Milford Sound 8th Feb
Wasn't best weather but saw loads of mountains going down into the sea. Took a cruise around that went under the waterfalls and saw sea lions and seals. Met some cocky American boys who were pretty funny joking about getting the dvd- pretty funny as the weather was so rubbish. I can imagine the place is amazing on a great day, but the problem is it's the wettest place in NZ with 285 rainy days a year on average. 7mm of rainfall just when we were there! We spent the majority of the cruise inside and its sad to say the highlight was probably the free sandwiches, which went in a record time of 5 seconds from the time they were placed on the table. I might have to steal my friends pics who went the day before when it was clear blue sky and amazing views.
Te Anau 9th Feb
Nothing here really but got my own single room!! This is the first time I have had my own space since I left Cairns- so over 5 months! (normally we all stay in big dorm rooms with 4-16 ppl! in bunk beds!) You have never seen a bunch of more excited people EVER! We all locked ourselves in our rooms and just sat there reading books or watching films. It was bliss- potentially better than Christmas!
Invercargill 10th Feb
In the middle of nowhere, they bring us here for people going on ferry to stewart island, but it was just too much money and the majority weren't going. All my money went on jumping out of a plane in QT. So there really is nothing here, although the hostels pretty cool the internet area looks like a rainforest. That's why im sitting here writing this and making a few further travel plans for WA. Dunedin next- staying there for a few days- nearly the end of my trip i really don't want to leave NZ and not looking forward to prospect of working- but looking forward to Perth and seeing Sarah my german bunk bed friend I spent two months with in Melbourne.
Dunedin 11th-13th Feb
Leaving Invergargill the weather wasn't great, raining a fair bit so the bus driver (trouble) decided to make an executive decision to miss out some of the coastal route, get to Dunedin early so we had time to get to the cadburys chocolate factory, which I was kindof annoyed about as I would rather see the coast in the rain than not atall! But it worked out ok in the end because the part we did see of the coast was awesome as we got to see penguins in the wild on the beach. You are meant to stay 10metres away but we went closer.. whoops. There were two together and they were so cool- got some great pics. I think this is the first time I have really seen them in the wild. We then got to Dunedin later in the day and did the chocolate factory, we ate so much chocolate we all felt sick but it was pretty good. Sian and I had decided not to stay in the accom stray provided as we wanted to stay for 3 nights (longer than the recommended 1 night) so the bus driver said he would take us, but he would have to take a smaller van as the hill is so steep (great start!).
On the way there, he told how much of a dump the hostel we were going to was (Elm Lodge). Bearing in mind I have never stayed anywhere the whole time i have been travelling that I think is too bad to stay in, we were still a little anxious thinking we might have made the wrong decision. But boy were we happy to prove him wrong!! When we got there the dutch reception lady was so nice showed us around- where to get free tea.coffee and hot choc! They had free dominos pizza night before, and free wine most nights! The place was like a few cute little houses put together and we had single beds in a little roof attic, it was really sweet, if I was 10 again I would have thought this was the coolest den ever! And it was only $20- probs one of the best hostels ive stayed in! The only downside was the hill we had to climb up after a night out. Anyway that night we went out to meet our other friends from the bus for a glass of wine and a dance. Was nice to see them all and we had to say goodbye to some of the people we had travelled with for a while who were carrying on, on the bus. The dutch girls: Patrice, Rosanne, Lizzy L.
On our hike back to Elm Lodge, Sian reckoned she knew a short cut back to the hostel.. but we ended up getting lost as it was a residential area and all the streets and houses seemed to look the same (and all up hill!). We ended up stopping a police car and he was really nice and radioed through to all his police pals and found the address on GPS and took us home! Arriving back at the hostel in a police car on the first night didn't look particularly great, but turned out we were really close, just on the road on the other side of the block. Ha was pretty funny- restores my faith in police!
Next day I just had a nice day by myself walking around the city- went to see a really old railway, and stood by the track, I could imagine what it would have been like in the olden days, with those really old brown shabby suitcases and mothers in old fashioned dresses holding kids by the hands (I think have a good imagination- I wish I could draw it!!). Also, went up the worlds steepest street (and im not even exaggerating- there is a signpost to prove it!) see pics on FB soon. Went to a few second hand shops and boutiques and found some cool stuff, then walked through the botanical gardens- loved the south African garden with exotic plants. Then walked through the university campus and saw loads of students which made me feel really old. A sign outside a bar said 'exam deal, bring front of your exam paper in and you get cheap drinks!' don't think we would see that in England where plagiarism rules etc would never allow us to take any of the exam out of the room!
