New Zealand North and South Island

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Oceania » New Zealand
October 20th 2015
Published: October 21st 2015
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Once again, like always, it has been a thrilling, exciting and adventurous two weeks since the last blog. So much has happened which means this blog could be another very long but hopefully very entertaining read. We've travelled from the middle of the North Island down to near the bottom of the South Island during this time and we've proudly stayed every night in our campervan, not once bailing out and treating ourselves to a bed. We've surprised even ourselves by doing this!

So two weeks today we were still in a place called Rotorua which was a really cool town with loads going on. We had booked to go white water rafting for lunchtime and were pretty excited for this. We'd heard only good things about it and all the videos we were shown looked crazy. However, we both did not expect it to be as electrifying or intense as it was. It was insane! We were in a boat of six for around forty minutes with two guides also there. There were three waterfalls we went down but the final one was without doubt the most crazy. The drop was straight vertical fall of twenty-three feet (7m) and just before the fall, our guide asked us if we wanted crazy or super crazy...Being in a boat of six guys, everyone shouted for the scariest ride possible and it didn't disappoint. Surprisingly, we didn't flip the boat until we landed, but once we did tip, all pandemonium broke loose. Everyone was out the boat and trying not to get taken down the river with the rapids. Once we all got back in, our guide then made the ride even madder by trying his hardest to flip us out again the rest of the journey. All in all, the white water rafting certainly exceeded our expectations and it was a lot of fun.

That afternoon, we were still pumping with adrenalin and the sun was fully shining so we decided to test ourselves by going mountain biking. Rotorua is suppose to be the best place in New Zealand to go mountain biking so we thought why not. Well, one thing we learnt about mountain biking is however fun it is going down the hills, getting up them takes a lot longer and is one hundred times harder on the legs. We were shattered from climbing up the hills on our bikes and nearly everytime we went the wrong way which really didn't help. Even so, the ramps were epic when we did ride down them and it was an enjoyable afternoon. That night, even so we were so shattered, we drove to another trendy town called Taupo. We treated ourselves to a good dinner and went to bed relatively early. The next day we chilled in Taupo, which was a pretty place but the weather was average and there wasn't too much for us to do. As there wasn't a whole load going on, we decided to make the four hour drive further south to a place named National Park. Here, there was honestly one shop and one hotel and that was it. We were here for a reason though, we were going on an eight hour hike the next day up and through a big mountain full of ice and snow. We had to be up early for the hike so just relaxed that evening.

We woke up before 7am in the morning to freezing conditions. The car windows had all fully frozen and it was without doubt the coldest temperature we'd felt in New Zealand. Even so, we checked in to the place where we were to start the hike and were given hiking boots, a woolly hat, a big jacket and warm gloves. The hike started off on flat stoney ground but quickly escalated to an uphill walk before after a couple hours, we made it to where the snow began. Once we got to the snow, the hike became far harder and was pretty relentless. It was constantly uphill walking and was tough on the legs. Once we made it to the top though, the views were certainly worth it. You could see some pretty special scenery and it was quite surreal having our lunch from where we were. The guide told us that at this point, although we weren't halfway through yet, mentally we were as the walk was mainly downwards now. If he tells this to all his groups, he is definitely lying to them! Yes, the walk did get easier, but it kept going on and on and on. Eight hours hiking it certainly was and the end just seemed to never come. Luckily, although in the snow and ice, and it being very windy and cold, when we were walking, it was hot as the sun was beaming on us and it was a lovely day. Finally we made it to the end and physically and mentally we were gone. Our bodies were aching! A nice touch from the guide was to bring out a free beer for everyone at the end. We were so thirsty that any liquid would have been finished instantly at that time! After the hike ended, we stayed another night in National Park as the drive down to our next destination, Wellington, was six hours away.

Our plan to leave at 9am in the morning to head to the capital city turned into us having a very nice lie-in and not getting on the road until lunchtime. Between National Park and Wellington, which is at the very bottom of the North Island, there is pretty much nothing so the drive was through very remote areas with plenty of farms with numerous sheep and cows. It was a pleasant drive though and we got to Wellington by early evening. The sun was still out and the weather was warm. Straight away we took a liking to Wellington. It wasn't as big as Auckland but had a far more friendlier feel to it. Like I said, the sun was really shining and there was a Saturday evening feel good factor about the place. After finding a motor home to park the van in, we went to explore the city quickly to get some dinner. Amazingly, there was a big food market going on in the city centre so we checked it out. Sadly, both our meals, me a burrito and Yoni a meatball sandwich didn't taste so great or did our desert, deep fried ice-cream. However amazing it sounds, it was average. We went back to the van, had a few drinks there before heading out to see the nightlife of New Zealand's capital city. It was Saturday night so everywhere was busy. It was a fun night but not amazing. We made it fun though and had a laugh. We woke up pretty hungover on the Sunday but once again, the weather was good so we quickly got out of bed and had a bit of breakfast. We walked around Wellington in the morning and were really impressed with the city. It's small but really well set out and is very trendy. In the afternoon, we went up a big mountain where a beautiful park is positioned. We just lay in the sun the whole afternoon listening to music which was just what we wanted to do at that time. That night, we were met up with some friends and just went to bar for some drinks. It was only meant to be a few quiet ones but it ended up turning into a bit of a party which was pretty cool. Overall, Wellington was a good two nights and we really liked the city. That was the end of our time in the North Island though as when we got up, we quickly got ready and made our way to the port as we were boarding our ferry to take us to the South Island.

