Location: Sydney, Australia
Spent the day in the city catching up with friends. Met up with Bindhi (family friend), Kaki and Ridhima (from NZ tour). Had lunch and then also met up with Ori (from NZ tour). Spent most the day window shopping and had a drink down at Darling Harbour. Later I also met up with Shaun (also from the NZ tour) and his friends. Spent the evening at Coogee beach as it was Oris leaving night out.
Location: Sydney, Australia
Last day before the boys go back to school. Chilled out, sorting my photos and diary finally! Attempted to bake the cake again but unfortunately it didnt work but it was still better than the first attempt. My housemates will know that my cake ALWAYS turn out but this time there was no chance, I blame to ozzy ingredients!
Location: Sydney, Australia
Micky and I climbed Sydney Harbour Bridge in the morning. We had to wear the space suits, have a breath test and go through the metal detector before we could go on the climb. It was cool going up the bridge and got some fantastic views of the city. After we went for lunch at Pancake at the Rocks, it was amazing, they did chocolate pancakes and are open 24hrs! We walked it off to Darling Harbour were we went to see some friends that we spent Xmas with.
Location: Sydney, Australia
Today was Kaka and Kakis anniversary so we made them a card and sent them out in the evening for a meal. During the day Micky and I painted some canvas for his room. Watched some old home movies and had a laugh, gosh I was so annoying! Went for a bike ride with Vinay to the shops to buy some ingredients to bake a cake and some dvds to watch in the evening. The cake was a disaster, it didnt even rise! But it was fun making it.
Location: Auckland to Sydney, New Zealand
Walked for over an hour to find Victoria Market but what a disappointment. We actually took the long way round but on the way back I managed to get some last minute souvenirs. We stopped off at another market to eat Masala Dosa (indian pancake with spicy potatoes). The flight back to Sydney was bumpy, lots of turbulence.
Location: Auckland, hot water beach, New Zealand
Drove for 2.5 hours to a hot water beach. Apparently you can dig into the sand and find natural hot water springs. But we got there at the wrong time of day so couldnt dig for anything because the tide had come in. This beach was really nice, with fresh water and huge violent waves. Spent an hour or so on the beach, just digging for fun. Had lunch in a near by town and then drove all the way back to Auckland. In the evening I met up with Jen (you Jessops people may remember her from working in Walsall). We had a good catch up over a few drinks at Misson Bay, it was good to see her.
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
THE SKYDIVE DAY!!!!!
Today was the day, although I wasnt getting my hopes up too high as the sky didnt look very clear. The van came to pick me up at 9am, the place was 40 min from the city. I sat in the van nervously waiting to reach the airfield. When we reached Mercer Airfield, we were in the middle of some fields.
It was crazy, I didnt get a chance to even think about it, it all happened so quickly because they were rushing me because the clouds were closing in. I was originally doing 12,000 ft but the guy was like its only an extra $30 to go 14,000ft so I just agreed to do it. I was all dressed in the gear and met my tandom diver Won and the camera man Aaron.
Got near the aircraft and had literally 2 min intructions, basically he said keep your head up, hold on to the braces, keep your back arched like a banana and well talk about the landing when you in the air. I was thinking how the hell am I going to land??? I sat in the aircraft looking out, we were only half way up and I was still smiling, then I saw the ground disappear and clouds everywhere. Couldnt belive I was going to jump 14,000 ft out of a plane. Started to get scared when the first guy just fell out the plane, then another and the other tandom person. I was shitting my pants!
It was my turn and I just held on tight and tried to enjoy the experience. It was soooo scary but an incredible experience freefalling for 53 seconds. The best part was jumping out, I had butterflies in my stomach as we somersaulted out of the aircraft. The scariest part was not being able to breathe properly freefalling. It was out of this world falling through the clouds. Then I saw the ground, my adrenalin was buzzing and I felt like a bird
Im like a bird
landed softly on the ground.
Fantastic, I recommend it to everyone!!!! I was on a high all day, still excited about the whole experience, I can say Ive been there, done that, got the photos, dvd and the t-shirt! Unfortunately I cant upload the dvd but you have to see it, comedy!
