A Travellerspoint blog

Lake Tekapo, Christchurch and Kaikora

The final days......

overcast 9 °C

We knew once leaving Queenstown the end was in sight, much to our disappointment, however we wanted to make sure our last few days were fun and as exciting as the rest of New Zealand. With Mike and Rebecca leaving on the same day as us from NZ, we decided to travel on the Big Green bus to Christchurch with them and stop in a little town called Lake Tekapo. When the bus first arrived we all wondered why we had bothered at all. It was freezing cold, ice and snow everywhere and you couldn't see anything for the fog that was over the lake. To make matters worse our suitcase that we bought in Australia was falling apart. Mainly the wheels in which i was pulling it along. So I had to carry the bloody thing to the hostel, and lets just say it had all of our stuff in it so wasn't light!! Altogether not the best start. So we settled into our hostel, had lunch and then decided to head back towards the lake to see if things had cleared up. Thankfully they had and we got to see the crisp blue lake that we had heard people rave about. Having seen the lake we weren't sure what else there was to do there so went for a walk and came across the snow park. It was basically a big area to relax, Ice skate or throw yourself down a snow hill on a rubber ring. We opted for the rubber ring down the hill and the relaxing hot spring baths. The tobogganing was good fun and quite dangerous (the previous day a guy had cut all his face open and there had been an accident between two young kids). Ahh but what's the worst that could happen we thought. Thankfully nothing bad happened and we spent an hour running around like kids. So it was a nice way to end the day by relaxing in the hot springs. The following day we got back on the green bus for the last time to our final destination Christchurch. It has been described as a very English city, and it basically is a very English town, with not much going for it!! We all checked into our hostel, of which we managed to land a flat to ourselves for the 4 of us, with own TV room, Kitchen and Shower room all for the same price as the standard rooms. The owner seems to want to give everything away free??? We spent the first day looking for the shops, by 11am we had seen them all, and decided to give up and instead relax back at the hostel. The second day we headed to the mall, not my idea for a change and had done that by 12pm and gave up and headed back. We didn't want to make the same mistake the third day so went looking for a place to hire a car and head up to the whale watching town, Kaikoura. We found a place and also managed to find a Salvation army which had two suitcases for $10 (4 quid). Bargain. So the following day we set out for Kaikoura in our little PINK Yaris. Yes i chose it, but it did look cool. Honest. After a 2 1/2 hour drive we got to Kaikoura and wasn't surprised to find it was tiny. We had heard that about 20 mins north there was a place where you could watch baby seals swimming in a waterfall. As the weather was quite hot and sunny we headed straight there, and wow it was amazing. There were baby seals walking around, jumping, playing in the waterfall and they even came up close to you. Was crazy. Was really nice to see and we got some good videos. After this we did a bit of shopping, but unfortunately found that the whale watching would be too expensive. Ah well we have managed to do so much in New Zealand we weren't too fussed. We headed back to Christchurch for our second to last night travelling. Our last day was spent shopping for last minute presents (for ourselves) and enjoying the last part of freedom before heading back to the UK!! We had an amazing 8 months, which flew by so quickly and we will both miss it very much. Time to start planning for our next big trip. We hope you have enjoyed our blog. Thanks for reading!!

Posted by palmer830 19.03.2011 15:20 Archived in New Zealand Tagged luxury_travel Comments (1)

