A Morgan in New Zealand!
With our adrenaline pumping and an interesting way to start the day we met the bus down the road from the dive site. Our next stop was a ski town called Wanaka. The bus would carry on all the way to Queenstown, but we had heard that the views were just as good in Wanaka, just a bit quieter so we thought we'd take a couple of days to check it out. Driving around this part of NZ was beautiful. Snow capped mountains and perfectly still lakes surrounded the landscape. These still lakes perfectly mirroring the already incredible mountains that hugged the shoreline.
Our hostel in Wanaka was just a YHA hostel which is a worldwide chain. They usually all look similar but this one had that ski resort cabin feel. Due to the town being busy with skiiers, the cheapest room available cost $28 a night pp. The most expensive dorm room we had paid for so far travelling. However, we did have a kitchen in the room, and a bathroom, so it wasn't all bad. During our stay we vistied a small attraction called 'Puzzling World'. This place had a 1.5km long maze that took us an hour to complete (you had to get to each corner in a particular order) and the place explored various types of illusions e.g holograms, painting/drawings such as a the 'never ending stair case', and even a room where the floor was slanted or disproportionate to give the illusion that you are defying gravity or you look like a giant in a normal sized room (see photos). We spent 3 hours at Puzzling World, and by the end we were exhausted! :P
Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world! And while we arrived here we had the joy in knowing that to keep within our budjet that we had set ourselves we had to try and live off an average of $40 a day for the both of us! We would have made an exception for Queenstown, but everything was just so overpriced. We had actually contemplated the idea of a day skiing but with hire costs, ski pass and getting to the slopes, it would be very costly, and a lot of people had said NZ ski slopes don't compare with Europe anyway. So we decided we'd wait until Europe :) We felt we had to do something though, so we hired mountain bikes and went for a scenic cycle around a small part of the gigantic lake. This activity alone still cost $60 to hire 2 bikes for 4 hours!
The next day we were heading straight to Dunedin (meaning Edinburgh of the south) thought it hardly compared. Dunedin was going to be a long stopover. We planned to stay about a week and a half so that we could save our money, see Uncle Gordon aka Yorkie, and spend Fay's Birthday. We spent our time in Dunedin couchsurfing, this helped with our $40 a day budjet so we had money for food, and what we didnt spend was added up for days we might overspend.
Spending time with Uncle Gordon was great. he took time out for us to show us around some of the highlights of Dunedin, and with access to a car we had the opportunity to go to places we would never have had access to it if it wasnt for Yorkie Bar! One of the first places he took us was the world famous guinness world record holding steepest street in the world. Looking up at the street it first seemed that I had maybe seen streets just as steep in Sheffield and Scotland, but it's not until you start the walk up that you realise the continuous steepness of it! Reaching the top, breathless and sweating we all looked pretty out of shape as we talked to a guy in his late 50's early 60's who runs up and down the steepest part of the street 60 times a day! Rather him than me thats for sure.
Gordon took us to 'the spit', a sea side feel beach with a huge rock with an even bigger hole in it! We also visited the Port where piles of logs are transported all over the world and we had for the first time, 'fush n' chups'! We spent many an afternoon chatting with Uncle Gordon about life and it was great to see a family member and just relax even if it was for 2 weeks.
The next big event was my birthday! Daniel suprised me at 7am with tea and hand made european chocolates!! My Favy!!! ooo and a red rose too. We then headed to an internet cafe in town and skyped Mum, Aunty Irene and Uncle Bill which was great as I hadn't seen them in so long and I miss them so much. After a long conversation and catch up we once again met up with Uncle Gordon who gave me a NZ coin with the year I was born (that must have taken a while to find!) Oh and I forgot to mention Daniel did buy me a ring for my birthday, unfortunately not that type of ring :( haha. Daniel then took me out for an amazing meal down at the Docks in Dunedin. I had steak and Daniel had a chicken pasta, oooh how the roles have reversed!!! It was a lovely evening with Daniel all to myself :D We then met up with some great friends we had stayed with (Ben and Isabell) and we went out for a drink. All in all a lovely birthday away from home :) Next stop was to be christchurch woo hooo.....
Not much to say about Christchurch really because we weren't able to get into the CBD at all because it was all taped off because of an EEEAAAARTHQUAKE!!!!! A day before we arrived an earthquake of a magnitude of 7.5 shook the town at 4am in the morning. We even felt it in Dunedin! The entire house shook, the light swang, book shelves creaked, we were both ready to run to the doorway! It was like nothing we had felt in our lives. In wellington we had gone on one of those earthquake simulator machines and it wasnt like that at all! I was suprised at how the earth only moved in one direction, i guess I expected it to be a bit all over the place.
We finally managed to hitch-hike to christchurch in 2 different vehicles over the duration of 3 hours because the magic bus was unable to get into Christchurch as it was declared a state of emergency! We eventually got a look at the devestation Christchurch was in. The CBD was completely shut down because of the many aftershocks that were still rocking the city, and buildings in bad ways were still crumbling. What had been some of Christchurch's oldest and historical buildings had been reduced to rubble on the floor. Many city folk had lost their jobs, buisnesses and were reducing them to bankruptcy. Homes were demolished or badly damaged, but luckily no lives were lost. The magnitude of the quake was the same as Haiti. The difference was the building structures were stronger in NZ, there were fewer in population and the time of day that the quake hit.
We arrived at our couchsurfers house, Anna, Nick and Jorge. Anna reminded me of Miss Honey from Matilda. She was gorgeous, Laura Ashley & Kath Kidson obsessed, and loves baking cupcakes and cooking in general and of course she was a primary school teacher! She was so lovely and amazing we had great fun! Nick, the cool guy of the house, studying law (v. intelligent) was really interesting to talk to. Jorge, now he was a completely different kettle of fish all together, Jack the lad, loud and proud, always up for a drink and a joke, and earthquake obsessed in a hilarious way.
We really enjoyed staying with these great hosts. Many aftershocks we shared together and eventually the chimney started to tilt away from the roof! It was a scarey way to finish NZ but we loved it and without hesitation would go back again.
We had to fly to Auckland one final time before leaving NZ and stay there for 6 nights. We stayed with a couchsurfer called Olivia for the first 4 nights and celebrated her birthday which was awesome. We then stayed with a Belgian couple called Dell and Fred. They were so lovely,we stayed for only one night but they were so welcoming, we can tell we will always stay in touch!
So.... that was NEW ZEALAND! Next stop...SOUTH EAST ASIAAAAAA!!!!! :)
Love Fay and Daniel