Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
THANK YOU ALL...
As this is our last day in Christchurch and therefore our last day of our travels we would like to thank those of you who have tuned in to our ramblings.
We hope you enjoyed reading our blog and if you haven't thought about traveling hopefully we have changed your mind. It is an amazing thing to do, you see so many things, meet many different people from all over the world and get a million memories to bring back home.
The best news that has come out of this journey is that Re still has all her hair and she doesn't want to kill me! Good times!!!
SEE YOU ALL SOON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
LOVE RE AND ANTHONY X X
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
03/06/09 - Thursday
This has been a long time coming. Before our travels many an idea ran through my head like where do I get my tattoo, leg, arm, back? What country do I get it in? And, what would be my most important choice, what design?
The answers are as follows; Left leg, New Zealnd, and a Compass/ Nautical star.
I draw a very basic design of the star (back in Airley beach actually), and the reason why I chose it was because it was the best way I could represent my travels with Re. The reason why I chose to gte it done in New Zealand was purely for the fact that it is our last destination.
Before I describe the final 'copy' of my tattoo I must first explain something else; Re and I have had a phenomenal time for the past three months and everything we have wanted to do we have done, apart from one thing in New Zealand. What Re and I most wanted to do was watch a traditional Maori performance. However due to some bad luck we were unable to see any. So after about sulking over this I came up with a silver lining of sorts. To give my tattoo some character I asked Chalky the tattooist to add some Maori influences into it. Needless to say he greatfully obliged and it looks awesome, even if I do say so myself!
Location: Queenstown, New Zealand
30/05/09 - Sunday
You're never too old to play on swings!!!
This day will be told by both of us with our different experiences.
The day was a chilly one and we headed for the Canyon Swing base where we waited for our driver to pick us up. We knew that the bungy crew liked to tease but even the lady on reception was giving us a run for our money! Once we filled out our forms and agreed to the terms and conditions we were ready for the off.
The driver played a dvd for us of all the different jumps you could do. The scariness of the jumps were measured in pants! The drive down to the jump site was scary enough let alone jumping off a platform 104m high, freefalling for 60m, then swinging for 200m going at speeds of 150kmph!
Once we arrived the guys talked us through everything and feeling quite sick i said goodbye to Anthony praying that i would see him again!
As Anthony was getting strapped up i waited with baited breath. Camera at the ready i recorded him shuffle to the edge and take his first look down. Hoping for it to be over quickly Anthony and myself were squirming under the pressure and teasing from the bungy crew. After a long 5 minutes the time had come and like a pin dropping Anthony jumped off the side. Once the freefall was over the cheers of excitement and the adrenaline kicked in and i knew a second jump would be in the running. So after another girl, Anthony did his 2nd jump, a backflip over the edge! Both the jumps were 5 pants scary! After the cheers he was raised back up and now it was time ... TO LEAVE!!! No way was i being so stupid as to throw myself off a platform only being strapped to a rope, the skydiving in Cairns was quite enough!
When Re mentioned that they gave us a run for our money, with regards teasing us, well all I can say is that she should have been on the platform, because the way they were teasing me, I damn near pooed my pants!
The reason why i took so long to jump the first time, apart from being apprehensive, was simply because i wasn't sure i was supposed to jump! The way the bungy crew were going on i just really didn't know; I mean I would say "Can I go?" They would say "Yeah of course ... although I wouldn't go!" Then they would keep checking the fixings etc, saying things like "Well I think it's Ok!" I knew full well that they were just playing but I didn't particularly want to take the chance just incase something wasn't ready! I was waiting for them to count down or something so i knew to go!
When I did jump it was quite simply one of the best feelings in the world, swinging through the Canyon at what would be around 80mph was so good! I knew pretty much as soon as I hit the bottom of my freefall i had to do another jump!
I think I may have earned some points from the bungy crew for doing the backflip, this too was an emmense feeling!
Location: Milford Sound, New Zealand
29/05/09 - Saturday - Milford Sounds
Today Re and I along with Alex, Louise, Jemma and Aled went to Milford Sound.
(FACTOIDES!) The Sound along with every other Sound in the world was formed from a glacier that carved it's way through the mountains it sat on. Milford Sound can be found in the South West corner of the South Island in the Fiordland National Park, a park that is so big that all 13 other National Parks in NZ can fit inside it with plenty of room to spare, or to put it another way, it's the size of Wales!
Our day started fairly early at 8am, it would take us 4 hours to get to the Sound. Along the way our driver stopped at several places mainly for photo oppotunities, like te 1200m tunnel that cuts through the mountain range of the Fiordland National Park, thus enabling us to get to the Sound. The best stop that we came to, I thought, was the "Chasm". It was around 10 to 15 minutes to the Sound and we needed to follow a footpath for 5 minutes until we came to a bridge. The bridge took us over the "Chasm" which was emmense! It was a raging torrent of water that had carved it's way through the rock over a number of years to leave the smooth Chasm that it is today. I thought it was quite amazing to see what water could do.
