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Published: March 22nd 2008
Film crew in action
They even gave us some biccies as we drove past. Our driver is the nice chatty sort, made some useful friends (anyone with biscuits)
I've been to Paradise, but I've never been to me. Whatever that means.
I have actually been to Paradise. Evidence presented here. Notice the 'No Exit' addition to the sign for paradise. Why would you want to leave anyway. Only 2 permananent resisdences in Paradise. Imagine having the address 1 Paradise. How cool would that be. Anyway, since it's laregly deserted, and pretty stunning, it's well used for filming. They were just finishing off filming Wolverine, sequel to X-Men Trillogy. If we'd hung around all day, we may even have got to see them blow a car up, but they were waiting for the right light os something. Was a very long walk home so not tempted to hang around. I also saw a genuine movie star. Nicely manicured tail. They also filmed The Chronicles of Narnia here.
Nice bloke giving us a tour of Glenorchy and Paradise. Few miles outside Queenstown in the South of the South Island. Hads lots of nice stories. They'll come in a later blog. He took us for a drink in the Glenorchy Hotel. Hot choc and nice company on a sunny day in Paradise. What more could you ask for.
attempt to visit another nice looking hill, I ended up on a slightly odd Safari. Llamas, Alpacas, (seen them in Sheffield, one being awkward and stopping for a drink in the ford just down the road from my old house. Poor women who was leading the stroppy git was standing in foot high water getting progressively more ratty at it, while a very amused audience built up around her. No one stopped to help, just laughed) Donkey, (including a cute little one who's mother kept stealing food from him) Ducks, Pigs, (ugly things, Babe must be the only cute pig in the world, wonder what happened to him...) Deer (just the one who saw what was happening and came to join the party, ate more than the pig because his head fit in the food bucket) and a couple of Buffalo. Fed most of them, except the pig who had bigs trunks and stank, and the buffalo because it was huge. Our guide tried and was knocked on his bum by the mother coming over to steal food from the baby. Sweet. Saying that, my instincts lead me to feed the cute baby donkey and everyone else must do the
same. The parents must have to steal food since they're too boring to be fed by strangers and must be missing out.
Actual hill, Deer Park Heights, was stunning. Amazing views over Queenstown and surrounding mountains. Particularly The Remarkables. A range of mountains that run exactly North to South. Someone, I forget who, doscovered this and said "how remarkable". Not a thrilling story I know. They are spectacular though. On the top of thi hill was an old North Korean Jail. Some dodgy film they made in the eighties required a jail somewhere inhospitable, ideally with cool views in the background. They built it up here then never bothered to tear it down. Nowadays, film companies are required to dismantle everything they build. If not, Peter Jackson wouldn't be a national hero, he'd be the pest that made a hideous mess of New Zealand. Dead Orcs and Hobbit Feet would be littering every mountainside and valley. Little bit of evidence left, but likewise, that will have to wait.
Speaking of Orcs, I shared a room with something far wose than even Tolkien could imagine. 4 Canadian girls. (only irritating Canadians I've met, rest have been really nice) They
were on the bus following directly behind ours so stayed at the same hostels, same pubs etc. Infamous on our trip. That morning, our bus driver had been taking the mickey saying 'to any boys who hooked up with one of the Canadians and is feeling worse the wear this morning, here is a song' "Blame Canada" from 'The South Park Movie'. Catchy, if quite dodgy song with the parents of South Park (stupid cartoon for anyone not familiar) blaming Canada for their sons learning how to swear, and for everything else that's wrong with the world. They then start a war with Canada. Very funny childish rubbish. (check it out on YouTube if you can't remember/haven't seen it before)
Anyway, I had this song going round my head all night. And it was a very long night. I had to get up early the next day so wanted an early night. They seemed nice enough and said they would keep the noise down. Midnight the came in and woke me up. No quite sure why. Dorms are noisy, that's life. Getting better at going back to sleep so no problem. 2.30am they were back. One of the many blokes
they brought back lifted up my duvet, evidently looking for one of them. Muttered a bit them colapsed in someone elses bed. They followed him and sat up shouting until 3.30. Normal talking can be drowned out be ear plugs. Even the most disturbing snoring can usually be drowned out. This lot required Metallica, Iron Maiden and Ozzy Osbourne to drown them out. Asking nicely for them to shut up did nothing. Just heard lots of shut up, Lizzie trying to sleep, then they forgot about me and went back to shouting. The prat who'd colapsed in a bed didn't want to leave, so they kept shouting at him. Cold Water water have worked well, but she'd probably have nicked my bed. Didn't matter anyway. One of them complained, even after the moron had gone, that she didn't want to sleep in her own bed and stalked off the find someone (of something, don't think she was fussy) to sleep with.
