Published: January 27th 2011January 27th 2011 Chris's Section
View from our campsite - stunning!
This may be our last blog from New Zealand. We only have a couple of weeks left before we head off to the USA. We'll be back in the UK in about 6 weeks - March 2nd to be precise. We have mixed feelings about it all. We are a little sad to be on the homeward leg of the trip, but we are pretty travel weary and we're looking forward to getting home. Plus, the US leg of the trip is pretty exciting. Once we're home we just have to worry about finding jobs, some place to live and all the other stressful shit – like our rapidly depleting funds!
275 days gone, 34 to go!
Anyway, for the past couple of weeks we've been touring the South Island. The word 'wow' has been over-used greatly. This place is beautiful – breathtaking at times. From Picton, we headed down the east coast, swinging by Christchurch and the Banks Peninsular before heading over Arthur's Pass. This is a fabulous road through beautiful mountains. We camped by Lake Pearson, surrounded by mountains. Fabulous. Wow. Etc.
I could go on about all the little places we stopped,
but I get the impression it bores people, so I'll just do the highlights. The west coast was pretty too, but it's miles and miles of road between each tiny town. But here you'll find the glaciers. We walked up to the Franz Josef and it was really cool (no pun intended). Lou was less impressed, but hey ho. Lots of people here taking organised tours. Not sure why when you can walk right up to it for free.
We found ourselves driving much further each day than we had planned. The Haast Pass is really beautiful. Highly recommended. We were pretty keen to get down to Queenstown, which is the adventure capital of New Zealand – and generally just a cool place. I'd been suffering from blocked sinuses and ears for a couple of weeks since my body surfing exploits. In Queenstown I developed full blown earache and was in agony. Had to dash to the pharmacy to get some ear drops. Lou administered them in the pub while I chomped on painkillers washed down with cold beer. They're a little better now, but still not 100%. I would go to the doctors if I could afford it
– it costs about $75 here (£37 ish). Prescription charges on top of that. Hopefully they'll just clear up on their own (could come back to haunt me!).
After the ears came the eyes. I thought I had bad hay fever – red itchy eyes. The next day I realised it was conjunctivitis as my eyelids were stuck together when I woke up! Cue another trip to the pharmacy. It was so bad Lou had to drive from Nelson to Picton!
Anyway, apart from the health stuff, we really enjoyed the South Island. It's staggeringly beautiful, and has some of the world's best driving roads. We only wished we had more money left as nearly everything interesting costs money. Ah well. The weather turned pretty shitty when we hit Nelson, so we had to leave the tent and find some hostels. How hard can it be to get a waterproof tent?!?!?! Camping is great fun....until it rains.
Also, the infamous NZ sandflies are little shits. At least mosquito's have evolved so you're unaware of being bitten. Sandflies are like...”Yeah, fuck you, I'm biting you, it hurts, what you gonna do about it?!?!?”. Thank god for repellant.
View from our camp spot.
We're now back at Paul's in Papamoa. We have to (fingers crossed) sell the car and then do a bit of research/planning for the US leg of the trip. New Zealand has been fabulous – much better than OZ overall. Also much much cheaper. We've still managed to spend a bunch of cash though – mainly on booze though, hehe. It's been great to see Paul & Nisi – thanks guys for making us so welcome. You can have your house back soon. Louise's Section
We'd been moving on a day at a time and covering about 200-300km a day in the South Island so that we would have time to linger a bit in some places and mainly so we can leave the tent set up/take down process for a while.
The journey down from Papamoa to Wellington was beautiful and we saw Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings. My god it's deserted out there, so glad we didn't break down, we only had 4 packs of noodles with us!
We stayed at a wonderful hostel (more like a hotel) called Moana Lodge in Plimmerton (for those needing to stay near Wellington or waiting
overnight to catch the ferry). It was a bargain for the price ($76 for a double) but I have never stayed anywhere like it and it is designed for backpackers, so clean and everything you could think of is there.
We have seen some amazing views by day, by night (oh the stars!) and the morning, all misty lakes and mountains. The DOC sites are great and so far have all been free. Sadly we have had to go to some more upmarket holiday park type places or hostels when the rain came, mainly so we can have a shower and do some laundry though.
For those coming to Queenstown in a tent or campervan go to Q Box (10 mins out of the town) it's new and fab and I can see why people hang around more than they planned in QT. We spent 4 days there just chilling out.
We have done some walking here too but nothing too impressive (this is me and Chris don't forget). We visited the Devils Punchbowl water fall and Franz Joseph Glacier both were really cool. The glacier was good but I thought it would be bigger, I have
never seen one before so think my expectations were a little too high but it was interesting. At least we could see it, the weather hasn't been great for us when we needed it to be, Mount Doom (not it's real name), bit cloudy, Mount Cook, very cloudy, return trip up the north island, Mount Doom, invisible and most of that road on the Taupo side was flooded. I reckon we're going to have more sunshine when we get home than we have had in the past few weeks here.
One thing we have had trouble with is Sandflies. We must have been a sight one morning doing the Sandfly war dance all over the campsite, arms and legs flaying (if that's a word) about all over the place, at high speed in a zig-zag pattern, spitting and trying not to breath in through your mouth at the same time (quite hard to do). You know it's gotta be bad if I am up and dressed and leaving a campsite at 8am!!
We have about 9 days left now in NZ. Heading back to the Bay of Plenty to sell the car and say our goodbyes and then
off to America then home. Looking forward to going home now but not to the job world.
Ps. going to try to persuade Paul to take me fishing again, I am determined I will catch a fish before I leave NZ, even if it's so small I have to put it back, I don't care or if I have to dive in and chase one.
There are more photos below