Ok here I go, this blog is going to be long. We spent 18 days in NZ, driving around in a Toyota Hiace Campervan. We´d like to say we have seen alot of NZ. We did see alot but we didnt spend much time in each place because in reality 18 Days in this beautiful country is just not enough.
We started off by flying from Melbourne International airport to Wellington Airport. This was a bit of a mistake because Wellington is right in the middle of NZ and ideally we wanted to start at one end and travel upto the other. So when we reached Wellington, we jumped upon a connecting flight to Christchurch, which is the major city in the south island. It was here that we picked up our wagon!
Following on from picking up our camper we drove to the nearest campsite in Christchurch, Plugged in our van and jumped on the bus heading for Christchurch! Christchurch is suppose to be the most British place outside of British. It has a large church in the middle of a big public square. This square is surrounded by cafes, hotels and restaurants. It was really picturesque. Christchurch has the nickname of the garden city and you could see why. There was parks everywhere and greenary all over the place. Everything about this city was beautiful apart from the weather.
The following day we decided to move on from Christchurch and head for Lake Tekapo. With Sarah in the driving seat I was abit apprehensive however, to our surprise she drove really well for around 150KMs. We then swapped drivers and continued driving until we reached Lake Tekapo. From Lake Tekapo you can see a load of snow capped mountains and again this proved to be a really picturesque place. We decided to move on from here and head to Omaru, a further 200Km´s. On the way we stopped at the lookout for Mt. Cook which was entirely covered by cloud :(. At Omaru, there are apparently penguin colonies but these penguins proved elusive.
Next stop was Dunedin, apparently Scotland abroad... We parked up here and there wasn´t too much to see other than shops and a load of students who were protesting to make cannabis legal. Not very ecxciting to be honest and nothing on Christchurch. Following this we moved onto the Otago Peninsula with the promise of seeing an Albatross and yet again, Penguins. However, we didn´t see either. We left dissapointed and drove to Alexandra, 2 hours away.
After leaving the worst campsite ever, we drove to New Zealand´s adreneline capital. Queenstown. This was a nice little town, about the size of Leicester. However, it had a mountainous backdrop and a bright blue lake right next to it. Maybe a little prettier. We then booked onto to do a 15,000ft skydive... In 2 days time we would be jumping out of a plane. A little broke we opted to drive to Te Anau, halfway to Milford Sound.
Up early, we drove to Milford Sound. The southern hemispheres recently awarded most beautiful tourist attraction. As you can imagine it was pretty amazing. There was waterfalls 100m high. Seals swimming around, and yes there were dolphins who swam with our boat. It was a really good trip if a little out of the way (5 hours from Queenstown). We then left and again stayed at Te Anau.
From leaving Te Anau we headed to Queenstown to do our skydive. We had to be there at 10.00am and Queenstown was a 2 hour drive away, so we were up nice and early. We then proceeded to thrash the campervan to make sure we got there on time. We did make it in time and 20 minutes later we jumped out of a plane at 15,000ft, falling at 200km/h or terminal velocity. It felt like we were flying more than falling. On completeing this, full of adreneline we spent the day wandering around Queenstown before driving across the mountains to Wanaka.
From Wanaka we spent the day driving to the Fox Glacier. It took around 7 hours. We then booked onto do a glacier hike the next day, then we slept.
It rained all night, properly hammered it down all night. So anything but enthusiastic we got up and walked the short distance to the place were we got kitted out for the day. in this short time we got absoloutly soaked, oh what fun today was going to be! From arriving at the centre where we got all of equipment, including ice spikes, woolen gloves and soaks, boots that leaked and a coat which wasn´t too waterproof. We then continued to climb this glacier in horizontal rain. We got to see some really cool blue ice caves, we climbed through one. However, after 7 hours of hiking and thoroughly wet it became slightly tedious, we then started out glorious decent. We got back to the van and slept, very well!
Our next day wasn´t too exciting. We drove from Franz Josef glacier to Greymouth and then from Greymouth to Christchurch as there really isn´t much in Greymouth. Basically a day of driving, with little to see.
The next morning we wandered through Christchurch a little more thoroughly than before, we discoverd a load of old buildings which had alot of character and style. Christchurch was my favourite city of the trip so far. In the afternoon we headed to The Antarctic Centre. At the Antarctic centre you could do a variety of different stuff. We encouted an Arctic storm, saw some penguins get fed and tried on all the clothes they wear in Antarctica. At night we went to the cinema and then slept soundly as there wasn´t the sound of rain pounding the camper.
Today we had another glorious experience in the waiting, We were going to swim with dolphins! Sarah was especially excited. We drove from Christchurch to Kiakora and met up with rest of our group at 1.00pm. They suited us up with full wetsuits including hoods and loaded us onto the boat. Then the drove us into the bay where there were roughly 1000 dolphins swimming around! We then simply had to jump in the water and swim with them. They were really playful and came up really closer. The experience was completely different to what we expected. The water was absoloutly freezing and we were glad we had full wetsuits. Chuffed we drove upto Blenheim.
From Blenheim we drove upto Picton to catch the interisland ferry to Wellington. Picton was beautiful, full of yachts the sun was shining it was a really idealistic location. We then boarded the ferry which took 3 hours and felt like a lifetime as there was nothing to do.
From arriving in Wellington, we simply found a campsite and set down for the night.
Wellington turned out to have not much to offer. We went to the museum which was a good crack, lots of interactive stuff. and then wandered around Wellington. It was just a big dirty city to be honest so we left around 2PM and drove to Rotarua. We eventually got there about 9PM but we were absoloutly knackered.
Our first day in Rotarua was alot of fun, at first we wandered the streets and tried to get over that eggy smell which was created from the thermal pools. We also bought a package deal for Rotarua which enabled us to go to a cultural center, a thermal spa and go up the mountain in the gondula. On the first day we decided to go up the gondala, sarah was really excited as it was her first time in one. Once at the top we did a couple of luges down a track and we then headed down again. This time sarah had less enthusiam than before. We went to the thermal pools late that night and chilled out in these naturally heated pools which was most relaxing! We then retired to the campervan.
The next day we arrived at the cultural centre to learn the Moari traditions. It was alot of fun. I ended up on stage doing a Haka, whereas Sarah did the womens equivalent. We then saw a Geyser erupt and some bubbeling mud pools. Also we saw a Kiwi. We then drove to Waitomo to do our black water rafting! We spent the nigt sleeping on a farm.<
We started out caving trip nice and early and we were again donned in full wetsuits. We then abseiled down 100m into a cave. From here we explored the cave and the glow worms in pitch black. It was freezing but alot of fun. We spent around 4 hours underground and departed the cave through climbing up two waterfalls. It was alot of fun. Following this we headed to Auckland.
For the next two days we wandered the streets of Auckland, watched a rugby match, shopped a little. Auckland isn´t too nice but is nicer than Wellington. Following this we departed for Santiago, albeit 12 hours late!