Well the time has come for the final chapter of my travels (well this period of travel anyway). This must be my most belated update yet as I am actually back at home now but we won't tell anyone!
My South Island of New Zealand travels started with a lot of new faces who were on a bus or two behind us originally but I still had Wendy with me and a few other 'old timers'. Our first stop was at a farm complete with llamas, we arrived there quite late so we had a BBQ and a few drinking games and then bed. The next morning we set off early for an 11km walk in Abel Tasman National Park which had amazing scenery similar to Tasmania. Once we arrived at our destination, Anchor Beach, we got picked up by a small catamaran and spent the afternoon sailing. We saw seals and penguins sitting on the rocks and some pretty scenery with pleasant weather so all in all a good afternoon!
The next day we drove to Barrytown with a few nice short walks along the way, the scenery was very similar to Australia's Great Ocean Road. Barrytown is
a very small town consisting of a pub / hostel and bone carving workshop. What makes Barrytown is the fancy dress box! We arrived and had a traditional kiwi roast dinner and then chose our fancy dress outfits. The men had to dress as women and the women as anything they wanted out of the fancy dress box. We all decided to go as full characters and I chose to be a footballer with football shirt and one football sock I found. I added my white shorts and a mud smudge (from eyeliner) and I was ready to party. A really fun and rather drunken night was had by all!
Getting up for bone carving at 8am the next morning was a bit of a challenge but I made myself go and was very glad I did so. We went to the workshop and chose a cow's shin bone to draw or trace our design onto. I chose a hook inspired design meant to bring luck travelling and the guy removed the bulk of the bone and roughly cut out the middle. I then grinded, sanded, filed, polished and buffed for 3 hours until I had my smooth, shiny
pendant for a necklace. Lots of fun and a good hangover cure. We drove that afternoon to the Franz Josef glacier with a stop at a glacial lake enroute followed by an early night! Finally had a lie in the next morning and then a small group of the girls walked 10km around the base of the huge Franz Josef glacier. A very rocky walk through an empty river bed led us to the glacier which was pretty spectacular. Warmed up that night with a group spa.
Up early the next morning for a quick walk down to the mirror lake, Lake Mathieson and to spot the elusive Mount Cook with its snow capped peak between the clouds. We drove to Mount Aspiring National Park to Makarora where we stopped for the night. We stayed in really cute log cabins with heater and amazing views of the snow capped mountains. We broke the tranquility with a spot of karaoke in the bar that night, I made my karaoke debut with a few duets with Wendy.
We headed up to Lake Wanaka the next day and decided to have a few days off town hopping as it was so
beautiful. Wanaka was a gorgeous lake and snow capped mountains so was a nice place to chill. The next day we headed to Puzzling World which had lots of cool rooms including a hologram, faces and sloping room. In the sloping room you could stand up straight and look like you were on an angle. The best room played with perspective where one person was made to look like a giant and the other a dwarf (see pictures!). The same effects were used as those in Lord Of The Rings. After a group mexican meal that night a few of us strolled down to the local independent cinema which was full of sofas, bean bags and even a cut open mini car. The cookies there were worthy of a mention as they were served hot at the start and during the interval. Yum!
The next day we got back on the bus and went to adventure, adrenaline capital - Queenstown. We stopped to allow a few people to throw themselves off a bridge attached to a piece of elastic - the home of AJ Hacketts original bungee site then went on a night out. The next morning we went
to the top of Queenstown mountain on the world's steepest cable car then a ski lift then got the luge back down again. A luge is a cross between a go kart and a sledge and was lots of fun! We finished the day with a local delicacy and a bit of a New Zealand legend - the Fergburger. This is a burger the size of a saucer which we all challenged eachother to eat a whole one which was mammoth task!
The next morning I was out in the pouring rain at 6.30am to board my Southern Loop bus. The snow had really started to fall on the mountains today and it was soooo cold. We stopped at a battlefield sight from LOTR, a couple of spectacular waterfalls and filled our water bottles from a natural spring. We hopped out the bus at Homer Tunnel (a manmade tunnel through the mountain) and saw lots of snow and absolutely froze! We arrived at Milford Sounds and saw some spectacular waterfalls as we were in the place that gets the most rain in New Zealand. After a long, long day we headed to a working farm for a farm tour.
