Day 16: Lake Ohao to Christchurch: Last day has come around so quickly! Another beautiful day of travelling, we stopped at lake Pukaki and famous Lake Tekapo. We saw the church of the good shepherd too at lunch time. We arrived in Christchurch around 3pm and went for a bit of explore then chilled in the lobby before dinner at DUX. Said some very sad goodbyes to my lovely group and headed for the airport accommodation around 9pm.
Accommodation: Juicy Snooze Christchurch airport- awesome little hostel 'pods' brand new, nice communal areas and bathrooms, great wifi, easy walk to the airport and very cheap!
25 March 2017
Day 15: Dunedin to Lake Ohao- We left Dunedin around 10 and did a number of stops en rout to Lake Ohao. We climbed the steepest hill in the in world, Baldwin street, in Dunedin before we left. We stopped for lunch at the Moeraki boulders- very expensive food! We made another stop in an old fashioned Victorian town which was odd, Omaru. Also stopped to look over another beautiful lake and dam- Benmore Dam. We arrived in Lake Ohao which is incredible so beautiful! Had inclusive dinner and had some drinks for our last night- sad times!
Accommodation: lake Ohao lodge- old fashioned but clean rooms, cool communal spaces. Didn't bother to buy wifi.
24 March 2017
Day 14: Queenstown to Dunedin- gorgeous sunrise this morning! we left Queenstown this morning and headed to the student city of Dunedin. I was SO hungover today! Did a Speights Ale House tour this evening and dared not have inclusive 45 minute unlimited drinks. The city seems pretty small. I had Nando's and headed for an early night.
Accommodation: Victoria hotel- comfiest beds! Central, clean, good showers, crappy breakfast!
23 March 2017
Day 13: Queenstown- today we had a bit of a lie in and headed to town around 11am. I grabbed a famous ferg burger with Matt- we were so lucky we arrived with no queue and had our food in 10 minutes! 2 seconds after we arrived the queue was 20 strong. Really good burger, tasted even better with no queuing! We chilled on the green chatting for most of the afternoon before heading back to the hotel. We had 'pizza fest dinner' at whinnies which was included in the tour then we went to fear factory, a haunted walk through a house with people in scary costumes in the pitch black! We then got very drunk for our last night in Queenstown- awesome night!
22 March 2017
Day 12: Milford Sound - long day today! We left for Milford at 6.15am. We had a few bathroom breaks and photo stops once we entered fiordland national park. It was so beautiful. We finally arrived at the peer for the boat cruise at 12.30 after a 5 hour drive down. Milford sound is UNESCO world heritage listed and the cruise was stunning. It's so hard to capture in pictures the sheer size of the mountains that tower over the sound. Also I am still not entirely surely what a sound is (hehe) but I think it's a body of water preceding the sea that has two or more channels into the sea and is composed of fresh and salt water. It also has to be of a certain depth (in parts the water was over 1000ft deep). Some of the mountains were 1 mile high from sea level. We saw seals playing on the rocks and had fish and chips for lunch. The cruise lasted 2 hours and we began our long bus ride back which wasn't so bad. There was an option to take a scenic flight back for $400nz! awesome but long day!
21 March 2017
Day 11:Queenstown- After breakfast we had an included 20 minute ride on a 'shotover jet boat' which is essentially a very fast boat that can run in 10cm of water, at around 90-100ks. It was so much fun!! Our guide Mike kept doing 350 turns and driving close to big rocks it was so scary! Would highly recommend it. We then spent 45 minutes in arrowtown which is nicknamed the town of gold for two reasons- 1. During autumn the leaves of the trees surrounding the town turn an amazing gold and red colour, and 2. The river next to the town is famous because it was the source of the most river based gold deposits in the world. After some lunch I hiked the queenstown hill hike with Megan. It took us around 2.5 hours return, such a hard hike, a steep gradient throughout but the view at the top was so worth it. We also hiked back to the hotel which was a good 1/2 hour with a hill too, out of town. We are having some down time before heading to the ice bar this evening for a couple of drinks.