It seemed like a cool cheap and cheerful town with some nice old buildings and the main area is called the octagon where there are loads of cute bars, and irish pubs, all playing live music at night and young students everywhere. Would be a nice place to study I reckon! That night we chilled in with some free hostel wine (a bottle each!!) and took advantage of the free internet.
Next day Sian and I went into town and there was a great big market on with street music and loads of cheap bargains. Great atmosphere. We spent majority of time doing that, and then went to the free art gallery - where there was a painting of the old railway almost exactly what I had imagined when I visited it the day before, with the lady and the old shabby suitcases- which was remarkable! I had even told sian about it before and she couldn't believe it either!
That night we went for the best Jitsu asian meal ever, and met up with Danielle and James to say a final good bye, had some drinks and danced to some great live music.
Mount Cook 13th Feb
Following day, woke up very early to get the bus- again not the best weather,we had the funniest driver called Oscar he has the BEST accent- kindof very strong kiwi mixed with cockney- completely ridiculous. We made it to mount cook but couldn't see much due to bad vis and rain, so we all sat in and watched films in the tv room all avo. Was nice to hang out together, the following morning it had cleared up quite a lot and you could see most of the mountain and the glacier.. the views were spectacular! The snowy peaks and the long stretch of flat land before it looked something like a mix between the Australian outback and a ski field combined! It didn't make any sense but I really loved it.
The bus ride towards Christchurch, I found quite sad..it was very nearly the end of the trip and I would have to say goodbye to everyone soon. We have planned to have a meal together tonight before I go off to Kaikoura tomorrow.
That avo, I basically power walked around the whole city as I knew I only had a few hours either side of Kaikoura to see it. I bought a couple of cheap as souvenirs, saw the botanical gardens and some people playing bagpipes, the main square with the cathedral- there was some flower show on so there were loads of hedges shaped like animals and random flowers everywhere. The whole city seemed pretty cool for first impressions, quite a bit of character, there was some cool graffiti and all the buildings were quite old. The city had recently been hit by an earthquake 3 months ago, and a year before that, and it was quite obvious as there was scaffolding everywhere and your could even see some of the cracks in the walls- it was 7 on the Richter scale- which is really high. The reason the city gets hit so hard is because it is below sea level and has been built up on sludgy mud, so when an earthquake hits the foundations of the houses move a great deal. No one was killed luckily, but some of the backpacker hostels were hit quite hard (including my favourite place Base ha).
After my power walk I met the girls (Sian, Emily, Hannah) and we found a cheap Indian restaurant which turned out to have AMAZING curries ($13.50)! And as it was valentines we had a nice romantic candle and rose. The indian guy on the next table had just proposed to his girlfriend…classy. And there was a guy who we thought had been stitched up on val day. We then got some icecream that tasted a bit dodgy and had a fly in it. We reckon could potentially have been in the freezer through both earthquakes…and powecuts! But Im writing this the next day and not ill so far ! That night we watched hairspray on my laptop.
Kaikoura 15th 16th Feb 11 (Meal of Crayfish)
So apparently there was an earthquake last night, but was only point 3 on the richter scale so I slept right through it! Didn't feel a thing- sort of wished I had felt something!
Anyway got on the bus with Oscar as bus driver again- and surprisingly knew most of the people on the bus from previous parts of the trip- I thought most people would stay in Christchurch for a few days. Weather was amazing today, bright sunny, clear skies! So happy because I wanted to do the fishing trip that day. The trip was really quick and got to Kaikoura (Maori name meaning 'meal of Crayfish') mid day and stayed in the Adelphi- old hostel, but pretty homely and friendly.
Got ready and got picked up by the fishing guy in his van. Oscar had joked about the guy having only one leg and no fingers..well I thought he was joking, but it turns out he spoke the truth. Funny guy with prosthetic leg and hardly any fingers (I wondered whether the crayfish had taken them..?)Anyway there were three english boys from the bus- Sam, Anthony and Nick from Kingston who came on the trip with me, and also a random older couple. We got on this tiny fishing boat and went out to the rocks to see the seals on the rocks, there were so many sunbathing and swimming, we then saw some little penguins swimming near the boat and then hundreds of dolphins were jumping around the boat- it was awesome- like all the sea creatures were all putting on a show for us And the water was so blue and such clear skies- it was paradise!
