Published: March 5th 2009March 22nd 2006
Day 1 in Auckland
Auckland Feb 20 - I arrived in Auckland at 5am after the 13 hour flight from SFO. I took a trip to an extinct volcano island called Rangitoto and hiked to the summit for some killer views. I booked a pass with a backpacker bus tour company called Stray.
Hahei Feb 24 - Started the Stray tour today. We took a scenic drive out to Hahei. Most of the people travelling are Europeans, 22-27 years old travelling solo. Once we got to Hahei, most of us spent the afternoon sea-kayaking around the coastline of islands, beaches, and coves. Our driver barbecued a steak dinner and everyone started to get to know each other.
Raglan Feb 28 - We drove back to the west coast to a surf-town called Raglan. Our hostel was near the base of Mt. Karioi up in the middle of a forest. Very cool location. The first night, a couple Canadian guys set up a poker tourney. The next day it became clear that our bus would be overbooked for departure the following day. Five of us would have to stay a couple extra days untill the next bus came. We took a hike around the
base of Mt. Karioi. At night everybody celebrated Sara's birthday. The next day, the five of us switched to a hostel in town. We borrowed a car and checked out Bridal Veil Falls.
Rotorua Mar 5 - On our way to Rotorua we stopped in Waitomo where most of us signed up for the caving experience. Basically you get into a wetsuit, put on a helmet with flashlight and climb down a hole in the ground. Once down there we followed our guides through 1km of cave that has water flowing through it. We did some walking, crawling, swimming, and tubing where it was an underground river. We turned out our lights and floated down the river looking up at the ceiling which looked like stars because of all the glowworms. Very cool experience.
Taupo Mar 2 - On our way to Taupo we stopped to check out some boiling mud pits that are supposedly 200 degrees...Celsius. Once we got into Taupo our driver, Chops, explained our best bet for the night. "If you dudes would like to get amongst it and have a wicked time and what have you, you should check out Mulligans. Then afterward you
One of the locals in Raglan trying to share my shower
should head up to the Holy Cow. Go hard. Sweet as." Translates into "go out and party", so thats what we did. The next day, my plan to go skydiving was ruined by the high wind. I did a bungy jump instead.
Whakapapa Mar 6 - We were unable to do the 7hour Tongariro crossing because of bad weather. Our hostel was at the base of Mt. Ruapehu, one of the volcanos in the Tongariro National Park. Our room had a notice letting us know about the 15 minute early detection system in case of an eruption (which is 600 years overdue for NZ).
Wellington Mar 7 - We reached the capital for our last stop on the north island. The city is a lot like SF. I checked out the museum for about an hour.
Abel Tasman Mar 9 - I took an early flight on a 12 passenger Cessna. Two women need to be dropped off somewhere else, so the pilot casually flew down and landed in a grassy field next to a sheep pasture. Then he took off again and 8 minutes later we landed in Picton. Got on the Stray Bus and we
headed toward Abel Tasman. On the way we stopped at an airfield and a few of us took a flight 13,000ft in the air...then we jumped out. Skydiving over Abel Tasman national park was unbelievable. The next day I hiked through the park along the coastline to Anchorage beach where I met up with the yacht and sailed back to the beach near town.
Barrytown Mar 10 - We made the long drive down the west coast stopping at a tiny town of 50 people. The pub is the central point of town where the locals hang out along with the strays that are passing through. If enough people chanted "We want Happy Hour", the bartender would give in even as late as 11pm, so everyone ended up getting pretty drunk. Later on, some of the locals offered some of their homegrown to any strays that were up for it. Then there's late night cow-tipping and sheep-chasing.
Franz Josef Mar 11 - We took a small hike up to the glacier. The next day I went to check out the caves. I walked about 25 mins through the cave with my flashlight between my teeth so I could
use my hands against the walls and walk along the edges. I had gone close to a mile before I decided that I was gonna miss the bus unless I turned back.
Haast Mar 12 - Once we reached the isolated town Haast we ate dinner and looked for something to do. After we realized there was nothing to do, I taught a few people how to play Spades and we spent a couple hours at that.
Queenstown Mar 13 - We stopped at a bridge outside Queenstown to watch a few strays bungy jump. I ended up having a sleepless night because I was so sick from food poisoning or something. The next day I started feeling better late in the afternoon. At night a group of us got mexican food then went to Altitude for drinks, then World bar for more drinks. Played some late night poker at the casino.
Te Anau Mar 15 - We got into Te Anau around 10am and most of us booked the Milford Sound cruise. The drive there seemed to take forever because of the windy road. The cruise was well worth it, offering some incredible views of the
area. Back in Te Anau, we checked into our hostel and were pleased to find out that we all got to have our own room. This beats sharing with 7 other people.
Dunedin Mar 19 - Dunedin was crazy on St. Patricks day. I went to a party then out to RA bar. This college town has about 25% international students, so there were a lot of Americans and Canadians. The next day I did the Speight's Brewery tour which was interesting as well as tasty. That night, we headed to the rugby game on a bus crammed with scarfies (college students). The home team, Highlanders, got their ass kicked by South Africa. And I did not gain an appreciation for rugby, American Football is still the greatest sport.
Christchurch Mar 22 - I spent my last couple days in NZ just hanging out. Played some chess on the giant board at Cathedral Square and some pot-limit Omaha at the casino. Then I got on a plane and left for Melbourne. NZ rocks, I wish I had had more time to spend here.
There are more photos below