting proposal that the party had come up with, as a part of their manifesto, so the journalist decided to go and meet the senior minster to understand more about the proposal..

Interviewer: “Sir, where other metros have been working on setting up conventions centres and exhibition grounds in the city, your proposal for Delhi is something very different?”

Leader: “Yes, it is. You see, what Delhi needs today, is not one more convention centre or exhibition ground. What we needs are a few places where Dharnas can happen comfortably..”

Interviewer: “Few places? Why not just one??”

Leader: “See, this is the problem with you, young reporters. You do not go to the depth of any issue…”

“You know that there are all kinds of Dharnas and we need to take care of all of the different types…”

Interviewer: “Sir, pardon my ignorance on this. But for the benefit of our viewers, can you please explain what are the different type of dharnas?”

Leader: “Offooo.. yeh bhi samjhana padega.. chalo theek hai…”

“See, one is the length of the dharna.. from few hours to a full day to a few days to in fact, the Anna Hazare kind, of many many days…; so we need to see if we need to provide sleeping facilities, toilets, bathrooms, changing rooms, etc…”dharna

“Then, we have to consider the size of audience that the dharna may attract. From few where barely 10-15 people gather – ok, never mind, that is not even called a dharna then. But say, from 100 to 500 to 5,000 to 50,000… we have to account for different kinds. Not only to cover the standing / seating space, but the approach road, exits, canteen facilities, toilet blocks… nahin to bahut gandagi reh jaati hai, dharna ke baad. Akhir log kitna control karke baithe rahenge..?”

“The other aspect is the quality of the dharna. Is it a fast-unto-death? In that case, we have to arrange for refrigerated nimbu paani facility…”

Interviewer: “Sorry to interrupt you, Sir. But if they are fasting, why do you need nimbu paani service?”

Leader: “When is the last time that someone actually fasted to his death?? Arre, yeh death-beth kehne wali baat hai. Koi nahi marta. Everyone waits for the right moment to have the nimbu paani. Now, when that moment comes, we do not know. So it is best to provide for a refrigerated supply of nimbu paani ready and available. After all, if we are creating the state-of-the-art dharna facility, we have to take care of this aspect too, no?”

Interviewer: “Wow, I never thought of all this. Sir, what other facilities you plan to have in these centres?”

Leader: “We have a large media centre at all of these places. Of course, if it is a 100-member dharna place, there will be space for only one OB van. The media will have to find a way to share the signals. But for the larger facilities, multiple OB vans can be parked and there will be space for the on-ground reporters and the cameramen to freshen up, do their last minute makeup, have chai-paani, etc. What we must appreciate is that, while the suited-booted stars of the news channels sitting in their air-conditioned studios get all the limelight, it is the on-ground reporters and the cameramen, who really struggle to send the news as it happens, and it is our duty, to take care of their well being..”

Interviewer: “Wah, that is so noble of you. Sir, you have taken care of television. But we are living in the times of social media. Are you doing anything special for them?”

Leader: “This is the first smart question you have asked! And yes, of course, we are a forward thinking party, and we have considered everything for the social media folks…”

“All the dharna centres will be fully wi-fi equipped – that too at 3G levels, and when 4G comes in, we will upgrade too. And there will be no license wars here.. hahaha.. (*laughs heartily as his own joke*). Plus, we will have charging stations all over, for the phones and the tablets and for those, who are still on their old laptops! There will be facility for the dharna organisers to constantly release video clips and official photos, that the social media types can take and share ahead.. and there will be facilities on the stage, where the dharna leaders are sitting, for them to live tweet too….”

“PLUS, we are doing something that not even the biggest of exhibitions or tradeshow folks have done in India yet. We will set up mega Social Media Command Centres at the two biggest dharna facilities, where multiple large screens will show in realtime, all the various tweets and facebook updates about the dharna, as they are happening, so people can pick up trends, see if any other political leaders are also tweeting, etc. and take necessary further steps…”

Interviewer: “Wow.. I am so impressed. This is truly a first-of-its-kind anywhere in the world…”

“But Sir, while you are doing all this for Delhi, the people of Delhi are definitely NOT going to be happy about this. It causes tremendous inconvenience to them in terms of traffic snarls and what not. And now as per your plans to create 5 different dharna centres in Delhi, the people are going to get disgusted. And in fact, they may not vote for you, in spite of this fantastic plan that you have come up with…?”

