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Published: March 3rd 2010
So when I arrived on the South Island I decided to stay a night in the small town of Picton, this isn't really a place where you would normally stop as it’s pretty small but I'd been told that this was the best place to access the vineyards and you know what that means.....................wine tasting! I checked into the little hostel, this one was a bit grim and stunk of sweaty old men combined with disinfectant but I figured I was only there for a night so I put up with it! You also had to pay extra for bedding so I was glad I'd brought my sleeping bag, at least I'd get to use it once while I'm away which means dragging it round the world has been worth it (I think!) I also bumped into a mother and daughter who I'd met briefly on the coach from Taupo to Wellington. They were from the States and Tiffany (the daughter) had been living on a boat with her boyfriend the last few months before her mum came over to visit so they could travel around. Her mum was called Celeste..................so that’s Tiffany and Celeste not to be confused with the
very famous pop singers Daphne and Celeste?!!! Anyway they had also encountered Skippy Nate that day on the bus, Celeste pointed out that perhaps he had autism and therefore explained his odd behaviour?! This did make sense and made me feel a bit bad, although he was a weirdo...............they had also spotted him at the museum the other day, he'd been sat in the children’s section talking to a boy about Harry Potter...........I really don't think a guy of 19 should be sat in the children’s section let alone be discussing Harry Potter with a complete stranger?! Sadly that’s where we leave the tales of Skippy Nate I have been fortunate enough not to have seen him again and long may it continue.........I'm sure you are all distraught 😊!!!
Tiffany and Celeste were booked to do a half day wine tasting tour that day so I decided to join them and I'm so glad I did because I was having a homesick day and they were such lovely company. After the first two wineries I was feeling a little merrier and had a good laugh with them both and it was a good job they were there actually coz
all the other people on the tour were older couples all about my Mum and Dads age so I would have looked a bit out of place?! There was also another girl on the tour called Debhora from the states and she was doing a film of the tour..............get this for a job, her company were paying her to travel New Zealand going on little tours like this one filming them so each company could use the footage on their website and they would also feature on her company website too!!! That’s the life, although she did have to stay in the stinky hostel and I can imagine the others she stays at are very similar?! She’s off to Australia soon and said that she might be able to get me on some free tours if I get in touch which was lovely of her..............I really like meeting all these people! I had a v pleasant evening on my own that day, after the wine tour I wandered around the little town and had a coffee in a nice bar before making myself an omelette for tea! I decided that this travelling alone thing can be quite liberating at times
even eating random things like omelette for tea?!!
The following day I was off to Nelson so I met the Kiwi bus at the ferry terminal along with Emily, it was so lovely to see her! The weather turned a bit nasty as we drove to Nelson, it was the first real rain I'd seen in New Zealand but luckily it cleared up in the afternoon when we arrived and we were also greeted by Julies smiling face! I went for a walk with Emily and Steph to 'the centre of New Zealand' this sounds impressive but after walking up the massive hill we took a few pics and walked straight back down again so v uneventful! They had an offer on at the hostel that night for roast beef dinner so I decided to indulge as I was getting fed up of egg in its various forms and I was not disappointed, they even had Yorkshire puddings! There was more sadness though the following morning when Julie, Emily and Steph headed off to the next stop but I would be seeing them again in Franz Josef in a few days so would just have to entertain myself until
Me, Phil and Laura on fancy dress night
Phil was dressed as a gay guy hence the cut out bum holes!
then! I ended up befriending a couple called Laura and Phil from Hull and they were great company over the next week or so! The weather was beautiful that day in Nelson so all I did was walk around looking in the shops and that’s where I found the cheap internet place to do my blog and, like I mentioned before it, was so good to have a day off the bus in a nice place without having to do an activity or be rushing around somewhere! The next day we headed to a place called Westport, this was so uneventful its not even worth writing about, although we did stop at some lovely scenic spots along the way including a lake called Rotoiti where a duck actually stole a cracker right out of my hand...........I screamed and shouted 'you little bugger' really loud which got lots of attention.............you could never call me a drama queen!!