Queenstown, The Catlins and Milford Sound

Ferg vs Frankie, Milford vs Dunedin

sunny 10 °C

We arrived in Queenstown and who should greet us with their very own bus for the day but Mike, Becca and the gang! Luckily we were all staying at the same hostel for the night. Turns out it was 'karaoke for free beer' night so we gave that a go, Adam being forced into singing 'Delilah' by Tom Jones with Welsh Mike, he didn't have a clue what he was singing! We discovered on our first night that you can go out in Queenstown, get drunk and not spend a penny. All we had to do was walk into the bar, say 'I like you teapots' and we got free drinks, nice! The next day we met up with everyone for Sunday lunch (we are well and truly splashing the cash now) and then went up the gondola in QT to do some lugeing. Yep more lugeing. Ever since Singapore Adam has become obsessed with it, we've found the only place left in the world we've yet to do it is Canada...It was pretty amusing this time however as Adam finally got beaten (not by me unfortuately). In the evening we met up with Leah and Laura to say goodbye before they left for Oz. We also tried the legendary Fergburger that EVERYONE who's been to QT raves about. I wish I could say the same but if you've experienced a Chili's burger like we have you never go back...Personally I wanted to try the Frankie's burger that was down the road but no-one else was keen.
As we had about a week in QT and realised there wasn't all that much to do there we decided to go on a road trip with Becca and Mike for a couple of days down to the bottom of New Zealand in our hired car 'el cheapo'. We headed down to Invercargill (supposedly a chav town but we didn't hang around long enough to find out), and then across to The Catlins. We stopped at a place called Curio Bay and had a look for a place to stay for the night. We quickly discovered that all the hostels we checked out had no-one in them and were all unlocked. They all just had a note on the table saying 'If you want to stay here give us a ring'. This is what I love about New Zealand! So we picked a lovely hostel which was really a house that we had to ourselves for the night, apart form two cats! Before it got dark we quickly headed down to a place called 'fossilized forest' in the sea (a prehistoric forest you can only see when the tides out that dates back to the Jurassic period - bit of info for you), to see the rare 'yellow eyed' penguins come in from the sea. It was amazing to watch them, you could see that they were all in pairs and going back to their nests for the night!
The next day we got up early and headed straight for Te Anau, the town before Milford Sound. We were initially debating between Milford Sound and a city called Dunedin. As we drove into Milford we couldn't believe we almost didn't come because it was an absolutely amazing drive in. We were surrouded by mountains and the scenery was breathtaking. Once we got to Milford Sound we booked a cruise and saw more amazing scenery, we also saw seals and a dolphin that followed our boat the whole time. If you ever come to New Zealand you have to go to Milford Sound, apparently it is in the running to be the 8th natural wonder of the world so to miss it would be a shame! That evening we chilled out in Te Anau and then drove back to QT the following morning ready to get back on the big green bus.

Posted by palmer830 20.07.2010 01:12 Archived in New Zealand Tagged animal Comments (0)

Franz Josef and Wanaka

On the pisste!

