New Zealand, Australia · 24 Days · 55 Moments · August 2017

Anna and Chloes adventure in New Zealand

8 September 2017

Early and excited for Dolphin swim day! Headed down to the office for video briefing and given our wetsuits and kit. The boat drove out about 30mins in search of the dolphins with a plane scouting out above. They probed pretty illusive and did not want to play. Our first attempt was with 2 dolphins circling the boat, the water was freezing and we found it difficult to breath in all our gear, the water was very choppy and the dolphins swam away pretty soon after we got in!! We were told to make as much noise as possible to entertain them. 3 more attempts from the boys, we were unsure whether this was the activity for us!! Finally got back in the water and managed 5mins of swimming with 5 dolphins around the boat. The company refunded us $120 as they usually get 20mins of swimming with at least 50 dolphins!! Happy with our refund and small experience we headed back to Christchurch for our last night in New Zealand and our attempt to stay out until 3am for the airport.

7 September 2017

Picked up a hire car with the lads and headed to a sea side town called Kaikoura. The drive took about 3 hours. We enjoyed singing to music and driving along the winding roads with beautiful views. Got to our hostel and then went for a drive to find some local sea lions. They were easily found and you could walk up to them - keeping a safe 4m distance from them. The town is beautiful, nestled between snowy mountains and the sea. We had a relaxed evening, cooked spaghetti bolognese and had an early night ready for our swim with dolphins in the morning!

6 September 2017

We went for a final family meal as the OG's from the Kiwi Experience were all going separate ways. We went to a restaurant called Lone Star. The food was incredible! Then went to a bar for a few drinks and to play pool.
Arrived in Christchurch. The city is still recovering from the earthquake that hit in 2011 which killed 185 people. There were lots of road works and building repairs happening. We walked through a botanical garden when we first got there and then wandered around the city. We stumbled across a prison hotel - this was last used in the late 90's and then turned into a hotel. Anna and Chloe felt quite at home.

5 September 2017

Leaving Queenstown, a sad moment as it was probably our favourite place in NZ. Another hungover bus journey this time to Lake Tekapo, we learnt about a famous sheep who avoided the farmer on the mountains for 8 years and when he finally was found and sheared clothed many men. A family bbq planned for the evening but eventually moved to the kitchen due to high winds. An evening chatting in our bus drivers cabin before bed
Met up with our favourites Vanessa, Matt and Anna the bus driver. Feeling a little hungover we went for brunch with the stunning view of Queenstown. After brunch we walked up the hill to have a coffee overlooking Queenstown. Caught up on escapades and then went souvenir shopping. Later in the evening the guys came over to join us for predrinks and hot tub. We went to a rodeo bar where a few people went on the rodeo. Then went bar hopping. Chloe went missing and Anna found her in the bathroom after a while as she was hiding. A few people didn't last and ended up going home early. We found an empty bar and then played pool.

3 September 2017

After the excitement of the swing we returned to town to a FB messages saying someone had Annas passport and our friends from the first bus had made it into town. 2 reasons to celebrate!!
An evening walking around Queenstown. It's such a beautiful place
Nevis Swing!!! Highest swing in the world. The view was incredible. It was an 8 second free fall. Chloe was super excited and Anna was terrified, luckily a slight hangover and the distracting thoughts of Annas lost passport took our minds off things. Beautiful scenery at the canyon and the guys who worked there were winding us. Loved it, so much fun!

2 September 2017

Last night out with our full squad before Fiona and Louisa leave us, so we start with drinks at our cabin. After a few too many we make the short walk down to a lovely with fairy lights outside (always a winner) sadly Annas passport didn't make it to the bar with us and was lost end route!! A couple of runs up and down the hill didn't uncover anything so we logically decided to ignore it and continue on the night. Anna bumped into an old American Travel friend from the east coast and had a catch up. Dreading the hangover already before the Nevis Swing.
Last night out with our full squad before Fiona and Louisa leave us, so we start with drinks at our cabin. After a few too many we make the short walk down to a lovely with fairy lights outside (always a winner) sadly Annas passport didn't make it to the bar with us and was lost end route!! A couple of runs up and down the hill didn't uncover anything so we logically decided to ignore it and continue on the night. Anna bumped into an old American Travel friend from the east coast and had a catch up. Dreading the hangover already before the Nevis Swing.
We went to Cardrona to go skiing and snowboarding. It was Chloe's first time on the slopes, Chloe attempted snowboarding but spent most of the time on her butt. Anna was very patient when trying to teach how to go on a magic carpet and she he basics of snowboarding! Lunch time break where we all met up and had a beer. Then a few more hours on the slopes. Chloe could go down but no control of how to turn so spent the day on the baby slopes. A few drinks later - corona had a deal that if you buy 2 beers you get a free hat, so of course we all bought two!

