Are you ready for this? We have: Kaiteriteri, Westport, Mahinapua, Franz Josef, Wanaka, Queenstown, Christchurch, Kaikoura and back to Wellington!
27.11.2012 - 07.12.2012
It was a very early start in the morning in order to get onto the 8am ferry to the south island. The crossing was 3 ½ hours so we found some reclining seats and slept for the first half of it! Then we got some food and went to the top deck to check out the views of the Marlborough Sounds. When we got on to the bus on the other side we now had a new driver called Bruce! He is very much like Jermaine from Flight of the Conchords so obviously that means he is completely awesome! It was quite a long drive down to our first stop on the South Island – Kaiteriteri. When we got there we bumped into a few people who were on our bus in the North Island which was nice. We chilled out for a while but I wasn’t feeling very well so went to bed quite early.
Luckily I slept really well so felt much better the next day. The bus wasn’t leaving until around lunchtime so we just chilled out down by the beach. We got back on the bus and drove to our next stop which was Westport. It was a small town and there was not a lot to do but we were staying in a really nice cosy hostel that felt very homey! There was a big lounge with sofas and bean bags and a massive video collection (yes, video!) which included more than one copy of Titanic! We had dinner and showers and then a big group of us settled down in the lounge and watched the Sixth Sense which was fun! “I see dead people…” a classic.
The next morning we checked out and we drove to Cape Foulwind where we did a nice little cliff top walk and saw a seal colony. The next rest stop was the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. There was also a café and we were hungry so decided to get some food before checking out the rocks but unfortunately they took so long to bring the food out that we didn’t have time to see them and had to get back onto the bus! We stopped again in a small town called Greymouth where we stocked up on some things at the supermarket and also went in search of a fancy dress costume! We were heading to Mahinapua where we were going to be spending the night at the infamous “Poo Pub” where the bus always does a fancy dress night. Our theme was “role models” which is a bit difficult really, especially when you don’t have much money to spend and don’t want to buy anything that you will either have to throw away or carry around in your backpack afterwards! Jonny and I decided to save our money and did manage to come up with some last minute costumes from what we already had in our bags! We arrived at the Poo Pub and the owner Les came to give us a little talk about how things run at his place. Les is in his eighties and doesn’t open up his pub to the public, he is exclusively only open for the Kiwi Experience bus! He is one of the most politically incorrect people you’ll ever meet and he looks like a wizard. We liked him instantly. Our dorms were in little outdoor cabins and it was very cold but there were some toasty heaters in there that warmed up the rooms quite nicely. Les cooked a massive load of steaks and we all had a yummy dinner and then we started getting our costumes ready. As Jonny owns quite a few items of Bear Grylls clothing he simply put them on and rubbed dirt on his face to be Bear Grylls and I put on my Hogwarts t-shirt, drew a scar on my forehead, borrowed some ‘geek’ glasses from someone and found a twig outside to be a wand so I was Harry Potter! It was a pretty poor effort in comparison to what some other people had done! There were three girls who dressed up as Granny’s, they got some granny-ish clothes from a charity shop and even put flour in their hair to make it white! There were some great costumes but also some not-so-great costumes so we didn’t feel too bad! We had to be up early the next day to head to Franz Josef but this didn’t stop most people from drinking a large amount of alcohol! I had one drink and didn’t go to bed very late and Jonny followed soon after but everyone else must have been kicked out of the pub at the same time later on and they were all running around outside screaming and shouting and banging doors! One of the Irish lads walked into our room, turned the lights on, saw three sleeping people but decided to try and persuade us to go down to the beach anyway! We later learned that he did this to every single room! We were only in a four bed dorm but one of the girls was missing until dawn when she crept in with another one of the Irish lads, but thankfully they didn’t get it on in our room! The next morning was pretty brutal as you can imagine! Jonny had turned our heater off half way through the night so the room was extremely cold – the cold must have made my muscles tense because I woke up with a tension headache so had to take my tablets that make me all drowsy. Almost everyone else was quite severely hungover! Somehow everyone managed to get up and roll onto the bus and we headed to Franz Josef.