snow -1 °C

Feeling rather delicate after our night at the poo pub we hopped back on the bus and headed for Franz Josef. The driver decided to stop on the way at Possum cafe where you have the opportunity to buy a possum pie which we declined. Apparently there's a big possum over-population problem here and in a bid to stop it they've started turning the possums into pies...
When we arrived in Franz Josef we booked our trip up the glacier for the next day and spent the rest of the day chilling out. The following day we got up early for our trek. It was a pretty strenuous trek up a mountain of rubble just to get to the glacier. When we finally got to it we strapped our crampons on and carried on climbing, but this time up ice! As we were trekking we came across a manmade hole in the ice, called a 'wormhole' which our guide said we were going to climb through. I hate small spaces so decided to go in straight away with the guide. It was so cramped that when I got into the tunnel I couldn't turn my head. As we were approaching the end of the tunnel Adam had made his way down and had somehow managed to get stuck at the bottom, unable to squeeze through the hole! All I could hear from the other end was 'Tom! Tom mate, I'm stuck!'. I suggested to Tom our guide that we leave him to it (that's love) so I could get the hell out of that hole but after several minutes of trying to talk him through it, it was decided that Tom needed to go back to the beginning of the hole and help him out. This didn't put Adam off however and at the next opportunity to climb through another hole he did it again! This time he had to army crawl his way through it was so tight and got absolutely soaked. All in all we walked about 8k that day, it was pretty exhausting and our muscles ached pretty badly the next day! Lucky for us we'd prebooked a day at the spa so we soaked in a hot tub for a while to soothe our aching muscles!. We didn't do too much in Franz Josef after the glacier trek as that was pretty expensive and there isn't really anything else to do there apart from that.
Our next stop after Franz Josef was Wanaka. We were really excited about getting here because we'd saved up our claim money to go skiing here so it felt like a bit of luxury on our trip. We turned up to our hostel which was gorgeous with lovely views of the lake and met up with Lorna, Rebecca, Mike and Ian from the kiwi bus in the evening for drinks. The next day we sorted out our ski passes and rental equipment, Adam opting for snowboarding and me skiing. In the evening I was forced to make toad in the hole for the third time in 2 weeks since Adam discovered I could cook it. The next day was ski day! So we got up early and walked to a place where people hitch a ride up to the ski slopes. We managed to get a lift no problem, got to Cardrona the ski slope and had 2 lessons each. We just spent the first day on the practise slope, learning how to move, turn and most importantly stop. The first day managed to be pretty bump free but the second day was pretty dramatic. I was in a lesson with Lorna and our instructor took us on the chairlift for the first time. We didn't really have a clue what we were doing and before we knew it we were pushed on the chairlift. It happened so fast that Lorna ended up on my lap and the chairlift operators hadn't noticed so while the chairlift was climbing up the mountain she ended up falling off the chairlift. It was pretty horrendous for her but luckily she wasn't injured. After a nasty start, we moved onto the intermediate slopes and didn't really have a clue what we were doing there either but we managed to make it to the end of the slope! In the afternoon we met up with Adam again and went on the slopes. By the end of the day we'd gotten pretty good and we all loved it (other than the chairlift!).
The following day we decided to chill out and went to the cinema in Wanaka to watch Toy Story 3. The cinema here is a really nice independent cinema that sells homemade cookies and ice cream in the interval! In the evening we went out for drinks with 3 guys we'd met back in Rotorua who were working in Wanaka for the season. On our final day in Wanaka, Adam and I decided to have one more day on the piste. Unfortunately the day didn't get off to the best start as I wanted to pay $30 to get the bus and Adam wanted to hitch again. We decided on hitching but it wasn't looking too promising so after walking back to town (with all our ski gear) to catch the bus and discovering it was now sold out we decided to hire a car...$80 later we were back skiing!! The day unfortunately didn't get any better as the visibility was awful and the beginner slope was closed so we had to struggle down the intermediate slope not being able to see a thing. At one point I was going so fast and so out of control my legs actually felt like jelly!! So by 2pm we'd given up and were back in our hostel recovering by the fire! All in all we loved skiing and snowboarding though and are definately going to do it again sometime when we can afford it. After a great week in Wanaka we then headed to Queenstown for the legendary Fergburger...

Posted by palmer830 20.07.2010 00:52 Archived in New Zealand Tagged hitchhiking Comments (0)

Picton, Nelson

and a couple of ghost towns...