A few hours later I did feel really dizzy and had the worst headache ever, but it was all worth it. In the evening we went out for tapas and Swiss ice cream on Mission Bay (still doesnt meet Haagen standards, terribly miss Haagen Dazs ice cream, i will be expecting some when i land Bhickumasa!).
Location: Rotarua to Auckland, New Zealand
This was my second attempt of skydiving but this time I didnt even get as far as the office. It started to rain and didnt took hopeful. So in the end we went to another museum called Te Paui or something like that. This was more sort of outdoor, where we got a tour of the hot springs and the hot rocks, it was pretty amazing to feel all this heat just naturally coming from the rocks and loads of mud pools. We also learnt a bit about the Maori culture and lifestyle, ate some traditional food called the Hangi cooked in a stone oven and watched some traditional dancing Hacka (if your wondering what it is just imagine the NZ rugby team on their opening ceremony). Had another long dive to Auckland, another 3 hrs away. Had dinner at nandos and then a few drinks in a bar near the harbour.
Location: Rotarua, New Zealand
I was ready to do my skydive today in Lake Taupo. After a 2hr dive up to the lake the weather wasnt looking too promising. I spent about 1.5hrs in the skydive place waiting for the weather to change but it was a no go for skydiving today. As soon as we left it started to rain. We drove to Rotarua 1hr away hoping to do the skydive in the morning. Rotarua is the Sulphur City where there are many hot springs so it was a little bit stinky. Vinay, Micky and I did the Zorb which is basically a big inflatable hamsterball with a bit of water in it. And what happens is, crazy people jump inside the ball and roll down the hill. We got soaked Zorbing downhill, it was fun though. Had a spar in the motel room this time so we all jumped in the spar when we got back. Went for a walk in the evening to the lake and we all had a go at the monkey bars but Vins was unlucky and landed on his ankle and had to hop all the way home.
Location: Napier, New Zealand
Splashed about on the pebbled beach then walked around the town. In the afternoon we went to a place called Strawberry Patch to eat some fresh strawberry icecream and then ended up doing some strawberry picking of our own. Although we paid for 1.5 kg we must have easily eaten 1.5kg whilst picking them in the field. Next stop was a honey factory and then a chocolate factory where even the packaging was made out of chocolate. Spent the evening in the pool and in the spar in our motel.
Location: Wellington to Napier, New Zealand
Not really much to do in Wellington so we visited the Te Papa museum. Didnt realise it had 7 floor and it was massive, you could get lost in there. It had some pretty cool stuff like a virtual earthquake but got a bit boring after a while because there was too much stuff to see. Had a long journey ahead of us to Napier, 4 hrs away.
Location: Picton to Wellington, New Zealand
Went for another walk in the morning which turned out to be more of a hike uphill. Finally got to the top after 50min of walking and the view was worth it, we could see the whole of Picton (although its not that big) and the surroundings. Took some stilly star jump photos at the top. Most of the afternoon was spent on the 3.5hr choppy ferry ride from Picton in the south island to Wellington in the north. All of us stayed in a backpackers place, Vins and Micks werent very impressed and at fist refused to have a shower. In the evening we went out for dinner to a Mongolian BBQ called Gengas Khan (Im still in NZ by the way). It was great, you pick what you want in your stir fry like veg and choices of meat and spices and they cook it for your then and there (see the photo).
Location: Nelson to Picton, New Zealand
Spent a couple of hours walking around Nelson (again), by this point Id made friends with the local shop keepers. We then drove to Blenhiem for some more wine tasting and chocolate tasting. When we reached Picton we had some food then went out along a viewpoint on the Queens Charlotte track to see the sunset over the Sound (see photo).