On the way we stopped at a café to get some breakfast. Some people had fry ups to cure the hangover whilst others pushed around a small bit of toast looking nauseous! I had a coffee to perk me up a bit and started to feel much better. There was also a dog there so I enjoyed petting it for a while. When we got to Franz Josef Bruce had arranged for us to do our Glacier hike that afternoon to catch the good weather. We went and got kitted out in all the gear we needed. I had on two pairs of trousers, two pairs of socks, a vest, a t-shirt, a jumper, a scarf, a raincoat, a hat and some heavy hiking boots. I also had a massive pair of gloves stuffed into my pockets and a bag carrying cramp-ons and 5 chocolate bars! I started to get a bit nervous as this all seemed a lot more hardcore than I’d been expecting! We flew in a helicopter to the Franz Josef Glacier and then got out and attached the cramp-ons to our hiking boots so that we could get a grip on the ice. Wearing so many layers and such heavy boots made it difficult to move around let alone start hiking up a glacier! There was obviously no natural path, our guide just had to hack into the ice to create some stairs every now and then or make the path wider! It wasn’t long before I became terrified of falling over or something so I passed my camera to Jonny so he could take the photos (he had left his camera on the bus) and I just concentrated on staying alive! We also had to squeeze our way through some very small and tight crevasses which made me slightly claustrophobic but I was ok. The views were amazing and it was a once in a lifetime experience but as I was pretty much shitting myself the whole time and it was probably an hour longer than it needed to be (we were on the ice for 3-4 hours) I’m not sure if I really enjoyed it that much and I know I wouldn’t really want to do it again! I’m glad I did it though and we got some cool photos. That evening we were exhausted so a few of us went to the hostel bar to get some dinner and a drink.
The next day we didn’t have to get back on the bus, we had a free day in Franz Josef. I was enjoying a lie-in when someone from housekeeping came into our dorm and said that I was supposed to have checked out. Seeing as Jonny and I were together, had checked in together and I had paid for two nights for both of us on my credit card it seemed pretty obvious that they had made a mistake but they insisted that I get dressed and go down to reception to sort things out. So you can imagine how annoyed I was after getting up and getting ready and going to reception that all the girl there had to do was pick up a piece of paper on the desk and look at it to clearly see that they had made a mistake… urgh! We sorted out some bits and bobs on the internet and then went downstairs. We could smell bacon cooking and got food envy so we walked into the tiny town and went to the supermarket to buy some bacon for lunch. We also saw a little bakery where it was “doughnut day” so we ended up buying some amazing doughnuts too! We made bacon rolls for lunch which were lush and then just chilled out in the afternoon. When a couple of the other girls got back from horse riding we all went to the hot pools. We had free entry with the wrist bands we had got from doing the glacier hike. There were three outdoor rainforest pools all different temperatures. We went in the coolest one first and then moved up to the next warmest and then the hottest. The hottest one was a bit too hot, it was like getting into a really hot bath but obviously the water doesn’t start to cool down, it just stays hot! It made me a bit dizzy and very thirsty so I went back down a notch! It was fun and relaxing being in the pools and chatting to everyone. That evening we went out for a drink with a few of the others but didn’t stay out long.