20 March 2017
Day 10: Franz Joseph to Queenstown- you know when I said the drive on the first day in South Island was the most beautiful. I lied- on the drive from FJ to QT, is the most amazing scenery I've ever seen in my life. We stopped at ship wreck beach and spotted tiny hector dolphins in the wild right near the beach! We stopped at thunder falls (nickname acid falls because staring at the water for 30 seconds then looking to the side creates an illusion the Trees are moving- so weird!). We drove around two amazing lakes- lake wanaka and lake hawea and stopped for lunch at wanaka township. After lunch was time for my bungee- 43m off the kawarau bridge. I was so scared but it was such a good feeling to do it with the support of my contiki group. Here's my bungee video!
Accommodation: aspen hotel, queenstown- amazing views, rooms, wifi, and facilities
19 March 2017
Day 9: Franz Joseph- Sadly our flight and landing on franz was cancelled due to cloud cover. Apparently very few tours go ahead due to the dangers surrounding the glacier trek. Instead we took a shuttle to the glacier and hikes 1.5 hours return to the base of the glacier and back, and did a short 20 minute walk afterward to another look out. It was absolutely stunning! We did another hiked to the tartare tunnels (an old gold mining tunnel) after lunch which was pretty cool, and spotted some glo worms! We had dinner at king tiger as recommended by josh which was pretty good!
18 March 2017
Day 8: Christchurch to Franz Joseph- We had a 40 minute walking tour around Christchurch this morning, and we saw just how much devestation the big earthquake had, and still has, on this city. There were so many building projects, derelict building, and a eery empty feeling in the streets as many people had moved away from the area after the 2011 quake. We saw the former cathederal and new temporary cathederal (made from cardboard as this obsorbs quake vibrations. We also saw the 185 white empty chair memorial for those who had lost their lives. We also saw a dance o mat which was made for people to enjoy themselves amidst the destruction. We then made our way to Franz, through Arthur's pass and Hokitika (where you can purchase NZ jade). Weather brightened up. Fun dinner and night out at monsoon bar!
Accommodation: rainforest retreat- tiny rooms with weird smell, bad wifi, noisy, dirty hot tub where people have sex- we were told not to bath in there unless we wanted to have a baby!
17 March 2017
Day 7: Wellington- Christchurch: long travel day today. We were up early and caught the ferry across the cook straight- surprising very calm and not choppy waters. Beautiful views particularly coming into the Marlborough sounds. The original road into Christchurch is still damaged due to the big earthquake last year so we took a 4 hour detour extra scenic route. I think this drive is the most beautiful I've ever seen in my life. It was just continuous rolling mountains, rivers and farm land with clear blue skies, stunning! Oh- also met an old teacher from Kennet school on the ferry sitting in the same area, a selfie was needed- what a small world!
16 March 2017
Day 6: Wellington- family day! I met uncle Roy and Aunty Cheryl at 10am at the Te Papa museum. The museum is amazing and so interactive, we visited the new galapolli war section and saw a giant colossal squid and went in the earthquake simulator. We then drove up to the look out st mount Victoria which was stunning over the city- perfect weather. We went to look around weta caves at some of the lord of the rings props and intricate props from other films. We had lunch down the road at a place called 'The Larder' which was delicious. We met Paul at lunch and afterward walked his dog down one of the beaches- we then did a coastal drive. What a lovely day with my family I felt very homesick after being spoilt and looked after all day. I met Katie for a drink as our itineraries lapped over in Welly. Grabbed some snacks for travel day tomorrow and headed to sleep. Wellington is great for free activities all over the city!
Accommodation: Mercure hotel- great location, good wifi, clean!
15 March 2017
Day 5- Taupo to Wellington: Today was a travel day. We left Taupo around 9 after a gorgeous breakfast and stoped for lunch around 12. The scenery on the drive was absolutely stunning we drove through the tongoriro area and past 3 volcanos, the clouds had come down though which made visibility tricking but the surrounding area was beautiful! We arrived into Wellington around 3 and had an orientation tour. The city seems awesome! This afternoon I explored with Megan and Jess, we visited the 'bee hive' parliament building and walked up along the harbour. Spotted to Te Papa national museum ready to visit tomorrow!
