Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Welcome to NZ!!!

We arrived in Christchurch to some pretty horrible English weather, which was a bit of a shock, but we soon settled back into wearing jumpers.

Christchurch is quite pretty and quaint (oxford & cambridge mixed in but smaller), with not much to do. We picked up Andy's (james' uni mate) car called 'carollina', and headed on our rickety way to queenstown.

As we headed south the weather cheered up, as you can see from the photo of Lake Takepo (take-a-poo!!). There are loads of beautiful lakes! Who knew!!
We took a slight detour on the way to queenstown to Mount Cook and did some good lunges!
We arrived in Queenstown and met up with Em and Matt (& their other house mate rob) as well as Andy, and headed out for our first big night out in New Zealand. Hitting the backpacker bar Altitude. Which happened to have a kareoke night!!! An awesome rendition of Sweet child of mine, with air guitar, was a definate must!!!!

We didn't hang around too long in Queenstown, as we wanted to travel round the south Island and get back to queenstown in time for the superbowl. We did manage a few sight seeings with tour guide Matt, and saw a few of the sights which were used in the filming of Lord of the Rings.

We then packed up in Carollina again (with slightly less clothes, as 4 people and 4 backpacks don't fit very well in a toyota) and headed for the west coast.

Our first stop was Lake Wanaka, which was absolutely beautiful, and luckily the weather was lovely. Han, James and I did some canyoning, which involves climbing, absailing and jumping down a canyon (absolutely awesome adrenalin rush!)

After a couple of days in Wanaka, (there was not much to do, as it was a very small town by a lake, with a non existent night life!) we headed further up the west coast to the Franz Joseph Glacier.

Me & James went climbing on the Glacier, which was very cold, and wet, but awesome!! In fact it rained the entire time we were in Franz Joseph! Again, Franz Joseph was a small town, with a non-existent night life (it was a theme of the west coat!!) so we left the rain behind us pretty quick, and headed on to Hokitika. We stopped briefly at Lake Matherson, very picturesque reflecting lake.

Hokitika is a very beautiful little town, with an amazing Gorge, which has the strangest blue water I've ever seen! Here we went white water rafting on the Hokitika river, grade IV rapids, pretty cool, but very cold when our guide for a joke decided to capsise the raft!! We went with a company called "sweet as" rafting! I've never heard someone say "sweet as" so many times in my life, but they were pretty cool guys.

Our plan was to leave for the next town after rafting, but the guys persuaded us to come join them for a beach party, and then gate crash the Kiwi Experience Party. So we had some food and all piled into Carollina to head to the beach, but Carollina was dead (it was a very sad moment!) the batt had died for some reason (no lights left on I promise!). So I'm in the front seat while James, Becky and Hannah are pushing her along the road trying to jump start her!! After us all having a go, and only getting about 20m down the road, a couple of NZ guys spotted us and offered help. Luckily for us, their mate was working round the corner in a junk yard, so they brought round jump leads and a spare battery!! Our Hero's!! I don't think we'd have got her started without them! Maybe we should join the NZ RAC equivelant!!!

So after that excitement, we made it to the beach with a few beers, and for the first time on the west coast, got drunk! The Kiwi Experience party was a very strange affair. It was in a random pub in the middle of nowhere (by the beach) run by a really old man, with the longest beard i've ever seen! It was a small dingy pub, and all the kiwi bus people were dressed up in costumes. One guy was even dressed up as a Pubic Lice (He immediately regretted that decision!!). After lots of jugs of beer, drinking games, and even some pool, we headed back to the beach via the caravan park to get a spare tent. This was a bit of an error, as there were about 5 couples from the kiwi bus getting busy by the lake!! It definately lives up to its reputation as the shag bus!!!

We managed to put up the tent in a drunken state, and even managed to light a fire, with the help of Ed and Katie (a couple we met that night), and the party continued.

The next day was awoken with the beer monkey pounding on my head, but we managed to get a good fry up, and decided to push on all the way to Blenheim for some wine tasting!!! We did manage to do a bit of sight seeing along the way, stopping at the pancake rocks (they look like a stack of pancakes:) and blow holes (pretty average really!)

Blenheim again is a small town, there is a club there, but we were told very bad stories!!! But we stayed in a really great hostel, with some great english guys who had a guitar!!

It was a really great wine region though. We went to a few of the famous winery's: Cloudy Bay, Montana, The Village, and a fantastic winery called Wither Hills which does an amazing 2004 bottle of Pinot Noir!!!

Next we moved on to Kaikoura, to my favourite part of the trip!! Kaikoura is one of few places that wild dusky dolphins swim close to the shore, so we went swimming with dolphins! This was absolutely amazing, unbelievable, words can't describe!! The dolphins are really curious, so if you swim round in a circle and making stupid cooing noises, they will come up to you and swim around you. At one point I had a baby and its mother encircling me!!!! They were so close one even brushed up against me.

We also went whale watching, unfortunately we didn't get to see any killer whales, but we did spot some Sperm whales, they are huge, but really sluggish, and look like a submarine.

Then we headed back to Christchurch, which felt like London compared to the rest of New Zealand, we actually had some more than one pub to go to!!! We did however stay in a really strange German infested hostel, where the owner looked like he'd chop you up and cook you on the BBQ. We survived though, and after a couple of days headed back down to Queenstown again, coz, it's superbowl time!!! Come on Colts!!!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Hey all, so we arrived back in Sydney on the 22nd Dec, to a flat full of christmas decorations and christmas songs! (altho after a week of the same cd 24 hours a day, I'm a little bit sick of them now!)

