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!!!

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