I apologize about the minimal detail in this entry. We did so much, that I just wrote the bare bones of what I remembered, its more like a list of events than an actual blog.
Friday we caught the naked bus to the Auckland airport and took a taxi from the airport to our hotel. We stayed at the Airport Garden Hotel in the executive suite for the night. It a bedroom and living room style area, decorated in a modern way. After getting settled in, we took a taxi into the city, about a half hour drive from our hotel. We ate at DaVincis, and Italian restaurant with the kitchen visible in the back corner of the dining room. I ordered a crepe type noodle with beef filling, cheese and tomato sauce. We headed back to the hotel and watched New Zealand's Next Top Model, contrasting the differences between it and the American version of the show. We noticed a much less professional feel, something that I find characteristic of NZ culture.
Early the next morning, we took our flight to Sydney. With the time difference, we arrived in Australia at 8 am. At customs, there were dogs that checked our suitcases for food or other illegal substances. We took a bus from the airport to Wake Up Sydney, our hostel. We got settled into our hostel and then headed down to The Rocks for an outdoor market that is open every Saturday. There were many different vendors that sell Australian-made products such as clothing, souvenirs, and food. I had a chicken tikka wrap with spinach and mint yogurt sauce from a vendor for lunch. Then we checked out the opera house. Leading up to the opera house is an author walk with inlayed stones of authors who are from or have written about Australia. Behind the Opera House, there was a long white wall with pictures of ordinary people who are fans of the opera house and their comments. Also in the area is the Royal Botanical Gardens. We went to a Thai restaurant for dinner and I got a chicken and noodle dish with stir fried veggies and chilli sauce. We came back to the hostel and played card games and went to bed.
Sunday we woke up and went into Blacktown to go to the Featherdale Wildlife Park. After riding on the train and bus for an hour and a half, we made it there. Travelling out of Sydney, the city seemed to disappear quickly into suburban area. At the park we got to feed kangaroos, pet koalas, and see crocodiles, Tasmanian devils, bats, and lots of other animals. We came back to Central and went to a street with lots of different ethnic foods. We got Mexican. After dinner, we browsed in a cute bookstore and walk back. We got ice cream at yummy berry where you can put whatever toppings you want on your ice cream.
Monday, we went on a search for the Voi Outlet where they claimed to have designer brands for cheep. It turned out to be kind of a flop, but we went to the Aquarium. There were glass tunnels where we could see sharks, manatees, and sting rays swimming over our heads. There were also huge glass tanks replicating authentic sea-life. We walked around the harbour and had lunch at an outdoor eaterie. This was one of my favourite meals we had. I ordered chicken tenderloins. It came as a kind of sandwich with buffalo mozzarella, avocado, and mango pineapple. It was the most delicious thing I had ever tasted. Then we went to the Imax and saw Born to be Wild in 3D. It is the biggest Imax theatre in the world. After, we got gelato and I had an Italian cookies and cream flavour. Later at night, we went into The Rocks to get dinner and pictures of the opera house at night. We had dinner and drinks at a pub a few blocks away from the rocks.
Tuesday was skydiving day. We woke up early to catch the shuttle to the beach where we would skydive. After an hour and a half drive, we arrived and got suited up, briefed on skydiving technique, and taken up in a tiny plane that hardly had room for all of us to sit. As the plane kept going up and up, we all got a little more nervous. The instructors were trying to scare us by saying they were nervous, and didn't know how the parachutes worked. At last, we reached 1200 feet, and we jumped out. There was about 60 seconds of freefall, which seemed like an eternity. We fell through a cloud, which was by far one of the coolest experiences I've ever had. The instructor pulled the parachute right after we got through the cloud, and there was a beautiful beach scene below us. It seemed almost unreal. We landed on a large grassy area by sliding in on our butts. After, we ate at a cafe and celebrated our skydive! We went to a look out with our entire skydiving crew and had a bottle of champagne. Later that night, we went down to the hostel bar and watched a live band.
Wednesday, we went to a sea kayaking lesson. We went to china town for lunch and shopping. There was an underground market called Paddy's Market with tons of fake designer things along with random shops. For dinner, we went to the harbour. We ate at an Italian restaurant where I had a prawn appetizer and a spinach ravioli main dish.
Thursday, we slept in a little and went to the fish market for lunch. I ate a mixed fish plate with calamari, octopus, crab, and fish. We went to Bondi beach for the day and although it was a bit windy, it was still warm enough to be out in our bathing suits, so we enjoyed the warm weather. A few of us went in the water, even though it knocked the wind out of me whenever a wave came because it was so cold. We went to a bar for dinner and some really good talks.
Friday we took a plane back to New Zealand and flew into Christchurch. Our hostel in Christchurch was very interesting. Half of it was demolished by the earthquakes, they had 4 earthquake cats, and an adorable kitchen. It felt like a house. The owners of the hostel were very helpful and brought us into town and showed us around. We ended up calling the man who drove us around "grandpa." We re-grouped on our first night there and did some laundry, and got some groceries for breakfast.
Saturday we explored Christchurch although you aren't able to go into the actual downtown area because it is all blocked off. We walked though the botanical gardens, and saw an art exhibit, the world from above, which was generally about sustainability, but very interesting. We caught a bus to New Brighton Beach and walked along the pier and ate at a pizza place by the beach.
Sunday we arrived in Queenstown at 5:30 and got pizza and drinks in the bar at the hostel. We did laundry and met up with our friend from school at the hostel who would be joining us for the rest of the trip.
Monday we skied at Coronet Peak. The snow was really good at the beginning of the day, and as it got warmer, it got heavier. We had so much fun checking out the mountain and shredding.
Tuesday, we went on a Milford Sound day trip. The bus made lots of look out stops on the way there, and once we got there, we went on a boat cruse. The boat went right up to a waterfall, and the scenery was beautiful. We had fergburger for dinner, a famous NZ burger.
Wednesday, we went bungy jumping, which was one of my favourite experiences of the trip. We did the Nevis Bungy, the second highest in the southern hemisphere. Later, we went on the Shotover Jet, that went really fast in between high rocky cliffs and could do three sixties.
Thursday, we headed to Dunedin. After checking into our hostel, we went on a tour of the Cadberry factory and the Speits Beer factory. We got tons of beer and chocolate. The next day, we went to the Otago museum to see the butterfly exhibit. This was really interesting because the butterflies would land on you, and you could see them emerging from their cocoons. Then we went back to the hostel and caught our bus to the wildlife tour. We travelled around the beaches and saw penguins, sea lions, and seals, and got very close to them. It was so windy on the peaks of land near the beaches, winds reached over 80 km an hour.
Saturday, we headed back to Auckland and while we were walking around we stumbled upon a welcoming ceremony for the All Blacks. We were very close to them and the general excitement at the ceremony was cool! Then we went to the movies and saw Crazy Stupid Love. We ate at a pizza place that served American pizza for dinner and watched a rugby game. The next day, we took the Naked Bus back to Hamilton.