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Published: February 27th 2014
Kia Ora from the South Island of Aotearoa (Mauri for New Zealand)
In one word...WOW! The South Island is truly beautiful. Every single day I saw amazing scenery that really blows your mind away! Hopefully some of my pictures give it justice.
Due to the fact I only had a short time in New Zealand, I decided to travel with the Stray bus and only see the South Island. I flew from Auckland and flew down to Christchurch. As my flight from Christchurch was early in the morning, I decided to sleep at the airport...worse nights sleep of my life, huddled on a chair between other travellers!
I finally arrived in Christchurch and waited for Stray to pick me up. I met a lovely Dutch girl called Bianca on the bus and we chatted all the way to our first destination, Kaikoura. This is situated North-East of the South Island. Driving towards Kaikoura we saw dolphins jumping out of the sea. Apparently, they all have a special jumping pattern. That was beautiful to see. We were asked on the bus what activities we would like to do and I picked fishing. I could have swam with dolphins but I decided I wanted to go fishing more as I had never done it. We were picked up by the fisherman and headed towards the sea. Here, we saw some seals lounging around on the rocks without a care in the world! They were a lot bigger than I thought they would be! Unfortunately, the sea was too rough to go fishing so instead we went for a boat ride, picked up some crayfish from cages set around in the sea and went back to the fisherman's house to eat them. I was told they would taste even better than lobster. I totally disagree. They tasted ok but I wouldn't spend much money on them!
That night, a few of us from the bus went to a pub quiz and won a $15 bar tab- so we spent it on crisps for our journey the next day!!
The next day, we headed towards Picton which is at the north of the South Island. Some people who were already on the bus before us got off here to get the ferry to Wellington in the North Island. Here in Picton, there was a beautiful lake which we sat by and chatted. There wasn't much to do in Picton so it was just a night of chatting and getting to know people.
The following day, we headed off towards Abel Tasman where we stayed for two nights. The first night, we all had a BBQ together which was really yummy. Here, I had my first encounter with the beautiful sand-flies who then proceeded to eat me wherever I went in New Zealand! My bite marks were even more itchier than mosquito bites. I was not happy!! The next day, we went on a sailing trip up towards Abel Tasman National Park. The journey was a little chilly but the beauty made it all worth it. On the way, we saw a rock split in two that they called Spilt Apple Rock. Not far from there, we saw, once again, seals lounging on the rocks. This time they were very small and some were making loud crying noises.
We then approached a small island. Apparently back in the day, there used to be an array of different animals that lived there, including: goats, pigs, deer and rats. As none of these animals are indigenous and had been brought over my European settlers in the 1800's, the natural countryside was being destroyed. Therefore, it was decided to get rid of these all of the animals from the national park that were not alien to the counrty. The only animals that were left were the indigenous birds that can be heard if you listen very carefully.
We got off at a beautiful white-sand beach and had our lunch. The guy sailing the boat caught a seagull that was trying to go for his cake and buried his body under the sand, leaving his head poking out (see the picture). I thought this was funny, although a little cruel. The bird seemed very chilled out though! After a nice rest on the beach, we set off on our 12.5km walk back to our hostel (which btw was a very nice hostel in Marahau). The view was absolutely amazing. As you walked to the top of the hill and looked down, you could see the water below - three different colours!! I couldn't stop taking pictures. It took us about 4 hours to get back and we treated ourselves to a burger from (apparently) the second best burger place in New Zealand! We had to wait 40 minutes for our burger but it was delicious. I had definitely worked hard for it!
The next day, we set off on the road again. Our next destination was Greymouth. On the way, the driver stopped at a place called Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki. The rocks are layers of limestone all on top of each other that began forming 30 million years ago!! The layers have been created by the wind, sea and rain over many, many years. There were even some beautiful formations that looked like faces!
We arrived in Greymouth and yes it sounds pretty much like the name...grey! We went to a brewery and learnt how beer was made. I had to wear wellies(or as the New Zealanders call them- Gum Boots) as my shoes had holes in and could burn my feet! The tour was quite boring as everything had been shut off for the night. I would have enjoyed it more if there was something going on! The next morning I went for a run in the pouring rain and saw a bit of greymouth..not too much to see!
On the road again, we set off to Franz Josef. Here, there is a glacier and I got to walk on it. I actually wasn't quite sure what a glacier was before I went there. I thought it was like an iceberg so I did a little research. They are huge ice masses created by fallen snow over land that has compacted over many years that then turns to ice. Apparantly it moves, although I couldn't feel it move while I was up there! Franz Josef glacier had receeded massively over the last few years and some predict that in 20 years it will not be there at all! I'll have to go back in 20 years to find out!!
