This blog covers our trip around the world in 2006. We will post here with news of where we are and what we've been up to. Enjoy! Ang & Jane

Monday, August 14

Location: Queenstown
Miles Travelled: 19235
Time Zone: GMT + 11

Hi all, right so we headed off to Auckland and lost the 30th July in transit! So we arrived in Auckland on the 31st to be greeted by grey skies, heavy rain and a cold wind. Needless to say we knew it would be cold but having been melting for the previous few weeks it was a little shocking. We jumped on the bus and heading into town to meet Sue at the hostel. We checked in and grabbed brekkie and then wandered round town in search for some warm clothes and jackets as we didn't really have any with us! That evening we booked dinner in SkyCity in the revolving restaurant overlooking (damp and slightly foggy) Auckland. The dinner was delicious and the wine went down well so we happily stumbled out of there and headed to the Globe for another one or two before retiring after a very long day. The next day we just relaxed and caught a film and went to a table quiz and managed to come away with some prizes. The next two days were spent on a little trip away from Auckland. We hired a car and drove to Rotorua, a volcanic area which smells of rotten eggs due to the hot springs which contain lots of sulphur. We went to a Spa (one of the top ten in the world apparently) for a mud massage followed by a few hours of lying in the hot pools outside - it was a fabulous day and left us all feeling very relaxed and kinda sleepy so it was on to Taupo for a night of pizza and tv. The next day we were all booked in for a Skydive at 10.30 in Taupo so we got up and headed to the Skydiving site but alas we were told we wouldn't be jumping at 10.30 as the weather wasn't right. They said to come back at 2 and that by then it may have cleared up but they didn't give us much hope. Luckily it did clear up and we got the good to go message when we rang at 2 so we headed over there. After a little while hanging round we got to get suited up in our very fetching red jump suits and harnesses before meeting our tandem partners and heading to the plane. The tandem partners were all very funny guys and thanks to them we were laughing and joking the whole way as we climbed to 12,000 feet in a very small and cramped plane (I had the pleasure of sitting next to the door which resembled a pvc roller blind!). Anyways I was the one to be jumping first and once we'd reached the right height the door was lifted and I was swung over the edge of a plane so that I was hanging off its side with my feet dangling under the planes body. It was at this point I realised where I was and what I was about to do...quite a daunting prospect but before I had time to worry about it my Tandem partner lurged forward and I thought here we go...but no he was only kidding and it was a false alarm...after 2 more false alarms he finally jumped and I was free falling - it was amazing. The view of the ground and the lake was spectacular and the sensation was brilliant. After about a minute of freefall the parachute went up and we drifted around in the air admiring the scenery before landing. Once landed I got to watch Sue and then Ang float down to earth safely. Everyone enjoyed it and it was an amazing experience. We all headed back to Auckland on a high.
Ang headed off to Christchurch the next day and we were separated for the first time - sniff sniff. I stayed in Auckland with Sue for her last few days while Ang went to visit with friends(Colin and Pauline) in Christchurch. I had a great few days in Auckland with Sue before saying farewell to her and catching my flight down to reunite with Ang in Christchurch. When I was greeted by Ang and Colin (who very kindly had come to collect me) I was told of their adventures that morning on Mount Hutt. Ang had tried snowboarding for the first time and thankfully survived uninjured apart from a badly bruised ass. Apparently she had been using it as a brake!! We were only in Christchurch for a few hours so grabbed a loverly indian takeaway and hit the sack as the next day we were beginning our MagicBus tour.
The Tranzalpine train was leaving at 8.15am so we had an early start but armed with our leftover indian we boarded the train feeling prepared for our trip. We sat at a table opposite two people (Jodie and Chris from Billingham) who once we got talking to we discovered were also doing the same magic bus trip as us and also had the same time frame. So when we weren't marvelling at the scenery we all spent our time planning our magic bus schedules which both ended up being very similar. Our train arrived in Greymouth around 1 and we headed off to check in to our hostel. While checking in we were told of a trip to Punakaiki which was leaving the hostel at 2 and so we thought we'd join that. On the trip we got to stop at a few viewing points to admire the coastal scenary (which surprisingly is a Karst landscape - just like the Burren!!) along the Tasman Sea, walk a track down to a secluded beach and then we stopped off to see the Pancake rocks and blowholes of Punakaiki. Alas, there was no blowing in