Hello everyone, we're both writing the blog today...
It's been ages since we've updated the blog. It's harder and more expensive to get on the net out here... and to be honest we've been busy doing more fun stuff! So we've done quite allot since our last blog. We arrived in wellington and the weather was pretty bad so decided to check out the Te Papa museum which was free and pretty good, it was like a mini natural history museum for New Zealand. After having a wonder around Wellington we found a Nando's and a cinema so decided to treat ourselves. The next morning we got up really early to catch the ferry accross to Picton (south island) we were rushing as we were cutting it fine to make the check in time. When we got stuck in traffic leading to the ferry terminal, we though we weren't going to make it, but i got out and spoke to a worker (racist) near the dock and he said that Samoan's work on the boat and are never on time with anything and they are always late so we should be fine! Wasn't much of a reasurrance, but someone else told us that there had been problams with the ferry and it is just delayed. We drove on board then sat down to have some breaky. They gave me this weird sachet of tomato ketchup that i couldnt work out how to open and as i was trying to open it i accidently squirted it all over Hannah's face and brand new hoodie! She was covered in it, and the place was packed with people aswell so to say she was pissed off was a bit of an understatement! Other than that, it was a pretty cool trip to the south island, we even spotted a few dolphins on the way.
We got to Picton and decided to drive straight to Nelson which was a pretty awesome dirve over the mountains overlooking the sea. We stayed at the Almond House Backpackers which is the best hostel we'd been to on our travels. It felt like more of a hotel than a hostel. We ended up making friends with a couple of the staff and other guests over our stay. We booked a water taxi (boat) to the starting point of a walk in the Abel Tasman national park for the next day, but when we woke up the weather was awful but we'd paid $66 for the taxi so we went there in the pouring rain in my shorts and t-shirt and made up a lie that my walking gear had been stolen and they let me change it to the next day! We were happy when we woke up to sun and blue skies the next day. We did the walk which took about four hours, stopping off at little isolated beaches accross the way. That night we went to the beach at Nelson with 4 of the people we met at our backpackers to watch the sunset. Was freezing cold when the sun went down but we had a really good night. We really liked nelson and didn't want to leave, so we decided to drive up to Golden bay (north west of the south island) and then drive back down to Nelson to stay for the night before we move on.
In the morning we reluctantly drove onto Kaikoura on the east coast which is know for whale and dolphin watching but that was a bit out of our budget so we just explored the little town centre and got some fish and chips instead! We stayed at a place called the Lazy Shag (Shag is a bird common in NZ). Thought i better add that. We only stayed for one night as there wasn't much to do. We set off for Christchurch in the morning which is the city that got hit hard by an earthquake last year. We didn't really know what to expect from Christchurch and as soon as we got there we had problems finding the hostels in the guidebook as many of the roads had been closed or the hostels weren't open. All the motels and hostels that we could find didn't have any vacancies so we gave up and thought we'd drive on and sleep in the car if we have to. We headed towards Arthur's Pass which is a road that runs from the east to west coast through and over the mountains. We got to a little town called Springfield just before heading into the mountains and as the sun was setting we thought it would be better to stay there instead of driving in the dark. We stayed in the loft room of this hostel called smillies.
I'm taking over now, Grant has got bored....
The next day we drove to Hoki as a stopping gap, there wasn't much there. The drive over Arthur's Pass was awesome, we stopped at this lookout point over 'Death's Corner' and there were lots of Kea's everywhere scavanging for food, we managed to lure one with some rice crackers but they were much more interested in someone elses grapes!
We got to Hoki and stayed at the Mountain Jade Backpackers because it was cheap, and clean. The next day we drove to Franz Josef which we were both really looking forward to. The weather was so good and driving down the west coast was great, the views were fantastic. When we arrived at Franz Josef we booked in at the Gloworms hostel which was nice and had free soup (which was disgusting, but free none the less) We had booked to do the full day glacier hike, but when we got there in the morning there was a severe weather warning, and over 200ml of rain was forecast! Everyone was offered refunds or the choice to swap to the half day hike, which may end before the worst of the weather hit. Me and Grant (mostly me) being wimps and not liking the the idea of being wet and cold all day swapped to the half day. The guides laughed at us when we turned up in our cotton t-shirts, hoodies and toms! We had to borrow some merino wool fleeces, which keep you so warm! The hike was quite hard, we put on crampons on the ice which were weird to walk in, but you soon got used to. We hiked up the glacier, stopping at tunnels where there was blue ice (which basically has never seen sunlight so stays this unbelivable blue colour). When we returned we were soaked through and really cold! That night we treated ourself to dinner out at Monsoons, in the bar next to a roaring log fire, it was so nice! Then we went to the Glacier Hot Pools, which was included with the hike, the hot pools ranging from temperatures of 36 degrees to 40 degrees. was set among a rainforest enviroment out in the open, was so nice to relax for a few hours in the hot water, the water was fed from the glaciers.
We left Franz Josef and drove to Wanaka, the drive was pretty awful, the weather was crazy! Heavy rain and winds, we couldn't see hardly anything. We got to Wanaka and stayed at this lovely hostel called Wanaka Backpackers, we made sausage and mash and had a few beers on the table outside overlooking the lake. Next we headed to Dunedin, it was a bit of a shock after we had had so many nice hostels for quite cheap to find the hostels here were like creepy old dirty houses, and the price was quite a lot more. We didn't stay long, the only thing we did here was drive to the Otago Penisula to see the Royal Albatross colony that lives on the rocks.
From Dunedin we drove to the Catlins Coast, which was veryyy long and there wasn't a lot along the way of towns. Grant really enjoyed it, but I was quite bored of being in the car. He went to explore a very windy beach called Cannibal Bay (we think this may be where the Maori people ate a shipload of explorers in the 1800s) and came across a HUGE NZ Sea Lion. Pretty cool!
We drove for miles, and found a little hostel in the middle of nowhere to stay at. We went inside expecting to find people, but we had to ring the owner to let him know we were staying! It had a real log fire, so Grant got it started and we chilled out with some beers next to the fire, There was no tv etc we couldn't of been further from civilisation!
Next day we drove on to Invercargill, and decided to carry on to Te Anau as we were going to Milford Sound and there was only one road to access this by! Te Anau was nice, we stayed in this thing which looked like a shed in a holiday park haha. We went round this wildlife place and saw Kea's, Parakeets, Kakas etc. Oh and did a bit of sunbathing in our holiday park, as the weather was actually hot for the first time in ages. So we drove to Milford Sound the next day, just as we were leaving the town Grant got flashed by a undercover police car, we instantly realised we didn't know what speed we were doing. Turns out we were speeding and we got a ticket! 120 dollars!! What a joke, it was just before the 100 sign too.
So anyway we drove on to Milford Sounds, when we got out of the car we were instantly attacked by Sandfly, which we hadn't bought any repellent for. They are worse than mosquitos and they swarm you, plus there bite is so itchy!! So we got on the cruise around the Fiordland which was really cool. We saw Penguins and Seals, and waterfalls running over rock that Glaciers had carved out many years ago.
Then we drove from Milford Sounds to Queenstown! And here we are, on our final days together. We're off up the gondola today, jet boat tomorrow and maybe paragliding. Grant is leaving on the 3rd, but I have rebooked my flight so am staying til Christmas eve. Will be weird without him, we've had such an amazing journey together!
Love to you all.
Grant and Hannah xxxxxxx