Leader: “Haha.. hum ko kya bewakoof samjha hai? Do you think, we will do all this, only to lose votes from Delhi??”

“The concern for the people of Delhi comes first. What we are proposing, for each of these dharna locations, is a direct flyover to the place, from the nearest railway station and from the airport. This flyover will not disturb any other traffic and that way, it will ensure that regular traffic in Delhi, keeps moving on fine. Now you understand? Delhi will get the benefit of numerous dharnas that will be based in the city – and the accompanying economic benefits to the trade in Delhi – and yet, it will not impact any traffic problems for the residents of the city…”

“Now, isn’t that a winning strategy??”

Interviewer: “Yes, Minister…”

We flew out of Christchurch and into Sydney. The flight from Sydney to Singapore has a morning time, so the only way we could come back from Christchurch was on the previous day, and then stay over in Sydney for a day.

Which is what we had to do.

In fact, as per plan, we were to go and see the England-Australia test match that was going on at that time, and that one day that we were in Sydney, was the fourth day of the test match. We had taken advance tickets for the same too.

Except that Australia decided to win the test match in only 3 days, and there was NO play on the 4th day. So our tickets went for a refund, but we had not planned anything else to do in Sydney.

We went off to the harbour, and did some stuff there, before heading back to the hotel, as it was extremely hot out there, in Sydney.

Some photos from this one day at Sydney, on our way back:

Anniversary and New Zealand 029 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 036 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 038 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 039 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 040 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 041 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 042 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 043 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 044 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 049 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 050 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 052 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 054 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 056 copy

 

Anniversary and New Zealand 055 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 037 copy

 

Post Sydney, we headed to Singapore, where we chose to take a short 3 days break, before returning back to Mumbai.

Singapore is a modern and efficient city, with new things coming up all the time.

Check pictures of our 3 days at Singapore..

Anniversary and New Zealand 062 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 063 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 065 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 073 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 078 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 084 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 086 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 096 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 098 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 099 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 100 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 104 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 115 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 117 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 256 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 261 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 262 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 263 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 269 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 285 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 289 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 294 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 299 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 305 copy

Anniversary and New Zealand 061 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 068 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 077 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 079 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 119 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 266 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 267 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 273 copy

 

With the Singapore leg ended our fabulous vacation of Dec 2013-Jan 2014.

And we headed back home to Mumbai, and back to routine.. :)

After the excitement of Queenstown, we headed to the small, quiet and scenic town of Twizel, a perfect contrast to Queenstown.

The town was in the middle of extremely vast stretches of flat and open land. You could see the horizon almost 360 degrees around, as you could stretch far away into the distance all around you. At a distance, you could see the peaks of Mount Cook and which was one of the places to visit, from Twizel.

We had 1.5 days in Twizel, so we did Mount Cook Village on one of the days and the Lake Tekapo on the other day. Both were great trips, very scenic and full of more natural beauty, which we had got quite used to seeing in New Zealand, by this time. The interesting thing about Twizel was that the small town also had a presence of a Thai restaurant! We enjoyed our meal at Jasmine Restaurant, the Thai place there!

Finishing these trips, we headed back to Christchurch, our last stop before heading out of New Zealand.

We happened to reach Christchurch on a Sunday and had half a day at our disposal. However, other than drive around and have a meal, we could not do much. Most of the shopping places were closed, and even the restaurants were open, only selectively. We used the half day to take a deserved break from constantly being on the move, and relaxed, before our departure out of New Zealand.

Some photos from the last leg of our New Zealand vacation (although some of the water may feel like it’s been coloured using Photoshop, rest assured that unbelieving as these may seem, these ARE the awesome natural colours of the water to see!)…

Anniversary and New Zealand 224 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 227 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 229 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 230 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 233 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 239 copy

Anniversary and New Zealand 002 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 003 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 006 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 019 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 020 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 241 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 242 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 243 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 244 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 245 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 249 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 256 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 258 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 261 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 263 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 264 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 265 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 266 copy

Anniversary and New Zealand 014 copy Sanjay's iphone 448 copy

 

As you will see from the table below, we did upwards of 2500 km, over our stay in New Zealand, not counting the trip to Milford Sound and back, from Queenstown.

One of the last lovely memories that we had, was to checkout of our Christchurch motel at around 3 am in the morning, to catch a flight. We were asked to simply walk out of the hotel, and shut the door behind us. We took out our rental car, drove out of the motel, on the empty streets of the city, went to the warehouse location for the rental car return (at that early hour, the main location was not open), from where they dropped us back to the airport. The people at the warehouse location at that early hour were professional, polite and friendly.

