After an extremely unenjoyable 7 o clock ferry across from one island to t'other, our first stop was in a town called Nelson, gateway to Abel Tasman National Park. On the way there we stopped off at Nelson Lakes, which are amazing reflective lakes and got some cheesy photos at the famous Lake Rotoiti. I only stayed for one night in Nelson, opting not to stop off for a couple of days of getting in touch with nature. We did however do a walk to the centre point of New Zealand, which has some pretty cool views and a plaque. i celebrate this feat by eating a carrot.
On next down the west coast to Westport, where there isnt very much to shout about. Its quite a nice town, um, i got a haircut... alright i really cant remember anything about westport at all. in the evening i learnt lots of new drinking games and we played one of them with a weird Canadian guy called paul. The following morning we stopped off, feeling less than 100% at a place called Cape Foulwind (hahahaha!) and a seal colony which was not a very good hangover cure before moving on to Lake Manihapua, a giant lake on the West Coast of the South Island. There is not a lot there really, except for a pub called the Poo Pub which features Les Lisle, New Zealands oldest (and probably most bearded) landlord. This forms the setting for a big Kiwi Experience con (cynical, moi?) where everyone stays at the pub, which is obviously run by the company for a big themed party. Our party was nothing if not original, with 'Beach Party' the theme. I did the only sensible thing i could think of and went as an extremely hideous Pamela Anderson, complete with red swimming costume, tissue paper, yellow tinsel and lots of dutch courage. I still can barely look at the photos. Worse still, a guy on our bus Craig went as Borat... (guess you have to have seen the film)From the big lake it was on to my favourite stop in New Zealand, Franz Josef, a small town in the Southern Alps. Franz Josef glacier is the fastest moving glacier in the world, it can advance up to 5 metres a day and is an incredible sight. While there i done a full day glacier hike which was absolutely amazing , exploring around the crevices and caves atop this great big glacier. It was quite a lot of effort and as the pictures show i wasnt quite able for the hike up at the start but it was really fun on top the glacier. Next up on my action packed two days in Franz Josef was a very early start for a 6am skydive the following morning. Because the place has such a ridiculous amount of rainfall this was the only time we could have skydived in our time there, but it was definitely worth the sacrifice. I had decided to skydive here, freefalling over the southern alps, which was one of the most expensive places to do it but the most amazing views, something i think i summise a little less articulately on the DVD! Jumping out of our tiny plane at 12,000 feet, we were level with Mt Cook, New Zealands highest mountian to one side, with Franz Josef and Fox glaciers to the other. It is without doubt one of my best experiences on my travels, not as much of an addrenalin rush as bungying but much more enjoyable and the views during the 45 second freefall and the 6 minute descent were out of this world. So the irish girls and i jumped back on the bus about 10 am, by this point feeling like we'd up for hours with great big grins to greet the rest of our weary, unimpressed travellers for the long drive south to Wanaka....