Maroon Toyotas, Skydiving, Vineyards & Quakes
Trip Start Sep 16, 2012
20Trip End Mar 03, 2013
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We made our way to our hostel near ponsonby road, freshened up and went straight out to meet our good friend Aileen and her mum for dinner. It was so lovely to see friends from home after nearly 3 months away. We had a delicious dinner in the harbourside seafood restaurant, an early birthday celebration treat from Aileen and Ellie (thanks again guys!) followed by drinks overlooking Auckland's skyline. A great way to start our New Zealand adventure!
After a couple of nights in Auckland we flew on to Christchurch and hired a car to explore the south island
Next stop was a days drive to the Abel Tasman National Park, stopping at Perlorus Bridge for a hike through native indigenous forest and another packed lunch! We arrived in Motueka early evening an found a nice hostel to spend the night, enjoying a few birthday drinks and dinner at the hostel. The next day, with our kayak packed up with lunch, suncream and a map we set off to explore the Abel Tasman
From the Abel Tasman, we made our way to Franz Joseph via a short stop in Greymouth. Franz Joseph is most famous for its glacier however it is also voted the 2nd best place in the world to do a skydive. It's something we were both keen on doing so before we changed our minds, we booked it! Eeeeek! I think I was more nervous booking it, than I was jumping out the plane! We had to wait a little while for the right conditions but it was definitely worth it. It was such and amazing and surreal experience... jumping out of a perfectly good plane strapped to a complete stranger! We jumped from 15,000 feet so shortly after we reached 12/13,000 feet we had to put on oxygen masks. Before i'd had time to think about it, i'd shuffled to the edge and dangled my legs outside of the plane and my tandem master launched us both out in to Freefall
In Queenstown we had a good walk, tried the obligatory Fergberger (which lived up to its famed expectations), did a spot of shopping and had a few vinos in the sunshine. Queenstown was our favourite town in New Zealand, it had a great feel to it. We also managed to get down to Milford Sounds to take a boat trip through fjordland, seeing fur seals, albatrosses, waterfalls, glaciers and spectacular scenery. The 3 hour drive there was fantastic too with lots to see on the way and plenty of stops to take in the views.
From Queenstown, we were to start making our journey back to Christchurch
As we approached Christchurch centre, we immediately noticed the massive cracks in the roads from the many earthquakes. The centre of town was completely shutdown and looked like a demolition site but we eventually found a hostel to stay in for a couple of nights. The next day we went for a walk around the city centre (the parts you could access!). It was sad to see such devastation however the locals seemed to be quite upbeat, they have just picked themselves up and got on with it! Im surprised anyone wants to live there after being struck by earthquakes so many times! We actually felt a small tremor whilst we were in our hostel. The building and furniture wobbled slightly as we both turned to each other and said "did you feel that?". We visited the temporary town centre that has been created from shipping containers, it's amazing what can be done and it actually looked very trendy...like something you might see off the south bank in London. There was a great Christmassy feel, live street music and it was bustling with lots Christmas shoppers.
From Christchurch we set off on our next big flight to South America via Auckland.