At that early hour of the day, everything went off smoothly and safely, and that meant so much to us, in terms of the impact that New Zealand and its people had created on us.

We had had an absolutely fantastic vacation, and we were leaving with some of the most amazing memories of our lifetime!

DIST5

 

The drive from Fox Glacier was through hilly terrain, and amidst drizzling rain. And it was a rainy Lake Wanaka that we reached and stopped at.

It would have been wonderful to have had a drier day at Lake Wanaka, because it is such a pretty location. In fact, quite a perfect tourist spot, with a great promenade to walk around, wide range of food options, and a generally fun feel to the place. When we were there, not only was it drizzling, but it had become chilly too, so we did not spend much time, except to walk around a bit, find a place to eat, and then head out.

We did however, stop at a very interesting place in Wanaka called “The Puzzling World” – a place full of a variety of puzzles, a place where parents can come with kids and hang around all day, amidst a variety of puzzle types.

Anniversary and New Zealand 112 copy Sanjay's iphone 399 copy

 

Anniversary and New Zealand 113 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 115 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 116 copy PuzzlingWorld copy Sanjay's iphone 396 copy Sanjay's iphone 406 copy Sanjay's iphone 408 copy Sanjay's iphone 409 copy

From there, it was straight to Queenstown, and what we had been eagerly looking forward to. Even as you enter the town, you see this absolutely stunning, and huge lake, surrounded by hills and really nice looking houses all over. It’s a fabulous picturesque impact, that first view of Queenstown. The downtown is full of life, with several food places, ice cream shops, the lake and the boats, a promenade to walk around. In fact, there are food places with a variety of cuisines – we tried Indian and Mexican over the two days that we were there, and both were great!

One of the must-do things that people had recommended in Queenstown was to go to Milford Sound. It is a 4-hour drive each way, and a 2-3 hour cruise at Milford Sound, in between. I wanted a break from driving, and also 8-9 hours of driving in the day, was not exactly what I was looking forward to. So we wanted to do the trip by bus instead, and not need to worry about driving, at least for the one day! Except that on Jan 2, in the middle of a busy tourist season, almost all buses were full, and we had a struggle to find seats for ourselves. After several attempts, we managed to get those bus seats and we were set for Milford Sound, our first big sightseeing activity at Queenstown.

Milford Sound was an ABSOLUTELY BREATHTAKING experience, and it deserves those capitalised letters!! As the guide explained to us, the place is one of the rainiest of all places in the world, with 300 days of rain in a year. And in fact, 200 days of gale force winds in a year! And yes, we were there on one of those very rainy days, though not gale force winds, thank God!

And it made the entire experience surreal. Going out on a cruise at the fjord, with tall mountains on both sides, and large number of waterfalls coming down from great heights, several at a time! And amidst clouds that were low, the wind blowing strong, including some falls where the wind was literally taking the water UP, instead of down!!

It was pretty much out-of-the-world experience. The pictures may or may not do full justice to the place, you have to be there to experience what Rudyard Kipling called the “8th wonder of the world”!

Anniversary and New Zealand 124 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 131 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 132 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 134 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 141 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 143 copy Sanjay's iphone 422 copy Sanjay's iphone 425 copy Sanjay's iphone 430 copy Sanjay's iphone 432 copy

 

Anniversary and New Zealand 127 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 136 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 138 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 145 copy Sanjay's iphone 427 copy Sanjay's iphone 429 copy

So the whole day was devoted to Milford Sound, and that left us the next half of a day to do other things in Queenstown. One of the things that Queenstown is known for, is adventure activities like Skydiving, Bungee jumping, etc. As my daughters, especially the younger one, were keen to try some of these out, we were looking out for these options.

Skydiving was the preferred one, but again, on account of weather issues, the skydiving was not happening, and my daughter was very disappointed. So the next day, we just thought of going up the gondola ride, at the top of which, there was going to be luge rides and a great view of the town.

And indeed, the view was fantastic, and the girls enjoyed the luge ride too. And there was some awesome food up there, as well. But what was a surprise discovery once we went up, was to find a bungee jumping option out there. And my younger daughter was very game to go for it. And she did. And that was clearly the big highlight for us.

Here are some pictures from the rest of our Queenstown experience, including the bungee jumping.

