(The picture has nothing to do with this blog but I haven't uploaded mine yet and they made me pick one)
I am now on the South Island of New Zealand. For the last few days I've not really done much, just travelled lots and spent lots of time getting on and off the bus.
I left National Park on Monday, and headed for Wellington. When the bus arrived there we stopped at Mount Victoria for a view of the city. Didn't do much else in Wellington as I was only there for one night and I'm going back there on the way back up to Auckland, so i'll see it properly then.
The next day I was up early again to get a ferry over to the South Island. The bus picked us up at the ferry terminal in Picton and we headed across to Nelson, on the West coast. Not a great first impression of the south Island as it was raining all day on Tuesday, so me, Emma and Sophie (who I'm travelling with at the moment) just ended up staying in the hostel all afternoon.
On Wednesday the weather was much nicer, so we got to see some of Nelson. We went to the World of Wearable Art, which is a museum dedicated to clothes that have been made for fashion competitions as art. We then went to find the geographical centre of New Zealand, which (surprise, surprise) was up a 'moderate' hill! It was worth it though cos there were pretty good views of the coast and of Nelson from up there.
Thenext day we were back on the bus again, heading for Greymouth. Along the way we stopped a few times along the West Coast. The first stop was at Cape Foulwind, which has a nice little bay, and a seal colony. Later, we stopped at Punakaiki to see the pancake rocks. They are basically layered rocks that have been eroded by the sea. I can understand why they call them pancake rocks, but I personally wouldn't look at them and go 'Oooh it looks like a stack of pancakes!'. Greymouth itself wasn't very exciting.
Friday was the day I've been looking forward to most in my New Zealand trip. We were driving further down the West to Franz Josef, and I had my Heli-hike on Franz Josef Glacier booked for that afternoon. On the way to Franz Josef, we stopped in Hokitika where they make lots of jade jewellery, and Ross, a gold mining town. When we arrived in Franz Josef it was raining, so my heli-hike got cancelled! I was supposed to be doing it with four Irish girls that I met on the bus, and they had to change all their plans so that they could still do it. In a way I was kind of glad because I didn't want to do it in the rain and it turned out forthe best, because we rescheduled it for Saturday, and when I woke up on Saturday morning there were clear blue skies. By the time we were due to go up onto the glacier, the sky had clouded over a little, but the top part we were flying up to was still sunny. The helicopter ride was brilliant - like doing a scenic flight, cos the pilot took us up to higher parts of the glacier that it isn't safe to walk on. We then landed a bit further down and started our 'hike'. It was really much of a hike, with only a few bits of climbing, but we walked around on the glacier for a couple of hours. It was easier to walk than I expected as we had crampons (spikes) on our boots and the top layer of the ice was quite soft, like snow. It was beautiful up there, in the middle of the mountains, surrounded by what looked like snow and blue ice. The best part of the trip was a small cave that we took it in turns to get inside and slide down. We got soaked, but it was really good fun! On the way down in the helicopter, we could see the glacial river and the west coast. It's weird to think that the coast is so close to Franz Josef, which is a tiny little town surrounded by mountains and rainforest. It's like a little ski town, except there's no snow on the ground.
Moving on again tomorrow, to a place called Wanaka, another town based around a lake.