Location: Tavewa, Fiji
We had booked a 7 night long island hopping tour with Awesome Adventures of the Yasawa Islands. A massive yellow boat took us 4 hours out to our first island, Tavewa. When we arrived we were shown to our accomodation, a traditional Fijian Bure. The only way we could describe this was as a little wendy house, no fan, no electric and no light. As the locals would live possibly. We had a great group and a great laugh for the 2 days we were here. The island had some great beaches including a place called the Blue Lagoon which was absolutly amazing. The water was crystal clear and the sand was white. Ro played a bit of volleyball with our fellow travellers and the locals. We also got to try some of the local drink, Kava. It looks like dirty dish water and doesnt taste much better but we had to try it. Although the accomodation was basic and food not that great the staff here were fantastic and made the stay here so much better.
Location: Nadi, Fiji
A 3 hour flight from NZ and we landed in Nadi, which is on the biggest of the Fijian islands, Vitu Levu. We spent a couple of nights here before imbarking on our island hopping tour.
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Back in Christchurch again as we fly to Fiji from here. Have a few days to kill but luckily the sun has been out so have relaxed by the pool at the hostel. We went to the NZ vs West Indies cricket one day international on saturday. We also took the bus out to a small french town outside Christchuch called Akaroa, a lovely little place to relax at. As the sun was shining we spent most of the day on the beach. As we write this, it is our last day in NZ. We cant understand where 8 weeks have gone....
Location: Kaikoura, New Zealand
Next up Kaikoura, on the east coast of the south island. The main reason visitors come here is the marine life. As we had already been on a dolphin trip we decided to sign up for some Whale Watching. When we arrived there was a warning of possible sea sickness due to the choppy conditions but we still decided to risk it. 10 minutes into the boat journey the conditions got even worse and the boat had to turn back. To be fair it was serious stuff out there, much worse than we had expected. After getting a full refund we signed up to do it early the following day. At 6am we phoned for a weather report and were advised conditions were similar to the previous day. At this time of the morning it took little persuation for us to cancel again and head back to bed! No whales for us.
Location: Hanmer Springs, New Zealand
From Authers Pass we travelled up to another small town, Hanmer Springs. The weather improved no end throughout the journey and by the time we arrived the sun was shining so we took a trip to the local rock pools and spa. There are about 10 different pools here of varying temperatures, similar to Rotarua but much nicer and with less of a smell!!
Location: Arthurs Pass, New Zealand
From Christchurch we hired a car for a few days and first port of call was Arthurs Pass, a beautiful town set in the mountains. The drive over was superb, the sun was shining and the scenery amazing. We had planned to do a walk that afternoon but Rohan was ill so we couldn't. The weather the next day was pretty poor so this ruled out the walk again. Although we didn't do that much here it was still worth the trip for the drive over alone.
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Last journey on the Magic bus took us to Christchurch, the biggest city in the south island and a very british sort of place. The city has a river called the Avon running through it and the street names are all british. Had a couple of days here, didn't do too much, got up at 5am to watch the Chelsea vs Colchester FA cup match. We stayed at a hostel called Charlie B's which wasn't all that great, it was made far worse by the smelly german we had in the room resulting in a change of rooms after the 1st night!!
Location: Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
From Dunedin we travelled north to Lake Tekapo. On the way through we stopped at a beach to see the Moeraki boulders. The next stop was at this beautiful lake, of which the name we dont recall. It was an amazing shade of blue lake with Mount Cook in the background, hopefully the photos we took can do it justice. The hostel in Tekapo was in a great location, right by the lake. On our first night the Magic driver organised a BBQ and we all sat outside stuffing our faces enjoying the sunset. Whist in Tekapo we did a two hour horse trek around the lake, it was a great way to see around the lake and some of the views were breathtaking. The horses behaved themselves fairly well but we both ached for a few days after!
Location: Dunedin, New Zealand
Next stop was the south islands second biggest city - Dunedin. Only 1 night here and we did nothing worth mentioning. Even the journey here was pretty boring with no photo stops.
Location: Milford Sound, New Zealand
We hired a car from Queenstown for a 2 day trip to Milford Sound. We shared the 5 hour drive so we were both able to enjoy the amazing scenery, stopping off at different viewpoints along the way. When we arrived we checked into the hostel and then took a drive down the road to the Sound. This place looked spectactular and were both really looking forward to our cruise on the sound the following day. We woke up the following morning, the weather was awful. It was very cloudy and very wet, a total contrast to yesterday's glorious sunshine. By the time we had boarded the boat the rain had stopped, but still looking very dull. The 2 hour cruise took us to many amazing waterfalls which were made even more spectacular due the recent rainfall. We also got to see some Fur Seals, it was good to see them in their natural habitat. It was definately worth the long journey to this beautiful place which is regarded by many people as the 8th Wonder of the World.
