Hey again everyone,
Apologies for the gap since I last blogged, I've been pretty busy:
The last time I blogged I had just arrived in Wellington, I spent 2 nights there, went to watch a super 14 rugby match with the wellington team thrashing an ozzie one so good cheer all round there. I then moved on to picton, crossing the cook straight between the 2 islands and instead of continuing on with the bus decided to hang around for a while so I could do some walking in the malborough sounds.
I decided to do a 3-5 day walk called the Queen Charlotte track and luckily met a girl (Catherine) at the hostel who also wanted to do the same walk. So we borrowed a tent and stove from the hostel (for free!) and set off the next day. The walk was 72km/45m and included a real mix of gradients with a few fairly steep hills chucked in to get us going each morning. We also met a couple of isralis (Nir and Alon) in the campsite the first night and they joined us for the 2nd day of the walk. We all really enjoyed the walk and had a real good laugh along the way.
The whole walk was reasonably long, but not too hard with the 2nd day being the hardest going (we started at 9am and finished walking at 6:30), though admittedly I certainly enjoyed the hot pool and slept well once back in the hostel, with a proper bed. Our boat service that dropped us off at the start of the walk made it a lot easier as they then dropped/picked up our bigger bags/tent etc. from points along the way each eve/morn to save us lugging them all day! We were really lucky with the weather having 3 days of pure sun , were largely under some kind of bush or rainforest cover but the views in the clearings were amazing and too numerous to count (or take pictures of, tho I appear to have made my best attempt). I think its the variety, scale and amount of life in the landscape and vegetation that is just really amazing in NZ, anyway it just makes me feel like I'm off exploring a strange land which is really cool. Anyway great experience lots more I could say but that looks like more then enough, lets just say more walking is definately planned and I'll just have to be careful I don't turn this into a walking holiday, tho based on what I've done so far that wouldn't be too bad at all.
Left picton on the 28th and went to Nelson where a group of 6 guys formed Paul, Ajrn, Sam, Adam, Gary and Jonny, the first two of which I'm still travelling along with. We had all originally planned to do a 2 day walk and kayak in Abel Tasman national park but the weather was looking dodgy for the 2nd day so we all went togethor to do a 1/2 day walk and then 1/2 day guided kayak there instead. This was a good job because the 2nd day absolutely pissed it down like you normally think is only possible in england, apparently they only have a few days like it a year in that area so we're hoping thats the last. Anyway I can confirm Abel Tasman is yet another beautiful part of New Zealand, tho while tongariro was volcanic and malborough sounds was hilly, lush coast, abel tasman was different in vast empty calm beaches with sections of rainforest and again as with all the walking I've done was a pleasure to spend time in.
The group of us have had a real good laugh togethor and whilst I mostly do cooking/drinking in the hostel as opposed to out if I'm with a group or somewhere for longer than 1 night this time is different as we have a chef in the ranks! All I can say is mmmmm! each night we're eating better than at home and its costing hardly anything, for example the other night we had organic steak with creamy stilton sauce and vegetables! My blog may start becoming more focused on the food then the country at this rate!
Next we spent a night in Westport, there's not really much there but we did some Jet boating on the river there and got pretty damn wet! They absolutely cain it around and do lots of sharp turns and 360 spins and anyway the end result is everyone gets wet!
On the 3rd I did another optional stoppoff, from the regular route, myself, Paul and Ajrn all stopped off here for a night as we'd been told by some of the drivers it was really nice, whilst the others have continued on. They were definately right, there's just a handfull of houses, a few hostels and a single pub there not even any shops which means very isolated and quiet. We had a full day here so went exploring in the area which has particularly lush and tropical vegetation, rivers, caves, beaches and massive cliffs to walk around all with very few people around to spoil the peace. Our hostel was also located practically on the beach (see the pics).
Few I've finally got up to yesterday! We stayed near lake mahinapua, theres not much else there but the stop is used as an excuse for everyone to dress up in fancy dress and have a party night, which was awesome fun and meant a lot of laughs. The theme was nightmares and dreams so I went as edward scissorhands, I reckon I made a pretty good attempt since we only had 1 hr to prepare. Unfortunately my long scissor fingers weren't the most practical things so I had to have 2 helpers to assist me with various important activities such as pooring beer from jug to glass, luckily i could manage glass to mouth! Anyway I won 3rd place prize for my attempt so now I have free dvd and photos taken when I do the big bungy jump I have planned in Queenstown, Sweet!
Today I've arrived in Franz Josef which is the site of a very impressive glacier which you can see from the hostel. Tomorrow I'll be doing a full day hike up the ice so I'm very excited about that, I'll fill you all in once I've done it!
In response to all of your messages:
Lois: Thanks, for looking my blog up Zorbing was a real good laugh, I hear they do it up the downs in case you decide you want to give it a go! I've not been eating out too much in NZ as it drains the cash but with our chef in tow I've been eating well anyway! Though I was eating out loads in Japan as it was cheap and exciting as you never knew quite what you'd get! My mate caught some fresh fish whilst we were up in bay of islands and that tasted goood! though I haven't tried my fishing "skills" out yet.
Katie/Shaun: Awesome! Glad you both liked the presents, hope you had a really great birthday! Well done on your grading success, that's awesome, my mum's told me how hard those can be! Good luck with the next one, hopefully they won't eat you either. Miss you guys too of course (in a non gay way b4 you get ur hopes up shaun), tho I'm not too sure about how enticing that massive hole sounds! Zorbing was cool, stay tuned as I have some crazy ass activities coming once I get to Queenstown! xXx
Matteo: Yo dude! Knew you'd love the potion though shame it went and exploded in transit. I suppose vincent didn't come lacking any health in that case! though possibly a little on the sticky side!
Steve/Kerry: Thanks for the message, I hear you tried before only to lose your progress after 1/2 hr writing it! Glad I can bring you some joy in my abscence, I suppose you have to win somehow! I'll try to make sure I return sometime soon just to end that winning streak!
Leila: Cheers for the message, I've sent a quick message to the boys I hope they enjoy reading/replying to it. Also snowboarding sounds awesome count me in! Miss you guys too of course! Thx for all the kisses, hope Jon doesn't get jealous and come kickbox my ass as I know he doesn't get that many! xXx xXx xXx