Well it's been a while since my last blog but here's New Zealand...
I'll start by talking about people as I realise I haven't mentioned anyone in any of my previous blogs spanning a period of 4 months! Crazy given the amount of people I have met, however by far and away the best group of people I've met so far was in New Zealand. I travelled for 5 weeks on the Kiwi Experience - a backpacker bus that travelled the length of both main islands. I was a bit aprehensive as I was doing it on my own but that all went away after a few days. I ended up travelling with 7 people for almost the entirity of my trip - Joe, Kat, Justin, Rachel, Chris, Jenny and Maria and it was so much fun.
My first stop was Auckland, a city I was not impressed by or taken with at all. It has a really nice setting surrounded by so many harbours and boats but it has not used this to it's full advantage, clustering itself with concrete buildings of no interest at all. I was releived to move on and up to the Bay of Islands, a truely beautiful place. I managed to get right up to Cape Reinga (the northernmost tip of NZ) where I went sandboarding amonst other things. From there it was all south, passing through Mercury Bay, Rotorua, Waitomo to Taupo. In Taupo I went skydiving. It was incredible, so much fun. I jumped from 15,000 ft and was freefalling for over 60seconds before the parachute was pulled. It was such a great feeling to do something I'd been looking forward to since I got to NZ. The rush was just amazing. Only Maria and Jenny from 'the group' didn't jump which made it a good night out afterwards! The following day I did a 17km walk which lasted 7 hours - the Tongario Crossing. Part of the walk was where some of LOTR was filmed which was pretty cool, and the scenery was just great. Wellington was the final north island stop and a city I liked. It has a great free museum and nice gardens and waterfront amongst other things. I got a good vibe from it, a huge improvement on Auckland.
Now to the south island, and my personal favourite of the two. The West Coast from Nelson to Wanaka was spectacular. So rugged and so few people it was unreal. Only 30,000 people life on the West Coast! We had a great night out in Mahinapua (an old west coast pub) and on Franz Josef glacier I did a day walk which was great fun. Once past the mountains we got to Wanaka and then Queenstown, my two favourite places in NZ I think. Both are set by lakes, although ******a is much smaller but has an amazing cinema - 30 seats all of which are couches, an intermission and cookies at half time! Good fun. Queenstown was possibly even prettier and better. We had some good nights out and I enjoyed walkiing around the town and going up a mountain on a gondola to get some great views of the town and the mountains surrounding it on all sides. From Queenstown I headed further south to Dunedin, the Catlins Coast (the southermost I have ever been), to Invercargill (the worst place in NZ by far, includuing Auckland), to Te Anau and into Milford Sound. Milford Sound is just spectacular. Such incredible scenery - pics to follow I promise so I can say no more! Back to Queenstown I went and back to do a bungy jump. I had never planned on doing one until Joe talked me into it. We did the highest one we could - the 134m Nevis highwire bungy. Basically you jump our of a gondola suspended between two mountains over a river. It was 8.5 secs of freefall and was pretty scary right up until I jumped. From that point it was just unreal, probably better than the skydive! Such a great rush, indescrible.
And so I left Queenstown and got to Christchurch, my final destination in NZ. It's a nice city with not a lot going on so a good place to relax after a go, go, go 5 weeks. I'm back to Sydney on Thursday, going to Canberra for a few days before heading off up the east coast hoping to bump into my NZ mates, Dougie again and Craig, a friend from home.
Now, I'll leave you with some statistics that helps to make NZ the best place on my trip so far;
4 million people.
3 million in the North Island.
1 million in Auckland.
1 million in the South Island.
40 million sheep!!! haha