A Travellerspoint blog


We headed off from Queenstown to Wanaka, our second to last stop on the tour! For dinner tonight we went to an infamous Mexican restaurant. Lauren decided she wanted to try the extra hot chilli sauce which came in three little bottles, each one spicier than the last. The hottest one really was extra hot, she definitely didn't need a whole teaspoonful in one fajita! Alex's reaction was even better though, the tears running down his cheeks prompted the waiter to bring him a glass of milk, which he finished in about 20 seconds, along with all of the jugs of water from the table! The next morning we were booked in yet again to skydive. Things were finally looking up when we opened up the curtains to a perfect blue sky, and when the skydive company arrived to pick us up they assured us that we would definitely be skydiving today. Without a doubt the skydive was the most amazing thing we've done in New Zealand! The 60 second freefall was incredible and we had the most amazing view of the Southern Alps and could even see Mount Cook. We all got victory t-shirts which we wore proudly for the rest of the day as we started the loooonnnnnngggg drive to Franz Josef glacier. The weather was brilliant so we stopped at lots of scenic points on the way across to the west coast. Si said that the bar in Franz Josef would look after us and he didn't lie. They picked us up in a hummer limo and drove us around the town (even better considering that the bar is 2mins walk from the hostel!). Then we all got a free shot and 2 for 1 drinks all night, as well as a free pool, table and an Xbox kinect to entertain us all night. The next morning we were signed up for a quad biking trip with an epic view of the glacier. The quad bikes were huge we got to go over a lot of different terrain, including through rivers and rainforest. Lauren prayed hard that the old guide might have a heart attack so we could go a bit faster! Not quite as adrenaline filled as the last few days but a good scenic drive. The weather is still amazing so we're sat outside in the sun with a beer, looking forward to our last night with the group.

Posted by New_Zealand 20:33 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Lake Tekapo and Queenstown Take One!

We arrived to our nice log cabin with an open fire in Lake Tekapo just before sunset and the views were amazing. Our after dinner entertainment turned out pretty cold for the boys - lesson learnt: girls are much better at strip poke, especially when there's a risk of being shut outside in sub-zero temperatures! We went for a nice night walk up a forest track to get a good view of the stars. Unfortunately by the time we got to the top the clouds pretty much ruined the view but we enjoyed out stroll back along the beach to the hostel as the snowflakes started to fall. By the time we woke up the snow had got pretty heavy so we set off on the way to Queenstown with fingers crossed that all the roads would be open and passable. Luckily Kiwis are a lot better at clearing the roads than Brits and we had a pretty good run through. The Aussies on our tour were also very excited by their first sight of snow.

Lauren had been complaining that she wanted more adrenaline so Si surprised us by booking our Canyon Swing for the afternoon we arrived in Queenstown. The Canyon Swing basically involves jumping off a 109m cliff into a canyon in one of various styles of escalating scariness, free falling 80m and then swinging through the canyon. Ash started off by "flying off backwards with style" in his own words, and then did an upside down jump where the guys hang you upside down over the canyon and then let you go. Lauren and Kate both did a forwards jump and the upside down jump. We all agreed it was the scariest thing so far, but definitely the most fun! The swing workers have one of the best jobs in Queenstown as they spend the whole day winding up the jumpers and trying to freak them out. We went for dinner in the famous Fergburger and Ash attractively ate the biggest burger they sold! The next day we explored Queenstown a bit (after yet another cancelled skydive) and then took the gondola up the mountain to go luging at the top which was great fun! Lauren would like to add she won! That night we went on a great free bar crawl, the first bar gave us free pizza, beer and shots. Stupidly they left the bottle of black sambuca next to Ash! Some of our tour group won some luge prizes which they gave to us for when we return to Queenstown, Carla won hers playing killer pool and Alex won by stripping in the ice bar (which we got free entry to!). Lauren and Kate made it back to Buffalo, the original starting bar, but Ash went missing! Luckily, thanks to his beacon red coat, one of the older ladies on our tour found him wandering the streets in the opposite direction to the hostel and walked him home! Queenstown is definitely a great place for a night out, none of us even bought a single drink!

Posted by New_Zealand 19:41 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Hello South Island!

