The South Island -The end of brilliant New Zealand

Trip Start Apr 17, 2006
Trip End Apr 16, 2007

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hello again guys and gals. How's it going? Not missing us too much yet we hope!!? Well we've covered quite a bit of ground since our last update. It's not easy trying to keep in touch with the world, especially when we were in the middle of nowhere, with only a hot water bottle and many bottles of vino to keep us busy! Well,,, "yes" and each other of course!!! :-) We left the remote Old Mac's farm and arrived in a place called Barrytown, which was probably the most weird/crazy place we have ever been to! The little village has one pub, which was where we slept and has a reputation for men dressing up as women!...Apart from that, not very much else went on there! The town and area is only alive for its Jade (green stone), but we didn't find any! So after two nights in Barrytown, we moved onto Franz Joseph, situated in New Zealand's Southern Alps, where there is a Glacier that descends deep into the lush rainforest of Westland National Park. The Franz Josef glacier is one of 4 in the world, that is situated that close to the sea, along with being so close to a rainforest environment at the same time. Amazing though,that the second of the four is Fox Glacier, situated just down the road from Franz Josef! The next day we booked ourselves onto an organised trip, to walk up and through the Glacier. It was really amazing. Some parts were pretty challenging and scary, as you slide and most definitely squeeze through little cracks, ice caves and tunnels, with deep crevasses all around! But once you start there's no going back and it's such an amazing experience, once you have completed the circuit. One good sign though.... there has only ever been one death on the hike!? Next stop was a little place called Wanaka, which was really great. The Alpine style village is built on the edge of the huge 'Lake Wanaka' and is surrounded by beautiful snowy mountains and many National Parks. The area hosts plenty of skiing and adventure activities!! We stayed here and chilled out for about 5 days and did a few easy walks. We didn't attempt any skiing or adrenaline activities here, although it did look pretty amazing. Dan was (and always has) been put off skiing, because of how he put it... "Too many posers"!! or maybe he is just scared hey!?!?!? Anyhow by the time we reached our next stop Queenstown (the adventure and ski capital of NZ, plus home to the creation of the bungy jump), Dan was eager/'persuaded' to hit the slopes and also experience the pleasure of Après ski!! We booked ourselves onto a starter pack, which included two lessons and all our gear etc. We arrived at the slope and got ourselves all geared up ready for our first lesson (the first time ever for Dan on Skis)!! However the next thing, Lou turned around and Dan was gone......he had started to slide down the slope and didn't know how to stop, so totally went for it and finished at the bottom of the slope, in a heap!!! Lou was pi##ing herself, as I'm sure you can all imagine!! Dan was somewhat apprehensive to get back into it, but the sight of 5 year olds zooming down the slopes was enough to get going again. After our lessons and a few more runs, we eventually had a great time and improved a lot. We stayed in Queenstown for a further 5 nights and had a real good time. The nightlife is wicked and there is a crazy bar where they serve you cocktails in a's not often that you get a screaming orgasm from a teapot spout!? There is also a bar where when it get's too hot and the roof open's up! Most days were spent relaxing, but we managed to get up and do a steep walk to amazing views over Queenstown (SEE PICS)
Our next major stop was Dunedin. Getting to Dunedin from Queenstown is worth a quick mention though. We journeyed through the Fiordland National park, which has some amazing, untouched landscape and rainforest. This area of the South Island (South West) has an incredible rainfall average of 6 metres per year!!! (A thought for people who think it rains a lot in England). Also along this part of the bus trip, was where we had our finest photo moment yet! Albeit a bit childish! As you can see from the attached photos, we allowed our cracks to get a rest (see photo for understanding this one). The rest of our tour group looked on (mixed emotions) as we posed , but we were the only one's who dared partake in this light hearted stunt!!!. Happily this does happen to be a common picture opportunity for many other passers by! So??... to Dunedin we were.... the Edinburgh of New Zealand and home to the worlds steepest street! Our time with the Stray bus had ended and we were left to our own devices (much to relief of us and probably the other people on that bus). Dunedin