Location: Abel Tasman, New Zealand
Spent the day in Abel Tasman National Park. We took a water taxi from Kateriteri beach up to Bark Bay which took 45min. The ride was a little bit bumpy and we got sprayed by the waves more than we expected, in fact got soaked. When we reached the bay we began our 2.5hr walk to Torrent Bay through rainforests, swinging bridges, beautiful bays and over a few rocks. We completed the walk quicker than we expected but had to wait for our booked water taxi. When our time had come we had to walk out into the sea to get onto the boat because the tide had gone out. So the end of the day ended with yet another soaking. Was quite funny watching everyone of all ages rolling up their bottoms and getting wet.
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
Checked out and I took Rid out to the little jewellery shops I went yesterday. We also stopped of at Rose Glow Cottage (see photo too) this sweet pink cottage where the owner makes yummy handmade chocolates. Later that morning we had some tea in a jazzy little café. Kaka came to pick me up so we went back to their motel and splashed about in the pool although it wasnt even that hot outside.
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
Walked around the parks, city galleries, shops and spend a good couple of hours doing my tavel diary thing! In the evening I met up with kaka at my hostel. The hostel we stayed at was really nice and cosy, it was someones house where the downstairs floor had a room with 6 dorm beds and two private bedrooms. Later that evening we went to the beach near kakas motel to watch the sunset. Beautiful colours, Ive even uploaded a photo.
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
Lazy day after all that driving. We caught a mini coach to Kaitiritiri beach which took longer than expected. We were told it was one of the top 5 beaches in the world but i tell you it don't meet my expectations at all. Spent a few hours chilling on the beach and had some chips on the sea front. We waited for our 5pm bus which didn't actually come for us until 6.30!!!! Got some food and cooked in the hostel and didn't really do much that evening. Got so many insect bites though.
Location: to Nelson, New Zealand
Went for a walk on the beach while we waited for Rid to come back from her whale watching tour. We went for a walk around the coast but it was a bit too much for me so i headed back down for a break. It was my turn to drive the Impretza today. so i took it easy. An automatic car is really easy to drive. I drove up to Blenhim along the scenic coastal route and we stopped of at a winery for some wine and chocolate testing. Continued driving to Picton the ferry town admiring the view of the sounds and then took the windy route Queens Charlote route to Nelson. The drive was fun going down these very steep twisty roads. Swaped over driving seats and Andy drove the rest of the way into Nelson. Checked into our Hostel which is pretty much like a B&B, cosy home. Went for dinner and also had some yummy cake.
Location: Chistchurch to Kaiakoura, New Zealand
Rented a car with Rid and her friend Andy, managed to get a cracking deal last minute on a electric blue 4WD Subaru Impretza. I let Andy drive first because i was a bit scared driving this new car. We drove to Maruia Springs, natural sulphur hot springs. It was so relaxing sitting in these springs with the trees all around you. But i felt as if i was getting eaten by sand flies so i went inside the japanese bath house. Drove to Hamner Springs and went for a tea a cake in a cafe and also did a waterfall walk on the way there. Headed down some windy roads to Kaiakoura and checked into our hostel then spent the evening in an Irish pub and had some local food crayfish and local wine.
Location: Lake Ohau to Queenstown, New Zealand
Woke up to amazing views and clear blue skies. We were extremly lucky to see the peak of Mount Cook. Where we stayed was supposed to be one of the wettest part of NZ with 340 days of rain. But it don't rain when we were there so got a chance to take some excellent photos and took an 1.5hr walk near the mountains. Went back over the southern alps driving through some clouds and to Lake Tekapo. The next stop ws Lake Pukaki where we look some amazing photos of the clear blue waters. Stopped at a little town called Geraldine for a break as well as more photo stops. Ended up in Christchurch at 5.30, did some washing then met the other tour group for dinner. Stayed out for a few more drinks with Shaun and Rid.
