At some time in 2013 I made a bit of noise about this "Warbirds over Wanaka" thing after a seed had been planted during a conversation with a retired Qantas pilot while we were on the briny seas during the Joc2012 Fush 'n Chup Tour of all places. So, after having Mr Google do a bit of a web look-a-round, a mob called Kirra Tours just so happened to be planning a tour for the 2014 Warbirds event, but had yet to announce whether or not that they would run with it. Turns out they were, so we signed up, paid the hard earned and waited.
...and then Air NZ decided to cancel flights. Not once. Or Twice. Yep, thrice. So in the end, instead of nice leisurely air travel, with humane departure times and reasonable gaps between domestic and international connections, we ended up with first flight of the day departures. Think about that for a moment... yep, it meant 2.30am wake-up calls. And that is only the return journey.
...and then (once again), Kirra Tours somehow decided it was all too hard and handed the whole thing over to another mob called Grand Pacific Tours, who totally changed the itinerary for the better, as it turned out). Overall, not a great recommendation for Kirra Tours. Kudos for Grand Pacific however.
Anyhoo, we made it... both ways. Experiencing a little bit more of what the 8th State of the Commonwealth has to offer and loving the place so much more, that we promise to make our way back in the not to distant future... just don't mention the weather. Read on, look at the photos, watch the videos and see if you can figure out what 4b's (in the 4b's Tour) stands for.
Christchurch (photos are -> here)
Did I mention the weather? With a day to ourselves in Christchurch before the Warbirds Tour kicked off, we made our way by GPmk1 into the city centre for a bit of a squiz followed by a walk around the Christchurch Botanical Gardens. As you can tell by our photos, the gardens would be spectacular on a sunny day, in spring or autumn.
Christchurch to Queenstown (photos are -> here)
Our first day on the road with a busload of people who we didn't know. With Bernard as our coach skipper and uber-knowledgeable tour-guide, we soon found ourselves generally at ease with our fellow travellers and only had the blood pressure raised when one or three of them delayed any departure times. Bernard was way to kind, which is probably why he is a tour-guide and I am a tourist. Not mentioning the weather, but rain, wind and snow did re-enforce the "don't mention the weather" mantra.
Queenstown (photos are -> here)
Good Friday and near as everything was open... Irish Pubs even. We had choices of either heading out to Wanaka for the Warbirds practice day, or stay in town and, I dunno, do maybe a Bungy Jump (3.38min video, with photos @vimeo.com) and/or a Jetboat (3.49min video) ride just for the heck of it. So, that's exactly what we did.
Warbirds over Wanaka 2 (photos are -> here)
Photos from Sunday 20 April 2014.
Queenstown to Franz Josef (photos are -> here)
Departing Queenstown for our return journey back to Christchurch via some of NZ's stunning west coast scenery, where we witnessed some of the destruction of the recent storms and to where we overnighted near Franz Josef Glacier, actually at a place called 'Franz Josef Glacier', which is 5 or 6 k's from the ice face. We were booked for a two glacier helicopter flight the following morning, but "don't mention the weather" prevented that from happening.
Franz Josef Glacier to Christchurch (photos are -> here)
Part of this return was a couple of hours on KiwiRail's TranzAlpine. Naturally plenty of photos were taken from the (very breezy) observation carriage, with an 11min video also available at Vimeo, here.
So. Have you figured out what the 4B's are yet? 1. Bus 2. Bungy 3. Boat 4. Biplane
Where to next? ....who knows. Maybe back to the Rockies of Canada in 2015.
Karen & Wayne
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