Last blog post for New Zealand -
Wanaka is a small town next to a giant lake surrounded by mountains, (like most towns in NZ!) and was probably one of the most beautiful places we visited. It looked like a postcard - we got so many nice photos here (the one with Ed and the dog by the leaning tree in the lake was my favourite). The hostel we stayed at had a balcony over looking the lake so we got to enjoy our breakfast with probably the best view in NZ :)
We mainly chilled here and walked half way around the lake (it was really big). We also got to know two nice girls from the UK who gave us lots of tips on Australia as they had already been - up until this point i didnt want to leave NZ but they assured me that Oz was as amazing!
We also went to a place called Puzzleworld. It's a place full of illusions and mind bending sights including one of the hardest mazes in NZ (we didnt finish this!). We stayed in a 6 man dorm in Wanaka and due to some people checking out and new people checking in, we ended up with an all Dutch room and me and ED. I had an early night whilst Ed stayed up and was hammered at several different dutch card games until gone midnight.
Party capital of New Zealand. Cheap drinks, ice bars and drinking on the beach by the lake!
We spent 5 days here which is the longest time we had anywhere on our trip so far and were so glad we did! It strikes a great ballance between being a big lively town with plenty to do and a scenic lakefront town with quiet spots and great scenery.
Top 5 things we did in Queenstown
1 - hiked up the mountain which took us about an hour and a half to get the best view of the town and the Remarkables (mountains).
2 - at the top of the mountain was an activity called luging. Luging is basically go karting except instead of an engine, it relies on the downward slope of the mountain to generate speed. The luging kart is comprised of 4 wheels no bigger than those found on a supermarket trolley, with a small seat on it which looks exactly like a baking tray! Then there is a set of handlebars at the front, the default position of them is down which drops the front of the kart to the ground (kind of like an anchor on a boat), when these handlebars are lifted up, the kart begins to roll down the hill. When we watched a few people first it didnt look that fast, but once we started doing it we realised that you can go as fast or as slow as you wanted. We went with a friend of ours called Ruben and the 3 of us went down the luging track 5 times. The track has several twists and turns and several times, my kart was on 2 wheels as i hurtled round the corners, there is also drops and bumps in the track. Ruben was a natural and made mincemeat of me and Alex at this but the battle for 2nd was a closer affair. Because the wheels are so small you really feel every bump you go over and despite a few near crashes, we made it down safely every time, which was good considering we had previously met a girl who came off going round a corner and had taken all the skin of her leg!
3 - Food Crawl
Due to the fact that food and drinks were quite cheap in Queenstown, on one of the days we somehow went to Subway, Mcdonalds and Dominos (we also had a complimentary breakfast and dinner from the hostel that day) - i'm not sure we know how we managed that either......
We also enjoyed the famous fergburger that everyone had raved about!
4 - nights out
As mentioned above, the drinks in Queenstown were rediculously cheap in comparison to the rest of New Zealand which was a nice change of pace. We went out on 2 big nights out whilst we were in Queenstown and although the bars were really fun and we had made quite a few friends there to make the evenings enjoyable, the clubs struggled and werent so good after midnight so we didnt stay out to late. (However, those of you that know us well will know that it is very rare that me and Alex are in a sober state at midnight) so these nights were still really good even if they ended earlier than we normally do!
5 - Chill in the Hostel - Nomads
This is a strange entry into the top 5 but we were staying in the best hostel in New Zealand and the second best hostel in Australasia. There was a Sauna, a common room with a real log fire and tons of leather sofas, pool table, table football table and a cinema room! This is the perfect environment when we were having nights out and to add to all this above, a lot of people who we had met earlier on the bus down through New Zealand were also spending longer in Queenstown so it kind of worked as a big reunion of all our travel friends which was good.
So Tekapo is a nice little village next to a Lake....
It is a tiny place with hardly anything there other than a beautfiul lake and surroundings. We stayed in a small retreat filled with Log cabins. It was very nice indeed. There are 2 problems with the lakefront in Tekapo, the lake is freezing cold and the wind is very strong there which makes a mean combination when trying to swim and sunbathe. we were there for 2 days and the first day we just chilled and had a few drinks with Ruben as it was the last time we would see him and also ended up playing cards with a couple of Brazilian girls.
The 2nd day was awful with wind and rain. We stayed in almost all day but it cleared for the evening and we had managed to find out about a deal at a local hot spring/spa. We got a shuttle there as it was free even through you could see it from the hostel reception and the shuttle driver couldnt believe we had requested this as it probably took him longer to drive over than it would have for us to walk! We headed there in the evening with 2 friends we had made in Takepo called Sarah and Andy. We stayed in the heated pools all evening (they were just as lovely as the hot springs in Roturua). We ended up staying there until 9pm where we happened to be sat in the hot pools when the full moon was eclipsed on the horizon - an amazing sight!
Our last stop in NZ was Christchurch. As you probably know the city was hit by an earthquake in 2011 and is still recovering. It clearly once was a very nice city and there are still a few nice bars, shops and restaurants. However, most of it looks like a building site and it clearly has whole parts of the city missing altogether!
They have started the rebuilding process but clearly the damage was so vast that it will take some time until its back to where it used to be, the bus driver estimated at another 20 years. Since the earthquake, alot of the buildings have had to be completely torn down and demolished so that it is safe to start rebuilding again and that is part of the reason for the lack of progress.
There were still a few standout places/sights in Christchurch.
1 - Shopping precent made out of metal shipping containers has made the centre of the city feel less empty.
2 - The cardboard cathedral. - You did read that right. This cathedral in christchurch was destroyed when the quake hit and they have managed to build a makeshift cathedral out of industrial strength cardboard with a corrogated metal roof to cover it. There are still regular services here and is a very moving sight to see.
3 - 185 empty white chairs. These are just opposite the cathedral outside and there is a single empty chair to represent every person that lost their life in the quake! What makes this even more sad is that assides the cathedral and the chairs, there is nothing for almost a whole block in any direction which just highlights the damage and devastation that hit christchurch!
It's a very unique experience and well worth seeing, however after visiting the rest of New Zealand and being amazed by the wondeful sights - Christchurch was a sad place to end our trip on.
Love Alex & Ed xxx