Anniversary and New Zealand 120 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 153 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 155 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 158 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 171 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 179 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 180 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 181 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 185 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 186 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 189 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 201 copy Sanjay's iphone 414 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 170 copy

Anniversary and New Zealand 169 copy Sanjay's iphone 445 copy

Anniversary and New Zealand 206 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 207 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 209 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 210 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 212 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 213 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 214 copy Sanjay's iphone 442 copy

Anniversary and New Zealand 204 copy AJHL401030370873 copy AJHL401030370875 copy AJHL401030370876 copy AJHL401030370877 copy AJHL401030370878 copy

AJHL401030370871 copy AJHL401030370874 copy

 

So that was the breathtaking and awesome Queenstown. We would have loved to stay here some more, but the rest of our tour plan beckoned, and we needed to leave, and get to the next place.

The next stop was to be Twizel, another small town, but from where we would be visiting Mount Cook Village and Lake Tekapo.

We headed out of Queenstown then, towards Twizel.

DIST4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having driven close to the ocean on the east coast, while reaching Kaikoura, it was now time to cut away from the ocean, and go across the country, towards the west coast of New Zealand.

All drives in New Zealand were a mix of driving by oceans, on vast stretches of flat land, and driving through thick greens of forest land. Most roads were single or at most 2 lane highways, and some were even smaller roads in the middle of large stretches of farmland. Often, you’d not see another soul for several km. The east coast to west coast drive was a fun drive, like all others, and we headed into Greymouth, our first stop.

More precisely, we stayed at Paroa, a kind of sister-city to Greymouth. Although both of them are really small towns anyway! What we missed by oversight was a place called Punakaiki, which came on the way, about 50 km before hitting Greymouth. As we reached Greymouth / Paroa at around 8 pm in the night, it was just a little too much to travel back, see and then return back. Must mention at this point that, since we travelled in Dec-Jan, in proper summer of Southern Hemisphere, we enjoyed the benefits of really long days. Routinely, we would be out, driving and seeing places, or reaching places, till 9/9-30 pm, when it was quite bright! That allowed us to make the most of any day, in terms of things we could do, and distances we were able to cover.

However, it was not possible to head back to Punakaiki and come back, so that option was dropped. Essentially, we just hung out in Paroa, not doing much that evening.

Next day, we were to drive in to Fox Glacier, and started making enquiries about the helicopter ride option, to land on to Fox Glacier. Unfortunately, as the weather was not too good (overcast and a little rain), all of the calls that we made, conveyed to us the message that the helicopter rides were not happening.

So we headed out of Paroa, towards a cute little town called Hokitika. A very typical small town, with open streets, cafes, some local art, and generally kind and friendly locals, that is what I would describe Hokitika as. We walked around the town, saw some of their shops and had breakfast at a local cafe.

Anniversary and New Zealand 008 copyIn fact, an old lady (no younger than 80 years.. perhaps older) walked up to us and chatted. She was from the Netherlands originally, had been to many parts of the world, but had settled down here, for last 50 years. And she loved it. She said that this was a place if you wanted to slow down. That they liked it slow and easy. What’s the rush for, anyway, is how they saw it. And she also said that the cafe we were in, was most popular with the locals, and that one must judge a place by that – if the locals like it, it must really be good! Good wisdom, that was.. nice encounter!

Anniversary and New Zealand 001 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 003 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 004 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 007 copy

From Hokitika, we headed off to a very interesting tourist attraction. This is called the West Coast Tree Top Walk.

Here you’ll find a large number of very tall trees. A small trail takes you upwards closer to the top levels of the trees. And here in the midst of the tall heights of the trees, they have constructed metal walkways, so as to give you the feel on how it is to be at the top levels of these tall trees. Quite an interesting construction and experience.

294 Anniversary and New Zealand 014 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 016 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 027 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 041 copy Sanjay's iphone 381 copy

Anniversary and New Zealand 033 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 031 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 018 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 015 copy

After completing the Walk on the Tree Tops, we headed straight to Fox Glacier. At number of places on the way, where the helicopter rides were being offered and advertised for, we kept stopping to see if we could book one. And everywhere, we just heard that the weather was bad, and they were still not flying. We headed to Fox Glacier and checked into our hotel anyway. Resigned that at least that day, the helicopter ride may not happen, and we pray for better weather the next day.

There were other means to see and experience the glaciers. One is from a distance, by going to a closest point, and the other was by walking in the glaciers, and which required a certain effort, dexterity, fitness and intent. The latter was not the most attractive option for us! And so we were hoping for the heli rides to happen.

