An Unexpected Journey

Hello all,

Apologies for the wait – this was much more difficult to get written and published than I had anticipated.  This happened mostly because … fun fact about New Zealand … there is only free limited wifi.  Every time we found wifi (including hotel rooms), we would only get a certain number of megabytes (and between my teenage brother, working father and myself – those ran out quickly).  Plus, as you will see, we were out of wifi zones most of the trip anyway.  Then once you return to the real world it is impossible to sit still for more than an hour before you gotta run and do something else.  But it did finally get done, so hope you enjoy!

Now on to the tale of our adventures …

*be warned. This tale takes a very unexpected turn at the end … 


Day 1 – Travel Day


So began the +15 hour flight.  We played each other in poker on the plane AND I TOTALLY WON! (even though it is really hard to tell from the picture)


I am the one with the $730 of course. :]

Once we got off the plane, we had to get ourselves to Hobbiton.


This involved a lot of waiting around for buses … and sleeping …


… a lot …


The best part is the people standing over him don’t even seem to notice.

We also went to the grocery store for general food supplies.  Everyone got to pick out their breakfast food, and Nick picked out what we soon began to call “sawdust”:

4_grocery store


97% wheat?! seriously?!

They actually weren’t that bad …

Finally, we found a car and headed to the hobbit holes!

3.0_on the road

Selfie #1


Welcome to Hobbiton!



7_dont we love each other

can’t you tell we really like each other …

8_fam and the hole9_lampost


Bag End!


Then we found the party!

13_party time

This was actually a very fun picture to take … and we started a tradition and got others to take pictures playing with it too!

And then we ended at the bar 🙂

16_on to the bar

also known as the green dragon

17_green dragon

and there it is!

18_aka the bar


Day 2: Kayaking Trip

Then the crew headed to the south island.


We then went to Abel Tasman National Park to do a three day, two night kayaking trip through the park.  The yellow dots were where we camped:


Day 1 was a water taxi up to Onetahuti beach where we camped:

1.1_ready to kayak

2_ready to kayak

selfie #2!

Day 2 was kayaking the entire length of the park down to Coquille Bay campsite:

3_first morning

Our first morning 🙂


5_nick the navigator

Nick the navigator

Side story:

Fun fact, New Zealand people (kiwis) speak with an accent! (I bet you didn’t realize how much you were going to learn through reading this blog)  Anyway, right before we left the kayak rental office, our safety instructor told us a few ‘must visits’ along our route.  One was (now picture this being spoken in an Australian accent) “an orange boy with a water hose attached that brings down fresh spring water from the mountains”.


So the whole way kayaking down Nick and I were just sooo excited to see this orange boy hidden in the forest shore that peed out the drinking water.

To our dismay … this orange boy was actually and orange bouy

… talk about awkward …


6_watering hole

At least we found the water hose! (and see the orange bout on the left?)

7_second night1

My parent’s anniversary is on New Year’s Eve, and this was one way my dad wished my mom a Happy Anniversary from across the sea:

8_second night2

… talk about awkward all over again …

Day 3 ended back at the hub in Marahau.

The final day kayaking was spent finding ways to not actually have to kayak (the distance paddled the day before was supposed to be split into two days, but the campsites were already booked, so we had to make do with doing it in one day … so we were kinda tired or paddling).

Also, that morning the wind was absolutely crazy, so we grabbed some stuff out of our kayaks and turned them into sails!  And it actually worked really well:

9_final day yakin


Day 4: Sailing Trip


Then we headed to Picton, a city at the foot of Marlborough Sounds, to sail around Queen Charlotte Sound for a few days.  Here was our route through the sounds:


day 1 = yellow; day 2 = red; day 3 = blue

And some pictures:

1_the boat

2_the boat

our lovely boat

3_our captain

our captain

4_the crew

the crew

5_nick the navigator

Nick the navigator

7_nick the navigator


6_nick the navigator

… and again …

9_me as captain

me as captain (and captain is always right 😉

10_the boys

the boys – so cute

On the second day the boys dropped me off on one side of this island, let me hike across, and then picked me up on the other side.  It was absolutely beautiful!  And I got to see some little kiwis along the way (I wasn’t able to take any pictures of the kiwis though, I’m sorry).

12_day hike2

view at the top

11_day hike1

Nick taking the dinghy back to the sailboat.


Day 6: Wine Adventures

Once sailing was done, the crew drove to Blenheim (known for its wine) and took a wine bike tour.

0_map2_wine and bike2

I really wish I could tell you that the wine was TO DIE FOR … but it just so happened to be New Years Day … and after over 18 miles of bike riding against the wind and visiting over 15 different vineyards, not a single one was open. 😥

But we took some pictures and pretended like we got to inside anyway!