On the bus again, we stopped at a café for some breakfast where Jonny yawned and flung out his arm to stretch but hit a waitress and sent a jug of milk flying! It was so embarrassing… We walked to the lookout point of Lake Matherson but unfortunately the weather wasn’t very good so we couldn’t see the reflection of Mount Cook in the lake. We had a couple more stops along the way as there was a lot of driving so we stopped at another café for lunch. Once again there was another dog there so of course I had to sit and pet it for a while! When we finally got to Wanaka Bruce drove us around the small town and showed us the lake and then we checked in at the hostel. I had a little nap and when I woke up we had some dinner. I wasn’t feeling very well so I just chilled out in the evening and watched a film on the laptop whilst a few of the others went down to the bar. The next morning before leaving Wanaka we went to Puzzling World which was really fun! It’s full of optical illusions that really mess with your head – there’s even an entire room so screwy that it made us really dizzy and disorientated! The whole room is at an angle but all the objects in it are at a different angle making things seem obscure and out of place! There was also a massive maze outside but we gave up on that pretty quickly, I was still feeling dizzy!
We got back on the bus and made a quick photo stop at the half way point between the equator and the south pole. Before getting to the town we stopped at the world’s first commercial bungy site where we all got off and arranged any adrenalin activities we were booking during out stay in Queenstown. Jonny and I had decided to do the Nevis Swing tandem which is where we sit side-by-side in harnesses, get dropped 70m free fall over a canyon but instead of coming down and bouncing up like a bungy you swing in an arc across the canyon! We thought about doing a bungy as well but decided to just stick with the swing! We asked if they had time for us to do it that afternoon and they did but it meant that we’d have to stay there instead of going into town, checking in at the hostel and then going back. So Bruce sorted it all out and put our backpacks in the luggage room at the hostel for us to collect and check in later on. Two other girls on our bus did the same as us so we all waited together! We got picked up in another bus and dropped off at the Nevis site. The Nevis Bungy is the third biggest in the world but some people were saying that the swing was actually scarier! I didn’t really understand because I think doing a bungy would be terrifying but I didn’t find the swing very scary, it was so exciting! We walked across the bridge to the little suspended room where the swing is. When we arrived there was another couple in the harness and we waited to watch them swing. Looking at the wires and stuff I imagined the arc in my head but then when they were dropped they fell sooooo much further than I thought! You had to literally lean over the railings to see how far they were falling! This gave me an adrenalin kick and I started getting really excited but Jonny started getting really nervous! We saw a couple of guys go (one upside down!) and then it was our turn. We got strapped up in our harnesses and then walked to the edge of the platform. The guy told us to sit into our harnesses and swing our legs off the edge which I did but Jonny kept one foot on the platform because he was shitting himself! We waved at the various cameras for the photos and video, me grinning and hyper, Jonny clenching his jaw and looking terrified! The guy asked us if we wanted a countdown to the drop or a surprise and when Jonny was whimpering and said “I don’t give a shit!” they guy just dropped us and the moment we were released my stomach jumped into my throat! We free fell 70m which was amazing and then very smoothly swung over the canyon. We swung around for a while and then they reeled us back up. Jonny was much more excited about it once it was over! We went back and saw the photos and watched the video and decided we might as well get both even though they were overpriced (they always are!).
We got dropped off at the hostel and the major disadvantage of checking in after everyone else meant that we both ended up with top bunks. I hate top bunk so I wasn’t very happy because I was going to have to put up with it for 2 nights! I was also the only girl in the room which sucks! We dumped our bags and went out for some food. Then we had showers and got ready for a night out. We went to meet Bruce at a bar and were the first ones there so we chatted to him for a while which was cool. When the others started to arrive the night got going and we had a really good night out. I got a little bit drunk and had a great time dancing away to a live band!
We slept in the next morning and went out around lunchtime to get some food and wander around in the sunshine. Although the sun was out it was very windy so actually felt a bit chilly! We went back to the hostel and hung out in the common area for a while chatting with everyone. We went out for some food again in the evening and then although we had to be up early for the bus the next day, some of the others still staying in Queenstown convinced us to go out for a couple of drinks. It was really sad because we had to say goodbye to quite a lot of great friends we had made. There were some people that we knew we would be able to catch up with again in Wellington.