Location: Milford Sounds to Lake Ohau, New Zealand
Woke up with this fanastic scenery around us. Had a cooked breakfast and salied around the sounds though waterfalls. Got back to dry land at 9.30 am and then continued our journey. We made our way back to Te Anau and onwards along Kawarau River, the lord of the rings scenery. Some crazy people did a bungy on AJ Hackett's orginal commerical bungy site. There is no way i would have done it though. We continued through Cromwell stopping off at Mrs Jones fruit store and headed over the Lindis Pass through the dramatic variation in scenery of the ranges to those we encountered on the west. Stopped off for a few photo stops and then checked into our lodge at Lake Ohau. Also was a film crew shooting a VW advert with Mt Cook in the background. The lodge was in the middle of the valley next to the lake. We had an excellent view of Mt Cook and tha lake from the room. After another yummy dinner and gooey choc brownie we walked it off near the lake, taking some fab pictures of the reflections in the lake at sunset. In the evening we chilled having drinks with the tour guide and stepped outside to see the stars. The stars were amazing, never seen so many in my life, including the milky way, southern cross.... it was special.
Location: Queenstown to Milford Sounds, New Zealand
After the yummy cooked breakfast we headed to the Fiords and had a luch break in the town Te Anau on the shores of one of New Zelands many large glacial carved lakes. We stopped to admire the reflection at Mirror lake and fantastic views down Hollyford Valley, Chasm walk and drive through Homer tunnel and then emerged back into a landscape of spectacular mountians and waterfalls. Took loads of amazing photos. We ended our drive at Milford Sound and spend the evening crusing around the sound taking in the lanscape all around us and watched dophins and seals swimming around us. I took a jet boat ride around the sounds to get closer to the rocks and almost got eaten alive by sand flies. Had a fantastic dinner on the boat followed by pavalova. We spent the evening on the deck drinking wine and went it got dark went inside and played connect four. Spent the night on the boat sleeping in the cabins.
Location: Queenstown, New Zealand
Got up mega early to see the fab sunrise. Had a fun packed day starting with a 2hr horse riding trip in Glenorcy through some valleys that were filmed in Lord of the Rings. The horse i had Batler also stared in the film as well as being the main horse in Hercules. First time i'd been horse riding and it was scary at first but an excellent way to see the stunning landscape crossing rivers and fields on horseback. Fell asleep on the bus back to Queenstown and when i got there i luckily met Shaun so we went up on the gondola to see the Queenstown landscape and then took a luge ride down. Rushed to check in for the Shotover Jet boat ride, the worlds most thrilling jet boat ride with 360 spins. It was fun, got a bit wet but wasn't as scary as i expected it to be. Spent some time in Queenstown and decided to walk back to the lodge and i went the wrong way and ended up walking though some forest. Finally got back and spend an hour in the spa and sauna with a fantatic view of the Remarkables. Had dinner with the group catching up on the days activities and then persuaded the guys to come out for a few drinks. We went to minus 5 bar which is totally made of ice including your glass, had a few drinks in other bar then went to World club.
Location: Fox Glacier to Queenstown, New Zealand
Had 5 mintues to garb breakfast before we had to check in for our Heli-Hike along the glaciers. We sat on this old fashioned bus which took us to the heli-port where they made us wear these hiking boots and smelly woolen socks. It was ace seeing the glaciers from the helicopter ride and i got some stunning photos from above. Landed on the glaciers and put some spikes on our shoes. Surprisingly it wasn't as cold as i imagined, well i did have a few layers on but nothing too extreme. We stomped our way through the ice following our guide seeing icefalls, slippery ice caves and streams. It was amazing walking around the ice, the guide carved steps for us to follow but most of the time they were giant steps so i ended up leaping from one to the next without falling. The glacial valley is dramatic and the size of it is unreal. Spend about 2 hrs hiking around. Stopped in Fox for some lunch with Rid then we got back on the bus and drove to beautiful Haast pass stopping at Thunder Creek falls admiring this world heritage area. We also had a break at Makaora for a snack and stopped at lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea on the way to Queenstown the adrenalin mecca of the southern hemisphere. Queenstown is the most beautiful town in the world, we checked into our lodge which had massive glass windows with the view of the Remarkable mountian ranges. The rooms were nice, again i shared with Rid in a 4 bed drom. Had dinner watching the sunset and spend the evening drinking wine. The food was fab, didn't really expect it to be this good on the tour.