Location: Queenstown, New Zealand
From Wanaka we had a short journey to the adrenaline capital of NZ, if not the world - Queenstown. The list of activites that you can try out here is endless, not great on the bank account but you only live once! Top of Ro's list was a bungy jump, in fact he had planned to try out all 3 of Queenstowns Bungys, known as a Thrillogy. Jo had no intention of jumping but on the way in we drove past the 43 metre Kawarau Bridge, the worlds first commercial bungy site, and she said "It doenst look to bad, maybe I will try it!" When we got to town we signed up and were given the news that we would both be jumping from Kawarau Bridge that day!! Once we arrived we were weighted in and ready to go. Ro was first up, he shuffled to the edge and looked over, a wave goodbye and then he was gone, head first into the water, it was all over in a few seconds, a great buzz. 30 mins later and it was finally Jo's turn, the wait wasn't good for her nerves, neither was another girl having a panic attack and deciding not to jump! Eventually she jumped and admitted afterwards that she enjoyed it. 1 down and 2 to go for Ro. Next up the massive 134 metre Nevis Highwire. The whole experience scares you. The jump pod is suspended in a canyon which you have to take a cable car over to, as the cable car shakes and you look down your heart begins to beat like its going to come out of your chest. We got across and 3 people in our group of 12 chickened out, the nerves are shred to bits now. Jo, who was not jumping had turned a pale shade of white. Shit, I can't chicken out now. They shuffled me to the edge of the platform, 3-2-1 bungy, I didn't jump. This time a longer count, 5-4-3-2-1 Bungy and I went.... about 7 seconds freefall and within a couple of minutes I was back on the platform legs shaking. I cant tell you that I enjoyed it. Far too scary! Bungy number 3 was The Ledge which is situated 400m above the town. We took the cable car up to the top and the jump seemed a walk in the park compared to Nevis as its only 47 metres. As the elastic is tied around your waist on this one you are able to take a running jump which I did with no hesitation and enjoyed every minute! If the bungy jumps weren't enough we also tried some River Boarding (similar to white water rafting, but on a boogie board). We were given some basic instructions and then sent down the river, the first rapid was pretty fierce and Jo got dragged under and hit her knee, not a good start! We managed to negotiate the rest of the river ok and even survived a section called 'Maneater' with no real alarm. The final part of the day was probably the best bit as we got to ride on a rescue jetski, jump off some rocks, ride down a waterslide on the boogie board aswell as a giant swing. After all this our bodies ached for about 3 days! Our last activity in Queestown was the Shotover Jet. A wicked jetboat that rides through the Shotover Canyon going at about 100kmph and carrying out numerous 360 degree turns. Again another fun activity that we both enjoyed. We also went to a place called Minus 5 bar, literally a very cool place. Everything in the bar is made of ice, including the actual bar itself and the glasses. You can only stay in here 30 minutes due to the temperature. By the this time you are ready to leave anyway.
Location: Wanaka, New Zealand
A hectic journey on the Magic bus with loads of stop offs. First stop was Lake Matheson which is often called the mirror lake due to its clear reflcation of the Southern Alps and Mount Cook. Although we couldnt see Mount Cook due to the cloud, the reflections in the lake were really clear and amazing to see. Another stop worth mentioning was Lake Hawea, a huge lake surrounded by mountains, hard to descride in words how beautiful it is. We arrived at our hostel, The Purple Cow, mid afternoon and were very impressed, it looked out onto Lake Wanaka and was one of the best we had stayed in so far. We only had one full day here so decided to book up a Canyoning trip on the Niger Canyon which is in the Mount Aspiring National Park. There was us 2 and another english couple together with our guide. We got provided with a wetsuit and some second hand trainers. We then had to hike up to the top of the canyon, this was pretty hard in a crappy pair of dunlop trainers with no grip, mind you the guide walked up bare foot!! Once in the canyon we abseiled through waterfalls, slid down rocks and climbed and swam through some gorges. On a couple of occasions we could chose to jump rather than abseil which Ro did but everyone else bottled. It was great fun and one of the highlights of our trip so far. We have some pretty funny video clips and photos that we will put on the site shortly.
Location: Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand
Another early strart leaving Greymouth at 8am. On the way to Franz we had a stop at a tiny town called Ross which used to be a big gold mining town in the 1800's where we were shown how to pan for gold. A bit further down the road we stopped at the Bushmans Centre. This was a bit of a weird place, but sort of cool. They showed us a video on how they used to catch deer (they basically used to fly over them in a helicopter, jump out and wrestle them to the ground!!). There was also a massive pig and a couple of live possums. In the cafe they sold possum pie, but neither of us tried it! We arrived at Franz in the early afternoon. The attraction here is the amazing glacier, one of the only glaciers in the world to form in a sub tropical climate. The higher you can go up the glacier the better as the ice is more pure and the formations more spectacular. We decided that combining a helicpoter ride and a 2 hour hike on the glacier would be a great experience as neither of us had ever been in a helicopter or been on a glacier, you also get to go a lot higher up the glacier. Obviously to do this you need good weather otherwise the chopper cant fly . On 2 occasions our flight was cancelled so we had to stay another night but we eventually got do it and it was well worth the wait. We got kitted up in the boots, hats, gloves and thermal jackets before boarding the chopper. Jo got to sit in the front seat as she was the smallest there (lucky sod). The ride up to the glacier was fantastic with great views but was over in what felt like seconds. Once on the ice we strapped on our crampons and were guided around. We saw some some cool ice caves and formations aswell as loads of blue ice. It wasnt as cold as we were expecting and didn't need the hats or gloves. The 2 hours flew by and before we knew it we were heading back down on the helicopter. What an amazing experience!