The next morning we were up early and on the bus to head to Christchurch. A couple of our friends were on our bus so we sat with them but soon regretted that when we realised how hung over they were – they’d gone out last night! One was actually sick in a bag on the bus which wasn’t pleasant! We had a different driver, this time it was a woman called Lauren but she was really really annoying and talked too much without even really saying anything of interest! Luckily though she had a selection of DVD’s and let us pick a few movies to watch on the bus TV throughout the long journey to Christchurch. We watched the Inbetweeners movie and American Pie the Reunion and then a few episodes of series 3 of the Inbetweeners. A lot of the hostels in Christchurch were damaged in the earthquake but as all the uni students had gone home for summer we were able to stay in twin rooms on a campus for the price of hostel dorms! We checked in and then a couple of the girls and I decided to catch the bus into the city to check it out. We didn’t realise how late it was though or how long the bus journey would be so by the time we got there all the shops had closed! It was a real ghost town, we couldn’t even find any open restaurants so after admitting defeat we got back on the bus! When we got back Jonny came with us and we walked down the road to a Chinese restaurant to get some dinner.
The next morning we were pleasantly surprised to see that Nancy Boy was going to be our bus driver again! We got on the bus and headed out of Christchurch and on to a little coastal town called Kaikoura. We arrived around lunchtime and checked into the hostel. We decided to get a double room and lucked out with having an ensuite too! We walked into the town with some of the others to look around but after a short while me and one of the other girls started sneezing and sniffing and felt like our faces were going to explode – we are both hayfever sufferers so there was obviously some sort of pollen in the air! It was really bad and I was starting to feel terrible so when we got back to the hostel we just shut ourselves in our room and ended up watching Return of the King! We came down for some dinner but then retreated once more and watched some Michael McIntyre in fits of laughter.
Back to Wellington
The next morning we got back on the bus and drove for a little bit before stopping at a seal colony to see the seals. We stopped at a café for breakfast and then drove to Picton to catch the ferry back to Wellington. One of our friends had been staying and working in the hostel there the whole time we had been travelling around the South Island. Luckily we had a bit of time to kill before catching the ferry so she came to meet us and say hi. She dragged us over to see the hostel and we chatted for a while but then had to head off to catch the ferry. When we got to Wellington we were staying at the YHA again whilst most of the others were staying at Base. We all dumped our bags and then met at the Indian take-away and got some food. I shared a curry with one of the other girls but it was a bit too spicy for me!! Then we went back to the hostel and chilled out for a while before meeting up again later for a drink. We went to the bar at Base but it was pretty crap and there was a scary guy running around in a Borat thong and a pirate hat so we left and went to a bar on Cuba St with a live band. We had a couple of drinks and a little dance to the band and then a few of us called it a night.
That concludes our time of travelling for now! I’m sorry that it has taken so long to write this blog but we’ve been incredibly busy since getting back to Wellington! I had a job interview and got the job so started work a few days ago. Jonny is still looking but most of the IT work comes around in January but he’s sure to get something then, the recruitment companies he has signed up to are confident he can get a good job. We decided to move in to our own place as it’s much cheaper than staying in a hostel and although we originally had wanted to wait until we both had jobs, our lease is very flexible so if worst comes to worst we only have to give three weeks’ notice to move out, but I doubt it would come to that! We moved in yesterday and had to go out and get all sorts of bits and bobs for our place and we’re starting to settle in now. We have a room with a double bed, chest of drawers, wardrobe, TV, table and chairs, kitchenette (sink, cupboards, fridge, microwave, toaster), computer desk, and an ensuite bathroom with a toilet, shower and sink. There is a communal kitchen with an oven etc and a laundry room on each floor. Our land lady puts on a barbeque in the courtyard for Christmas so we’ll probably be going to that and getting to know our neighbours!
So I’m afraid that my blog will be going quiet whilst we are living and working in Wellington. I hope you have all enjoyed reading about my travels but we all know that working just isn’t as interesting! I might do a little update every few months or so but at the moment the plan is to start travelling again in November 2013!