Wednesday, 30 November 2011

A 1000 Waterfalls and the South Island.

Arriving in to Christchurch was easily done, hour long flight watching Walking Dead and we arrived and collected the rental car before our usual trick of heading straight off to pastures new. (Christchurch would have been new but heh onwards).
Our first stop  was the scenic Lake Tekapo, nestled with a backdrop to Mt.Cook (this is what the guidebook says) (see photo for yourselves). This was our first camping stop in the whole of New Zealand, and incidently also the last time, money well spent; Stones money. It was pretty damn cold, however we survived fed some ducks and headed off to Queenstown, via Cromwell.
Lake Tekapo

Feeding Ducks
Queenstown is the Cuzco of New Zealand. It is a bubble itself of partying, stunning scenery and backpackers. Due to our preferred Milford Sound trip being fully booked we had a full five days in Queenstown. Money restraints limited certain activities that are usually enjoyed (Jetboating, Bungee, Luge etc) we skipped most of these activities as also having done them before in the north. Always can be done on a return trip. In Queenstown we did however get involved with hostel events, including an amazing race which held dubious victors but the winning tab was shared and we received free stuff/food just for partaking, bbq on the green and a cancelled beach party. In honour of ‘movember’ of which we are all partaking a local bar has cheap deals (as-well as everywhere else). I also had far too many Fergburgers, which I had been told to indulge in, as usual a good tip.
Eventually Sunday came around and forcing ourselves out we went to the rainy day tour of Milford ‘Sound’ technically it’s a Fiord. Time for a related joke; “My friend is so dumb they thought ‘Milford/Plymouth Sound’ actually was a noise”. Due to the rain the mountain sides literally turned in to 1000s of Waterfalls, Milford was also breathtaking with aforementioned waterfalls cascading in to its depths, we had an amazing buffet on the boat and due to the wet indulged in the free tea. The underwater part of the tour was actually rather dull and if done again would not bother with.
Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu

Lake Wakatipu

Milford Sound

A 1000 Waterfalls

On Mondinium the plan was to head for Wanaka, which is billed as ‘like Queenstown but nicer cause its quiter’ but as all the activities were outdoor related and it was raining a monsoon outside we checked the weather and decided to head for Fran Josef Glaicer so as to hike it in what was billed as better weather the next day.
Franz Josef is a minute town set in forests on the west coast, we did make it for a walk to the Glacier inbetween rain showers avoiding it, creating yet more waterfalls. The walk itself is along the riverbed which ‘could flood at any moment’ was the best part of this experience, the Glacier itself being slightly disappointing as it is kind of small and dirty. The Colombia Ice field(Canada) is much better if you want to go Glacier spotting.
Walking in the 'Riverbed'

Franz Josef Glacier
We stopped off in Queenstown on the way back for another night of fun, Stones (jokily) agreed to ban himself from the Casino and we enjoyed the movember happy hour before eating Japanese and Sake Bombs. I forgot how much I love Ramen. Rest of the night was rather boring, perused a few places I hadn't been and went to sleep due to an early-ish start. Next stop was Dunedin; (gaelic for Edinburgh) and obviously the scottish part. We had a quiet night formulating plans and relaxing, however we were almost screwed for accomodation as Elton Jon was playing the friday night and so all hostels were booked. We did however find a floor in what appeared to be an old decrepid 70's bar/disco with dodgy owner to boot. However it was a pretty good set up. We having sorted a bed set off to find 'the Worlds Steepest Hill', skeptical we were impressed by its incline, however I still believe Marlborough Hill is steeper. Then celebrated are ascension by having a tasty pizza and cheap beer. In the evening we went beer tasting which was fun as usual and followed this with a curry (how british). 
Knowing we had a long drive we attempted to set off early and attempted to spot penguins along the way... however the best laid plans never come to fruition. At all the 'official' Penguin spots/reserves you had to pay an extortionate fee of about $50 and obviously we refused. At the free sites we only managed to see about a  million Sea Gulls and some seals. We had been told to visit 'Moeraki Boulders' as if they were the greatest of all sites in New Zealand. They were not. This is not to say we didn't have fun on this trip, just disappointed to have not found the Penguins. The great thing about having a car is we can go anywhere at a whim, this includes sights or just places with funny names, for instance we drove past a "Shag Point" at chose to visit this due to its comical name. (For those who are interested a 'Shag' is a bird, similar to a Cormorant). When it was late we still made a decision to push on to a hostel in Akaroa despite having none booked, however we lucked out and found pretty much my favourite hostel of all New Zealand, perhaps so far. Careless not planning wins out again!
Steepest Street

Elusive Penguins and Albatross

Beer Can

Moeraki Boulders
Akaroa, as previously stated this hostel was amazing. Set in the hills of the Banks Peninsula, an amazing location. We took pretty much the only spaces left, me in a dorm and Welsh and Stones in a Caravan, a true camping holiday experience. The next night we moved to what they call the 'Stargazers', cabins in the campground with sheets of glass so you can look at the stars while you slept - this has easily been one of my favourite places to sleep. It also encouraged me to wonder if I have slept outside at all on my travels, took me a while to remember that I have, on the Voyage from Panama to Colombia. Final 'proper' morning we made eggs and had a lie in knowing the next two would be early starts. In the day time we visited Okains Bay, a nice secluded beach with very few people. It was like everything else in the Banks Peninsula, stunning. We swam in the Pacific for what is probably the last time on this trip, a good farewell, I should add we actually ran in to the sea naked (cause were crazy Europeans Nila ;) ) and as usual; Stoney watched.
Bird at Onuku

Yachts in the bay

My Stargazer

Okains Beach
We drove off to Christchurch at 8am to return the car before spending the day wandering around the rubble caused by the earthquake and meandering before spending the night in the airport due to a 4am check-in.
Red Zone Barrier

Collapsed Church
NZ is now over and it has been fun, albeit quite rushed from time to time. The downs have included hostels, People and the prices. However it has more than made up with for this with stunning scenery, a few hidden gems of hostels and of course nice peoples generosity. I don't think I would travel in NZ again but I definitely would return. Once again time to up an leave, 3 days in Australia before hitting Asia again, one last time. As usual the summary picture that summarises both nothing and everything.
Lakes, Mountains and snow.

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