I’m sat in a hostel in Santiago, Chile enjoying a nice cold Brahma after looking over the whole of the city from the mountain and walking round old cobbled streets with Spanish like buildings. My first impression of South America is that I’m going to love it. The people are incredibly friendly, it’s 26 degrees with clear blue sky and I don’t feel too hot, it’s amazingly diverse and for someone who doesn’t really like cities I love Santiago. We went out last night to find some food...we found a little bar with the football on that did Empanadas for 800 pesos (£1) and decided to splash out! We ordered the smallest beer, one litre and shared it!! We planned to go back after at about 9pm but somehow we stumbled home at about 2am after the owner had bought us drinks and we’d watched Colo Colo thrash Santiago 4-2! The big plans for getting up at 8am today and sightseeing were changed slightly to leaving the hostel at 1pm and getting the funicular up to the Virgin Mary statue on the mountain and looking over the city...that cleared the hangover!
Tomorrow we head to Valparaiso, a port town which apparently really shows Chile’s culture. After that we head down to Puerto Montt for whale watching and then down to Torres del Paine...in the most remote place on earth, Patagonia. It’s about 45 hours there on the bus but it will be worth it. We’ll do a 3 day trek around Torres del Paine and then head back up through Argentina to the Moreno Glacier and Mendoza seeing as much of the Andes as possible.
Anyway, this blog was meant to be about New Zealand and the North Island in particular. New Zealand overall was amazing, it’s great for a holiday and you can do pretty much any outdoor activity here. The North Island was good but I can see why people say spend more time in the South. Wellington is a cool city but nothing to really go there for specifically. We then went north to Lake Taupo and Rotorua. I had a throat infection from Marlborough (south island) until Rotorua so maybe that has affected my opinion of the places a bit. Rotorua is the place to go for culture, you can find out all about the Mauri’s and also see loads of geothermal stuff like geysers, hot mud pools and hot springs. Unfortunately the hot mud pools made the whole town stink of sulphur! The geysers and mud pools are amazing; it’s hard to believe that there is that much heat coming out of the earth all the time.
We tried to do a trek at Torongario National Park across Mount Doom which was Mordoor in Lord of the Rings. It’s an active volcano and there are loads of hot lakes and other volcano related things but it rained constantly for 2 days so we drove about 600km north past Auckland to the Bay of Islands. There are about 100 islands in the area and some nice beaches but having been to Halong Bay in Vietnam and to some of Thailand’s islands it wasn’t quite as spectacular! We left the next day and headed back to Auckland. We drove up to Mt Edna to get a good view of the city and also wondered around for the day before getting our flight the next day.
New Zealand is a must go places, the scenery is incredible and the range of activities means if you’ve got the cash you can constantly go from an adrenaline experience to a hike through amazing scenery and then relax in the evening in a chilled out pub with a proper pint not the half measures they serve up in Australia! I’ve got a feeling I’ll forget how good New Zealand was and go on about how amazing South America is but I would definitely go back and it’s even a place I could live for a while. Anyway, I’ve finished my litre of Brahma and I’m heading out to find some food praying that I don’t end up crawling home at 2am again!