It’s been a week since we started our journey down to Christchurch. As it’s summer, there are two busses running everyday so we are travelling with over 100 people – it’s crazy! There’s no way that we would ever be able to get to know everyone, but people keep popping up so you start to feel like a family. It’s mad that everyone is from a different background and different ages (most people younger than us), but everyone gets on as we all have one thing in common – TRAVEL!!! The way of life is also so different from home, and I don’t think I’ve mentioned it much in previous blog posts. I basically feel like I’m at uni (not that I went), but based on what I’ve seen when visiting my bestie in Sussex. I do love the relaxing and having no worries (apart from what I’m going to eat and money), but coming from the fast paced city ways, sometimes just sitting in a hostel isn’t enough. I also really don’t understand how people end up working in hostels for a couple of hours a day, then sitting around for the rest. That’s just not me! I’m so happy the way that Jack and I have decided to do our trip, no work and a completely different lifestyle. Anyway, enough of my thoughts and back to what we’ve been up to. There’s been so much driving between places that we are both struggling with travel sickness, but luckily found some ginger tablets which work a treat. The drives have been so scenic and through the middle of nowhere at times (and past the southern alps) which makes a change from Oz which was all highways. It’s so nice as we are actually seeing the sights (and the masses of sheep).
Day 7 – River Valley to Wellington
The alarm went off early this morning so we could go rafting! It was absolutely chucking it down with rain when we woke up, and going to the loo nearly turned me into an ice cube (not sure if I mentioned before, but these were outdoor loos – eek). We powered through (and didn’t want to waste the money we had already paid – every trip in NZ is over $100) and pulled on our wetsuits and ridiculous amount of layers (which actually did keep us warm). We looked stupid, but it was so worth it. We started the trip with a short drive and then slid down the hill in the dingy. All the training was done in the river so we ended up with a full 3 hours in the water. It’s definitely one of the best things I’ve done so far, but it was so much more work than I thought. Our team of four were definitely pushed the hardest by our guide. So many of the other teams were just chilling. After navigating through a few small drops and rapids, we hit the big time and went down the grade 5 parts. I thought Jack was going to fall out so many times, especially when we had to jump over to the sides of the dingy to get round rocks. We also got very stuck at one point, but nowhere near as bad as the team who flipped their raft and had to be rescued by another. The chocolate bars were also pretty good when the energy/ morale was low – great idea to the tour guides. Rafting isn’t as scary as I thought it would be, it that meant we could enjoy it and actually learn a bit too. A must do for anyone visiting river valley! We got back to the hostel just in time for food! We shared a humongous sausage roll and slice of pizza, which was exactly what we needed. The rest of the day was pretty dull and was just a long drive to Wellington. We were knackered in the evening so didn’t fancy a night out, but ventured 5 mins to a street food market. We both had a burrito – $10 and it was amazing! The hostel was nice (Nomads) but the beds were awful. Whoever invented plastic coating for mattresses should be shot. Whenever someone turned over, it would make the loudest noise and wake other people up. Luckily I’m a heavy sleeper so missed most of it, but trying to get to sleep was a slight struggle, especially as our room was practically over the bar. There was also a couple of strange people in our room: the sixty-odd year old guy who kept eyeing me up and getting in Jack’s way, and the guy who told us about sleeping rough to save money – very weird.
Day 8/9 – Wellington
We made the most of the days without early starts and relaxed. Wellington is known for being windy and the people aren’t wrong! I was nearly blown over a number of times. It was also pretty rainy so we couldn’t really get to many outdoor activities. The weather is as bad as England as this is meant to be mid summer. We did make it to a football game which was so much fun, although Jack wasn’t impressed with the standard (doesn’t compare to Chelsea appaz). Wellington did lose 1-0 to Brisbane, so I agree with him on the standard. We went to the street food market again. Jack had another burrito and I tried the BBQ pork steamed buns, so yummy and 2 for $6. We also went to the national museum called Te Papa. We spent hours looking at all the exhibitions, and enjoyed the war exhibition most as the statues were so life like, just 4 times the size of a normal person. We ate lunch out and had the best burger and milkshake 😍. To keep to the budget we cooked in the hostel that evening and found our new fave dish, chicken pesto risotto! Wellington was a nice city, but would be better in the sun.