We got to the Sound about 12:30pm and boarded the boat straight away. Our trip would take us on a circuit of the Sound, travelling up to the mouth of the Sound that opens out to the Tasman Sea, then back to where we started via the UnderWater Observatory. However before we saw any of this we all indulged to the best of our abilities in our inclusive all you can eat gourmet lunch. To say we were all pleasantly full would be an understatement!
Highlights of the trip had to be the 2 Waterfalls and the UnderWater Observatory. The First WaterFall we came to was the "Stirling Falls". Named after an early explorer of the area, the falls are the 2nd highest of the Sound at 155m. The boat took us really close up to it and along with getting a little wet we got some pretty good photos. After the Falls we stopped at the "Milford Deep UnderWater Observatory", which is a fairly recent addition to the Sound. Due to the heavy rainfall the area experiences (although it didn't rain when we were there) you can't really see very far into the water, so the Observatory was built to allow people to view some of the Marine Life of the Sound. The Observatory was about 10m below the surface and although the Marine life wasn't all that varied it was plentiful and what we did see was pretty amazing. After the Observatory we came to the "Bowen Falls".
The "Bowen Falls" is the largest permanent Waterfall in the Sound at 160m high and is infact the 5th largest in the world. We didn't get as close to this one but it was really impressive.
After that we returned to dry land and our bus. We set off for Queenstown and arrived back at about 8pm.
Location: Wanaka to Queenstown, New Zealand
27/05/09 - Thursday
Nothing much happened today, but the evening was pretty good. We all went to dinner to the bar next to Base, where an NZ band, called "The Volunteers" were playing. We had a cheap meal and sat by the fire. Aled and Anthony played doubles with two of the band members. They knew Anthony because he bought their album, which they all signed! The drummer bought Anthony a drink before they went off to get ready. They sounded really good, but it maybe a long time before they get to the UK unfortunately.
28/05/09 - Friday - Leaving Wanaka for Queenstown
We went to Puzzle World this morning. Anthony wanted to go into the maze which could take you up to an hour to get through! After half an hour, however, we ended up using the emergency exit as we were no where near finding the actual exit and time was running out! After the maze we headed into the Illusion rooms.
The first room was full of Hollographic pictures, and the 2nd room was semi-circular, which was covered top to bottom with sunken faces. The idea was to cover one eye and move around the room. The faces would appear to be convex when they were actually concave and the eyes would follow you around which was a bit freaky!
The 3rd room was cool, it was an "Ames" room, where the floor slopped from one end to the other but to a camera it look level, so when we stood at opposite corners and took a photo for once I looked taller than Anthony!
The last illusion room was well weird!!! The floor was at a 40 degree angles which meant anything inside the room was put at the opposite angle making it look level, but it wasn't. There was a snooker table with a ball in one of the pockets. The instructions said to take the ball and place it at the opposite end of the table and see what happened. When I did this the ball seemed to defy gravity and travel up the table to the opposite pocket!! Magic!!!
We got to Queenstown around luch time and settled in to our accommodation at Black Sheep.
Location: Frans Josef, New Zealand
26/05/09 - Wednesday
Hiking up Frans Josef Glacier.
Starting at 9:15am we checked in at the glacier base collecting our waterproof trousers, coats, hats, gloves, boots and cramp-ons. After a group photo with Alex and Louise we were ready for the off!
15minutes in the mini bus and we were at the beginning of our glacier walk, or so we thought! Making our way through a forest we arrived on the other side to be confronted in amazement by the effects of a glacier. A vast area of open space with rubble and rock scattering the valley floor.
As we stood it would take us 40 minutes to reach the base of the glacier, which took us by surprise as it looked alot closer. Due to the shape of the valley it formed an optical illusion.
Once at the base of the glacier we talked through the techniques of walking on the glacier and then proceeded to put our cramp-ons on.
Where the Frans Josef Glacier stands today is due to it receeding since 2005. It once reached the Tasman Sea. It continues to receed today, which is why it is such a popular attracton for tourists.
The beginning of the glacier was the hardest as the man made steps were steep and rubble. However once on the glacier itself the incline was steady and the views were more impressive the higher we went.
Just over a 1/4 of the way up we came to our first obstacle, a small ice tunnel, which even I struggled to get through let alone Anthony! Louise and I were starting to feel the burn so, when lunch time came around it was a happy relief! Eating our lunch on the glacier felt very surreal and cold on the old derrier, but so amazing!
With full tummies we carried on our way. Our guide was infront creating a path for us to follow, so we joined the 1st group for the beginning of our second leg. Climbing down another set of steep steps we came up against our second obstacle, a really tight crevis. Poor Louise got a little panicked so I took the lead. To say we got soaked is an understatement! Reaching the end of the crevis cold and wet we plodded on feeling the chilly breeze even more.
We came across a fresh glacier water spring, which we filled our water bottle up from, heaven! However if you ever get the chance to try fresh glacier water, go up stream from where ever the last person went to the toilet!