1_wine and bike1

One somewhat exciting thing happened that day though – my dad lost his glasses (this plays into effect later)


Day 7: Now We Drive


This part of the trip actually worked out pretty well for us. With all of the beautiful weather we had been having, it was about time to have some rain and fog and cold.  So we used it to our advantage and drove as far as we could manage.

This lead us to the cutest bed and breakfast I had ever seen and allowed us to meet some locals and learn about New Zealand.

4_bed and breakfast

Fun fact: there are literally no predators in New Zealand.  The only ones they have were introduced to their environment: house cats and stouts (these are smaller versions of ferrets and, actually, the Department of Conservation is trying to remove them all from the island).


Day 8: … and Drive


Here are some pictures from this days drive:

5_selfie at lookout

selfie #3 at a nice lookout we found

6_short hike-love

what everyone thinks these trips are like

7_short hike-'love'

what actually goes on … Nick frames my dad

So we stop for the night on Lake Wanaka.

1_beautiful stopping town

selfie #4

2_near mount aspiring mountains

so cute

3_trying to philosophize

“But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks!”


Day 9: … and Drive Some More!

Finally, we reached our final destination: Te Anau


And found a campsite along the water to stay for a few nights:

2_lake te anau

View from our campsite – Lake Te Anau

1_camping in style

Camping in style.


Day 10: Hiking and Exploring Fiordland National Park


2_milford sounds

Milford Sounds

1_milford sounds

Milford Sounds

3_traditional selfie

selfie #5


6_tea time

tea time 🙂

After that cruise, we did some hiking!!

Hike #1: This one was part of the Routenburn Track (pronounced root-burn … don’t offend any locals by saying “rotten-burn” … learned that one the hard way)

1_part of routenburn track

2_at the top

one of the views at the top

We were pretty blown away by how spectacular that hike was, so we decided to squeeze in one more!

Hike #2: (and this is where our trip takes a very drastic turn … )

1_gertrude saddle

we should have known … “for fit and experienced trampers only”

2_the beginning

Already by the start of this hike I was blown away by the field of flowers, being surrounded by ginormous mountains, and the view of up ahead.

5_uphill begins

and so the uphill begins

6_progress made

progress made!


and more progress made!

4_up ahead

More progress made – and I went back to that lake on the right on my way down (one of my many mistakes … )

Anyway, we kept hiking up and up and up and up and up and didn’t even look up when we stumbled upon this amazing sight:

7_best false summit ever

best false summit EVER

I then kept hiking up since that was not the true top and let my dad and brother nap in the sun by the lake.

It was soooooo worth it …

8_final spectacular summit

Once I had made it to this summit, I decided that this was the greatest day of my life.  My head was in the clouds and I knew this would always be my favorite hike EVER.

Until …

I slipped …

And feel off a small cliff …

And hit my eye a little:


At least we washed most the blood off!

And had to go to the hospital …


So, here is the story:

After we made it to the top, it was about 5 o’clock in the evening, and it had taken us 2.5 – 3 hours to hike up that distance.  We were going to start getting hungry, the sun was soon to be behind the mountains, and the temperature would start to drop pretty rapidly after that. Therefore, we decided it was best to make it down the mountain in a speedy fashion.

Mistake #1

Then, Nick saw some snow (and wanted to go touch it and throw snowballs at us … typical) and I saw a small pond over in the sun (that I thought would feel really nice to wash off in).  These two locations were on opposite sides of the path, so we decided to split up, see our respective “landmarks”, and then meet back on the trail.

Mistake #2

After I had taken a dip in the pond, I realized Nick and my dad had already begun hiking back down the mountain.  Now, I am not sure you could tell from the pictures, but this hike did not really have a path or trail down the mountain.  It involved a lot of scampering over loose rocks and such.  In my hurry to catch up with the boys, I paid zero attention to where the “path” was and just tried to find the fastest way down.

Mistake #3

So I would walk down the mountain until I ran into a cliff and could not keep going down.  I would then go back up and over to a new potential path and continue that down for as long as I could.

I kept this up for a while, but I eventually got tired of having to hike back up after encountering a barrier in the trail.  Soooo … when I ran into a less treacherous incline in the trail (or so I thought), I got lazy and decided to crab crawl down the slope instead of backtracking and finding a new path down.

Mistake #4

As I was doing this, my feet slipped and I began to slide down the mountain.  (If I had been in more control, that part would have been really fun!).  Eventually the slip-and-slide ran out, and I was shot off of a small cliff/ledge/something and flew into a dome-like valley below.

In all honesty, I am not really sure what I flew off of; I just know I caught some air.  All I can remember is shutting my eyes, clenching up and saying – “God, here come some broken bones”.