the blowholes but the rocks and surrounding scenery were well worth it. We got back and headed to meet up with Jodie and Chris for a drinky. It was another early morning the following day as we had all booked on an 8.15am cave rafting expedition. The trip was amazing, firstly we walked through a forest track to reach Tuniwha cave before heading straight in there in our very flattering wet suits and thermal under garments. We spent about 3 hours walking and climbing through the caves as well as floating on inner tubes under the wonderous sight of a ceiling full of gloworms. Upon leaving the cave we also got to try a natural water slide - i.e. sliding down a rock face which had water flowing down it and landing in a large pool of freezing water. It was excellent! On returning to town we were frozen through and very glad to jump into a bubbling spa with glasses of wine and a hot muffin. That night we met an Irish girl called Carmel from Kerry in our hostel room, she soon became part of our little travelling gang. The next day we caught the magicbus to Franz Josef. Enroute we got to try our hand at gold panning in Ross and got to keep anything we found!! Once in Franz Josef we all decided to go for a walk to Lake Wombat which was a really pretty and peaceful little lake just outside the town. After this we chilled out and watched telly and played boardgames in the hostel.
We were up early again to next day to check in for our next activity - a full day hike on the Franz Josef Glacier. Yes - I did say Glacier. It was amazing...we spent a total of about 5 hours on the glacier itself, leaping over and squeezing through crevasses and holes in the ice. After our hike we had dinner and some congratulatory drinks and went on another little adventure through a pitch black forest in search of some more gloworms. After a scary walk we finally got to awe at the sight of hundreds of gloworms surrounding us as we stood in the dark - it really made me think of a fairy land...all the little lights hiding in amongst the trees.
Next it was off to Queenstown on the bus. Enroute the scenary was spectacular and like nothing I have seen before...snowcapped mountains and lakes that ran alongside the road. We made a stop at Lake Matheson (the mirror lake) which reflects the surrounding snow capped mountains perfectly for an unforgettable sight. We also stopped off at the first ever commercial bungy jump and two brave souls from the bus made the jump. We arrived in Queenstown quite late so made ourselves dinner and then had a few drinks and a natter in Jodie and Chris's unit.
The next morning we were due to pick up a rental car and head for Milford sound. On the way to town - actually about 10 seconds outside the hostel I decided to try a new extreme sport - Pavement Diving! It involves hurtling yourself head/face first down a downhill tarmac path in the lashing rain (the water adds a little more momentum for a longer slide!). However I would advise any future Pavenment Divers to wear protective gear as I ended up almost knocking myself out with a massive bump on my forehead and grazing and bruising my knee and pretty much rendering my left arm useless - yeap calamity Jane struck again. After a few moments of temporary blindness and weakness I managed to phone Ang who was a few minutes ahead of me and informing her in a very wobbly voice that I had fallen and basically couldn't move. She sent Chris back to help me inside while they got the car and came back to pick me up for a quick trip to the Medical Centre (which luckily the bus driver had pointed out). I was given the all clear eventually and Ang was given a sheet of things to look out for in concussed people (among them giddiness and confusion - not very unusual for me on a normal day!). So off I went with my Kiwi sized bump on my forehead, a limp and a left arm which didn't work! After the crisis and detour were over we hit the road for Milford Sound. The drive there was insane as we literally drove over and through mountains, we got to see autumn, winter and spring all in one drive! We arrived just in time to catch the last ferry round the bay. The cruise was great as we not only got to see the scenery but also the added bonus of seeing bottle nosed dolphins, fur seals and yellow eyed penguins. Oh and we also got drenched under a waterfall!!
Yesterday we still had the car and headed to Wanaka for the day. We went to Puzzling World which is a great place for anyone who likes puzzles and illusions. It also had a huge maze which we managed to find our way out of. After that we went to Have A Shot where we all tried something, Ang and I tried the mini-golf and rifle shooting. Jodie and Chris tried the driving range and Ang tried Archery (which I would have done except my left arm still wasn't working). It was a really great day and so to finish it off we went for a nice slap up meal in DuxdeLux in Queenstown. And strangely enough so far today all we've mainly done is update the blog. So there you go...we've finally managed to get ourselves up to date. Check back again soon for the rest of our New Zealand adventures.


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