We arrived at Picton got off the ferry and on another coach to make our way to Kaiteriteri. We were driving through the malbrough area, which is famous for its wine, so we had a wine tasting stop. We tried 4 different wines for give dollars, which was pretty good, we weren't too worried about how to taste it properly, just in drinking the glass. We also had some good cheese there and got some fudge! With a full belly we went on a short walk across a couple of beautiful sandy coves, hidden through a large cave opening.
We got to Kaiteriteri, and our hostel was right beside this beautiful little sandy beach, the weather was good and the water inviting, yet very cold to paddle in! We had some awesome fush and chups (fish and chips) and came second in the pub quiz, unfortunately sports was not our strongest round! The beach he was so beautiful, the water so still, and knowing that we had to leave tomorrow morning, as a room we decided to have an early night and go for a sunrise swim. Surprisingly enough we all dragged ourselves out of bed around 6 and as the us was risking had a quick dip in the water, took some nice photos and hurriedly run back and stood in the hot showers. Before leaving Kaiteriteri we walked up to the viewpoint at the end of the beach, and saw a little hidden house on the bay, soon to be my house I have decided!
En route to Westport, our next overnight stop, we had a long coastline walk past a seal colony and a lighthouse, it reminded me of an even more stunning Pembrokeshire, the way you could see all the folds in the rocks and the way the sea had made different islands and archways. The hostel was different to the ones we had stayed before it was like a big house with a lounge room with a fire, a cosy kitchen and hammocks in the garden. It felt more laid back and homely than the somewhat clinical feel of the base hostels before. There w not much to do on Westport, though the view of the mountains from the man street was beautiful, so we went for a BBQ on a nearby street. Everyone from the bus went and we all sat around the bonfire and had some food and drinks and was altogether a great atmosphere. After that we went to the local bar which became surprisingly lively for a small town, so much so our driver found it very storage,but it was a funny night, chatting and dancing.
We left the next morning with quite a few sore heads to make our way to lake Mahinapua, taking the scenic drive along the coastline we stopped for a walk on a coastal path to see the 'pancake rocks', they lived up to their name as the stripy towers of grey flattened rocks looked like a pile of pancakes. We also went onto beach where dolphins can often be seen from, it was a beautiful beach with bits of large driftwood on the white sand, but we could not see any dolphins that day. This evening we were told was a dress up 'p' themed party, we were taken to a charity shop to get costumes, myself, Lauren and Annar decided to dress as pensioners (being that it was easy to buy long skirts and blouses in the shop) and but talc in our hair, I also had a tea cup for added extras. We still had plenty of time before we needed to eat or get ready so we went for a walk down to the lake, it was through a little wooded path and the lake was very large and very still. The five if us walked out on to the jetty and chatted and sang, it was good fun. After we went back helped each other to get ready (sticking puzzle pieces onto Terese and drawing wrinkles on Annar's face) we went to the pus where everyone from the bus was to look at the costumes, some were hilarious, others quite controversial, all in all it was a fun night (I kept in character all night of course).
We were up early the next morning to make our ways to Franz Josef, a glacier hike was on the cards but was cancelled die to bad weather, so we were able to stop for a hangover breakfast instead. So far on our journey we had exceptional weather (for NZ anyway), the season being late spring, we had not had any rain, and mostly sunny warm days. Unfortunately our luck was due to run out, we had the next couple of days in Franz to do the glacier hike and the weather was so bad on all of the days that we were unable to do it. On the last morning we even all got suited and booted ready to go when they said the winds were too high for the helicopter to land safely, still it is an excuse to come back! So we spent the days in Franz sitting in nice coffee shops eating good food and using free wifi, and looking in the small shops there. It was a time to rest and recover from the hectic schedule we had been on so far. The day we left Franz was sunny but winds were to high, so we left onwards towards lake Wanaka, it was another beautiful drive full of stunning scenery, i was amazed how the further south we went the country got even more beautiful. We stopped for a walk around what they called mirror lakes, with the glacier in the background, it was stunning. Lake Wanaka is a holiday destination for kiwis so, with a huge lake perfect for all sorts of water sports and bars overlooking it, you could understand why. We went for a walk, ate some grub and went to the bar, were 'bus wars' was happening. There are a couple of bus tours that go around NZ, ours being kiwi, other were magic and stray, so there were a few challenges to determine whose was the best bus. I was a funny night all good fun, and as our bus won we would get free drinks tab at Queenstown which was pretty cool!
