Right, and so to continue with what I had already half started last week...
So I'd just told you about my bungy jump and I was going on to tell you about Milford Sound when I realised that there was probably almost smoke coming out of my computer from so much typing so decided to give it a break.
We had the option to do a day trip from Queenstown to a place called Milford Sound which is on the east coast of the south island. It will probably be the furthest south I ever go. So I dutifully didn't go out the night before and got on the bus at 8am for a 5 hour journey to Milford Sound.
Milford Sound (pictured on the photo cover for this blog entry) is actually a big lake type thing, and "sound" is the word for a kind of lake. In actual fact though, Milford Sound has been incorrectly named. A sound is a glacial lake which has been flooded out by the sea, and there is actually only one of those in NZ - at the top of the south island: called Marlborough sounds, we came through it on the ferry from the north island. Milford sound is actually a fiord - it reaches the sea but the entrance to the fiord is relatively shallow so there is not a great deal of interaction going on between the two. We went for a cruise on the fiord and it was absolutely beautiful. It felt a bit like being at the beginning of Jurrasic Park. After that we visited an underwater observatory. Although it's not that far underwater, it mimics a deep sea environment. The reason for this is that fresh water runs down the granite mountains into the fiord and floats on top of the salt water. Because fresh water is denser than salt water it blocks out a lot of the light, and this means that deep sea fish can survive down there. They were really beautiful and I will put up some of the pictures, although they didn't turn out too well because the glass was so thick. It's made me want to go scuba diving which I might do in Thailand. Milford Sound gets a lot of bad weather - when the rain falls it is so heavy that if it were to happen in a town it would create disaster. It rains in the sound two out of every three days but luckily we had a nice clear day.
Our driver was really good and told us some interesting things on the journey. There are two types of possoms in NZ - round ones and flat ones (i.e. ones that have been squashed by a car). Possoms were introduced to NZ in the 1850s by Australians and have caused a lot of problems, threatening extinction to several plants in the country. They eat about 7 million tonnes of vegetation per year - there are 75 million possoms and if you laid them head to tail from the tip of the north island to the bottom of the south island, you could do it 26 times over! they are trying to kill the possoms by mixing posion with cinnamon and dropping it out of helicpoters but they are afraid it will get into streams and posion livestock, or even into our water supply and poison us! This is why New Zealanders are so enthusiastic about running over possoms.
I spent a very enjoyable few days in Queenstown and was sad to leave. At first I hung around with people off my bus and we went out every night (I felt pretty rough at the end of this binge) but then I went to stay with my friend Naoimie who I met in the Cook Islands. This was really good to do - having my own room with a double bed and the most fantastic view, as well as all her home cooking, was amazing! It was weird for days of the week to have a significance (i.e. weekends are days off and weedays are work days). She has 3 kids all under ten and it made me thoroughly admire mothers because it is such hard work and she has the patience of a saint. I had a great time playing with the kids though, especially 3 year old Anais, who is a charmer. We made pink playdough when I babysat her one evening, and I spent plenty of time making up stories about toy rabbits, toy fairies, toy dolls, and toy "ephalants" as well. Shannon (Naoimie's husband) and Naoimie have bought a plot of land in Queenstown and are building a house. Because he works full time it's a lot of extra work - I don't know how there are enough hours in the day, but I think it must be cool to be able to design and build your own house.
My best photos are of Queenstown, it was absolutely stunning and so hard to leave. Some of them have come out a bit dodgy though because of my broken camera. I have now bought a new one which I thoroughly resented spending money on but it is absolutely amazing - about 2 models newer than my broken one and actually only 140 quid because they are about to bring out a new one. It is loads easier to use and has lots of great features so I'm actually pretty happy with it. Another souvenier I have acquired is a Kiwi Experience driver's shirt which says "Road crew" on it - you can't buy these in the shops. Before you ask, I didn't do anything dodgy to get it, I just made friends with our driver (the transexual whose make up I did at the poo pub) and begged him so much he eventually gave in and gave me the shirt. Score.
I am now in Christchurch, garden city of NZ and the biggest town on the south island, with a population of just over 360,000. A lot of English people originally settled here and it is based on an English town - most streets are named after English places. My hostel is on Manchester street (which is also the red light district!). There is a river Avon which people go punting on, and a cathedral. I even saw a girl playing the bagpipes yesterday but she was wearing shorts and a t shirt. Christchurch is built on a bog and it's so low that the spire of the cathedral is below sea level. One in every three plots of land is devoted to parkland and I spent a lot of yesterday relaxing in the massive and beautiful botanical gardens, which are not too crowded, and really make you forget you're in a city!
Tomorrow I fly back to Auckland and do a little bit more of the north before leaving NZ, so I will write again before I go. I am going to put the pictures up in a couple of hours because the net cafe I'm in is really slow and I need to go somewhere else to do it, but it will get done tonight I promise!
Keep writing on my wall and let me know what you've been doing, I love the entertainment xxxxx