It was an early start to make sure we managed to get on the 7am ferry. They warned us that the bad weather was going to make it a rough crossing and they certainly didn't lie! Lauren spent most of the journey with head in hands eating ice cubes! As soon as we stepped foot on the South Island we knew it had been worth it, the views were incredible and the weather cleared up to give us a lovely sunny day. We drove through the Marlborough region, which is famous for its wine, and we managed to stop at a huge vineyard, called Yealands, where we learnt about wine making in the area and got a free wine tasting. As it was such a nice day we drove down to the coast for some epic views and got some good photos. Next we drove on to Kaikura. There's a huge population of New Zealand fur seals in this area and we stopped by the roadside to see some of the colonies. Then we went for a surprise walk up a stream to a waterfall. The pool at the bottom of the waterfall had an amazing treat - the baby seals use it to practice their swimming and learn their social skills, so we got up really close to watch them swimming and jumping around. Even with the rocky ferry journey it was a really brilliant day, and we were all excited to see what the rest of the South Island has to offer.

Kaikura sits on a big peninsula, so this morning we got up and walked along the coastline. With the snowy mountains on one side and the ocean on the other the views were breathtaking. The weather was finally on our side, so by the end we were all down to our t-shirts! We passed by another seal colony, some of the seals were even basking in the sunshine on the boardwalk! Then it was back in the bus to drive to Christchurch. We stayed in Haka lodge, which was a welcome homely break from all the big hostels, with comfy sofas and comfier beds. We decided to stay I and cook dinner, and when everyone else heard they all wanted on the bandwagon too! Lauren, Carla and Kate cooked Singapore noodles for 10 people - we've never seen such a big pot of noodles before! Dinner was very tasty and everyone was very impressed with Lauren's skills! Then we all sat down on the giant sofas to watch The Hangover 3 and drink the wine we'd got from the vineyard! Lauren and Kate seem to be a magnet for medics as they got chatting to a Cambridge medical student who was staying at the lodge while he was on his elective in New Zealand. A nice relaxing evening to recharge the batteries before Lake Tekapo.

The next morning we had a quick tour round Christchurch to have a look at the rebuild following the 2011/12 earthquakes. We went down to the beach which was beautiful on such a nice day, but overall Christchurch resembles a huge construction site. The container mall is quite cool, but there didn't seem to be much else going on in the city centre so we soon got back on the road to Lake Tekapo.

Posted by New_Zealand 15:08 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)


On the drive to Wellington we stopped on route to get a picture of Mount Doom, and at Mokai Gravity Canyon, which is essentially a grown up playground in a huge canyon. The three of us did the flying fox joined together, which is a giant zip line which sends you flying head first through the canyon at 160kph. It was good fun but turned out to be a bit tame, a good warm-up for more adrenaline later in the trip! The Gravity Canyon workers seemed to be on kiwi time so we didn't make it to Wellington until around 9pm. It was Aileen and Alex's last night so we went out for dinner to a Thai restaurant. Lauren says she had the best soup of her life, a Vietnamese rare beef pho. Wellington is our favourite big city so far, it's lively but without being overly busy like Auckland. We headed to a bar planning to have a few drinks and an early night but after a few jugs of sangria the shots came rolling in and eventually we headed to a bar with good music and a decent dance floor. Arrived back at the hostel after 4 and had a well-deserved rest after being up since 6!

Our night out didn't stop us from getting up fairly early to check out Te Papa, New Zealand's national museum. We learnt lots about Maori culture and saw war canoes and ancient meeting houses. Definitely the coolest museum we've ever been to. At midday we all met back up and went for a tour of Wellington, including a sea-view brunch in the pouring rain. We went to Weta Studios Cave, the studios which are responsible for the special effects in the Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Hunger Games, Avatar, King Kong and many more films. They let us in to a few secrets, like that they've just signed up to do two more Avatar films and 100 new Thunderbirds episodes. We had a chilled night in the hostel in preparation for an early ferry ride to the South Island the next morning.

Posted by New_Zealand 15:05 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Lake Taupo

The plan for this morning was skydiving over Lake Taupo, which looks more like a sea as it's the same size as Singapore. We were picked up by a white stretch limo and got all kitted out ready to go up in the plane but unfortunately it was postponed as there were no breaks in the clouds. Were due to be picked up again at 1 in the afternoon, which was pushed back till 3, so we played lots of card games in the hostel. At 3 the weather was still bad so the skydive was cancelled but as Si says, a bad day in New Zealand is still a great day anywhere else! Ended up playing minigolf with the rest of the skydivers from our tour which was a good laugh and Kate beat all the boys and the top score of the course. Went out for an Indian for dinner which was the first spicy food we'd had in days. Lauren and Kate impressed everyone by choosing the hot option and Ash predictably stuck with the mildest one! Got up at 6am the next day so we could do the skydive before leaving Taupo. Again, got picked up by the limo, headed down to the airfield, got decked out in the gear and ... didn't manage to go up in the plane. All in all very frustrating but we headed off on the long drive to Wellington.

Posted by New_Zealand 14:53 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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