New Zealand....uncovered! :)
Okay, so time for another update I guess?
If you cant be bothered to read it (understandably) then in summary what I am about to write basically summarises as;
'Having an amazing time in NZ - love this country - done millions of activities including the dreaded bungy jump which I swore I would never do, and loads of great nights out'.
For the rest of you who are clearly bored at work or retired, below is the longer version!
A very short version of the first (bonus) week - went to Rotorua to meet up with Vicky (friend I met in Oz) - we went to mud baths and thermal pools, and a Maori culture evening which was pretty cool but very touristy! I've nearly perfected the Haka! :)
In Taupo we went jet boating (really fast 360 degree spins and turns etc) - we managed to hit a tree and a swan!! We won the jet boating in a competition in the Irish bar the night before playing 'Put the tail on the donkey' except with a naked man and a you-know-what!
We then got a lift down to Wellington with Vickys friend, except I didn't know a small condition of the lift.....the jumping off a 10m rock into Lake Taupo to get the ride! Literally 30 mins later I was still standing at the top of the rock trying to build up the courage to jump (its called Bully Rock for a reason!) - all a bit mortifying and a quick realisation that I was, in fact, a massive wimp, but I did it in the end, but then got mocked all the way down for delaying the journey blah blah blah!
That weeked was the NZ rugby 7s in Wellington - absolute carnage, and brilliant fun. I hadn't realised quite how much the kiwis like to dress up in fancy dress??! Literally EVERYONE was wearing outfits of some kind. I broke the news in the car on the way down that I didnt have any fancy dress. BIG MISTAKE! Next thing I know, I'm getting togged up in you-guessed-it, a SHEEPs outfit! Grrrrrreat!! Especially as it was 35 degree heat and I was head to toe in wool. And every time I took off even the head part I was bullied into putting it back on again! SO that weekend was brilliant - see the photos - a great mix of singing and laughter - no idea who won the tournament mind you!!
Then Mary did a great job as Wellington tour guide for the rest of the weekend (thanks Mary!).
After the 7s I headed southbound to the South Island, catching the early morning ferry to Picton which was possibly the most beautiful ferry ride I have ever taken - shame I was still a bit bleary eyed from the rugby 7s weekend but hey! Caught the Magic Bus from there and headed for Nelson, my first overnight stop. Made some good friends on the bus (namely Faye and Helen in particular for reference in the photos!) who have all subsequently stayed with me on the same bus most of the way down and are a great laugh so that was all good!
Stayed in Paradiso motel in Nelson which was quite nice, had a pool, hot tub and ensuite which is a luxury as a backpacker! The following day we headed out to Abel Tasman National Park for a boat cruise and then a hike back (I know I know!). My first real exercise in about 3 months and lets just say, it was tough!! Even the beautiful views and beaches didn't compensate for the numerous blisters and body aches that pursued! But it was very beautiful and well worth the visit, and was a good way to get to meet a load of other backpackers. Nelson itself was a lovely little town too, and its the centre of NZ for info! See the photo for my ultra touristy bit! :)
From Nelson we had a long drive down to Greymouth, stopping off at Westport for a small walk and some seal spotting, and then onto Pancake Rocks, which was a total anti-climax, and no Nutella or sugar and lemon in sight! :(
Greymouth was a bit of a kip, but we made good use of the only tourist attraction there - Monteiths brewery for a tour and a lot of tasting (which I decided to make self-service after the first 7!), followed by a night out in the only open bar in town - yes the Irish Bar, Danny Doolans! Very random but good fun night. But wouldnt recommend going to Greymouth to anyone!
The following day we headed down to Franz Josef, the infamous glacier. Myself and a friend decided to splash out a bit and do the heli-hike which I got pretty excited about - its basically a helicopter ride over the glaciers and they land much higher up than the other hikes can get to and do really cool ice climbing on the glacier. HOWEVER, the weather took a turn for the worse and very annoyingly my heli hike got cancelled on both days that I was there, and so I could only do the normal glacier walk. That was still good, but just not the same as the real thing. Anyway.....had a fun night out in the bar there!
