Friday's fun-filled frolics!!
Right! Time for the South Island installment! After our skydive in Taupo we bombed it down to catch the ferry across to the South Island. Our first real stop was the Abel Tasman national park where we embarked on a two day trek along the beautiful coastline. Unfortunately for us it rained solidly from the moment we started walking to the moment we reached our camp 8 hours later! Needless to say, everything we had (and I mean everything!) was completely soaked. So we slept in slightly damp sleeping bags and put on our cold, wet clothes the next morning. Nice. We laugh about it now. The views were still pretty amazing and fortunately the second day brought a bit of sunshine so we could dry off a bit! We got to see some seals along the coast too which was awesome. By the time we had finished the trek we were pretty knackered, suffering with blisters and still damp but we still really enjoyed the views (and the exercise!) From Abel Tasman we started driving down the west coast towards glacier land! We reached the town of Franz Josef a couple of nights later (and picked up a couple of German hitchhikers on the way). We immediately booked ourselves onto a full day glacier trek up the Franz Josef glacier. Woke up pretty excited on the day of our trek and soon found out that we had a Brad Pitt lookalike for a guide - I knew then that this was going to be a fab day! We had a great time hiking on the glacier and squeezing ourselves through small ice corridors. Such a cool experience (haha!) We then traveled with a couple of Irish girls we met to Fiordland, or more specifically to the well-known Milford Sound where we took a boat trip out to the Tasman sea and soaked in the amazing scenery of the Sound. Waterfalls cascading everywhere, seals on the rocks and even better....a school of bottle-nosed dolphins that swam alongside the boat for a while! From there Dave and I decided that we should get active again and do another trek. We started along the Routeburn trail the next day; this is meant to be a 3-4 day hike. We did it in just over a day which, instead of being an impressive show of our physical fitness, actually turned out to be pretty silly as we were completely dead by the end of it! We were supposed to hike back the same way to pick up the campervan but we just couldn't face it! So we hitched a lift to Queenstown (about 2 hours away) for hot showers and a comfy hostel bed instead. I then volunteered to get a bus back to the van at 7am and pick it up. Again, the scenery on the trail was stunning and it didn't rain this time!! From Milford to the trendy bars of Queenstown for a couple of days where Dave did the Nevis highwire bungy jump (134 metres high) - way too scary for me... We also hired a couple of kayaks and spent a day on the Wakatipu lake in Queenstown which was ace. From Queenstown we drove to Okaroa on the east coast - a small French town that sits in the crater of an extinct volcano. It's really pretty but no French speakers left so we couldn't get any practice! Here we did what is on a par with the skydive as one of my favourite parts of our entire trip in NZ - we went swimming with dolphins!! I can't explain how amazing it was, I could've stayed in the sea all day! They were what's called Hector's dolphins - so they're smaller than the bottle nose and they have a rounded top fin which makes them unique. They were absolutely awesome! We had to sing through our snorkels to attract them and then when they came closer you could swim alongside 2 or 3 of them until they swam away and some more came along. We were lucky because quite a few came and swam around us so we got to stay in the water a while. Absolutely INCREDIBLE! Now we're in Christchurch which we've yet to properly explore. We've got a few days here and have tickets to a Super 14s rugby match before we leave for Australia on Sunday. It's meant to be a big game - one of Oz's best teams (Brumbies) against one of NZ's (Crusaders). We have to give back our van too - I've actually really enjoyed living in it for the last month (although having showers and finding public toilets to use has been a bit of a pain!) Well, I think I'll leave it at that for New Zealand! It's been an amazing month of all sorts of activities and absolutely stunning scenery! Fab, fab, fab! Till next time (Oz!!!)......I hope you're all well! xxx