Saturday, April 25, 2009

New Zealand

New Zealand
April 3 – April 13
Easter break trip…

At about 4 a.m. on April 3, six fellow uni students and I left our apartment to head to the Brisbane airport. Later that morning, we caught our flight from Brisbane to Christchurch, New Zealand to start our Easter break trip! For our trip we were joining the Kiwi Experience, Southern Roundup tour and travelling all around the south island.

Stop # 1: Christchurch

Known for having the freshest water in all of New Zealand, it is a fairly small city with an old English feel to it. Right now it is their autumn, so the weather is crisp and chilly, but the colors are a sight for sore eyes! All we did in Christchurch was walk around and explore the city. We saw a couple markets, the casino, a botanical garden, and took a nap in a wonderful park. I was here on my birthday so we went out to supper and hung out at the bar that was part of our hostel. I definitely missed my friends and family that day!

Stop # 2: Westport and Greymouth

The ride from Christchurch to these stops was ridiculous, in a good way of course! I was intrigued the moment we got out of the city because it was our first taste of true New Zealand. We took the windiest, hilliest roads I have ever been on. It was also the most amazing scenery I had seen yet at this point in my life! If I could share the view through a video recording and let it do justice, I would! Instead, my memory will have to do for now. Little did I know, this was just the beginning with even greater things to come : )

We stayed at the Trip Inn Hostel in a small old gold mining town. It was basically a huge old farmhouse that has been transformed into a night stop for backpackers. Outside of the town was located Buller Adventure Tours where one day I went jet boating and the next did some horse trekking!

Stop # 3: Mahinapua

Our next stop was the “Poo Pub” in a town that consists of nothing, Mahinapua. To the left of the Pub was a lake with a camping area and to the right was the ocean. The ocean was a lot different then most- black sand, drift wood scattered the beach, and many rocks all over. This stop is part of the itinerary because a grumpy, hilarious old man owns the place and has been hosting it for years! They first cook a huge steak dinner for all 60+ travelers and later put on a costume party in the old run down bar.

After leaving the next morning, we take a short pit stop at the “Bushman Center” for an interesting experience, none-the-less. Basically it was to see a video about how New Zealanders hunt and trap deer. The main feature is the fact that they do it by jumping out of helicopters and wrestling them until they are contained. We also saw some possums and some other interesting animals. My favorite part of the whole experience was the ridiculous signs located all around the unique building.

We also took a stop at the "Pancake Rocks" which were some very unique rocks/cliffs/hills/formations that had built up along the coast to make for some wonderful scenic walks. As you can tell the coast itself was pretty nice!

Stop #4: Franz Josef

Franz Josef is a very small, very typical tourist town. I reckon the only reason it exists is for people to experience climbing and seeing glaciers. We stayed at a hostel/resort called the Rainforest Retreat…sounds alright hey? It was a pretty decent place with a really nice restaurant and bar. They also had a large hot tub for the guests! It was rainy and cold both nights we stayed here, so it was nice to be able to stay inside and sit by the fire, chat, and take part in some activities, such as a rock-paper-scissors contest.

Besides these, the main event here was the eight hour glacier trip we took. Quite the experience- the beginning and end were great, but the middle was a bit miserable! The day we left, a few of us had one more quick stop and that was to skydive over the Fox Glacier and next to Mt. Cook: ) which might I add has been rated the second most scenic place in the world to dive!

Stop #5: Wanaka

I feel in love the moment we drove in on the bus! Seeing all of the autumn colors with water and the mountains in the background was a, lets say, breath of fresh air! It is a rather small, very nice, ski resort town. If I had the proper attire for the situation I would have felt as though I was in a movie! I took advantage of the opportunity here and took a refreshing run! The hostel was brand new, along with everything else it had to offer, for instance the Mint Bar. We had a dinner here, followed by a fun night with an attempt at an Easter egg hunt. However, by time morning came, we were off once again.

A short time out of town, we stopped at Puzzling World. This was just to spare sometime for the others who either had or were in the process of going skydiving. It was a really fun place however. Honestly, I felt a little bit like I was on a school field trip, but there is nothing wrong with that right? We all love field trips. There was a large maze outside and all sorts of obstacle illusion mind-boggling rooms and activities inside.

Stop #6: Queenstown

Adventure capital of the world, here we come!! Getting into Queenstown was pretty exciting because it was the last stop, but the long awaited one we were all anxious for. Just outside of town was our first stop, which was when I experienced my first ever bungy jump at the world’s first ever bungy location, Kawarau Bridge. I absolutely loved it and could have done it over and over again!

We then made our way into town, took a group photo of our kiwi bus with a great view for a backdrop. Later that afternoon we took a gondola ride up to the top of a large hill and did some lugeing. Let me tell you what, go lugeing with the wrong group and everyone is going to end up hurt! Ha! It was great fun.

We took a walk around town and through the shops that day and ended it by hanging out at the hostels Altitude Bar where we had a night filled with group trivia. Not to mention it was lady’s night so I walked away with a red rose : ) We last went to The World Bar where they serve drinks in tea pots!

The next day I saved my money that I don’t have and just enjoyed the weather. We grabbed lunch at the infamous Fergburgers(delicious!! – huge burgers) where we just so happened to run into Jesse Metcalfe (aka John Tucker) and Jack Osbourne, along with a couple others who I didn’t know. Who would have thought, chatting on the sidewalk with a few famous people as if it is no big deal! This encounter turned out to be the highlight of some of the girl’s trip. We ended the night taking part in the popular “Big Night Out” pub crawl.

Stop #7: back to Christchurch

We jumped the long bus ride back to Christchurch, so we could make it in time to catch our flight back home. We got to the city in time for mass, so two others and I attended an Easter service. It was really nice to be able to still make it to church on Easter and listen to a good sermon and a ridiculous choir! Tonight everyone seemed to do a little of their own thing. So four of us girls just played cards, ate popcorn and hung out. Two boys went to the casino and won heaps! One guy went to the beach and another gal enjoyed a few drinks with our new roommate. All seven of us and our new English friend Sophie had a fun last night just having a chat and joking and laughing in our room.

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