I took the famous ferry through the sound into Picton on a hazy day and into what feels like paradise- the south island
. I got seriously lucky at the car rental desk as I got the ferry and scored a brand new 4x4 to be transported to Queenstown, which felt great after hitching. I was laughing out loud heading out of Picton towards Blenheim and had the most amazing drive through the day and late into the night to Greymouth. The scenery is stunning (lots of pics of this) and is so concentrated and never ending, from huge mountain valleys to tight gorges and little (single lane) bridges over stunning rivers. I then headed towards the famous Arthurs Pass pass only to find it closed due to an accident so carried on the whole way to Wanaka(7 hours!), which was an epic all day drive, stopping of to walk up to the Fox glacier which wasn't looking too healthy, as the pics show... The mountain roads on the west coast were amazing- twisty, narrow, steep, deserted and simply incredible, making many of the (famous) roads I've ever seen in the continent seem pedestrian. Wanaka was high in the bucket list, and arriving over a month into ski season I kind of expected skiing, only to find the latest start to a NZ ski season ever which didn't change... A big thanks to Martin and Liz for putting me up. The hiking was amazing though, and I managed a couple of all day hikes and some runs with amazing views and some nice local hiking around the lake. It's only a short hop, over a stunning alpine pass down into Queenstown, which is a little town which seems to have been transported onto the edge if a stunning lake and surrounded by snowcapped mountains
I'm still amazed by NZ and still think back to how beautiful it is, and it's now top of the list for my next trip. If I could revisit anywhere, it's here!
I did really regret not being able to ski but it was onwards into Australia, first stop Melbourne. First stop was the hills north of the city, up to Mount Buller, to spend a day skiing which felt like an addiction fed! Not great skiing but but plenty of sun and more hiking. After a couple of expensive days it was back to Melbourne feeling considerably poorer. What a cool city! Lovely river with parks and the Olympic village and a great city centre, pretty much the exact opposite to my next stop, Tasmania, somewhere I've wanted to visit as long as I can remember.
Tassie, as the Aussies call it, is a bit like English countryside, only a bit prettier and COLD! I flew into Hobart which felt a bit Blackpooly, and it didn't take me long to head across the island to Launceston which isn't too much of an improvement so it was clear beauty lied in the sticks so car hire beckoned. As you can see from the pics, what a beautiful place! Huge disappointment though after heading over to Ben Lommond (like NZ all roads are single lane) only to find it had snowed so much they couldn't dig the lifts out.. Felt a bit stupid driving back to the hostel in my ski gear..
Touching down in Sydney was certainly a bit warmer, and after almost a month in dorm rooms it was very nice to stay with Stephen, Viv and their two adorable kids just outside Manly
. Manly is a great area and the ferry ride into the harbour is amazing, along with all the touristy things like the bridge and opera house which simply never wore off.
I loved Sydney, and had a great time with Stephen and co, and would definitely love to return to Sydney and see more of Australia one day. Hopefully with a slightly bigger budget though, as it can be really expensive, and staying in hostels with English gap year students certainly gets annoying! Very happy to be back in the US now, and even happier to be heading of shortly with Anna into Colombia and into wherever the wind takes us.
Bye bye for now
PS we had a wonderful few days in London before heading of to South America!
As I wandered out of Auckland airport and onto continent number 6 I knew that this was going to be completely different from any traveling I'd ever done before. New Zealand turned out to be one of the most amazing places I've ever visited- painfully concentrated beauty. I started by heading from Aukland after a few pretty bad jetlagged days ( from Boston it was +16 time zones...) on the overland train which is a really amazing train journey with stunning views. I stayed in Tongariro national park, which is pretty much the middle of the north island. Trains only run in weekends so it was a 300km hitch down to windy Wellington which seemed like a really cool city. The scenery starts to get seriously amazing the closer you get to Wellington, lush green hills with plenty of sheep dotted all over them and the road then drops down to the coast. I'm getting better with the new camera now and starting to take some really nice pics...