Published: January 11th 2008January 11th 2008
This is the view from the town at the base of the mountains
Still cruising along on the Kiwi experience bus and loving it! There are definitely some parts of the bus experience bus I don't like, there are heaps of lines everywhere we go, and we just follow the driver around like sheep a lot of the time, but overall its a great time. It's really nice having direct access to all the adventure companies, as Kiwi Ex has a whole network that they use. The day before we get to a city, our driver passes around a clipboard with all the possible activities there, and we just mark our names next to what we like, and he books it for us, which has been awesome. The other great thing with Kiwi experience is you can take as long, or as little time in a city that you want. The buses are constantly circling so you just pick up a bus whenever you are ready to leave! The only problem with that, is you get close to people on your bus, and if you decide to stay extra in a city, you have to find all new friends, but that hasn't been too much of a problem, seeing as Ash and I are
socialite central. :) The last week or so about 10 of us have all taken the same route, working our way down the West Coast of the South Island, so we've gotten pretty close with 5-6 other people. Our driver is also hilarious and keeps us entertained during all the drives during the day-he even took the whole bus by his mom's house for tea! That was pretty random but hilarious.
When we stayed in Nelson, we took a day trip to Abel Tasman National Park, which is an amazing park about an hour or 2 away. Abel Tasman is really popular with people doing overnight hikes, as they have "hut accommodation" set up along the path. Sea Kayaking is the other big thing to do here, and Ash and I opted for a day Kayak trip. We brought our lunch and just spent the day Kayaking around the bay, and amongst the islands around the shore. We even saw a baby penguin swim past us! Sadly, no photos as my camera was locked in the wet bag.
The next day on our drive we spent the day stopping at various scenic lookouts, and stopped for the night
Abel Tasman Natl. Park
Ellie, Rich, and I after our Kayak trip.
at the place called "the Poo Pub", which was basically a hostel in the middle of NOWHERE. It is run by this 90 year old man, who only puts up the Kiwi Experience at his place. Every night when a bus comes through to the Poo Pub, the bus decides on a theme party and has a big party in the pub thats attached to the hostel. Coming from camp I'm a pro at these costume parties, so I suggested an ABC party (Anything But Clothes). Sounds tricky but you wouldn't believe what people could come up with-one girl showed up in a bubble wrap bikini! Everyone got really into it and it was a late night for everyone. The next morning a very quiet and hungover bus headed towards the Franz Josef Glacier.
This is one of the more famous stops on the West Coast, and its the 2nd largest glacier in NZ, after the Fox Glacier. The town is adorable, just this little rustic village set at the base of the mountains, it reminds me of a skiing town in Colorado. The day that we got in, we walked up to the lookout point at the
Kiwi Ex. crew
base of the glacier, which is nestled in between 2 mountains. Ashley, me, and about 15 other people from the Kiwi bus signed up to do an all-day hike on the Glacier the next day. You can only go up onto the glacier with guided tours, and once I got there I realized why. The glacier moves about 7-10 meters a day, and the terrain is constantly changing, so the guides go in in the morning and chop stairs into the ice to help people get around.
The hike itself was awesome, but long-we hiked for nearly 6 hours! There was about a 2 km walk just to the base of the Glacier, and then non stop uphill, on ICE, for 2-3 hours. We were given crampons for our shoes, which helps you from falling off the side of the glacier, so that was nice of them. At some points the hike was pretty intense, scrabbling with our hands to climb up stairs that had just been cut into the glacier that morning. At some points our guide had our group squeezing through crevices that we could barely fit through, even with the rain gear provided, I was soaked
Franz Josef Glacier
Looking up at the glacier from the base
within an hour- ! Thankfully it was super sunny out so at some points I hiked along in my t-shirt. Once you got up to the top of the glacier it was just amazing, and because it constantly changes there are new caves and crevices to explore everyday. Most aren't safe for people to go into, but we got to crawl through a few. We even filled our water bottles with water running down from a part of the glacier, take that Dasani! It was super exhausting, and the last hour I was pretty much praying for an injury so that I could have an excuse to be airlifted off the glacier, but somehow I made it back to the bottom, at which point I consumed 3 meals worth of food.
That night, a bunch of people from our bus hung out at the hostel bar for a few hours, just having fun and enjoying the $2.50 glasses of house wine. This "house wine", although a great deal, was poured from a cardboard box into my glass. I'm surprised they even gave me a wine glass, and not a solo cup or something.
I am just totally in awe
of New Zealand. Literally every corner we turn has huge snow capped mountains, or a gorgeous lake, and green EVERYWHERE. Understandably, the countries shops and tourism are totally geared towards the "outdoorsy" crowd, and you can find camping outfitters on nearly every street, and every hotel offers brochures for a million hikes, kayak rentals, scenic helicopter flights, white water rafting, sky diving- a person could go broke here very easily!
Now we have 2 days in Lake Wanaka, and then on to Queenstown, the adventure capital of the South Island (Or the world!!). There I plan to blow my whole budget, and will end up eating cuppa noodles for the next 2 months as a result.
There are more photos below