A Travellerspoint blog


Luge racing, huge burgers and Milford Sound.

rain 14 °C
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Our trip to Queenstown (the self proclaimed adventure sport and party capital of NZ) didn't start well. Up at 6.45 to catch the bus without knowing it had broken down and wouldn't be leaving until 9. Then a mammoth 9 hour bus journey on a heaving bus with not a lot to see on the way. Stopped off at Lake Matheson, which on a calm sunny day reflects the mountains behind it to form a typical NZ postcard view. It was not a calm sunny day, more windy and rainy. It looked like a rainy lake. Not impressed. The only other stop was Lake Wanaka which again pretty much just looked like a rainy lake. Maybe we've just been spoilt for views in the last 2 weeks!

The hostel we're in is the first one not recommended (or stopped off at) by the Magic Bus that we're on so we had to find it ourselves. On first impressions we were a bit apprehensive, a tiny little shack with paint peeling off the walls, maybe its name "the last resort" wasn't as ironic as we'd been expecting! Luckily it turned out to be pretty decent, free internet/breakfast and a crunchie on our pillows!

We weren't really in the mood for a night out after the bus journey but we'd won a few drinks playing games on the bus and it is supposed to be the best night out in NZ so we made the effort. Our bus driver had recommended a burger restaurant called Fergburger for dinner so we thought we'd have our 1st proper meal out. The burgers were unbelievable, definitely the best we've ever tasted and absolutely enormous!



The place was rammed full of people, it seemed to be the place to eat in town! Barely able to move, we headed to a local bar to meet some people from our bus (including the driver!). We had a really good night, taking advantage of the 2 for 1 beers and cocktails served in teapots but seriously regretted this when we weren't up for doing very much the next day! :s

After a quite considerable lay in we decided to take a gondola ride up one of the many mountains around Queenstown and have a go at "luging" which is a bit hard to describe but is basically rolling down the mountain sat on a plastic tray on wheels with handle bars to steer, accelerate and brake. Hopefully the pictures will shed a bit more light on it but it was loads of fun (after our first tentative attempts). The views from the top of the gondola were pretty impressive as well, the town being set around a huge lake and snow capped mountains.



We made it an early night as we were up mega early today for our 10 hour round trip to Milford Sound (in the Southern fiordlands), reputably one of the most scenic places in the whole country. Unfortunately, however, the bad weather was back, and this made the day probably the only time on our trip so far we've been disappointed. The beautiful snowy mountains were covered in cloud and everything looked grey. It was also the most touristy thing we've done by a mile. On board the boat cruise you couldn't really see out of the windows since it was raining so much, and when we passed anything of interest everyone was fighting to get out on deck to take a photo! We did see some more seals swimming about though which were pretty cute, and the waterfalls off the high valley sides were really quite impressive (and only appear when its raining heavily) so it wasn't all bad. Just not what we had hoped for.

One more day in Queenstown tomorrow (and quite possibly one more trip to Fergburger...)

So the final day in Queenstown was BUNGY DAY! (not for Dani but she did an excellent job as camerawoman (see the great video below.)) There are three different bungy jumps to choose from around Queenstown so I (Alex) chose to do the "original bungy" from the first ever bungy site in the world (the bungy jump was invented by Kiwi A.J Hacket 20 years ago, don't you know!) It's in a spectacular location, on an old bridge suspended between mountains, with a crystal clear blue river rushing below. Its a 43m jump and you have the option of splashing into the river below, so I asked them to measure it so I just got to dip my hands in (some people go for their whole body!). It was the most amazing thrill I've ever had, the ground rushing towards you at 100mph! They measured it perfectly so I just got a touch of the water before bouncing back up. I was so excited afterwards I just wanted to run up and do it again. The man at the top told me that its better if you dive off instead of just falling off the edge so I really went for it. Hopefully the video will speak for itself, but safe to say it was AWESOME!

Posted by alexdani 23:46 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Franz Josef

Rain, Rain, Rain and walking on a glacier...and rain

rain 16 °C


Today more than made up for yesterday's lack of activity! First stop was the town of Ross, gold panning country! We watched a local pan some gold but didnt fancy our chances when we saw how little she managed to get! The woman had quite a few local tales to tell...Apparently a local couple spent a fortnight up on the creek panning enough gold for a wedding ring each and theres $17 million worth of gold under the town but they'd have to demolish the place to get to it.

