.....Taking it easy in NZ
Ouch, am yet again soooo behind with this blog business, mainly due to the recent hardcore Stray bussing which has involved a series of 8am departures, long drives and remote stopovers - where the internet is either non-existent or bloody pricey. But that's been the North Island, first will quickly try and fill in the rest of my South Island fun in as brief a manner as poss (yeah right).
So from Wanaka to Queenstown, partaaae capital of the South Island, nice Wanaka type feel, (right on a lake, mountains in the background, breathtaking panorama... yawn yawn!) only much busier and more full of holidaying Aussies and Japenese, and young travellers out on the piss. In fact so many young'uns out and about that everyone gets ID'd in an American stylee, even moi! This mountain air must be doing wonders...
But to cut a long tale short, Els and I only stayed two nights and one day to start off with, mainly cos the weather was awful - too rainy to ski or to do much else. I'd been planning to go out and visit the Fjordlands from Queenstown anyway and then head back, so we made a beeline for a place called Te Anau where day trips run out to the majestic Milford Sound - the biggest fjord this side of...? Well it's big anyway.
Stayed two nights here in a fabby, cosy YHA and had a very wet and rainy boat trip out on the Sound which was still beautiful cos it's very atmospheric with all the clouds and mist swirling around and the rain makes for brill waterfalls cascading down the seacliffs (which are very high and mighty indeed - the photos don't do it justice).
Even the drive out to the Sound was just stunning, it's one of the most scenic drives in the country and the most remote, it was only made driveable 50 years ago which is quite random, I thought. It was a tad scary when the Stray driver nearly put us down a ditch after getting stuck in the snow, but we got out of it in one piece, am sure the chaps who dug out the road in the first place went through worse.
Our second day in Te Anau was less hair-raising, still lashing it down and grey so we just about managed to walk to the bird park and check out some native breeds then stocked up on sweets, treats and booze and spent an epic seven hours hogging the sofas in front of the fire catching up on our journals and playing board games.
This girls night in was partly in aid of mine and Ellie's last night together however, as she's on a slightly different route to me and the next day I went back to Queenstown and she ventured further south. Was not too much of a traumatic parting however, cos we'll meet up in Auckland before I leave the country.
Was a terrific struggle trying to find accom in Q'town cos it's the school hols and start of the ski season and absolutely all budget places were booked up. Thankfully the YHA in Te Anau managed to get me a bed in the YHA over there though, so that was cool, even though I had to move dorms part way through. But not before I'd met some super girls in my first room; and so started a really fab three day stay here. Had lovely dinners and drinks out (have been drinking lots of mulled wine to keep warm which is rather novel in July) and another good days skiing which I did by myself and was really pleased to have done cos I got talking to loads of people and it was still really good fun, there's even a 'singles' queue for the chairlift (very apt).
My instructor this time was from Warrington - fancy that? And I also shared the bus ride home (hitching's not the norm in Q'town) with an Aussie guy who played with Leeds Utd in the late 90's and lived in Horsforth, also very random.
And to keep the northern connections coming, on my last night out on the town me and my gang of now six dorm buddies got talking, and eventually clubbing, with some guys, two of whom had been to Hudds Uni and had loved it so much they stayed to work there after... They raved (ahem) about the nightlife scene and knew club and bar owners and were going on about all these big all-nighters which they would get me on the guest list for when we got back..... so, so funny.
I've ended up hanging around this bit of NZ rather longer than planned so have decided to stay an extra week in the country to fit everything in (getting round the North Island was starting to look like a push) which, for anyone who is at all bothered, means I'm now jetting off to South America on July 23rd.
But the plan ahead of this is to finish the North Island Stray tour, stay a weekend with the distant rellies in Whakatane and then stay a few days with Ellie in Auckland, where she will by then have started her au pair job (and what with me being so good with kids and all that I'm sure it will be a real boost to have me there and point her in the right direction).
Report from North Island coming next.... Laters dudes x