Everyone we've met along our travels has told us the same thing. The South Island of New Zealand is one of the most amazing places in the world. It's far more untouched than the North and we've been told how beautiful and exciting it is. So we were looking forward to getting there and we'd only heard great things about the place. The ferry takes three hours so we got to the other side by 5pm. Again, the weather was good and we were excited. We drove for around two or three hours until we got to a city called Nelson. I'm surprised it's allowed to be called a city as even by New Zealand standards, it's a fairly small place. We checked into a hostel where we parked our van and made some dinner before getting an early night. We spent the whole of the following day in Nelson and even made a trip to the local cinema as we had some time to kill. We left Nelson late afternoon and headed West to Abel Tasman as in the morning, we were doing our skydive!

Neither of us slept well at all that night (probably due to nerves) but we woke up full of (nervous) energy. The weather was warm and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. So perfect conditions they say for skydiving. No chance of it being called off now! There was one other girl in our group doing a dive who was far more scared than Yoni and I. To be honest, we were both fairly calm considering we were about to jump out of a plane from 16,500 feet! The journey in the plane was really cool with the views being quite surreal. I think Yoni asked how high up we were at one time and the response was, '1,000 feet now'. O god, even that felt high! After twenty minutes going up in the plane, it was our time to jump out. Out of the three of us, I was to go first. To be honest, it's all quite a blur. The door was opened and wind was blowing everywhere. You free fall for seventy seconds and during this time, you're falling so fast, it feels like your face is going to come off. That seventy seconds actually feels like seven but once that's over, the professional pulls your parachute and this was when you can relax and enjoy the views. You slowly come down and everything looks amazing. By the time I hit the ground, Yoni landed about twenty seconds later and we were both just full of energy and adrenalin. It was an unbelievable experience and I would recommend it to anyone. It definitely isn't as scary as a bungee jump as A. you don't actually jump yourself and B. you're so high up, you don't really feel like you're as high up as you are. After a few hours of the maddest rush, the buzz started to wear off and we started to get tired. We drove to a couple of beaches a few hours apart from each other but it was so windy that we couldn't really chill at them for too long. By mid afternoon, we decided to start the long drive to Franz Josef. We knew we wouldn't make it there by the evening so stopped off for the night halfway in between in a tiny town. The town was called Reefton and it's suppose to have beaten London and New York to having fully lit street lights. That evening, we found a small campsite and befriended a middle age man who was half Maori. It was quite interesting to pick his brains and ask him questions about Maori culture and all things New Zealand. By 10pm though, we were more than ready for bed and had a good sleep. We left in the morning after saying goodbye to our Maori friend and continued on our journey. There were a few short stop offs in secluded places but we got to Franz Josef by 5pm or so. The long drives we were taking on the South Island were without doubt more intense and scenic. The Island was far less busy and we drove through so many mountain roads. We've been through some thrilling drives here as there are so many bends and turns up these mountains. It's so different from driving back home.

Franz Josef is another small town but is popular with tourists as it's home to a glacier. There are loads of tours that take you on a helicopter onto the glacier and you walk on it and view it. That was all we were planning to do there but our trip got cancelled due to bad weather. This was annoying but we weren't overly upset as we got a nice refund which was very handy. Instead, that day, we visited the hot pools and relaxed in them for a few hours. We stayed in Franz Josef again that night as it was Friday night and we didn't want to drive through the night. We had a good night out but the place was quiet in general. When we got up, we drove the whole day, again through such amazing roads with massive mountains everywhere and headed to Wanaka. The drive took a good five or six hours but it was definitely one of the more epic drives we've done. We didn't know much at all about Wanaka so were pleasantly surprised when we arrived that it was extremely beautiful and also busy. The town is surrounded by mountains and a lake which makes it look incredible. After getting our bearings and having a small dinner, we started having a few drinks in our campsite. We made a few friends and heading out in a group of five. The night was fun and quite a blur in general but we enjoyed ourselves. The next day, we got up late and chilled the whole day with a friend we'd made from Holland called Rudy. We stayed another night in Wanaka and enjoyed our time there. The next morning, we drove the one place everyone goes on about in New Zealand......Queenstown.

The drive was only an hour or so and we went with Rudy who was also travelling by campervan. Queenstown is the supposed adventure capital of the world in the day and the party capital of New Zealand by night. In the afternoon, the three of us decided to do the world's highest cliff jump! The jump is from 360 feet (109m) high and you can do all sorts of jump styles. After you free fall, you then swing across a river until you get pulled back up and the nightmare is over! Compared to the skydive, we were both way more nervous for this. Out of the three of us, Yoni went first and was dropped while hanging horizontally over the edge! I was meant to do this way too but as my eye prescription is so bad, I was told I wasn't allowed to do this way as it could damage my eye further. I was then swaying towards going over the edge on a slide but was pretty much forced to do the jump hanging upside over the edge. It was certainly thrilling and extremely scary. Rudy went last and went off a chair backwards. I couldn't believe the ways we did the jumps but they were crazy. Again, it was a bit of a blur and you don't really remember anything that happens. But the swing was done and we out of the way. The scariest activity in my eyes was over and we'd survived! That night, we had a very funny night out the three of us, Queenstown had certainly lived up to its name after day one.

The day after we didn't do too much except lie in the sun the whole afternoon. We didn't go out that night and got an early night. We've woken up today fully refreshed and are going to do some kind of go-karting today before having a night out this evening. We've actually just sorted out our trip and accommodation for Fiji today so everything is now planned. We will probably stay in Queenstown for another four nights as we want to enjoy ourselves as much as possible before heading home. Not long now - 18 days!!



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