overcast 9 °C

Our North Island experience has come to an end and we headed on the ferry over to the south Island. We were very much looking forward to this as people had been telling us it is the better island and our first views of it were spectacular with snow capped mountains. Our first stop was picton from where we did a nice little walk up a hill and you got to see how spectacular the Malborough Sounds are. This is pretty much the sort of thing we will be seeing for the next 4 weeks. Our hostel in picton was good and offered us FREE Chocolate Pudding EVERY night. It was a good thing we only stayed there a few nights as it was gorgeous and we would have packed on the pounds. To try and help us we decided to do a little Yoga one morning. It was a good experience and we are both thinking of taking it up when we get home. I basically liked the last 20 minutes where you got to lay down and sleep to recover!! Very fun. In the afternoon it was off on the Wine tasting tour. We went to 4 different winerys, all of which were very nice and i found a nice wine that i actually like, mainly because it was very sweet. We both got a bit tipsy and by the end i had definately had enough wine (im not the biggest fan of wine, but Anna had used the Horror of the Waitomo caves to make me go!!!) and we headed back to the hostel for more Choc pudding. After Picton we headed to Nelson, another small town and the gateway to the Abel Tasman National park. We checked into the smallest hostel we had seen, 12 beds in total, called Shortbread. On our pillows was, yes you guessed it, shortbread which was really nice. This hostel was a little strange as there wasn't really anyone in charge and we just walked in a chose our own room and not seeing the manager till 10:30pm. Even then he didn't ask for any money!! The weather in Nelson wasn't looking that good so we decided not to do a Kayaking tour and instead go for a walking tour. We didn't realise we had signed up for a 14k walk, up and down, and through the "Bush" so didnt get to see as much of the beautiful beaches as we thought!! However the weather did turn out to be amazing that day and we got to see lots of scenery and also our first glimps of Seals, which was awesome. That was about as much as we got upto in Nelson, although we stayed there for 4 days, we have been trying to go slowely so we dont have to spend too much time in Chirstchurch at the end. After Nelson we jumped back on the bus and headed for Westport. Here we had decided to do jet boating, as in Queenstown it costed twice the price and was for 20 minutes compared to 1 hour on the Buller River. We arrived in a little town outside Westport to get our waterproofs on. As you can see they were a little big for Anna, but definately needed as it was freezing. Once we was on the boat it got even colder as we went sooooo fast. The boat turns so fast which throws you about the boat and you miss the cliff edges by inches. On the way up the river our driver pulled up to a dead cow which had fallen in, nice. I wasn't quick enough to take a picture. Once we made it up the top of the river our driver advised us to put our cameras away as we would be getting a little wet......by doing 360's. What a rush that was and yes we got soaked. It didn't help that it was cold either. All in all it was awesome fun and a good experience. Once we had dried up we headed into Westport town centre (just like all town over here it was one steet!!!) We checked into our hostel, cooked dinner and headed out to mingle with the locals at a pub. We headed to bed early though as it was England V Germany at 2am and wanted a bit of Zzzz before getting up. What a waste that was as you all already know!! Useless. We only spent one night in Westport before heading off to the famous Poo Pub for the night. Before we got there we stopped for some amazing views along the West coast. There was also a seal colony and Pancake rocks (rocks that looked like pancakes stacked ontop of one another). From here it was off to the local town before the Poo pub to get our fancy dress costumes. The theme for the night was "What the F**K", very childish i know. I voted for something else, but was overruled. So basically we just went into the local Salvation Army and picked anything random. I chose and old ladies nighty, hat and old lady bag (using this with my superman top from OZ to make "The Super Old Bearded Lady") and Anna picked up stuff to be Super Cat. Very random as you can see from the pictures. With our costumes all ready we headed off to the poo pub which was literally in the middle of no where. It was also not the nicest place but it did have some very nice lakes which had snow capped mountains in the back ground. Also we managed to catch the very last minutes of a cool sunset and got some nice pictures. Once we were done exploring the surroundings we headed in for our Steak dinner (Anna opted for the Quiche). This steak was HUGE and took up nearly all the plate. It was really nice too and i was stuffed. Anna said her Quiche was good, but obviously did not compete with the steak. Once we were feed we all got into our costumes and drank the night away. In the morning, with sore heads, we headed off to Franz Joseph and some Glacier walking.