On Christmas Eve our flat mate Yvonne, cooked us up a feast of 2 turkey's, ham, potatoes, sprouts, all the christmas goodness! Bless her she cooked for 15 people, and it was absolutely gorgeous!! After filling our bellies we went out to an irish bar (the usual) on the rocks for a fun christmas eve!!

Christmas day didn't actually start till the afternoon due to everyone's monster hangovers! But we still made it to Bondi Beach for a sunny xmas day! Also managed to meet up with Caroline, Lisa and their flat mate & travel budy Mida.
Boxing day was our flat mate Julie's Birthday so we all got dressed up and went to Sydney races:

Didn't manage to win anything this time, but was a beautiful day, and a great day out!!
The rest of the week between xmas and new year was a bit of a blur really, lots of poker, and lots of people in the house (i don't think we had below 10 people at any point! But it was great crack!).

Then new years eve arrived, again with a hangover! We went to the botanical gardens, which overlooks the sydney opera house and harbour bridge to meet up with Caroline, Lisa, Mida and their friends Dez and Rob:

Brought along some coke bottles filled with vodka to keep us going, sat there all day, and then counted down the seconds and watched the fireworks! The fireworks are absolutely amazing! Unfortunately my photo's do not do it justice so I won't put any up! But they lasted ages, and I hate to say it, way better than london!

Next on the list was the Ice bar, since I never got to go in london!!! As days were running fast before everyone started leaving the flat to seperate off for their further travels: was quite expensive, cold, but that's about it!!

Then it was time to say goodbye to Pat, Dee and Ailish, the first to leave, and the crazy irish! It was a sad day, but they ended it in traditional irish style by going out and getting leathered!!

Me and James decided to go to the Blue Mountains for a bit of a city break. They're a beautiful mountain range which look blue due to the mist on them. These are the 3 sisters:

We did a lot of walking along the edge of the mountains, right to the bottom of the 3 sisters, accross to Katoomba waterfall and up the scenic railway, which is the steepest railway in the southern hemisphere! It was pretty cool!

The night life in Katoomba was pretty dead tho, very small town! Altho everywhere was bring your own alcohol, so pretty cheap!

Then when we got back to sydney it was our turn to say goodbye! We met up with Caroline, Lisa and Mida, and took the all remaining house members on a dancing night out! Which was a great laugh! Although we were leaving at 6 the next morning, so didn't actually get any sleep!!

So very tired, we dragged our bags and caught the jet plane to New Zealand!!!!!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Ok, so I am really far behind, as I left you in Brisbane! I will do a whistlestop update to catch you all up.

Brisbane was really good fun, stayed in a wicked hostel, with some great english guys in our room, who quoted constantly, and took the piss the moment we met them! It was like I was home again, and pete was with me!! We didn't do much sight seeing, we went along the river on the CAT, and did some shopping. The rest of the time we saw the city's nightlife!!!
After a supposedly quiet night on the thursday (only going out for one, yeah right!) I had to drag becky and han out of bed at 7am to head to Australia zoo! It was an awesome day, got to see the croc show (shame it wasn't with Steve Erwin) and hold a koala, viola:

Was a great day, really hot and sunny too, only a shame we all felt so hungover! We also crazily bumped into our canadian friends from Cairns, I swear they're stalking us!!

We kept up the hardcore work, by going to the biggest club in Australia, "family", down in the valley, which as luck would have it happened to have the minestry of sound night when we were there, which was awesome! Becky was goin absolutely nuts! Except we managed to lose her, so she ended up walking home on her own at 5am in the morning and getting a little lost, with me sitting up in the hostel till she got back, felt like a mum waiting up for a naughty child, but didn't want to go to bed till i knew she was ok! aren't I lovely!!!

Then we moved on to surfers paradise, which is very picturesque, and has a lovely beach, but other than that, is pretty boring!! Did manage to fit in some boogie board action, with the coolest board on the beach!!
The nightlife in surfers was pretty crap, it's full of what I would call townies, but over here they call schoolies and toolies (schoolies = 18 year old girls out on the piss after jus finishing school, toolies = older guys who go there to hook up with 18 yr old girls!) not the best. So we only stayed one night, and headed on to Byron Bay! We did manage to fit in a trip to wet 'n' wild, which was awesome!!!

Byron bay is wonderful, I love it!! Probably my best town on the coast, gorgeous beach, great town and a chilled atmosphere! Went surfing with a guy who looked and sounded like Tommy Lee Jones out of The Fugitive! Managed to stand quite a few times, he said I was a natural!! Did manage to do a complete wipeout tho and get hit on the head by my board!
We Stayed in The Arts Factory, which is a really hippy hostel, which has teepee's! So we stayed in the teepee for a night, which is a cool experience, but gets freezing at night, and really boiling in the morning! As luck would have it, the funny english guys from Brisbane were also staying there, so we had some good driking with them. (Andy, Hass and Chris!).
Night life in Byron is pretty cool too, dancing on tables and the rest of the melarky!
On the last day, we went to visit the lighthouse and the most easterly point in australia. I was gona get up and watch the sunrise, but the one day I get up at 4.45am, it pisses it down, jus my luck!!

Was an awesome few days anyway, then it was us all packed up for the last time and heading on the overnight bus back to sydney for xmas, whoop whoop!!!!