And as we kept asking, we got lucky, and the weather opened up just that little bit to enable us to take the heli ride, though it was not good enough for us to land on the snow. We opted not to wait and take a chance for the next day. And glad that we did not, since as it turned out, the next day was even worse, as far as weather went, and if we had waited, we would have not even got the experience that we did!

In addition to the heli ride to the glaciers, we also went out to Matheson Lake at Fox Glacier, for some of the most breathtaking views of nature, reflections in water, and the blue sky that one could get.

We also happened to be at Fox Glacier on the night of the 31st, so we had hopes and plans of doing something special to bring in the New Year. However, as the locals informed us, in the small town that it was, there were no major celebrations or parties for New Year’s Eve. We did hang around at a nice small cafe, sipping our wine and enjoying some pizza, waiting for 2014 to arrive. Also considering that we were a good 7-odd hours ahead of India at that point, we were welcoming 2014 before most of our Indian friends! Which was an interesting highlight of sorts.. !

Fox Glacier photos are shared below..

Anniversary and New Zealand 049 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 053 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 054 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 056 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 064 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 067 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 069 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 086 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 088 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 089 copy

Anniversary and New Zealand 060 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 207 copy

Anniversary and New Zealand 196 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 205 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 230 copy Sanjay's iphone 383 copy Sanjay's iphone 384 copy Sanjay's iphone 385 copy

Anniversary and New Zealand 091 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 095 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 096 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 097 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 100 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 101 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 103 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 108 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 111 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 196 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 205 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 210 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 229 copyAnniversary and New Zealand 208 copy

The first day of 2014 broke in Fox Glacier and it was drizzling and overcast. There was an idea to see if we could head straight to Queenstown, as there was a one day cricket match scheduled that day, between West Indies and New Zealand. However, seeing the way the weather was shaping up, we wondered if the game will at all be one, and whether it was worth rushing down. We decided against it.

And just left Fox Glacier as per our original plans, with a scheduled stop at Wanaka on the way, before reaching the most exciting destination in New Zealand, Queenstown.

DIST3

Wellington was barely a few hours stay. Reached there in the night, slept the night over, and early next morning, headed for the ferry that was to take us over to the South Island, and to Picton, to be precise. The ferry was an amazing experience, large, several hundred people, and the very large number of vehicles on board, and the many views one could get by walking to different sides of the ferry. And the restaurants and the coffee shops on board. On reaching Picton, we did not stop, but rather, carried on straight away, to our first stop in South Island, which was Kaikoura. Some pics from the ferry ride, and till the point that we reached Kaikoura..

 

Anniversary and New Zealand 300 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 301 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 302 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 303 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 316 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 325 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 327 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 331 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 152 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 163 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 218 copyAnniversary and New Zealand 169 copy

 

Kaikoura is a small town (one of the many that we visited), best known for the whale watching opportunities that it provides. We reached by afternoon, and it was supposed to be well in time, for the afternoon whale watching trip. However, as luck would have it, due to the weather conditions in the Ocean, they were not taking out any trips that day. And we had half a day in town, with nothing major to do. We did drive around town, and did a few things like seeing a sheep shearing show, watching seals, and hanging out at a pub in town, and drinking Guinness beer there. In short, it was an easy going afternoon. Our hope was that the next morning opened a little brighter, and we got the chance to do the whale watching trip. And that was exactly how it turned out. We went on the whale watching trip in a catamaran, and managed to see two sperm whales from real close. We got even more lucky to spot a whole pod of Orca Dolphins, also known as killer whales. It was an awesome experience to spot them from real close. The catamaran journey, at high speed with huge waves, was a rocking one, and nearly 50% of the 48 persons tour party, threw up on board. But apparently, this was quite usual to happen, as per the organisers, who had ensured the necessary facilities to handle these situations! Here are some photos from Kaikoura..

 

Anniversary and New Zealand 337 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 345 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 347 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 350 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 354 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 359 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 360 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 363 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 367 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 369 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 374 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 376 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 377 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 379 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 380 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 387 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 389 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 390 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 391 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 392 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 395 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 396 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 398 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 399 copy Anniversary and New Zealand 400 copy Sanjay's iphone 371 copy

 

Next up, we would be criss-crossing the country. From being on the East Coast, we will drive across the breadth of New Zealand, to go to the west coast, with our next stop being Greymouth.

DIST2