Next stop was the Bushmans Centre where we were greeted by another friendly local who wowed us with his tales of catching wild deer to start deer farms around NZ. His methods were unconventional to say the least, the best one was standing on the edge of a helicopter before leaping onto the deers back and wrestling it to the ground. We weren't convinced until we saw a video of this technique in action. It was CRAZY! They had a few live possums which were pretty cute. We stroked and fed them then ate them! Well not the same ones, but they had Pete's Possum Pies to try and obviously we had to have a taste! Its illegal to sell possum meat in NZ so we had to make a "charitable donation" to the centre in exchange for a "free" pie! It was actually pretty tasty, a lot like a chicken pie.


When we arrived in Franz Josef it was time to hit the glacier. After suiting up in various waterproofs we headed up to the ice. It was absolutely hammering it down with rain but we were told this is actually the best time to go as all the built up dirt is washed off the glacier and the blue colours are more prominant. We had to pretty much wade through a river to get to the foot of the glacier, getting a nice bootfull of ice cold water before we'd even started! The path was obvious at first but at points our guide was hacking away a path for us with his pickaxe. Luckily we had crampons (spikey feet) so we could walk easily over the ice. We saw a few caves and holes in the ice and even filled our water bottle up with some tasty cool glacier water which they were selling in the shops at the bottom for $5 a bottle! On nature watch again, we saw another native NZ bird, a Kea. We were told they're the most intelligent bird, almost as intelligent as dolphins.

Another exhausting day but luckily our hostel has a sauna with a window looking out into the rainforest which is right behind the hostel, perfect!

Posted by alexdani 01:11 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking Comments (1)


Return of the wind and rain

storm 18 °C
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Not a lot to report today. The weather is awful again, rainy and very windy! Greymouth is true to its name. Grey! Long bus journey from Nelson, but we stopped off along the way and got to see a colony of seals which were cute and then the pancake rocks (big rocks along the coast which have layers so that they look like stacks of pancakes!).

Anyway we've put up some photos of the last few days so you can see some of the amazing things that we have!! I think they come up in the bar to the right!!

Off to Franz Josef tomorrow for some glacier hiking!!

Posted by alexdani 23:33 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking Comments (1)


The Sunshine Capital

sunny 25 °C
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Yesterday we were up early (again!) to catch the ferry across from the North to the South Island. The hostel we were staying at in Wellington had FREE BAGELS on Monday mornings so we more than made the most of that, taking some for lunch as well. They were freshly baked from the local bakers and yummy! The ferry ride was 3 hours and although it was just supposed to be a journey from one place to another it turned into a experience in its own right. The scenery was stunning sailing through the Malborough sounds, lots of lush green islands and we even saw dolphins (from a distance). After arriving in the South Island our first stop was Nelson, which we'd been told had the most sunshine hours in all of NZ so after all the rain in the last few days we had high hopes. We weren't disappointed. Since we've arrived here its been sunny sunny sunny! We checked in to our hostel which is really nice, more like a friendly B&B. The dorm we're in has three triple bunks, but luckily they dont use the top ones as they're terrifyingly high! We didnt do much once we arrived apart from take a stroll in the park which the hostel overlooks, we came across this really wierd bird which we've since found out is called a Tui, it makes a noise unlike anything in England!

Today we had another unbelievable day considering we've only been here just over a week! We went to Abel Tasman National Park which is basically a coastline of jungle, white sandy beaches amd turquoise sea. We chose to do a 8km walk through the lush vegetation then a 3 hour Kayak back to the start. The place was strangely quiet and not really touristy at all considering how picturesque it is. As part of our day trip we had a picnic on a secluded spot of beach under a tree before heading off in our kayaks with our local guide. We weren't lucky enough to spot any dolphins or penguins but we saw lots of cormorands, a few gannets and a couple of oyster catchers. We saw a gannet dive bomb to catch a fish right in front of us!

Nelson is a fantastic place and we'll be sad to leave, but its off to Greymouth tomorrow for a local brewery tour.

P.S Thanks for all your messages. We miss you all. Ava, the food is a lot like in England (they've even got Heinz Baked Beans) but more upside down and we didnt go in the hot springs because they were boiling hot and would have roasted us alive!

Lots of Love. Alex and Danielle. X x x x

Posted by alexdani 23:40 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking Comments (1)



overcast 15 °C
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Someone found our camera! We left our email address with a boy in our hostel who was doing the same walk as us today just incase he found it, and someone else on the bus with him found it on the floor! Can't believe it, we're so relieved. Luckily we're heading back through Taupo on our way back up to Auckland so we'll ask the driver to stop off at the hostel so we can pick it up!

Its been a pretty uneventful day today apart from that. The bus journey from Taupo to Wellington was 5 1/2 hours so there wasnt much time to do anything else. When we arrived in Wellington the bus driver took us up to the top of Mt. Victoria which has some great views over the city. However, the bad weather has returned and as soon as we got off the bus to take photos we almost got blown away! Fortunately the best thing to do in Wellington happens to be indoors, the Te Papa Museum! We spent a couple of hours looking around and finding out about the origins of New Zealand and its alarming history of natural disasters!