The next time I opened my eyes I was laying on my back in a small puddle of water from the stream I had just taken down the mountain. The next serious of thoughts all kind of came simultaneously:

  • Thank you God that I am alive.
  • I can’t see out of my right eye … blink, blink, blink … oh well, at least I can see out of my left eye!
  • I can’t feel any broken bones … except my head … I think it’s cracked open
  • My face really hurts
  • And my hip hurts too
  • OH MY GOD THE CAMERA IS GOING TO GET WET! Take the backpack off now!
  • Let’s sit up …

Once I sat up, blood came pouring down everywhere, so I took my shirt off and placed it over my face in hopes that I could stop the bleeding.

Then I called for help.

Meanwhile … My dad is hiking down the mountain, blind without his glasses, thinking that Nick and I were hiking up ahead of him (see I told you it would come into play later).

Then he hears someone yell for help so he calls up to two random hikers and says “Shae, Nick WAIT! I think someone is hurt back there.  I’m gonna go help her!”

It was not until he was standing over me that he realized that it was his daughter who was the one bleeding everywhere. (not sure what his thoughts were at that moment of realization, but I am sure that was not a fun experience).

Anyway, my dad put his bandana around my wound to stop the bleeding and helped me climb down the rest of that treacherous trail … with one eye … and absolutely no depth perception … soooo fun ….

Meanwhile, Nick was having a glorious time with his all-too-sensitive comments:

“Shae! You can be a pirate now!!”

“We should get you an eye patch.”

“You know what might be fun to play on the drive back – Eye spy!”

(P.S. I actually did regain sight in my right eye.  I only couldn’t see out of it earlier because there was blood in it)

It was a drive back into town once we finally got back to our car, and we found a nice help phone along the road back to call the emergency line.  They gave us the number of the on-call doctor in Te Anau and he came right away to stitch me up.

That night was not too bad just with all the adrenaline rushing through my system (I did almost have a complete meltdown when I found out I might not be allowed to shower … but we solved that problem quickly), but overall I was feeling okay and really just happy to have escaped with only one serious injury.

Then came the next morning …

Day 11: Backpacking the Kepler Track

3_night one

Morning one …

Oh man … I woke up with pain in every inch of my body.  My hip had grown a third boob, my left butt cheek was black from bruising, my finger was jammed, my elbows had bruises the size of tennis balls and then there was my back … It just hurt.  Not sure what I did to it, but something tweaked the muscles in there to where it hurt to sit at certain angles.

Oh … and the whiplash in my neck.  My whole body got to turn when I wanted to look anywhere other than forwards.

On the plus side though – I could still walk and see and laugh with half of my face!  So we continued on with the itinerary (modified it a bit due to my condition), and hiked an hour in to our campsite along the Kepler Track.

Here is us at the DOC office modifying our campsite reservations:

4_morning one

Nick found me a parrot.  Isn’t he so sweet …

Once everything was figured out, we set off to our campsite.


Nick wanted some attention … so he tried to walk like me


our campsite!

The next day we kept our stuff at the campsite and just did a day hike to the peak.  That way I didn’t have to carry my pack but we could still see the famous trek.  Here are some of the pictures from the top:

4_day hike23_day hike1

Then we found a cave!



Day 13: Head to Queenstown

After a great time along the Kepler track we packed our bags and drove to Queenstown.


Here we got to explore the city (which is now my favorite city … sorta … they also gave us a parking ticket, which kinda sucked).  We got to try their awesome food and ride the gondola up for a view of Lake Wakatipu.

5_traditional selfie

I’ve lost count which selfie this is …

7_frodo lord of the beans

At the gondola shop they had this image of Frodo made out of JELLY BEANS!!! “Frodo Lord of the Beans” Pretty cool.


Day 14: Final Destination – Auckland


The Quigley clan came full circle and returned to Auckland for one last New Zealand city adventure.

Auckland was pretty cool too – much bigger though and more difficult to get around, but the Viaduct district was spectacular.  Right on the water where all of the +100′ racing sailboats dock, live music, great food, wedding parties every way you turn, and just tons of people buzzing around the bars having a great time.


Day 15: Our Last Day 😥

Even though thoughts of reality kept creeping their way into our spirits, we made the most of the morning and explored city center, then had lunch at a super gorgeous park on the university campus.

1_lunch at the park

our last selfie 😥

2_birds join

and the birds want to join too

All in all it was an amazing trip!  We went across the whole country


and got to try almost every aspect of what New Zealand has to offer: Lord of the Rings attractions, kayaking, sailing, hiking, fiords, camping, city life, healthcare …

and out of all the terrible candid shots my dad took of us

he did finally get one that captured the bonds built throughout the trip 😉

good candid

(you always gotta end with something cheesy)

Thanks for reading!  Hope it was somewhat entertaining 🙂


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