Queenstown, 18th - 22nd August 2010
We got to Queenstown late Tuesday afternoon and Gemma was at the hostel to meet us. :) No-one else on the Magic bus was staying here and quite frankly for very good reason. It had been taken over by new owners and has changed its name from Resort Lodge to 'The Lab' - seriously did they think they were a bunch of mad scientists or something?
If you're ever thinking of coming to Queenstown, a word of advice - don't stay here.This was the worst hostel we had stayed in to date. It was laid out like a rabbit warren, was pretty dirty and the decor was beyond hideous. I'm talking carpet on walls, giant windows between rooms boarded up with pieces of wood, freezing cold rooms with 30 minute heaters, dirty and broken blinds, oh and a window with no curtain out into the hall way - nice.
We spent the first night chilling out in the kitchen. We cooked a spaghetti Bolognaise and drank the ice wine we had brought on the vineyard tour - lush.
I was still in a sorry state with the backs of my heels as they were constantly tearing which just kept making them worse. They were so painful Gemma offered to give me a piggy back to the Chemist so we could go get some bits to help sort them out and to make sure they didn't get infected. We set off in search of medication and on the way we happened to find an English sweet shop. :) We all walked out of there having spent a small fortune and were like a group of little kids with big smiles on our faces, with a big bag of sweets each. Also made it to the chemist and got some Compeed patches.Don't know if anyone's ever used these things, but they are an absolute god send.
Milford Sound, 19th August 2010
We got up really early for a day trip to Milford Sound which is home to mirror lakes, a Fjord and some pretty spectacular scenery.
Surprisingly the best part of this day was just after we set off. The sun rise looked like it looked like an orange, red and pink rainbow shining from behind the snow covered Alps. This was all reflected below in New Zealand's longest lake - Lake Wakatipu. It's 87km long and as I'm sure you can imagine this whole scene went on for as far as the eye could see.
After the sun had risen we all fell asleep for a couple of hours, until we started getting closer to Milford Sound. It's a mountainous region and the bus we were on had a glass observation roof so we could see the mountains all around.
On one of the stop offs we saw a native New Zealand bird called a kea. Kea's are huge brown birds with the undersides of their wings being red & green and this one was pretty cheeky. It tried to run off with a tourist's bag they had put on the floor and also tried to jump onto our bus.
Now the whole reason I wanted to go to Milford Sound was to see a world famous mirror lake which has a perfect reflection of the mountains and sky. Unfortunately the tide was out, and our bus schedule did not allow for us to wait until the tide was back in. I'll be honest and say I don't actually understand the definition of a mirror lake. We were originally told that it was a body of water that had no streams coming in or out of it, so was perfectly still, so I have no idea how it has all of sudden become tidal. Either way, I was bitterly disappointed that there was no reflection. Anyway we sped past this to make the 100 minute boat cruise down the Fjord. The Fjord was created over thousands of years by a glacier carving its way through the softer rock in the mountain and out into the sea. We sailed down the Fjord passing many a waterfall, tree covered & snow capped mountains and out into the big blue.
I may not sound ecstatic here, but if I'm honest this was actually a very disappointing day. I know I must sound like the most ungrateful biatch on the planet, but we had all paid $120 each for the trip and really there was no need to as this kind of scenery is abundant all over New Zealand. It just felt like a huge waste of time & money and bit of a pointless day when you can see this kind of scenery even popping down to the local shops.
Anyhow, when we got back we were all adamant we were going to go for a Burger in the World famous Fergburger. That was until a fish & chip shop was handing out free samples.What a wicked idea, and my oh my, absolutely delicious. We all ended up in the chippy which as it turns out is one of the best fish & chip shops I've ever been too. Our plates were a slimming clubs worst nightmare and were piled high with giant chips covered in curry sauce, a massive bit of battered fish, gherkins and a roll the size of a football. Eyes too big for belly? Definitely, but bloody gorgeous.