Only here for one night. Up at 6.00am tomorrow to get the ferry across to the South Island which we've been told is even more stunning than the North!

Posted by alexdani 22:53 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking Comments (1)


Land of the dinosaurs and Lord of the Rings

semi-overcast 17 °C
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In the two days we spent at Taupo we saw some of the most amazing scenery ever. Yesterday we went to Orakei Korako "the hidden valley" which was a thermal area in a forest. We had to go on a small boat over to an island and as it was raining we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves. Its where the BBC filmed "walking with dinosaurs" and if dinosaurs were still around this was definately where they would be! There were bubbling hot springs, geysers and mud pools and hidden away a place called "aladdins cave" which had a shimmering blue thermal pool at the bottom. The hot springs were super steamy from the rain which made the whole place really mysterious.

After the amazing day we had yesterday we didnt think it could get any better but today we did the Tongariro Crossing which is supposed to be one of the best one day hikes in the world. It was a 19.4km trek over and around volcanoes, at one point even climbing up an active volcano! There were signs telling you what to do in the event of an eruption, which basically was just run away fast! There was also a sign at the start saying that if you didnt think you were fit enough then you should turn back now, which we laughed about at the time but not at the end when we could hardly stand! It seemed like at least 7 of the 19km were vertically up! The active volcano we were on was the one they used as Mt Doom in Lord of the Rings and we really felt like we were in the film, walking across the barren rocky landscape. We spoke to someone at our hostel who had done the walk yesterday in the rain and he said he hardly saw any scenery at all, so we were gutted when it was raining all the way there this morning, but as soon as we arrived the weather cleared and we had some amazing views. We agreed that the view from the highest point down on to three emerald lakes was the most beautiful thing we'd ever seen. The weather on the walk was crazy though, at the start I (Alex) only had a t-shirt on, but by the time we'd got to the top I had two fleeces, my jacket, wooly hat and gloves on! When we got back we made the most of the hostel's free outdoor hot pool to ease our aching legs but it didnt work. We're knackered.

Despite being our best day so far it also turned out to be our worst as when we got back we realised we didnt have the camera (with all the days AMAZING photos). We remembered having it just before getting on the bus home so we rang the bus company to check. Our driver came all the way back to our hostel so we could check the bus but no luck. We're gutted, but at least we've only lost the first 5 days of our 3 1/2 month trip and we have a spare camera.

Anyway, that's enough rambling for now. Off to the capital Wellington tomorrow.

Posted by alexdani 22:00 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Auckland, Rotorua and Waitomo

rain 12 °C
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After 24 grueling hours we finally made it! Managed to find our way to the hostel which was on the outskirts of Auckland in a quaint little town called Mt Eden. Got the bus into the city and spent the day looking round Auckland. It was like no other city we've seen before, lots of spaced out skyscrapers but very green and hilly. Just scoped out the place as we'll be back to spend some proper time there at the end of our trip.

Wednesday we got on the Magic bus for the first time (it also happened to be our drivers 1st time as he'd only got his license that day!) and spent the day watching other people do expensive adventure activities that we didnt really fancy e.g. zorbing, swooshing and various other stupidly named things. We were saving our cash for the evening when we arrived in Rotorua where we went to a traditional maori village for a show and a traditional "hangi" feast (cooked in an earth oven). Saw lots of maoris with the face tatoos and scary faces do the haka but were told before that it was a serious dance and to laugh or smile would be disrespectful (cue seriously bit lips!). The food was yummy, though we felt the all you can eat buffet was wasted on us since we've not been here long. All the other backpackers were stuffing themselves! maybe we should have left it to the end of our trip! Was a good evening but a v. long day!

Today,we were back on the magic bus at 7.40 to head off to Waitomo for the glow worm caves! We decided to go for the "Black Water Rafting" which was sitting in a rubber ring and swimming/floating/being pulled through freezing cold water 100ft under ground!! We looked pretty attractive in our soggy wet suits and helmets! We even went down the waterfalls which was pretty scary. Was really good and the glow worms were beautiful, even theough we were told that they were in fact maggots with glowing poo! nice! Back on the bus we moved on to Taupo stopping at the Huka falls on the way which was pretty impressive ice blue water flowing really fast through a gorge. Apparently 70% of NZ power is generated by water or wind which made me (Dani) happy! :)

Write soon xxxx


Posted by alexdani 22:35 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Leaving Tomorrow!

Alex and Danielle

overcast 9 °C
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Posted by alexdani 03:22 Archived in England Comments (14)

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