Moving on from Westport we drove to Lake Mahinapua, again this was a bit boredism as its in the middle of nowhere and the hostel was a bit grimbo's but I got to use my sleeping bag again so I was chuffed at
getting a second use out of it! I think the Kiwi Experience know that this place is generally a bit crap that’s why they insist on holding a fancy dress night.............I thought my days of fancy dress were way behind now or at least reserved for the odd hen night but I was obviously wrong?! I'd got chatting to a few more people on this bus by this point including more Yorkshire people, 2 lads from Leeds in fact and they kept asking me what I was dressing up as?! The theme was 'P' so anything beginning with 'P', I contemplated going as a Party Pooper but figured I should make some effort as everyone else seemed to be and went as a pussy cat..........perhaps stretching the theme slightly but everyone was v impressed by my makeshift nose, whiskers and ears fashioned from cutting out of a magazine! Unfortunately I didn't win, a girl dressed as a puppet won a bungy jump in Queenstown so I wasn't bothered but I did end up having quite a good night..............I must have looked like such an old woman coz I bought myself a bottle of red wine which I supped slowly all
night whilst the 'kids' were getting wasted on beer and alcopops!!!
I was in a foul mood the next day, there had been no mobile signal or internet at Lake Mahinapua and I just wanted to call Mark but felt like the entire day was filled with having to queue up and pay for stuff which was highly annoying! Plus we stopped at this stupid place where I paid $4 to watch a film about New Zealanders lifting deer off the mountains with helicopters.............it was v odd and a waste of money which pissed me off even further! I softened slightly when I was greeted by Emily and Julie at the hostel in Franz Josef and we had a nice night together after making pasta then a few beers in the bar but it was an early one as we were up early the next day, they were leaving and I was heading off to do a full day glacier walk! The glacier walk was amazing, definitely something I won't get chance to do again..........unless I come back here that is which is looking extremely likely! We were kitted out with boots and rain coats/trousers and hats and gloves
and at the bottom of the ice we had to fit 'cramp-on's' to the bottom of our boots! It was a long day and the first bit was relatively steep climbing but nowhere near as bad as the Tongariro crossing! It was pretty warm at first until I decided to plunge my right leg into an ice pool up to my knee so was soaked for the rest of the morning including the woolly socks they'd given us 😞 The guide shouted down as I screamed 'hey Blondini I told you to stick to the path!' well I shouted back that I would have done if I could hear you (also wanting to add you silly Kiwi but decided against it!) Anyway it didn't ruin the experience; we climbed through a few ice caves too and hiked up about half way before heading back down! I also got pissed off with this Swedish guy called Christian who kept asking me to take photos of him on the ice, he was such a poser and it really annoyed me............he bloody loved himself! Then his battery ran out on his camera and the cheeky bugger actually asked me to take photos of
him on mine, I just ignored him and practically ran down the ice away from him! It was a long day but so worth it despite the ice pool and annoying Christian!
The next day we made out way to Wanaka which is located by a lake, I was staying here 2 days where as everyone else just had the one night and by the time we arrived there wasn't much time to see the place so I was glad of the extra day! I got up early and went for a run, saying bye to the bus lot before heading off round the lake, it was so pretty at that time of day! I spent some time on the internet that morning then wandered around the pretty town (which is where I found that bargain Lonely Planet for Oz, still v chuffed with that purchase!) Later in the afternoon I went to the little cinema in the town where they have sofas instead of normal seats and they have an interval when they serve freshly baked hot cookies!!! Oh yes! I went to see Sherlock Holmes all on my todd and managed to get a sofa to myself,
it was lovely and I really enjoyed it, probably more so for the experience and tasty cookie than the actual film!