The World Bar
We rolled out of the Fish & Chip shop and headed off to the World Bar where they not only serve cocktails, but cocktails in teapots. JYou could tell the people who had just got there as they were pouring their cocktails into the shot glasses, whereas the people who'd been there a while had chucked the shot glasses and where drinking straight out of the teapots.We had a wicked night in here and drank as many half price tea pots as we could - you've gotta love a good cocktail happy hour. J
Bad, bad, bad day
I'll be honest and say other than drinking teapots I felt pretty down whilst we were in Queenstown. After wasting the money going to Milford Sound we were all pretty fed up. I think it was also a mixture of the cold weather, not having the right kind of clothes without replacing the entire backpack, the crap hostel, being bored all week and still being in a lot of pain with my heels (and having to walk around in feckin flip flops!) I know in the grand scheme of things this is of course not the end of the world and there a lot of people out there incredibly worse off than this, but I still felt pretty low. It's made even harder when you just want some creature comforts, but you don't even have a living room or bedroom you can chill out in as you're staying in a hostel. To top all this off I had a really bad day when Lloyds TSB decided to put a hold on my credit card. Without going into too much detail they accidently cancelled my direct debit which then made my payment late. I instructed NatWest to pay them which they managed to forget, resulting in me having no credit card. I realised this when my card was declined whilst trying to pay for a blood test. I then spent 1.5 hours (this is just trying to dial the number) trying to make a phone call from 4 pay phones. You would think making a phone call from a phone card would go something like this:
- Buy phone card
- Scratch number off back of card
- Dial number on card
- Enter pin number
- Enter number you wish to dial
Oh no - that would be far too easy.This is actually the order of events:
- Purchased phone card
- Scratched number of back of card
- First pay phone said 'Sorry I'm broken' - yes that is the actual message it displayed on the LED screen
- 2nd pay phone didn't work
- 3rd pay phone said enter card, although provided no diagram to show which way card needed to be entered
- Made approx 15 phone calls by dialling number, inserting card in every possible way and entering pin number, only for phone alarm (yep, the phones have an alarm) to start beeping and instructing me to put the phone down - seriously, do they think this is a Securicor van or something?!
- 4th pay phone cut off (Seriously, I mean how many pay phones do I have to track down to make a phone call?)
- Went back to shop.Cashier said 'well it doesn't work like that, you need to buy another card to make the first phone call before you can use the phone card'.Sorry I need to buy 2 phone cards to make 1 phone call? WTF?! Or I could just insert my credit card to pay for the first call. Oh that's right, the reason I'm trying to make this call is cos my Credit card DOESN'T BLOODY WORK!
- Got different number from supervisor to dial that doesn't require additional phone card.
- Dialled number, only to be told to enter my 7 or 10 digit number.What? I only have an 8 or 11 digit number! Oh for f*** sake, I'm losing the will to live.
- Go back to supermarket to ask for refund.Supermarket can't give refund. They say they're not the phone company so can't give refund or offer support. I said you're not Heinz either but I'm sure if I couldn't open a Heinz product you'd give me a refund on that wouldn't you.Blank looks from Supervisors.
- Supervisor gives me the phone card companies customer service number (time elapsed approx 1 hour)
- Called the phone card customer services and spoke to an bloke who clearly didn't care if he was there or not.He gave me different numbers to call as he said the cards with 8 or 11 numbers have to call different numbers. My response 'well don't you think it would be a good idea to put those numbers on the back of the card' His reply was simply 'yep'. Arrrrggghhhhhhh!
- Finally managed to call NatWest, on their premium rate 0845 number as they don't have an international dialling number.NatWest's message: "Sorry this service is undergoing maintenance and is temporarily unavailable, please call back later." OMFGG!
When I got back to the room Selena took one look at me and told me we were going to the pub for lunch. Good call hun.
The afternoon didn't prove to be much better as needed to get a Blood test done to check my Thyroid. I had to see a doctor (and pay them $90 for the privilege), in order for them to write me a prescription to have a $30 Blood test. Had the usual argument with the phlebotomist about taking the blood out of my hand instead of my arm (I can't stand needles, especially in my arms) I now just have to figure out how I'm going to send this to my hospital consultant back in the UK who let's face it is a complete techno phob, and doesn't seem to have heard of email let alone skype!Did I mention I absolutely hate needles :(
Bad day antidote = Selena, I & World Bar Happy Hour. We certainly got our money's worth and had a whole row of cocktail teapots lined up at the bar - good times!
Things starting to look up
We've now got bit of an action packed week. We decided to move our flight forward by one week and will now be leaving this frozen land behind for Sydney on Saturday 28th August. :) Before we do however, we will be going to Dunedin and Lake Tekapo for 1 night each, Methven for 4 night where we're going to go skiing for a couple of days, and then we're off to Christchurch to catch our flight.
So we're now in full 'Go, go Gadget' mode as we've got a lot to fit into this last week! :)