On our way to Queenstown we stopped at a quaint little place called Arrowtown, the high street hadn't changed much from when it was first built, there was an old sweet shop and caffe's. it was a lovely little place but as it was sat behind a group of mountains called the remarkable (I am not making that up) apparently they are in the shadow of them and subsequently never get sunlight during the winter! We settled into our hostel, which was amazing, the six of us shared our own dorm room and we had massive sliding doors onto our own balcony! Not long after that Terese and I set off for our canyon swing. At the office we signed our lives away and waited for the van to pick us up, as the canyon was a 45 minute drive away. Now Matt had warned me before that the guys who work there like to wind you up. Even in the coach the guy was saying how its less safe to do the swing in the afternoon, that there had been strange clicking sounds from the ropes and the sign post pointing out the nearest medical centre 7Km alway . I didn't really feel scared but we had decided to do 3 jumps each, as after your first jump its only 40 dollars per jump after that. The appeal about the canyon swing is that you can jump pretty much however you like, though they do have recommendations. Firstly Terese and I went tandem, suspended upside down they pulled the cord and we fell down 60m and then swung for 200m, it was so much fun the adrenaline rush was awesome and the swinging at the bottom gave a great view of the canyon. After that Lucy, another girl with us was going for the tip backwards on a chair option, it took her quite a long time to do it as the guys were winding her up and pulling the chair back, it was quite funny to watch. Next I went on my own, falling backwards, which was quite scary and I was proud that I had the guts to do it! I have videos which I'll show you at some point. My final jump was to run and leap off front ways, it was amazing to jump off the edge but really scary to feel a massive drop unlike the other two, but the swing at the end was enjoyable by this point! When we had all finished our jumps we went onto the computers to look at the videos etc which were funny and ingot a couple of photos. That evening we sampled Queenstown's nightlife with our free bar tab, the music was really good and we had a great night out. The next day we tried the famous Ferg burger, I had the falafel, firstly I could not believe the size of the thing, and it tasted so good, I also sampled the tofu with sautéed spicy peanut sauce before leaving Qt, which was even better, I miss the Ferg! Qt is a beautiful place on a massive lake, with the remarkable mountains overlooking the town, we went for a walk in a woodland like area and looked around the shops. It's a beautiful little town but not many kiwis live there, it's more built for tourists and most people working there are internationals, making it the adventure and party Capitol of NZ. On the third day Terese and I decided to take the bad boy Ben Nevis on. The biggest bungy in NZ at 134m it was pretty daunting. We were driven out to the cliff where the jump was, harnessed up and had to take a little cable cart out to the jumping point, I was jumping first so I was strapped up to the bungy, pretty nervously excited by this point, looked over the edge and jumped. From arriving on the jumping cart to falling in the air was so quick I did not even have time to consider that I couldn't do it. The fall was amazing, the first few seconds my brain had to realise what was happening, and panic but after that were a few seconds of bliss and enjoying the wind and my arms diving down towards the earth. By far the best thing I have ever done! The bounce was so much smoother than I had anticipated and fun, I was buzzing after I finished. Terese was a little more nervous, probably from watching me go, but after she finished we decided we want to do all the biggest jumps we possibly can (after research we have discovered that a couple of the largest ones are in Switzerland). We watched the videos and I bought mine! That evening we went to an Indian restaurant which had been recommended to us and had a great meal and said goodbye to Annar. We decided not to party that night as we were off to Milford Sounds early the next morning. It was a scenic but long coach drive right tithe bottom of the South Island to Milford sounds (which is actually a ford and not a sound) we then got on the boat and it was a little chilly and unclear but the clouds created a mystical at sphere. We saw penguins and seals and beautiful waterfalls. It was a long trip but beautiful and definitely worth it, the drive there is meant to be the most beautiful drive in the world, passing mountains, rivers, forests and waterfalls. Back at Qt we spent the last day chilling, going for walks and going out.
From 5 to four our last stop together was Christchurch, we arrived in the evening had a meal together at the cosy little hostel and Lauren left early the next morning. Now only myself and the two Swedes we went for a cycle ride in the city, it was hard to navigate as in the centre was the 'red zone' which were closed off road working on rebuilding the city after the earthquake. We found a funky cafe and read about lots of art projects and things going on in the city to build it back up again. We cycled to the massive park they have and went into the museum, after that we went to the shopping mall which was made out of temporary metal containers, you could see building that had been partly demolished. Late in the evening the Swedes left and I was on my own to catch the coach to Kaikora early the next morning. We had spent only 21 days or so travelling together but we had all become so close it felt like so much longer, but we have plans to maybe meet up together in Sweden next year!