The following day I was off the Queenstown so met the bus and we stopped just down the road at Puzzling World! This had a room of illusions with those pics of elephants where you can't work out how many legs they have and that kind of thing plus they had a maze! I thought I'd give it a whirl and attempted to find the 4 towers in each corner but I soon got bored..........it was no fun on your own and seeing as I didn't know anyone on the bus I eventually got so bored I headed out the emergency exit and got back on the bus!!! We also stopped at the Kawarau bridge which is where they do bungy jumps over the river, it was AJ Hackett who came up with the bungy concept and they showed us a DVD of the various jumps you can do in Queenstown! I walked in with no intentions of doing anything but then they showed this Nevis Arc Swing and I thought 'hmmm maybe I could do that, after
all its just a giant park swing?' but I thought nothing more of it! When we arrived in Queenstown it was everything I expected it to be! I'd heard so many great things about it and it didn't fail to impress, it’s just so pretty set on the lake and the skies were blue, the sun was shining and it just had the best vibe! I walked around in the sun all afternoon before heading to the base hostel where Emily and Julie were staying. I had decided to be different and stay at the YHA seeing as I had a discount card but I soon discovered that I'd actually paid more than the others to stay in a more skanky hostel, 10 mins walk from town in a dorm that stunk of boys 😞!!!
I just happened to mention to the girls about the Nevis Arc and Julie said she fancied it too.............they have a tandem option so we decided there and then that we'd give it a go the next day! We headed to the famous Fergburger for tea...........I seem to recall the last thing my bro said to me at Preston station was 'don't forget to
go to Ferg Burger Caz!' So we indulged and were not disappointed, yumbo's burger indeed............they're massive too but I managed the whole thing and most of Julie's chips too (I'd been saving myself all day and only had crackers for lunch in anticipation!) We headed to the bungy place afterwards and booked the Arc Swing............no going back now then we stayed at the bar in the Base hostel that night and played a few games of pool, drank the free champagne and ended up winning the 'rose raffle' which was a bottle of more cheap champers! We were all given a rose with a number and Julie's won so we had a glass and decided to keep the rest for our last night together the following day!
The next morning I got up early and went for a run around the lake, it was perfect I had such a nice time despite getting bitten by the bloody sand flies! Then I headed into the town later that morning and met the girls ready to head to the swing just after lunch! Julie was so nervous and we were watching the footage again on the TV screens, it did cross
my mind as to what the hell we were doing but we got on the coach and drove the 40mins to the bungy site! As soon as we arrived they had to weigh us both then we walked along the suspended bridge to the platform over the canyon, I think it’s about a 70m drop but I didn't want to look down just in case I chickened out! The other couple with us nominated us to go first which I was glad of and before I knew it we were in the harness and the guy was attaching us to the swing! I had a few minutes of thinking it was a big mistake but figured it would be over in no time and if I can jump out of a plane I can do this! The guy asked if we wanted a count down but we said not then suddenly..........DROP and we were gone! As you can imagine it was way worse than the big slide at Professor Peabody’s (for those Blackpoodlians amongst you!), my stomach really jumped into my mouth and I screamed all the way down! It was such a rush and I can't decided whether I
preferred it to the skydive, it was that good! I'm so glad I did it but there is no chance you'll catch me doing a bungy, I could never launch myself of a platform, at least with the swing they have to drop you! I was buzzing the rest of the day and in the afternoon I went to meet Steph for another Fergburger as I'd promised I'd go with her (nothing to do with the fact I wanted another!) We also did a pole dancing class that night, it was something the Kiwi Experience arranged and we had a right laugh, I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed it from when I last took classes at the gym (Mark - please note Christmas present number one - a pole!) Then I ended up on a pub crawl with the other girls and a few more people from the bus, I must have had about 6 shots and 6 vodka's with pineapple juice (my new fave drink!) but I really didn't feel drunk at all.........as I always claim I'm sure they water down the drinks - you don't get that with HBS Vodka!!! I ended up heading back to the hostel
at about 2am...........my latest night so far and left the others to it, apparently they stayed out til about 4.30am - I'm far too old for that carry on!