Our first night in Franz Josef, we went for a late walk when we came across some people coming out of a dark path in aforested area. One of the guys with us heard that there was glow worms in Franz Josef and asked the women if they ahd seen any. They said they had! I had never seen any before so was really excited! Walking, with phone lights out in front, we walked down the scray dark path. Suddenly blue spots appeared. I ahd no idea what they were and thought they were eyes of animals watching me, until I was corrected and realised these were the glow worms! We found an area within a tree where there were lots. Their blue bodies glowing in the dark. As you got closer, you could see their slimy-looking tenticles dangling down! Incredible. I felt like I was in a fairy tale, it just didn't seem real. I've been told that in the north island there are glow worm caves where there are hundreds of them! I will definitely have to go and visit when I drag Stuart back with me in a few years time 😊
The day we had booked ourselves on to thre trip it decided to pour with rain so we booked for the next day and treated ourselves to a few hours at the hot pools. The were 36, 38 or 40 degrees. The 36 degree poool was lovely on a rainy day but the other two sent my face redder than usual and made my heart beat so fast it was unbearable!!
The next day, I woke up super early to see....yes SUNSHINE!! This meant the helicopter could fly so I dashed to get ready! To get up to the glacier, we had to take a helicopter. Myself and Stu had been in a helicopter before on a horrible windy day in Las Vegas so I was not looking forward to it at all! Thankfully, it wasn't too windy and the journey was quite smooth. Helicopter rides have now gone up in my estimations! The ice explorer walk was good although there was a lot of waiting around as our guide needed to make sure the carved ice stairs would be safe for us to walk down. Some people in our group were a little slow too which held us up. I got some fantastic pictures though and saw a brilliant blue ice cave!
Up early again the next morning, we drove down to Wanaka where there was a beatiful lake. On the way, we stopped at a place called Blue Pools where the water was a fantastic blue colour and you could see all the way through it. The blue colour comes from the minerals from the glacier that run into the pools. The bus driver gave people the opportunity to jump in from the bridge...my hand definitely wasn't up! From above, the water only looked a couple of metres deep but apparantly they were about 15metres! The magic of the refraction of light! This still didn't temp me so I just watched a couple others jump in a straight as a pencil so that they didn't hurt themselves. One girl, which I'm sure was trying to jump in straight, suddenly turned in mid air and landed weirdly. Apparantly, she was in bed all night nursing a bruised leg! That is a warning to you all that think it's a good idea to jump into water from a bridge!
Wanaka was a quaint town with a beautiful lake and scenery. Here, we went for a walk to soak in yet more magical views.
The next day...you guessed it...on the road again! This time we headed off to Queenstown. I would love to have stayed here for longer but because I had a booked a flight out of New Zealand in a few days it meant that I could only stay one night. Queenstown is where I decided to bungy jump!!! Yes bungy jump! I still can't believe I did it! I was thinking about my blog a few days before and I thought to myself, I need to liven this up a bit and do something that challenges me, after all, I am in the adrenaline capital of the world! I opted for the Kawarau Bridge bungy, which was the first commmercial bungy in the world made by AJ Hackett and Henry Van Asch. On the flyer it said that they had an impeccable safety record! It was the word 'impeccable' that won me over and I knew I would be safe, although I wasn't quite sure what I was doing jumping off a bridge! So, after I paid, I made my way on to the bridge platform. I thought there would be a huge que...but no...just me! I asked the guy how many bungys he had done and if he ever felt scared. I needed to know that the extreme sweating from my hands and the shakes were completely normal. I looked out from the bridge and my thought was, NO, I can't do this! I couldn't let myself down and I was not going to let my nerves beat me. Afterall, we are faced with scary things in life and sometimes we just have to do it and get over our fears (well that what I was trying to convince myself!) Once I had my harness on, I slipped underneath the barrier where I was asked to sit down. Eeek!! I could see how far down the drop was, safe to say I was super nervous now! A girl wrapped a towel around my legs and then fastened the rope around it. It was super tight but I gave it all a little prod just to make sure it was fastened. The guy leading me on the 'plank' said that because I had touched everything last that meant the safety was all on me then. Oops! I trusted they had done a good job :S
I was asked to edge my way to the end of the plank which was difficult to do as my legs were tightly wrapped together! The guy helping me told me to let go of the metal railing at the side but my fist was tightly wrapped around. I felt like I couldn't do it. Every bit of fear in me flooded through my body and I had to fight with the NO NO NO in my head to say YES YES YES I CAN DO IT! He told me to jump after 3 and the sooner I did it the less nervous I would be. 1,2,3...off I went! Amazing. My body hurtled towards the gorgeous blue river below me. Within seconds, I was bouncing back up. Another magical moment! It was was so much fun. After I had stopped bobbing, my tightly wrapped legs started to hurt from the blood supply being cut off, so I couldn't wait to get the rope off my legs! Better that it was tight than loose I suppose haha.
I was lowered in to the boat; relief and pure happiness surrounded me. I did it, I jumped from a bridge with a rope attached to my legs...mad! I was so excited I hugged all my friends and they showed me the photos and videos they had taken of me. My face looked so funny! I looked competely traumatised when I was up on the platform. I'm proud I had the confidence to do it...next time Stu will be strapped to me and we can do a tandem bungy! That's his challange anyway.
