Published: October 4th 2011
October 5th 2011
Now the north island has never heard of the south island over here, so we were officially on our own. After gaining a replacement tyre, as well as further supplies (more beer) we headed for Nelson. This area is renowned for vineyards and beer, but having sampled many of these local beers I can safely report that this view is only taken by the Kiwis and no other nation!
Day two in Nelson is match day. The big one… Italy vs Russia in all its glory. The day starts off well in the first pub, where we manage to be trapped in conversation with the local village alcoholic (who incidentally knows more about crap beer than the rest of NZ; so after a while I ordered a lager to keep him happy, or as they say in NZ “sweet as” (the most annoying saying on earth)). Back to the story; we leave the local alcoholic & get on a replacement bus service to the game. Overcrowding on the buses close to kick off leads to one option… “send the women and children off, to let the men on” (I don’t think the women were on the same humour wavelength as us that day). At the game there was a great atmosphere with Castrogiovanni (renamed the animal) and the Italians putting on 50 points against the Russians. Needless to say, post-match we went for a couple of quiet beers with the Italian team. I think Castrogiovanni’s favourite moment was when I interrupted him trying to get with a local girl for a photo (the memory is a little blurred but I seem to remember a 14 year old boy squaring up to Matt in the bar, so we headed off for some food and much needed rest).
We left Nelson the following day and made the long trip down to Christchurch via the Lewis Pass, stopping off at Hamner Springs. A village in the middle of nowhere full of hot springs and mountain terrain. To break up the journey the mountain ascent began with a moderate 2 hour tramp. Sadly my map reading skills weren’t up to stratch (it appears that sending me to scouts (mum and dad) wasn’t worth it after all) and we ended up on the expert 8 hour tramp course. After realising this was actually a lot harder and more dangerous than it looked (trudging through snow on a mountain top) we headed back the way we came, much to Matt’s relief as he had contracted the deadly man flu, which I fear may never leave him until his return to England. So as not to upset him though, I have given him the new nickname “Manny.”
Christchurch was a bit of a shame. We stayed just out of town and were unable to get into the city centre. The centre has been condemned and what was the biggest city in the south island is now dead. Interesting facts are that this city actually posed the least risk of earthquakes out of all the cities in new Zealand; the government now does not appear to be supporting any regeneration work due to further earthquakes, insurance companies are avoiding payouts, and many individuals are unable to retrieve their belongings as their houses are within the city and this area is known as the “red zone” which is not accessible, even by foot.
So, next city it was (Dunedin). On route we stopped off at the Moraeki boulders and Shag point, two massively overrated places, especially as their names seem to offer so much more. Anyway five minutes at each place and a quick photo and we are back on track for Dunedin. Dunedin is the “Scottish city”, but unlike many other Scottish cities, the best part of Dunedin is its lack of Scottish people. Dunedin is actually a very nice city with a lot of history for New Zealand. We started out in the Otago Penisula and did the classic tourist thing, this included visiting a castle, seeing an albatross colony and then missing out on penguin spotting for a second occasion (Shag point if you were wondering was the first place to spot penguins, not for other activities!). The next day in Dunedin is match day again (England vs Romania), but having reviewed my waistline it was time to endeavour in a run. I consulted a local who kindly showed me a scenic run to the steepest road in the world (Baldwin street). Unfortunately I took a wrong turn up what must have been the world’s steepest hill, so by the time I reached the world’s steepest street I was absolutely shattered. All I can think about is walking, but these stupid tourists keep urging me to keep running up this hill. They never looked away once (so I couldn’t stop out of sheer embarrassment). As such, I opted for the walk back and then showered in preparation for the match.
Face paint applied, jersey on, inflatable rose, England flag and sunglasses check! It’s raining, but no matter, the stadium has a closed roof. England win, I remember very little, but I’m told it was convincing.
Next trip; the Milford Sounds, but being stubborn English we opted for the more daring Doubtful Sound. A great day out with pictures, and a good bit of history behind the sounds that I can bore you all with another time. Oh, we saw a penguin too, so it turns out they do exist in New Zealand.
Queenstown, the place to experience it all. Pumped full of adrenaline we head for Mike Tindall’s dwarf throwing bar. Shoes stick to the floor instantly, jelly wrestling looks to be the theme this night. His choice of bar I have to say is poor and definitely not of royal calibre. We leave and as is customary when travelling with a northerner… you eat a pie… every day, without fail… sometimes two! Next was a day of snowboarding on the piste! Great fun and injury free surprisingly.
The rest of new zealand’s west coast is dominated by old mining towns (total population: approx. 14), as well as some of the most scenic parts, such as Mount Cook (3743m), and the FOX and FRANZ JOSEF glaciers. On our car journey down here some tension was relieved when Matt finally got the first “shag” on tour (A shag being a fat stupid NZ bird that was unable to get out of the way of our campervan on the motorway). Anyway, on to seeing the glaciers. For these activities it is best to wait for a clear day, so we set up camp in the town of Franz Josef. Unsurprisingly this crap weather we were experiencing also coincided with England vs Scotland game. The final group game with a lot riding on it (namely Scotland going home). We found a large bar in the town, which had a good mix of English and Scots with kiwis making up the rest of the numbers. It livens up 10 minutes prior to kick off when a Scottish man stands up and starts belting out their national anthem through his bagpipes. After refusing our request to play “swing low” through his bagpipes, the English fans began singing (in perfect harmony I might add) a song of our own. A great atmosphere and what a shame to see the sweaties leaving after only the group stages, I must remember to send my condolescenes on. (please note in my initial update, an early Scottish exit was predicted at heathrow airport).
Next day… “ice ice baby.” Yes that’s right we are up in the glaciers, trekking through crevices and over snow walls. A good day out and recommended by yours truly.
We are now approaching the end of our trip on the south and the quarter finals are next. We are currently driving to Golden Bay with several scenic walks around the Nelson lakes on route (yes money is starting to dry up). On the way today, we visited a seal colony and the famous pancake rocks and were very close to going surfing; however the salesman failed to mention that you had to go in the rocks with the sea lions for the best waves… along with the most likely chance of certain death.
Still no skydive, time is running out for Matt!