South Island Town Hopping
Trip Start Jan 28, 2011
25Trip End Jul 30, 2011
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We did however say our final farewell to the North Island in style, thanks to our favourite city of them all...Wellington! Yes, we do only have dreary Auckland as a comparison and yes NZ doesn't exactly have many cities, but we still thought it was a winner! After a couple of weeks of staying in the back and beyond, we finally encountered some cosmopolitan buzz in the windy (and very sunny) city of Wellywood. We hit Victoria Peak for a 360 view of the city, yet Wells preferred to go for a more intimate local view of the city when she got lost for an hour having been 2 minutes from our hostel and enlisted the aid of a not so helpful taxi driver but a very lovely policeman to put her out of her misery.
Our first South Island stop was in Nelson, self dubbed the 'sun-trap of the south'. In light of this we made sure our hostel came complete with hot tub, sauna and swimming pool...flashpackers eat your heart out. Nelson's highlights included an art deco cathedral, a yummy Market and candy cocktails at liquid bar, but without doubt the national park of Abel Tasman was in a league of its own. An hours drive away meant a full day and an early morning, so early in fact that we let our student tendencies resurface and decided to sleep through our alarm and require the surfaces of the hostel worker and bus driver to wake us up and get us on the minibus!
Abel Tasman, of all the places we've been to, deserves the most cheesy line possible: if heaven needed inspiration it would look no further. We took an energetic water taxi to the beautiful Torrents Bay and had 4 1/2 hours to walk back for the bus. Seeing as we smashed our ETA at Tongariro, we felt we had multiple hours to play with, venturing out to Cleopatra's pools for a dip in cool emerald waters and stopping for lunch at another bay called Anchorage where we each enjoyed a bikini clad snooze. After waking up we experienced the second time keeping error of the day with the realisation that we had just three hours to get back to base to catch our bus back to Nelson,...needless to say we stormed back to base three very keen, sweaty and red faced hikers/joggers. Never has a post-hike L&P (world famous in New Zealand!) tasted so sweet.
Here we also realised how small New Zealand can be, as in the middle of a national park in next to nowhere we bumped into several acquaintances from our North Island excursions we assumed we'd never see again!
Sadly we had to leave sunny Nelson and make our way to our next stop, Greymouth. Despite staying at a themed hostel called Noah's Ark, it became evident that it was both Grey by name and grey by nature. In light of this fact we decided to spice things up and have our first BBQ...needless to say things didn't go exactly how we planned and our culinary skills hit their first hiccup when we nearly burnt down the BBQ and set fire to the hostel. Garlic Butter on a barbi= error. Lesson learnt.
Unfortunately we opted out of the novelty of the Glacier Walk in Franz Josef due to the monetary preparation of Queenstown and the fact that the weather had taken a turn for the worst. Stuck in our hostel it was here that we caught wind of the disastrous earthquake in Christchurch. As you can imagine the usually friendly and happy kiwi vibe took a somber turn.
The beautiful Lake Wanaka is certainly one to lift the spirits -described by the LP as mini-Queenstown, the glittering water reflects a dramatic mountainous backdrop. And then there was puzzle-world...labyrinths and illusions galore, our cheeky magic discount proved a winner!
After indulging in 3 chicken kormas last night, we are contemplating the fun lying in front of us in the form of Queenstown: the adrenaline capital of the world...water rafting is certainly on the cards, this time with a RAFT as opposed to a tube. George and Wells are hitting the Kawarau Bridge for the bungy....Jen, however thinks a horse ride will do the trick.
Lots of Love Wells, George and Jen xxxx