Later that day, we went to the famous 'Fergburger', voted by CNN as the best burger in the world. There was quite a lot of choice so I thought I would try something different- tofu with coconut and coriander dressing. The burger was amazing, the bread was super fresh and the filling was to die for. Too bad I was only there one day as I would've like to have tried a few others- although it wouldn't be good for my waistline.
As I was leaving most of the friends I had made behind in Queenstown, we went out that night and danced the night away. I got in at 4.30 in the morning and had to be up at 8am to catch my next bus to Mount Cook. I would've slept right through if it wasn't for the lovely Britta from Germany coming to my door to say goodbye to me! She gave me a beautiful wooden postcard with the map of New Zealand on it. I wil treasure it, such a lovely thought.
Super tired, I hopped on the bus to Mount Cook, stopping on the way to take more photos of breath-taking scenery. Mount Cook was so cold that I had to dig out my wooly hat and socks! We went for a walk, taking pictures of the snowy mountains that surrounded us then made our way back for a relaxing evening inside.
The next morning, slightly more awake than the previous morning, we made our way to Rangatata. We stayed in a hostel in the middle of no where. It was a haven of peace up there, until myself and Pauline decided to go for a sunbathe by the river. Windy, windy, windy and the sand was grey! I was covered in grey sand and I think I must've looked like something that had been down the mines by the time I left! The hour walk back to the hostel was windy too and I couldn't wait to be back! The sheep on the way back were funny. There they were, eating away when suddenly they heard us coming and ran for their lives. I found this so comical that I couldn't help but chase after them!
Back at the hostel, I washed and, forgetting to check it was clean, dried myself with my sandy towel. Yes I was as grey as I was before I even washed. Not happy! I then checked my emails and was presented with my flight details to Auckland that I would take in two days time. I couldn't believe what I was reading, I had booked the wrong flight. Instead of booking a flight from Christchurch to Auckland I had booked a flight from Auckland to Christchurch. Feeling very tired and annoyed that I still had sand all over me I was then presented with this news. I rang the airline (Jetstar) to see if they could just swap it but no, I had to buy another flight. The signal was really bad as I was in the middle of no where so the lady on the other end could hardly hear me. I told her I would have to ring her back after she told me the price of my new ticket - $340 dollars. I could've cried. I messaged Stuart to have a look on the internet his side to see if he could find any better offers but he couldn't. I then used my rubbish internet signal to find a flight, hoping that it would suddenly go down in price but no luck! I was suppose to fly out of Christchurch on Wednesday but as there were no flights I had to fly out Thursday instead. This caused lots of dramas with the hostels I was supposed to be staying in as I was giving them little notice of my changes. Thankfully, after a small sob story, they understood and I wasn't charged for a room I didn't need!
The day after my stress, we left to go to Christchurch where I would leave the Stray bus. It was lovely travelling and meeting new people but I was extremely tired from travelling I couldn't wait to just be still for a couple of days!
I had a look around the red zone of the rainy, cold Christchurch and it totally shocked me. Rubble and massive empty patches where buildings used to be, buildings held up my metal stands, buildings with half of it missing- the place looked a mess! Three years ago there was an earthquake in Christchurch that killed 185 people. The red zone had only been opened for a few months and must have been declared safe so there was a lot of building work going on.
I visited the old Cathedral where the spire had fallen down. I think some people are wanting to completely tear it down but other people are wanting to try to reconstruct using what they have left. In the mean time, a temporary church has been built called the 'Cardboard Cathedral'. All sorts of images entered my head when I was told about it but it was a lot more beautiful than I thought it would be. Rolls of cardboard, held in place by wooden and steel frames, make up the inside roof and fixtures within the church. They made something beautiful out of a boring material!
Outside the church was a memorial to the victims of the earthquake. Chairs all different shapes and sizes were all painted in white, each holding a red rose. There was a little hut that named all of the victims where it showed some foreigners were killed too. I noticed there was also a 5 month old baby on the list. As I was walking around the memorial, I noticed a baby's car seat painted in white. This made me cry and made me realise all that stressing about booking the wrong flight wasn't even worth it. So sad.
I then went to the town shopping mall that had also been demolished. In its place were colourful storage containers with large glass windows made into shops. I loved the idea. Again, something beautiful was made out of a horrible situation. I realy hope they build on this idea and create all the shops in this style. My favourite one was a coffee shop on a platform where you had to climb upstairs to drink withing the strorage container. It looked really cool.
I finally made my flight a couple of days later and here I am back In Auckland. Next stop- FIJI! Can't wait! My friend from home, Kate, said that she swam with mantarays when she was there so I hoping to do that. Have my factor 50 sunscreen at the ready!
Hope you aren't nodding off by my super long post haha. I can't upload any photos right now but I will try to soon I promise! Lots of love xxx
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