Kia Ora and welcome to my first Journal entry. Apologies to those that have missed the entries but we've been on the go so much that I've only just had chance to think about all that we've done over the last month. So kick back - get yourself a beverage and hope you enjoy.
Having left the UK on the 16th of Feb and travelled for 2 days I was really looking forward to catching up with the guys - little did I know that when we all arrived in Auckland airport at 8:00am they would still be s***faced from the night before. DSW in particular was hanging and was almost on all fours at one point until redemption reared it's head in the form of the "Golden Arches" where the gents sought some much needed morning after food.
We flew into Christchurch and after a day chilling out we met up with Steph and the new team was formed. The following morning we were up early to join the Kiwi Experience bus and off to our first stop: Kairkoura. We were advised that this was one of the best places in the world to go Whale Spotting and Dolphin Swimming. Unfortunately, when we arrived in Kaikoura we were greeted by "light drizzle" - not the best weather for spotting Whales, but ideal for sitting in a bar and playing a few games of pool. After a pretty relaxed afternoon drinking we headed back to the hostel and watched a few films before getting a relatively early night. The next morning at the ungodly hour of 4:30am Steph and myself headed down to the dolphin centre where we would be taken out for a couple of hours to swim with the sociable little blighters. So sociable in fact they have been known to try and have sex with humans - so with cheeks firmly clenched we hopped aboard the boat and setoff. After a 30 minute cruise we were told to suitup. Arriving on the back of the boat we could see about 200-300 dolphins frolicking about and were told to enter the water - we spent the next 30-60 minutes trying to swim and sound like a dolphin to attract their attention before jumping back on the boat to take some photo's. Arriving back on the boat for the last time I proceeded to collapse in a seat whilst Steph (the fitter of the 2 team members) took some great shots. This was an amazing experience and would definitely go on to make my top 3 for NZ.
Our next stop was Picton but much to DSW's horror and the confusion of the team we didn't stop there overnight and instead headed onto Nelson - gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. Enroute from Picton to Nelson we were treated to a FREE wine tasting. Arriving in Nelson we were greeted by sunshine and the news that the kayaking in the national park was the best place in NZ to partake in this acitivity. After a random game reminiscent of fives we paired up, Steph and DSW v Jake and myself. Upon arrival we were greeted by a wrestling match between the Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan (2 of our guides) which set the pace for the rest of the day. A speed boat took us on a 30 minute journey to a secluded beach where our kayaks awaited us. For the first part of the day I would steer and Jake would take the front seat - however, after the team constantly found themselves bringing up the rear of the group we decided a change was needed where Mant would take the steering and I would try the front seat. This was largely inaffectual but the day was fantastic highlighted by our lunch on a secluded beach and the Abel Tasman qualifying round of "Pop Idol". Choosing the song: Want you back for good - Jake and myself tied another kayak for top spot (even though all participants could see that we had beaten a James Hobbs lookalike singing "We will rock you" we weren't too bitter).
Leaving Nelson after a couple of days recuperation we arrived on our bus and were greeted by CHEESE our new driver that would stay with us all the way down to Queenstown. On the way to Westport, our overnight spot, we stopped by a picturesque lake where our Scandinavian contingent went diving off the end of the walkway into the near freezing waters. Westport was pretty quiet and so CHEESE suggested buying some booze and heading down to the beach for a bonfire - highly illegal but a great chance to get to know the group. Most of the night the team spent huddling together for warmth and only after a few drinks did we mingle with the rest of the group.
The next day the team got up and headed down to the Poo Pub! Stopping on the way at some pancake rocks - this was another FREE walk which took in some impressive coastline. Approximately 10 minutes into the walk we were introduced to Dangerous George - an accident prone member of the tour. Having avoided a spider on the path George stepped backwards, plummeting down a 2 metre drop cutting his leg and in turn being awarded the name Dangerous which would follow him round for the rest of the trip. Back on the bus CHEESE advised that we were to be having a fancy dress party and the theme was to be binbags - which was a cheap option but allowed for a lot of scope. I'm sure by this time you have all seen the fancy dress section of the photos and inturn can guess which member of the team came up with the idea of 3 gimps and a dominatrix. For those that can't, please spend a night in a dorm with DSW. This stroke of madness/genius led to one of the best nights out that we would spend in NZ and we would forever be labelled "the gimps". As it turns out, DSW's genius would also win us a prize - a canyon swing which we could use whilst in Queenstown. Even tho everyone was s*** scared of Les the patron, a provincial redneck that had roadkill hanging in his bar this would prove to be a massive highlight for all the team.
OK for all those who are at home you may want to fetch a beverage of some kind and use the bathroom and for all those at work just killing time please read on.
The next day all nursing hangovers, we headed onto the Bushman Centre where a guy simply called Pete would entertain us for the next hour. The centre was an introduction into how Venison farms became a large part of NZ's agricultural sector. Having been introduced into the wild by us Brit's the deer became a problem for local flora and fauna and something needed doing so nutters like Pete would fly around in helicopters jumping onto the back of these deer and rugby tackling them in mid flight. After this we were introduced to the fattest pig i've ever seen (except Jade Goody) and some possums. 5 minutes later Jake would be seen tucking into one of the possums cousins in the form of a possum pie - the rest of the team still feeling a little worse for wear stuck to more conventional breakfasts. After breakfast we headed onto Franz Josef glacier. This was one of the best places to do some hiking in NZ and the group decided to partake in the full day 8 hour hike. Splitting into groups according to the bravado of each member - the 3 guys went into group 1, the most advanced group and whilst Steph insisted that group 2 was actually for the best hikers our male ego's wouldn't believe her. After a few hours on the Glacier we were allowed access to ice axes - clearly they didn't realise to whom they were trusting these potentially lethal implements and we spent most of the day aiming ice at each others heads. Of course on the way up the glacier Dangerous George's foot equipment would come apart but all in this was a spectacular day and the photo's really don't do it justice.
Our next stop was Wanaka which was a nice place but pretty quiet and we spent the evening eating crisps and chocolate and watching the Cash biopic "Walk The Line". This was probably the nicest place that we stayed in as it was bascially a hotel with some rooms converted to sleep 4 people. The next day we headed onto Queenstown the adrenaline capital of New Zealand and as most kiwi's claim the world. On the way down to Queenstown we stopped at the first Bungy opportunity which was the first Bungy in the world. The team at this time suddenly came over with terrible injuries, mainly knee related, and had to decline when asked if we would like to jump. After watching the madmen of the bus throw themselves off a bridge we headed into Queenstown for our last night out with our fellow kiwi passengers from the west coast and our legendary driver CHEESE. After a brief nap we met up with everyone downstairs and started on the beers - after quite a few hours and quite a few more beers blue steel was born! In retrospect I have no idea why the pose came out but please see the photo's and Zoolander for further explanation. Heading out after this we were directed to the World Bar where due to the lack of beer, teapots were on half price. This is basically a concoction that tastes like Um Bongo but packs a bit of a punch. Waking up in the morning all team members were pleasantly surprised to find themselves in the right room of the correct hostel if not feeling the best. At this time we pieced together the rest of the night and realised that we had all headed back at different times - Steph the first member - who proceeded to call home - myself next who returned to the hostel to sit and watch Steph call home - Mant leaving the club after getting lost and DSW crawling back at 6:00am with Cheese after heading to some dodgy bar that we couldn't locate for a few days after.
This was one of my favourite nights out and the teams last big night out before we split up. At this point I'm going to give you all a much needed rest and continue with the journal in the next day or so.
Speak to you soon.