Rolled into Queenstown pretty late - getting in at about 5pm.
Was booked into the lakefront YHA. Queenstown is a charming little town - very chalet/aspen like!
Left pretty soon after checking in to meet my friends at their hostel in central Queenstown and we set about finding somewhere nice to eat. It didnt take too long to find a nice little pizzeria called "Cow" but whilst waiting for a table I bumped into some old friends from the previous coach and they joined us for a meal.
After eating we did a mini pub crawl (basically to find some life as Q-town doesnt come alive until after 11pm)
After hitting 3 or 4 places we finally found the party in Winnies celebrating Oktober fest.
Got home at about 3am a little worse for wear and then had to get up again at about 7am to catch a bus out to Millford sound.
It was worth the hangover as this place has to be about the prettiest place I have ever seen. Seriously it was out of this world - check the pics!. The trip was a full day and included a 2 hr cruise in the fjord itself. Millford sound is a herritage site and boast over 400 different types of trees.
Back home at about 8pm and a nice steak fro dinner then an early night.
Wednesday was a bittersweet day. The group i was with wanted to do the millford trek however the booking meant having to be there 7 days for a 4 day trek (days I felt I just could not spare) so for a couple of my swiz friends this was the last day together.
Jenny and rachael had booked a bungy and dissapeared at midday day looking decidedly green about it. Chris and myself had booked River surfing. I didnt quite fully understand what this entailed. It is basically going through white water rafting - with the fricking raft! Just with a flimsy float type board. I have never edured something so unbelievably wreckless - and nearly drown 3 times through the 12km stretch. It was really exhausting - but afterwards we were treated to a lovely hottub with magnificant view (see pics again) and a BBQ!
After a tearful goodbye I headed on my own to Dunedin - but as with every end there is a new start and it brought with it a pleasant surprise. My Canadian friends who I thought long gone were infact on this new coach as well.
Dunedin is not a great place. It was founded by scottish settlers and literally means edinburgh in scottish. The story goes the settlers traveled from town to town but all the places were too warm for them until they found the freezing dunedin. So i guess it is true - the scotts love the miserable weather.
I checked in and immediately went out to lunch with Lyndsey and ashlyn. Lyndseys family are scottish originally so we went in search of haggis and found it in a delightful cafe in the railway station. Mine was a smoked beef hotch potch! Hmmmm!
After lunch I had to rush back to be picked up outside my hostel for a wildlife encounter tour.
They took us first up to a peninsula to view the only mainland connected breeding colony for the northern royal albatros. Up on the penninsula we had gale force winds of maybe 90km (ideal conditions for these big birds that rely on wind and not wing power to fly) We watched afew flying (they were magnificant - 3.5m wingspans!!)
After this we drove round to another peninsula off a farm to view a colony of fur seals (from about 5 m away). But for me the highlight of the trip - and perhaps one of the most incredible moments of my life) was walking onto a beach with 4 male sealions. We got within 3 m of these huge animals. The females have one beach and the males another. Apaprently the bigger males like to simulate mating with the younger males as practise and the 2 big males here were really displaying and yelling at each other warning them to keep away from their gay lovers! The younger males only desire was to check each other out and play!
There were a few time when we had to break and run for cover (these animals can run at 20k/h and love to chase things) so we had to be pretty sharp. I have got a great video and will upload it here to watch!
After the sealions we saw the rarest species of penguin in the world - the yellow stripe penguins. The are forest birds and the DoC here is carefully managing their breeding program to keep populations up. They actually share a beach with the sealions. These fascinating birds spend all day fishing then come home every night at dusk and climbe a very step hill to get to their mates who in their solitary nests are keeping eggs warm. Each male - EVERY DAY - presents a gift to the female (usually grass) and then kisses and sings to them. After this the female moves over and the males take their turn warming the eggs whilst the females go an hunt.
This day was spectacular and really reinforced my desire to work with animals in some function. Certainly not a day I want to forget.
Today we left Dunedin for lake Tekapo. A Gloriously turquiose lake (glacier melt off) surrounded by incredible hills. It is also the setting for 2 observatories (in conjunction with Nasa) to monitor the southern skies. On route we visited the world famours boulders on the beach ( a mystery to the NZ'ers) and also the chapel on the lake - a fav place to be married due to the spectacular backdrop)
Katia and me went for a hike around the lake and up to (1000M) the observatories. Got some great pics that I will upload soon.
After this we headed back to the hostel and met up with the rest of the crew for dinner and an evening in chatting.
Tomorrow we head for a halloween in christchurch and a fancy dress party! My costume all organised (the crow)!