13 March 2017
Day 4: Taupo- we arrived into Taupo at lunch time after a stop at gorgeous hukka falls! After a reluctant bit of lunch I headed for my sky dive (ahhhh)! We were picked up in a yellow hummer and taken to the airport. I fell from 15000 ft, at at least 120kmph, my free fall was around 60 seconds before our shoot was opened. It was the most terrifying but amazing thing I have ever done! The views were incredible over the lake and the surrounding area and I even got the fly the parachute for a while. Such a high afterwards! Here is the video from my dive! https://youtu.be/AM1lLEnP6u0
Cost: £320 (inc second diver to capture footage)
Accommodation: Lakeland resort: beautiful rooms comfy beds, about 30 mins walk from town but good wifi pretty views.
Day 3: Roturua- started the day off with rain again but as we arrived into hobbiton around 10am, as if by magic it turned beautifully sunny! Hobbiton was gorgeous and so worth a visit! We spent this afternoon hiking up mount Tarawera, which is the sight of an old volcanic eruption which has left a huge beautiful crater. It's the same volcano that destroyed the pink and white Terraces. Views were incredible and good weather persisted. Some difficult scrambles and gradients, and we then did 'scree running' which involves rubbing heel first and leaning back down tiny rocks which roll under your feet. We ran down the steep side of the mountain into the old crater it was so much fun but so terrifying! This evening we went to the Polynesian spa to relax in the thermal pools after a long day. Gorgeous day in Roturua, what a special place.
12 March 2017
They also performed a love story for us- Hinemoa and Tutanekai which is a famous story in their culture about how true love finds a way. The food was delicious too. Such a good evening with fascinating, welcoming people! Weather is still not great but is due to clear up tomorrow- wahoo!
Waitomo (kiwi paca) small lodge rooms, comfy beds, no wifi but good location!
Roturua ( Sudina hotel)- great wifi and location right next to the thermal pools, great food and performance, nice rooms and amazing pressure in showers- unlimited hot water!
Day 2: Roturua- We left Waitomo around 8.30 and arrived in Roturua at 10.30. We visited Te Puia which is a Maori arts and craft institute and educational village. Our Maori tour guide showed us the amazing geothermal pools, geysers, and mud pools which were incredible. We saw a kiwi bird- part of a breeding programme as they are being endangered. We also saw Maori males and females doing traditional wood work and weaving. We learnt or guide's ancestors had chosen this area and how they used the pools to cook food, bath in, and keep safe from their enemies. We had some lunch and had a chilled afternoon at the hotel before a Maori dinner and performance this evening which was amazing- they are such a kind and welcoming people. They welcome us using two male 'chiefs' from our group in a ceremony and performed the female 'poi' dance using soft balls attached to string and tassels which we also could join in with. The guys had a chance to learn the Hukka after we watched them perform.
11 March 2017
Day 1: Waitomo- start of the tour today, we met for 8.45 at and jumped on the coach. I was nervous all over again but met some lovely people and hung out with two girls today. Our driver here is called Aaron and our guide Josh both seem nice but suuuper laid back. We signed up to north island optional extras. The black water rafting I wanted to do was cancelled and the waitomo glow worms cave was too due to flooding! So we did the Ruakuri glow worms cave which was a guided walking tour through the caves and we saw amazing limestone rock formations with fossilised muscles and shells in the rock which was cool. Before that we did the waitomo look out walk which was was very pretty even in the rain- check the pic where a massive piece of tree fell right down from the canopy next to me (I nearly died :)). We attempted the ruakuri walk but got halfway to find the river was flooded over the track! Overall good first day I love New Zealand even in the rain!
10 March 2017
New Zealand! Finally in Auckland with zero sleep on the plane. All ran smoothly getting into the city this morning though. I had a lazy breakfast and strolled to the sky tower and harbour area. I decided not to go up the tower as today was very misty so the views would have been limited. Had some lunch and a snooze at the hostel before grabbing dinner at the same place 'tank' which does amazing healthy salads and juices. Has my breif kick start meeting and an early night ready for tomorrow.
Accommodation: base backpackers- very central, clean, good bathrooms, wifi in lobby, dodgy lifts, $8 continental breaky