I bottlefed a lamb and fed a sheep then we put on our headlamps and warm jackets to watch a sheepdog demonstration. I was chosen to put all the sheared sheep in one pen and non sheared in another which was much harder than it looked! We then donned dungarees and gum boots and sheared sheep. The poor things got a few nicks and I was nicknamed the sheep whisperer when I talked my sheep through the process as the poor thing was terrified! The night ended with me driving one of the quad bikes back to the farm house with a trailer full of human 'cattle' aka the rest of the group in the back!
Another early start the next day to get the ferry to Stewart Island, the most Southernly part of New Zealand. After settling into our hostel room a group of us went fishing with the local bearded fishermen. We set off into the choppy seas with lots of albatrosses (with up to 8 metre wingspans) following our little fishing boat. Stewart Island is known for its abundance of fish and I proved that by catching 7 large blue cod in 30 minutes. The fishemen
skinned and gutted them in minutes and our group went home with about 70 fish fillets which we enjoyed eating over the next 4 evenings.
The next morning we headed back to mainland and had a long, cold drive back to Queenstown. We found a large seal lion and quite a few of us stood in front of him (at a distance) for a photo. He took the opportunity to charge at us during my photo time which woke me up and amused the rest of the group! Once back in Queenstown we had our big night out which was becoming customary and had one lazy night before waking up with the intention of going to play crazy golf when something spontaneous happened instead. A room mate who wasn't on the Stray bus came into the dorm shaking as he'd booked to do a sky dive but was petrified of heights and didn't think he could do it. I heard the others giving him the reasons why he should do it including it being one of the best places in New Zealand for scenery and the clear blue skies and snowy mountains sooooo after umming and ahhing all trip
about it, with a week left I offered to accompany him to do the sky dive to reassure him and because it was now or never for me to do it. Ten minutes later I was signing my credit card slip to do a 12000 feet skydive! Rob (the nervous guy from my room) made me feel braver as he was so scared and the drive there calmed my nerves a little. When looking at people falling from the sky at the jump site my nerves increased a little, especially since we were jumping from twice the height of the 6000 feet 'Remarkables' mountains! I met my tandem dive instructor, James, and we boarded our little plane and started to fly through breathtaking scenery up into the mountains before the door of the plane got flung open and I was out! James was right out to sit on the edge with me dangling out the plane in front of him shouting GO GO GO. I wasn't bent quite enough so did a triple spin when we fell out screaming my head off before settling the right way and suddenly enjoying my 45 seconds of falling 6000 feet at 200km/h! Soon
the parachute was up and I felt like I'd been pulled upwards. I caught my breath and floated down to earth for the next 5 minutes awestruck by the beauty of my surroundings and what I had just done. I was bouncing off the walls for the rest of the day. Definately didn't regret what I had just done - absolutely amazing.
My last few days in New Zealand were spent in Christchurch, reportably more english than England so I just chilled out by myself and met a few friends before I headed back to Sydney. In Sydney I had a few drinks and meals out with friends I have met along the way before doing my final activity of my travels to end on a high - literally! The last day before flying I decided to climb Sydney Harbour Bridge, an icon for my travels. I signed in, got kitted out and went on the ladder simulator before climbing over 1500 steps (and a few sets of ladders) 400 ft up one of Sydneys landmarks overlooking the Opera House and lots of other familar places from my travels. The only problem was the rain, another common theme for
Sydney. It was blowing right into my face but we were in waterproof gear so it all added to the adventure. What a month to end it on!
The next day I arrived at the airport 5 hours early for my latest international flight - home! Firstly my plane was delayed by 4 hours, then it got cancelled as engine one wasn't working so I had an unexpected night at a suite in Sydney Hilton. The next day we had a further delay then disembarked once again as most of the toliets were blocked. 29 hours after arriving at the airport we started the 22 hour flight home so it took me 3 days to get back - the longest and worst journey of my trip! At least I'm home safe now, Thanks for reading everyone and for all your comments and I hope to see you all soon!xxx
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