Our next obstacle to tackle was climbing down a small crevis, with steep steps on both sides and a rope bolted into the ice to hold onto. Once at the bottom we clambered through another ice tunnel where, thank goodness our guide, Dan, (built like a Moari rugby player) was waiting to pull us out at the other end.
Nearly at the top or as far as we were able to go, we came up against one more crevis, which was as tight as the first and on a steep incline. The boys had to pull the girls through the tight spots and a marvellous job they did too. Reaching the end of the crevis we had finally made the top!
The sense of achievement when reached the top was immense! The views were absolutely breathtaking and the only thing i could think of was "I hope theres a quicker way down!!" Thankfully there was and it only took us about another hour and a half! Atleast it was pretty straight forward.
At the bottom of the glacier we looked back at what we had just climbed and it seemed unbelievable. Feeling very hungry and tired we were dropped off at the base, where we then made our way to the chippy!
Just about to settle down for an early night we heard the Welsh accents of Aled and Jemma! So much for an early night!
Location: Lake Mahinapua, New Zealand
24/05/09 - Sunday
On our way to Wesport
Leaving Aled and Jemma, we headed to Wesport, a small rown, with not much to do. We dropped a few people off to do Jet boating including Alex and Louise.
Thats really all we can say about this leg of our trip, although we did make one bloody good steak sandwich in the evening!!!
25/05/09 - Monday
Lake Mahinapua ... or as its more commonly known as; the "Poo Pub" stop!
The party is a highlight for many Kiwi Experience travellers becaus eof the cheesy music, cheap drink and it legendry status of being the home of New Zealands oldest Publican, Les, who is 84 and still going strong. But I think the reason why so many people love it is becaus of the fact its a costume party! Our theme; "On T.V" (that narrows it down then!)
We had just over a hour to shop around for our costumes, which wasn't easy! After searching around the $2 shops and Op shops of Greymouth and with no luck we came across the "Warehouse", a Matalan type shop that has everything. So with only minutes to spare, Re and I had made our purchases; 2 table cloths, felt tips, and a pair of pink fluffy slippers. If hadn't alraeady guessed we were going as Fred and Wilmer Flinstone!!!! We even got hold of some blow up clubs!
We arrived at the Poo Pub and were greeted by Les and we understood immediately why he was a legend. We settled in to our rooms, we were in a dorm with Alex and Louise, and started to think how we would go about making our costumes. However, before we got too involved we had a mamouth feast to go to. Les had prepared huge steaks, a pot full of Venison stew, vegies, corn on the cob, pasta, and lots more. Needles to say I don't think I have ever been so full (for the purpose of the Earl's it beats the dustbin lid!)
Full to the brim we went back to our rooms and finished our costumes, Alex came as the Hulk and Louise as Tigger. The party itself was excellent, we had a really good time, plenty of cheesy music and cheesy dancing to suit!!!
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
23/05/09 - Saturday
The walk of the Abel Tasman (named after Abel Tasman and is also NZ smallest but most visited National Park)
We began at Marahau where we caught the water taxi, which would take us up along the coast upto Tonga.
We were pulled by a tractor along the road, whilst sitting in the boat to the ramp. We set sail, first taking a small detour to take a look at the "Split Apple Rock" (It looks like a split apple!)
After visiting the rock, we made our way up to Anchorage, then Torrent Bay, which would be our finishing point, Bark Bay and the Seal Colony. From here we saw something amazing ... a dolphin! Although it was beautiful to see it chasing the boat we found out that the dolphin had been seperated from it's pod and found it's fun by chasing the boats, which was quite sad and dangerous really.
We reached Tonga and our walk began! Along with Alex, Louise, Jemma and Aled, we made our way along the coastal path taking every opportunity to take photos of the amazing scenery. Anthony was very happy when we came across a suspension bridge! It had a 5 person limit meaning that we walked across 1 couple at a time (if you've seen the bridge scene in Shrek 1 that's what Anthony was doing to me!)
We made it to Bark Bay where we stopped for lunch looking out to the ocean. Aled and Alex began feeding the Seagulls and other abnormally sized birds! After filling our tummies we carried on our way. The boys had started a competition along the way as to how many times they tripped over, needless to say Anthony did very well!!!
Finally after 4 hours we made it to Torrent Bay. Alex, Louise and Anthony found a rope swing as i looked on in amazement that you never get too old! The tide had gone out when we arrived at Torrent Bay, which meant we had to walk out to meet the boat. Needless to say we had to take off our shoes and socks and wade through the freezing, cold water to board the boat.
Making our way back to Marahau we dried off our toes and feeling tired and cold we were all looking forward to heading back to the hostel and warming up.
After dinner we all played cards in the bar. Enjoying our game we were interupted by a "wise" drunk Kiwi! and i quote he said, "where are you jokers from?" He then went on to say, "life is precious your bus could crash tomorrow!" ... He left us rather bemused!