We then pulled up a crayfish pot. It took ages as the water was so deep- there is a trough in the bottom of the sea that goes really really deep where all the fish swim through in shoals all the way to Tonga, and back again (A bit like finding nemo- when the turtles swim through). That's why Kaikoura has all kinds of whales, sharks and millions of fish all year round. There were about 12 huge orange crayfish flipping around and going crazy- they look just like lobsters but don't have as big pincers. The boat guys measured them all and threw a few lucky ones back who were too small. We then went further out, saw lots more dolphins jumping around the boat. We put our rods over the side, using fish bait. Again we had to let our lines out really far right to the bottom. Literally the second it was down there I could feel the fish biting which is always a big thrill. I managed to catch two bright orange sea perch on the same line within minutes! It took longer to reel them in, than it did it hook them! In total I managed to catch about 8 I think, and caught two on the same line, twice! Once the fish were out the water, the one leg, fingerless man held the fish down, and just cut fillets straight off its body whilst it was still flipping around! It was mental, there was like a fish head and skeleton still jumping around!! He seemed to think it was just its nerves making it do that, but I wasn't so sure. I guess you know the fish is fresh when it is still jumping around on your plate! (I thought that was just a saying!) He also told us that if we see a shark following the fish when we pulled up the line, to keep the fish in the water, as we could then catch the shark aswell and it would feed them for weeks. This was exciting! I actually think it would be the highlight of my life to catch a shark! I was determined to catch sharky for dinner (the boys thought I was batty).. but no such luck.
Anyway after a few hours we headed back with a huge bucket of fish, so many that we had to throw some back as there is no way we could eat it all. The guys just gave us the van keys and told us to drive it back to their house, to go in help ourselves to a tea and use their kayaks if we wanted to. Chill out make ourselves feel at home and they would be back later to give us some wine and cook the fish! This was so random, but so nice of them. Just an example of how laid back Kiwis are. Later, they gave prepared some of the fish raw with lemon, soy sauce and wasabi- we had our very own super fresh sushi dishes.. and it was the best raw fish I had tasted- amazing texture. He gave us loads of wine, and cooked the crayfish. Told us how he is really good mates with Euan Macgregor and how he always comes out fishing with them and he chills at their house!
We went back home, very satisfied with our bag of fish, and cooked crayfish to look forward to. When we got back, all our mates from the bus were so desperate to try some of the crayfish, so we gave them the spare one we had- and we had named them all, there was Cornelius, Fred and Dennis-and the little one was Oscar! There was so much meat on them I couldn't believe it- it was sweeter than lobster, perhaps not quite as tasty but still really nice. We then fried the fish with some veg- and that was incredible!
That night, I said goodbye to everyone in a bit of a drunken haze and swopped some FB contacts with a really funny French girl and some Dutch girls as they were all getting up early to catch the stray bus northbound.
Next day, I did a bit of a walk along the sea front and had a look around the town- was a really cute fishing seaside town. Really beautiful, I wished I could stay for a few more days, but I had to get the public Intercity bus back southbound to Christchurch for my flight.
Just before I got on the bus, I was walking along happy as larry, not looking where I was going, I walked past some barriers without even realising it.. and walked on wet concrete!! My flip flops (Jandals, thongs) got stuck and I nearly tripped up, flipped them off by accident, picked them up and had to run through the concrete to the other side.. leaving massive foot prints in it! I actually laugh at stupid people who leave foot prints in concrete.. but I guess at least I have left my mark in NZ! What an idiot! Sian and H dowg are doing the trip tomorrow.. so they said they would look out for them and take a pic for me!
That night went for my last Fush and chups (Kiwi pronunciation)with Sian and H dowg- amazing fish called elephant fish- it looks a bit like a shark in pictures. We then went back to the hostel and watched a film with tim tams (famous Aussie biscuits- bit like penguins but better). Had to say final goodbyes to Sian and Heather. I did the whole south island with sian so it was really sad, and I had met heather in the bay of islands .
I was sharing my room that night in City Oasis Motel with two mental german boys who were sharing a heated double bed (!) next to my bunk bed, sat chatting to me till late, I actually couldn't get them to shut up. They were pretty funny for a while but it got a bit exhausting.
Christchurch, Leaving New Zealand 17th Feb 11
Got rudely woken by the german boys shouting and trying to wake me up..argh! Finally got up and packed my bags- waiting for the shuttle had an interesting chat with the hostel manager about earthquakes- and how the noise sounds like a huge drill because all the walls are hitting eachother and the floor is moving over a foot when the 7 richter hit, and people from the hostel were outside in their underwear screaming when it hit. He also told me about his experiences when he worked in the mines in Perthand how a girl killed herself by hitting one of the digger trucks remote controls to drive straight into her! He also said how when someone dies in the mine, all the wages from the workers go to the deceased family for one day, as a mark of respect. They get paid something like $100 an hour sometimes- so this is quite a lot!
Later on I got the shuttle and im writing this on the plane to Brisbane where I have to stop over for 4 hours, before catching my flight to Perth. Its going to be a long journey. Although the views from the plane are amazing, you can see the mountains so clearly! Really going to miss NZ a lot, I am going to have to come back someday.
E noho rā New Zealand, Good bye New Zealand. I will be back!