Location: Greymouth, New Zealand
Wild West Coast
Today we left Nelson and headed for Greymouth, which was a very long journey, leaving at 8am and arriving at 5pm. Along the way we stopped off at a seal colony and the Punakaiki Rocks. The scenery here was a complete contrast to what we were used to from the last few days. The coastline was rugged, the sea choppy, sand black and sky dark. When we arrived in Greymouth it felt like being back home, with the dark clouds and drizzle. Our one night here was pretty uneventful being such a small place and with not much to do.
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
New Zealands Sunshine Capital
A short trip on the Magic Bus took us to Nelson, which has the most hours of sunshine in NZ. In view of this we chose a hostel with a swimming pool. The sun shone brightly for the 5 days we were here and much of the time was spent by the pool, although we did venture out to the nearby Abel Tasman National Park on one day. Yet more walking was needed, but again it was worthwile as some of the beaches there are amazing, both agreeing that they are on a par if not better than some in Thailand. The sand was a superb golden colour and the water crystal clear with very little waves. The walk was pretty tough in the blazing sun so it was nice to stop off for a refreshing swim in the sea.
Location: Picton, New Zealand
After crossing the Cook Straight our first stop in the South Island was Picton, in the heart of the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. For some reason not many people choose to stay here, but as we have plenty of time on ours hands we decided to stop a couple of nights. The main attraction in the area is the Queen Charlotte Track, a 71km trek which usually takes 3-4 days. We thought that this was a little beyond us, so we opted to do the first 15km. A boat took us out to the starting point, Ship Cove. From here we walked through lush coastal forest taking in the amazing scenery, which looked even better in the glorious sunshine. Along the way we stopped off at various lookouts mainly to have a quick rest. The walk was easier than we both expected and definately worth the extra stop in Picton.
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Wet and Windy Welly.
Last stop in the north island was NZ's capital, Wellington. We arrived mid afternoon with the sun shining so hit the beach before a few drinks in the evening. Over the next couple of days the weather slowly got worse so we were not able to do too much. We did visit the national museum of NZ - Te Papa, which was interesting and best of all free! In between the rain showers we managed to go up on the cable car. Our time in the north island has come to an end - lets hope for as much fun, adventure and beautiful scenery in the south!
Location: Taupo / Tongariro Crossing, New Zealand
An Eventful Couple Of Days!
We left Rotorua early morning for Taupo. The first stop was The Lady Knox Geyser, which erupts daily at 10.15am with a little prompting from a few bars of soap. Next up was Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland where there are many brightly coloured mineral lakes and craters some of which reach extremely high temperatures. A couple of hours down the road we stopped at a place called Rock and Ropes. We were here for about 30 minutes so had the chance to try out some of their activities. First up was the trapeze, you have to climb up a 40ft pole and then stand on the top of it. Once on top you had to jump off and reach out to catch the trapeze. Sounds easy, but with the pole and your legs shaking it was much harder than it looked. Rohan managed to grab hold of it but Jo was so close but yet so far! Then we tried the giant swing. Again we had to climb up a pole of the same height, jump off it and swing. These were both great fun but nothing compared to what was up next A SKYDIVE! From here we headed to Huka Falls where we stopped to take a few snaps of the waterfall before being collected by the skydive company. We arrived at Taupo Airport, were kitted up and given some instructions on what we needed to do when we were up there. The plane took of and as we travelled higher the nerves increased. When we reached 1200ft it was time to jump, no turning back now! Jo was first out, she gave the exit camera a nervous smile and bang she was out there! Rohan was next, a shaky thumbs up to the camera and he was out too, both of us falling at about 200km/ph for 45 seconds before our parachutes were pulled! Wow what a rush. As we descended in we had some fantastic views of Lake Taupo (which is actually bigger than Singapore!) before we both completed a smooth landing and were safely on the ground still high on adrenaline from the freefall. After all of this you would have thought a few days rest were needed, but no, the following day we decided to take on the 17km Tongariro Crossing, which passes through several volcanoes, craters and some brilliantly coloured lakes. One of the volcanoes we passed was Mount Ngauruhoe, which was used as Mount Doom in the final Lord Of The Rings film. Parts of the walk were pretty tough especially the Devils Staircase which seemed never ending but were glad that we made the effort as the scenery was spectacular. Our last day in Taupo was spend recovering from our exertions!