Posted by palmer830 20.07.2010 00:28 Archived in New Zealand Tagged postcards Comments (0)

Coromandel Peninsula & Rotorua

All aboard, the Kiwi Bus

rain 8 °C

wooo and I never win arguments!!! We got up early the following day to catch the Kiwi experience (our transport around New Zealand) from Auckland. Its a massive green bus4694260813_df6e14887d.jpg. , described by the locals as the "Big green shag bus" or something like that! This didn't fill us with much confidence as to what it would be like but it has turned out to be a wicked way of seeing the country.....so far. Anyways, after checking in at the office we headed off to Mount Eden, which gave us a cool 360 degree view of Auckland cityWe then headed off on route to the Coromandel Peninsula and Catherdral Cove beach. Along the way our driver gave us a lot of information about the views and New Zealand in general, unfortunately I fell for a corker of a lie, which involves cows and a "New Technology" which changes the cows skin colour when they needed milking. Shocking I know but hey I was sucked in by his cool stories!!! When we arrived to Cathedral Cove beach we hadn't planned on a 40 minute walk to the beach4694300259_246805b98e.jpg and Anna had forgotten to wear her new walking shoes, instead opting for the warmer UGG boots. It was a gorgeous day and it was a very nice beach just a shame it wasn't that warm so we couldn't go for a swim. After a night in Mercury Bay we headed off for Rotorua, via an old gold mining town. We got to walk through all the old caves and also see our first glimpse of the famous NZ glowworms (They're not actually glowworms but maggots and the green stuff that glows is their poo). From here we headed to Rotorua for our first taste of some adventure sports. Rotorua stinks...of eggs. Its because of all the sulphure as its on an active volcano. This in turn makes for a lot of cool mud pools, geysers and thermal pools, which are very cool. We got to see this first hand at Tepuia, a local Mauri centre which explained how they used to use the hot thermals to cook and survive back in the day!! From here we headed to the Lugeing centre for some more lugeing action. It wasn't quite as spectacular as doing it in Singapore (that was done at night) but the tracks where much longer and if you went fast enough you could actually get some air on a bump. Anna didn't manage to get any but I did and nearly crashed as I was going way too fast. Anna was actually much better this time and didnt finish last everytime!!! It was quite a long day and once all this was finished we checked into the "Funky Green Voyager" our favourite hostel in New Zealand. This place had a nice log fire, big kitchen and warm, clean rooms. The atmosphere there was also good and we met some cool people. The next day we had White Water rafting and a 7 metre drop. One of the biggest drops you can do on a grade 5 rapids4694830182_a6f15165b5.jpg. It was so much fun, and not as cold as we thought. There were only 4 of us in the boat so it was a lot of work. You can see from the pictures that it was quite a tough run, with 3 big waterfalls and lots of rapids. We managed to stay in the boat the whole way even over the massive waterfall which was good. Didn't fancy going for a swim in the cold water. When we had finished we managed to blag our way into a free BBQ which was good. Basically the people who were also on the rapids, in another boat, were celebrating a birthday and had lots of food so invited us in. Was very good and saved us some cash. We got picked up a few days later by the big green bus and headed for the famous farm show. This is basically a place where you watch sheep getting sheared, cows milked and dogs rounding up ducks, all in a comical way. It was very funny and the guy picked on me because I was the only person there who said they were from England. I also got called up to the stage to feed some baby lambs.....ahhh very cute. From here we headed of to Waitomo to do some Black Water Rafting. This isn't like White Water rafting were you are in a big raft, instead its you and a rubber ring riding some rapids in a pitch black cave, jumping off water falls and exploring all the glowoworm tunnels.4715571223_664b22e69d.jpg It was really good fun for me, however Anna did not like it at all and had a little panic attack down there. It was very claustrophobic, dark, cold and as there was a lot of rain and the water levels were up high which made it very hard to walk around. Anna unfortunately doesn't like any of these aspects and had to endure 1 1/2 hours of hell. At one point she managed to fall out of her rubber ring and was flying along the rapids and caught at the end by one of the guides before she went over a waterfall. This did not help matters and i had to make sure i helped her all the way around. At the end we got a nice warm soup and Anna decleared never to do anything like that again......

Posted by palmer830 28.06.2010 21:14 Archived in New Zealand Tagged luxury_travel Comments (0)

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