The next day was a chill out day, I spoke to Mark and his family on Skype which was lovely..........it was good to see some familiar faces but did make me feel a little homesick 😞 I spent the afternoon doing my washing and generally pottering around and got an early night ready for my day at Milford Sound! The coach picked me up at 8am the next morning and it took about 4 hours to get there, now the weather had been beautiful for the last few days but today it decided to absolutely piss it down! Just my luck, apparently the driver said that it’s more spectacular to see Milford Sound on a rainy day because the waterfalls that cascade down the sides of the cliffs are not there on a nice day?! The 'Sound' is actually what’s known as a 'Fiord' which is when a glacier moves through the landscape carving out these dramatic cliffs and mountains all the way out to the sea. Now the waterfalls
were spectacular and it did look pretty but man it was wet 😞 I have to say I'd rather have seen it on a sunny day, the pictures look stunning so all I can say is that I'll defo have to come back on a sunnier day!!! You actually get on a boat out to the sound which last about 2 hours and takes you past all the waterfalls! The buffet lunch was tasty and coz the weather was bad the sea was pretty rough so the boat was going crazy which was actually quite fun, like being on a roller coaster! It was another 4 hours drive back though which was very tiresome and I was on my own by this point I just had an early night!
My last day in Queenstown was spent just wandering round enjoying the atmosphere and buying souvenirs.......only 2 days left in New Zealand so I needed to make the most of it! I bumped into a couple of girls from one of the buses, I'd walked the glacier with one of them, Emily, and the other girl was called Ellen from Sweden! We ended up going for cake and coffee in
this really cute cafe, I'd been craving my fave carrot cake the whole time I've been in New Zealand coz they have the most amazing displays of cakes and pies in all the little cafes but I'd resisted temptation until now! I indulged in the most amazing carrot cake I've ever seen, it cost me over 4quid and was the size of my face (well it felt like it!) I also tried a Chai Latte which is a milky ginger and cinnamon type tea they have here and it was lovely! I feel like I've got to try everything whilst I'm here and a bit of what you fancy does you good as they say (although I'm sure that cake was not so good for me!) I made myself a pasta tea that night and sorted out my bag ready to leave Queenstown the next day...............which actually brings us to the present day! Phew I thought I'd never catch up with myself but I was determined to finish my New Zealand tales whilst I'm in the country so I apologise for the giant blog but I'm going to try harder in Oz to write more often therefore this should equal
smaller blogs............we'll see about that though?!
So I've officially changed my dates! Instead of going to Oz on 10th March I'm now leaving tomorrow (4th) and I'm spending 4 weeks there instead of 5. I then go to Singapore for a night where I can head to Kuala Lumpur (always wanted to go there for some reason?!) then I head back to Singapore to fly to Bangkok for 2 nights before coming back home to sunny England on............wait for it.............April 6th!!! That’s almost a month early!! I decided that I don't really want to see Thailand on my own and after my mate Clare decided not to come and meet me and nobody else has been in touch to say they've won the lottery and are coming out here I figured I'd bypass it this time! Mark has promised to take me some other time and we can see it together which I'd much prefer so I’m just gona go to Bangkok to get myself a cheap Chanel bag then come home!!! I would have liked a few more days to play with in South East Asia but because of the Easter hols and the Thai New year during
April the only dates available were 6th or 20th! There wasn't much point changing the whole thing from 1st May to 20th April so the 6th April it is!!! Ahhh! I feel so much better knowing I'll be home in 5 weeks as opposed to 9 weeks and I'm now really looking forward to Oz whereas I was a bit apprehensive before! This time tomorrow I'll be in Melbourne...........how exciting! Then I fly to Sydney from there on Monday! Ahhhh...........I can't wait!
Right I'm off, sorry if I've bored you or you've had to keep coming back to reading this coz its soooooooooooo long but its never a short tale with me...........you should know that by now!!
Solo Simmons signing off xxxxxxxx
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