It seems that every day we move there is an early start! We met up with the rest of our bus (mainly new faces as we stayed extra nights in Wellington) and drove to the ferry terminal. The weather was so drab, which made for a crap first half of the ferry crossing to the South Island . We braved the sea sickness and played cards. Jack and I are both attempting to learn new card games in advance of our stop in Vegas. The second part of the ferry crossing was so beautiful and the blue skies helped our snaps. At the other end, we grabbed our bags off the conveyor belt and set off for the next part of our travels. We drove to Nelson (a smallish town) for a loo stop and supermarket. After reading an article about how Parma ham is made the night before (poorly treated pigs), I decided to try to be pescatarian. Sorry fish. So we bought some chicken for Jack and some prawns for me to add to the remaining pesto risotto. The hostel was nice enough, but the kitchen was a joke, so cooking our risotto was a challenge. That’s when the pushing and shoving started – I joke, it wasn’t that bad, but there were a lot of hungry people in a very close proximity. I definitely deserved the large glass of wine after. Staying in hostels does make for some tactical cooking. NEVER attempt something with more than one pan. The rest of the evening was chilled and we headed for the beach trying to get the last of the days sun. It really wasn’t hot enough to lay out, but the beach was pretty and made us feel like we saw a bit of the town even though we didn’t have long enough to explore the Abel Tasman national park.
Finally, a later start on the bus and the sun came out! We left around 11.30am and made the long drive to Westport. En route, we had a picnic stop at the Nelson Lakes which are pretty spectacular, and even managed to get that famous kiwi experience picture. During the drive to Westport, we had a mishap with the luggage lockers on the bus and very nearly lost all the bags to the motorway 😂- luckily none fell out and we narrowly missed a passing lorry. Westport is a ghost town, but is known for its surf. We opted out due to the weather and the fact that it was so rushed, but had a great evening nonetheless. After cooking up a storm (packet mac n cheese), we bought some beers and walked to the beach. Some of the others were already there, so we made our attempt at starting a fire (with a lighter). I’m happy to say that I started the fire with the chorizo wrapper, but the others kept it going. It wasn’t too chilly but we were glad to get back to the hostel. The hostel was really lovely, especially as we had our own self contained house (for our little crew of five).
It was chucking it down when we left Westport, but improved by the timer got to our first walk of the day, Cape Fowlwind. It lived up to its name and was so windy, my freshly washed hair ended up nice and tangled. The walk was nice and not too strenuous, but the highlight was the seals at the end of the walk. The rocks were covered with seals of all shapes and sizes – so cute. After another drive, we stopped at the Pancake Rocks. I did the walk to see the rock formations and blow holes, although blow holes aren’t what I expected and are just different rock formations. We also stopped off to get some lunch (my first challenge of not getting a triple cheeseburger in mcds) and fancy dress costumes – the brief was bin liners. I decided to go as an angel and Jack was an all black rugby player. Turns out there were a few other angels so I wasn’t as original as I thought. We had so much fun making the outfits and managed to spend less than $10 each. When we got to our accommodation for the night – Lake Mahinapua hotel (Poo pub), we assembled our costumes and had dinner. Everyone had the roast pork, but being the good veggie that I am, I opted for the warm salad. It was actually so nice when it finally arrived 20 mins after everyone else – apparently there had been a mix up with numbers with people asking for the salad when they pre ordered the roast 😬. The after dinner fun was the best bit, as we took over the hotel bar and had a par-tay. The happy hours were great (pretty much $5 for everything), so the drinks kept flowing!
It’s safe to say there were a few sore heads in the morning, but the pancakes at breakfast sorted most people out. The drive to Franz Josef was only short, but it was such a miserable day. When we arrived, Jack and I headed out to get food for the following day. We didn’t need dinner as we had paid $20 for all you can eat pizza and a drink. After the supermarket trip, we went and checked in for our helipcopter flight (for the next day) and bought some cringey NZ tshirts – $10, amazing. The pizza buffet was good, but being a veggie makes it hard. I definitely hadn’t appreciated how much meat I actually eat.
Day 14 -Franz Josef
Not having to get on the bus today was luxury and called for a lie in. We had a leisurely breakfast and then headed over to the helicopter tour shop. The sky was pretty cloudy and flights weren’t going when we got there so we pushed the flight back till 5.30pm and headed for the walking track towards the glacier. The walk was stunning and only took about 40 minutes to the viewpoint (from the car park). We are so happy we went, as our flight was cancelled due to the cloud cover. At least we got to see the glacier and saved about £400. We spent the evening in the hostels sauna and hot tub (fits 20!) and had a relaxed drink in a nearby pub. It was a great day, even though we didn’t make it onto the tour. Franz Josef is definitely worth a visit, especially as I hear the skydiving is amazing.
Love as always xx