Needless to say I moved rooms the next day, as did the other 2 people who were also trying to sleep at the same time as me. Met some really nice people, including one poor boy who'd jumped of
the bridge but didn't have his arms up in time before he hit the water so his face took the brunt of it. Impressive, if painful looking, black eye.
Back to Christchurch. (middle of East Coast) Started with a day trip to Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula. Pretty enough. Late bus booked up so had to return early. Meant limited time to do proper walks so went of several shorter walks in and out of the woods and around the harbour. Not an exciting town. Touristy, with daft little shops full of the same tat you get everywhere. Stopped for a free cheese tasting on the way back. Not that tasty and had an odd aftertaste so very easy to resist buying up the armfuls everyone else seem to need. The liquor shots we'd tasted on the way round the West Coast were much harder to resist. Just knowledge of bag size (and wallet) stopping me buying Milk Chocolate Liquor. Will have to get some from the next Good Food Show.
Went on quite a nice walk from Queenstown. Headed up the extremely steep slope under the Gondola (and Ledge Bungy) but veered off near the top to
try a different valley. Most of walk was in the woods, but every now and then the mountains would appear out the trees. Made an attempt to climb up to the top of one of these mountains. Got a bit steep and suddenly realised I was going to have trouble getting down so common sense stopped me. Irritating voice of reason has to be obeyed occasionally. Slid down on bum back to safety of main path. Have to grab onto a few plants on the way down and earned myself a new ache. Couldn't scratch back for 3 days, arms wouldn't go that far. Hurt more than throwing myself off the cliff. Maybe should try that next time.
Since Antartica is actually pretty close, lots of countries use Christchurch as a base before hoping down to go and play in the ice. An official gateway to Antarctica, Christchurch has to cash in. Next to the International Antarctic Centre, tourists are invited to freeze, for pleasure. Great center. A room full of snow that you're herded in to, play on the ice slide and in the igloo, then they turn down the heat and turn up the storm. -18 degrees,
windchill factor putting it below -36 degrees centigrade. Very cold. Oddly good fun though. I also got to ride in a snowmobile, up and down steep slopes and into 3m deep water. Cabin immidiately started leaking. Great. No flood though. Nice bouncy ride, with enthusiastic guide adding in extra facts about it's intended use accross the ice and for the military to play with. there were also a good slection of exhibits on Antarctic exploration and protection. Plus the cuttest little penguins you've ever seen. Blue Penguins, the smallest breed in the world, all rescued for various reasons, most had something nasty wrong with them, including fish hook in the eye, paralysis on one or more flipper, one foot (had a little booty protecting the exposd stump). Poor little things. Wanted to pick them up and cuddle them. Watched them being fed, so so cute.
What else have I done in the last week, umm, visited another aquarium. Suited it's cheap price tag. Sharks were a bit small, and no Nemo. Pathetic. Seen a couple of Kiwi's. Well seen a silhouette. Nocturnal flightless bird (turned nocturnal to avoid mankind, so we lock them up and view them in the
dark) not the most exciting creatures. Maybe more interesting if you could look them in the eye. Koala is a much prettier national symbol. Here's a question for you, what is the national symbol of England? We have 3 lions on our football shirt, but we don't have Lions wandering the streets (which would be rather cool, bit dangerous though) so we can't claim it as English. Austalia and New Zealand appear to have much clearer identities. Is ours really David Beckham and a Beefeater?
Have been relaxing a bit in the last week. Beat a few strangers at Scrabble. (including one really nice Canadian girl who imediately restored my faith in the nation. Plus a bloke who lives in Hunters bar, Sheffield. The idea was to see the world, didn't expect to bring all my old neighbours with me) Went out for dinner with them after so no hard feelings. Moved hostels to get away from the noisy crowds and found a little oasis in the hills. Amazing views back over Queenstown. Comfy sofas, big well equipped kitchen, television with no one to distract me. Watched an episode of 'Champions of Treasure Island' or something like that. Lots
of daft Americans running round a desert island doing stupid challenges (no bugs involved so nothing gross) and bickering at each other. Great escapist tripe. Managed to do a bit of cooking. When I reached Christchurch, lovely big friendly kitchen so felt inspired to cook. Can't beat a good curry. 3 meals out of 2 chicken breasts. Served in a variety of ways. With home made chips, just with nan (home made by half toasting left over bread) and the last bit mixed in with noodles. The latter was a bit odd. oriental noodles with Chicken Tikka Massala, but rather nice.
Just arrived on the North Island. Wellington. All I've seen so far is Dominoes Pizza where I can get good discount. Would be a fool to resist.
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