The drive down from Franz Josef to Wanaka was spectacular - I took a couple of shots but they really dont do it justice, and Wanaka itself is one of my favourite places so far. A bit Byron Bay ish but with a fab lake and lovely places to eat and drink all over the place. Met up again with Vicky and Claire there, and we went on a winery tour and tasting and then we cooked an amazing fillet steak dinner and hit the town. Unfortunately I could only stay one night in Wanaka as had to meet Loren (London friend) in Queenstown for the weekend, but I'd definitely go back to Wanaka if given the chance.
The next morning we rang a flight company about going to Milford Sound and they said if we could get to them in an hour they would give us a good deal so we jumped in the car and sped down to Queenstown for a last minute flight. This was probably the highlight of the trip so far - the other option was to do the 13 hour bus trip which we didnt fancy at all! So we flew to Milford Sound, an amazing place - see the photos - jumped off the plane and onto a boat cruise - and then flew back to QT. Except, guess who flew the plane back????!! MEEEEEEEEEEEE! So much fun, but a little scary to be honest! The pilot was so cool, and at the end was doing all sorts of stunts and loops that I'm sure he would have got fired for if seen - such adrenaline rush, unbelievable! I was also convinced one of the pilots was Prince William - again see the photo! My description there of Milford Sound really hasnt done the day justice - but you're just going to have to believe me - it was AMAZING!!!
So that brings me up to Queenstown (my current location). All I can say is WOW, I LOVE THIS PLACE! Its the sort of place you could easily live. There is practically every activity in the world here, including skiing in the winter, and 200 bars,and lovely restaurants and chocolate cafes (mmmm), all sitting on a beautiful lake and mountains.
Basically everyone I have met on my travels have been here at the same time which has meant some crazy nights out! We seem to have been doing the same pub crawl every night - The Buffalo Bar, Pog Mahones, Winnies, finishing up in the World Bar (which is open til 7am as I found out on Saturday! and serves cocktails in teapots - random!)
Went out for dinner with Loren and her family on Sat night and then out that night, and Sunday was spent in the Irish bar having a Sunday Roast and watching the 6 nations all day!
Monday - moved into Nomads hostel which is a gorgeous 5*(!) hostel and in same room as Vicky and Claire which was cool. We went up on the gondola and then "luge"ing (aka little go karts - so much fun!) And then we went out for the night...........The Buffalo bar were doing games and a raffle - and I ended up winning 1st and 2nd prize in the raffle - winning a bungy jump, a jet boating ride, 2 river surfing trips, a rafting trip and $50 voucher!!!!!!!
So that was basically the rest of my week in QT sorted!!
So, on Tuesday I went white water rafting - had a really good crew on my boat - the workers from the pub crawl who were having a team bonding day, and were great fun. The rafting was nowhere near as good as the Tully extreme rafting in Oz but the scenery was amazing and it was good enough (and free!)
On Wednesday it was my birthday! Definitely the most adrenaline-fuelled day of my life! So after a very indulgent breakfast, I started my action-packed day with my jet boating ride - like the one I did in Taupo that spins around 360 degrees, goes really fast and feels like you are gonna hit every rock! I then came back and went up in the gondola and did another 6 luge rides - we had a mini tournament - and I won!! :) And then I did my BUNGY JUMP!! Probably the most terrifying experience of my life. Remember the rock jumping incident in Taupo which took me 30 mins to jump.....now picture me standing on the ledge of a crane looking down 300m with a queue of people behind me waiting for me to dive into the open air?? As you can imagine, it took me a L-O-N-G time, and about a million questions as to if everything was definitely fixed on properly, if the rope was definitely the right length etc etc. Little did I know that the whole carnage was being videoed (rather embarrassing seeing this repeated on screen later). I was finally basically pushed out 15 mins later and it really wasnt worth it - I got no thrill, just an absolute fear that I wasnt going to bounce back up, and a terrifying thought that I may actually have a heart attack on my way down - it was a bit like being stung with an electric pig prodder - but worse!!! Anyway, I did it, got the T-shirt (literally!) but would NEVER put myself through that again!
After that it was definitely time for a celebratory drink (or 10!) so I rounded up the troops and we hit the same haunts as every other night! Got an endless amount of free drinks playing the 'its my birthday' line, lots of jaegerbombs and shots (I'm suffering massively today!) and a brilliant night out dancing into the early hours of the morning. All-in-all, a great birthday (despite turning the big 2-9!)
So, am in QT for another couple of days and then off to tour the rest of the south - flying back to Wellington to meet up with Mary next week to go wine tasting - will update again soon!
Lots of love,