In New Zealand now, great to back in civilisation for a while especially after staying in the worst hostel in the world on our last night in South America!
Arrived in Auckland after a long 13 hour flight from Santiago. Stayed with James Dalglish and Rose for a few days, James is a friend from home who's been out here for 7 years now. Had a ball, was
really nice to catch up and get a taste of real Kiwi life! New Zealand's great, the people are so friendly and laid back and the pace of life is much more relaxed.
We've got a car here so travelling's much easier, no huge long bus journeys and don't need to jigsaw puzzle pack our bags every morning which is a joy! Think you'd struggle to get around on public
transport here though, or you'd certainly miss out on loads of sights, even the drives are good, the scenery'sstunning.
From Auckland, headed up to the Bay of Islands in the North of the north island. Beautiful coves and beaches but unfortunately it rained the whole time we were there so we headed off after a
couple of days. Visited the Waitangi Treaty house though which was pretty interesting, the place where the Maoris signed over their country to the English in the 1800's.
Made our way down the west coast, stopping off to see the largest Kauri trees in New Zealand, they're over 2000 years old, then spent a few days in the Coromandel area, again gorgeous beaches but
not great weather so unfortunately couldn't really enjoy them. Hot Water beach was really good though, there's volcanic springs underneath the beach, so at low tide you can dig a hole in the sand and
have your own spa pool, the water that comes up from under the sand is boiling, burns your skin, we were pretty grateful for the freezing waves!
Then headed over to Waitomo Caves, a huge network of underground caves full of glow worms. Andrew persuaded me that it'd be a great idea to do caving trip so after about 10 minutes training we
were abseiling down a 40metre rope, free hanging, through a tiny gap in the ground into a cave! Andrew was fine (Mr Mountaineer!), but I whimpered the entire way down, pretty scary when you're not
into heights, just don't look down! Once we were in the cave they attached us to a Flying Fox (like an army death slide thing) and we were pushed off a cliff into pitch darkness, fantastic, what a
buzz! We floated down the underground river through caves of glow worms and then climbed out again up through waterfalls, really good fun.
Doing loads of outdoory stuff here,hiked across a volcano a couple of days later, the Tongariro crossing which is a pretty famous hike (or tramp as they call it here) in New Zealand. Amazing
scenery, bright turquoise pools and red and black craters. We both felt it though after 8 hours of pretty hard walking, we climbed 700metres altitude in the first 3 hours so treated ourselves to a
motel that night where we could chill outand watch movies (sounds strange but it's a luxury, you don't often get rooms with your own TV in the hostels!).
Spent a night in Wellington before catching the ferry over to the South Island on Sunday. Had a night out on the town there which was pretty cool but for the capital city there's not that much
going on there, it's pretty small, only 300,000 people.
In Christchurch now, spending a few days with Adam and Heather and their two boys (Adam's a friend of Andrew's from home). They've been here a couple of years now and live about 30 seconds away
from a huge surfing beach. The weather picked up a bit over the last couple of days so we spent a bit of time there yesterday, attempting to go in the sea without being crushed by the surf waves!
Christchurch has a nice city centre, a bit prettier than the ones we've seen so far, New Zealand's more about the countryside than the towns really.
Leaving tomorrow to go to Mount Cook, hopefully we'll get chance to use our tent (bought a bargain tent on our last day in Chile thinking we'd do a bit of camping here), but haven't managed to
camp yet! Then it's down to Queenstown for Christmas, will be really strange to be here at Christmas time and barbecue instead of turkey and the trimmings but we'll be thinking of you all in the
Hope you all have a great Christmas.