Monday, February 1, 2010

Adventures in New Zealand

Day 16 - January 20
Last night we arrived in Wellington, which is in the north island, pretty late so we slept in this morning. Andy showed us a lot of the city in between his job and an interview he had. He also told us that quite a bit of the city is built on sand to expand the size, and that they lie on a major fault line so if there was an earthquake, they would be screwed. We walked along the coast before Hannah, Brennan and I headed to Te Papa, the New Zealand Museum. This was our first museum of the trip which is weird considering thats what we went a lot to in Europe. This museum was so big and so amazing with everything that was filled in it. We saw the world's largest squid on display (dead of course) and learned about the Maoris, the equivalent to indians in New Zealand. The Maori culture and language is still very visible in New Zealand which I thought was really cool. After the museum we picked up some lamb that we were going to BBQ at Andy's and that is when we got to see our friend Ellie as well! They were explaining to us that the population of sheep in New Zealand is higher than the population of people. Interesting to think about.

Day 17 - January 21
Today we had to get up super early in the morning to catch a taxi to the ferry to take us to the south island. I was pretty tired so I slept most of the ferry ride but woke up right on time to see the amazing views of the south island coming in. It was full of green hills/mountains with patches of really low clouds surrounding them. It was just absolutely beautiful. After the ferry ride we had an hour to kill before the 6 hour bus ride to Christchurch where we were meeting Ellie, our next tour guide. When we were all together, her family kindly let us borrow there car and we drove up to their batch (vacation house) along Arthurs Pass. It was a cute little cottage in the mountains and made me think of Colorado a bit.

Day 18 - January 22
In the morning we woke up to Ellie blasting Sound of Music, quite entertaining. We took a short hike/bush walk/shrub walk along Arthur's Pass and saw the point between east side and west side. The mountains are quite different here than they are in Colorado. They are definitely taller and covered in various types of green trees and shrubbery, but still made me think of home. Then we drove to Fox Glacier where I got to see snow...and a glacier. The Glacier was amazing to see. Unfortunately we couldn't touch or walk on the glacier without a guide but we still got pretty close. You could actually smell the ice, which made us all think of the Titanic. There was a creek running off from the glacier with as you can imagine, extremely cold water, but it was so clear and pretty cool thing to see.

Day 19 - January 23
Today we drove to Queenstown, the well known backpackers town. On the way we stopped at this big open meadow with mountains in the background because it literally looked like it was from Sound of Music. So we all got out and ran out into the meadow while spinning around and singing, a little show for the cars driving by. For dinner we had a picnic by Wakatipu lake while listening to some techno from a nearby boat. Interesting setting for sure. We also learned about FaFa which is this mythical Maori creature that lives in the water and he creates the waves in the water when he is upset. I can't remember what it is actually called but we did the honors and called him FaFa. We thought it suited him. After dinner, we joined all the other backpackers and checked out the night scene. We went to the World Bar where we had there famous tea pot drinks which are basically a mixture of different spirits and juices. They come in actually tea pots and you pour them into these little shot glasses. Brennan and I played it safe and shared a Long Island Iced Tea, something we were familiar with. The backpackers vibe was definitely present in the town and there were people from all over the world.

Day 20 - January 24
Today was another long drive to Milford Sounds. We had a quick lunch stop in Te Anau before making our way to our hostel. The drive there was soooooo beautiful. We were driving in between up and down mountains that had tons of small waterfalls just streaming through them. So gorgeous. After getting to our hostel, we braved the cold and went swimming in the Claddao river, which was incredibly cold. I've never been in cold water like this. We warmed up a bit and walked to Milford Sounds, which we saw at dusk. It was so cool how you could see the different layers of mountains almost with the water in the middle. Pictures could not even capture how amazing of a sight this was. On our walk home we stopped on a little trail and saw glow worms, a first for me. That was pretty cool and surreal to see hundreds of these small glowing things spread out in the bushes. This place is full of wonderful things.

Day 21 - January 25
After our short stop in Milford Sounds we headed back to Queenstown for another night. On our way back, we stopped for a several hour hike and stretched our legs. We did the beginnings of Routeburn track and continued onto the summit hike where at the top you could see everything around you. At the top we were at 920 meters or 3,018 feet. So still not quite a mile high. After a pizza dinner in town we went on a blind fold pub crawl with our hostel. That was so much fun and interesting. We each had to get in pairs and take turns being blind folded while the other person would guide you to the next pub. I was paired with Ellie and Hannah and Brennan were paired. We went to 6 different places where at the entrance you received a different shot. Our roommates (we were in a room of 6 for the night) were from Holland and such fun and happy girls. They also went on the pub crawl and made the evening very fun. It was great to talk to them and hear about their experiences as well. Made me miss my dutch friends. There was also a dance contest, which Ellie won. Her prize was a free bungee jump!!! Amazing. Unfortunately she didn't want it and we were leaving somewhat early the next day so we couldn't use her prize at all. Oh well, at least we all know that she won.

Day 22 - January 26
Today was our 7-8 hour drive back to Christchurch where we stayed at Ellie's parents place. They had such a cool house, away from the city, where they had a pool (not heated but still fun to swim in), a tennis court made of grass and a croquet field. It was so cool. They also have a lot of land and cows. After a delicious dinner that her parents kindly made us, we played some croquet, I was behind for most of it but got 2nd in the end. I guess I did get dad's croquet skills after all.

Day 23 - January 27
Another really early morning to catch a flight back to Melbourne. Our vacation is over, and reality begins, well what reality would be in Australia anyways. It's great to be back but now we need to find a place to live and jobs. Oh boy. Wish us luck!

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