is a nice city, full of little cafe's, bar's and lots of boutique shops. We stayed here for 3 nights in a really nice hotel that we paid 20 pound a night for. The best bit though, was it had an electric blanket! One of the main highlights of Dunedin, was the Speight's (BEER) brewery tour. It's a great detailed tour (given by a overly enthusiastic old man) around the history of the beer. However the best bit of course, was the 30 minutes after the tour, where you are given a free-for-all to the bar taps. It's pretty amazing how much you can drink in such a short space of time!! It was our second brewery tour of the trip and we proved once again, that we could have a Pi*s up in a brewery (not that we ever doubted that fact). Our arrival into Christchurch was a wet one! It rained solidly for days and didn't allow us to see much. We struck it lucky though, by the fact that we found a great curry house and it was so cheap. The Lunch deal was $5.95 (which equates to £2) each and included CURRY, RICE, NAAN, which Lou insisted on having/requesting it 'Indian Hot', much to the detriment of Dan!! Sadly due to more rain, the only other interesting thing that happened was being evicted from a hostel. We arrived back at the hostel after a day in the rain, ready for a happy hour beer, only to find that the hostel hadn't paid its bills and the landlord was throwing them and us, out of the building! Its was a bizarre thing and Dan couldn't help voice his disapproval in the face of the landlord.
So after far too many days of rain we decided to get out of Christchurch. We did what we thought to be a fun idea and hired a campervan for a week, in the height of New Zealand winter!!! What an interesting and grand finale it was too!! We used a company called 'wicked' and got real good deal. The quirky part about them, were the vans they hire out. They basically consist of a fleet of 'small' vans, which are decorated heavily with a combination of strange, abusive and sometimes anti social slogans. Take our van for example... (see pictures). On one side, it had the cartoon faces of the Rolling stones. The other had 'ROLLING STONED' written across it and the back proudly boasted the words 'I say no to drugs, but they just don't listen'! Well, it was interesting, as we were certainly (by the look of the glances we received) labelled as druggies along most of state highway 1! Old people looked in disgust, whilst on the other side, young people seemed to hold us in very high regard!! If this wasn't enough, it turned out that not having a great or no heater in the van, made the going a tad bit chilly. The trips to the toilet were fun also. Together with this, as well as the ice inside the van of a morning, plus the inches of snow that fell and not having enough room to swing a midget, made this one of best and funny experiences so far!! It's definitely character building. Whoever thought Lou would do it!? Our week in the van took us to Kaikoura, where we visited a wild seal colony. It's so weird to be so near them when they are 100 % wild! Also a not to missed stop was the vineyards and wine tasting in Marlbourgh region (an area where some of the worlds top wines come from!!) Another good stop was Hanmer springs, which has a great hot springs, which pumps natural, hot sulphur water into a number of outdoor communal pools. This was made even better when it was really chilly outside. We even managed another days skiing in, at Mount Hutt and by now we are really getting good!
Well!! All in all, our 2 months in New Zealand has just been so amazing. Having such a great exchange rate, has allowed us to live pretty well on a backpacker budget. With thanks to Pak and Save supermarket we were able to keep our wine habit (hardy's) for £2 a bottle. Love Pak n save. The activities we have done have been great and mostly new experiences for us. Its so hard to pass on everything we have done. It's difficult to miss out bits we have done and not write about them, but you all probably already need a rest after our waffling we've already put you through. All of the above is just a mere snippet of the great times we've had and sights we've seen. New Zealand has everything to offer. The people range from truly nice, to somewhat strange. The country has so much natural beauty, it is unreal. The winter has prevented us from doing and seeing some of the finest parts of NZ, but it has certainly tempted us to visit in a more favourable season. But on the other side of it, New Zealand is spectacular in the winter as well. plus it allowed us to ski! For now though, it is Australia for 3 months and we sure won't be missing the cold. Lou will be poohing it about potential spiders though! Camping it is then!!

Take care all and keep an eye out for Oz travelpod!
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