1 September 2017

This is a Alpine Parrot called a Kea. They are one of the most intelligent birds. The Kea's cause loads of trouble in New Zealand. They steal wiper blades from cars. They will also move traffic cones into the middle of the road so drivers will get out to move it and will then jump into the car and steal any available food. When we saw them they were trying to enter our bus.
Road trip to Milford Sound. The drive took 4 hours and we stopped off for a few photo opportunities. We saw hanging glaciers, mirror lake, kea birds. We filled up our water bottles from a river - it was nice and refreshing. Got on a boat and sailed around. Milford Sound was named after the Welsh town Milford Haven. Saw some penguins and seals. Then we slept most of the way back!

31 August 2017

We splashed out on a private room for Queenstown as we are here for 5 nights. Feels like luxury in our tiny cabin. We also have a shared hot tub which over looks peaks of mountains. The gang came over for pre drinks
Very quick trip to Wanaka. The drive was beautiful with snowy peaks and lakes. We refused to stay in hostel base that kicked us out in Wellington so went to a different hostel. In the night anna and I said we were going to go and see the local night life, other people joined and we had a nice drink in a cafe. Next morning we went on a "walk" it was a hike! Hiked up a mountain to see some great views of Wanaka. Our bus driver is from Wanaka so it was nice to see where she grew up.

30 August 2017

This was such a great day and worth every penny! We were given crampons and a quick safety talk and Luke our guide took us up a glacier. He spoke a lot about how a glacier forms. It is very unusual the Franz Josef glacier as it is surrounded by a rainforest. The glacier moves actually 5m a day!
Our hike was on!!! Our group were all weighed and then given a helicopter number. Anna and I were split up for the helicopter ride. The views were incredible going up and looking over the rainforest and glacier.

29 August 2017

Heading to the bus early, a few coastal walks and a stop off at the supplies shop before heading to Lake Mahinapua for the Kiwi Experience fancy dress night. Motel based in the middle of nowhere alongside the beach and a lake. Nice roast dinner before we prepped our outfits and headed to the bar. Theme of Emoji's, we saw tents, Christmas trees, presents, a ghost to name a few. Freezing midnight swim before bed. Pancakes before breakfast before the long drive to Franz Josef.
Heading to the bus early, a few coastal walks and a stop off at the supplies shop before heading to Lake Mahinapua for the Kiwi Experience fancy dress night. Motel based in the middle of nowhere alongside the beach and a lake. Nice roast dinner before we prepped our outfits and headed to the bar. Theme of Emoji's, we saw tents, Christmas trees, presents, a ghost to name a few. Freezing midnight swim before bed. Pancakes before breakfast before the long drive to Franz Josef.
The walk took in total 4 hours. We did this hike as our helicopter and hike tour on the actual glacier was cancelled due to poor weather conditions. The company is very strict about when people go up on the glacier due to weather conditions changing so dramatically. We rebooked for the next morning with fingers crossed the weather would be ok.
The viewpoint was beautiful. A glacier with a rainforest right next to each other.
We started our hike to Franz Josef glacier viewing point
We stopped off at a tiny town to try and find a costume on a budget. We arrived at the hostel, it was nicer than we expected. It had hot pools and a nice friendly dog! We took a walk to the local lake and then started to get ready for the party. The hostel cooked a nice pork roast for us with home made garlic bread. After this the party started! It was so much fun. Anna dressed as a snorkeller and Chloe was a present wrapped as herself! Anna did a good job of the wrapping dress. We all had a good time. Chloe came 4th and won a bar crawl with a plus one so we are both sorted in Queenstown. Carla also won with her impressive grape effort. Most of us all took a walk to the beach after midnight. The girls went for a swim.

27 August 2017

We stopped off to see a Seal colony on our drive to the next town. Our next place we were told was going to be fancy dress and we had an emoji theme.

26 August 2017

We stayed in a small beach town called Westport. It was a bit eerie walking down the street as hardly anything was open and it was just deserted. The All Blacks rugby team were playing Australia so we went to a local bar to watch the match. It was also a guy on the buses Birthday so we bought him a cake to celebrate. Spent the night playing pool and then drinking games. We all decided to sleep on the floor of our dorm, I think it ended up being about 10 of us in a huddle. Great night.
Quick stop off to see Nelson Lake. It was so pretty with the mountains and the snow. The lake was freezing cold!! Obviously the boys wanted to jump in, girls were happy with a picture of our coats in. Also the eels that live in the lake can live up to 80 years!
Part 3 Wellington We went back to the Welsh bar and had some more fun. Liam who was the local kiwi offered some of us to stay with him. So Chloe, Anna and a guy called Pete went with Liam. Liam was so sweet and bought us some fish and chips for the taxi drive. We got to the house and it was in a student area. Liam brought out blankets for us all to stay on the sofa. We all had a good chat. Liam then brought out a apple and a knife - at first I thought this is where things were going to end (haha) but he just wanted to cut his apple into quarters and offer it to us. Jess a girl from the bus then text asking if she could also get a taxi and stay so she brought the really drunk guy with her. We stayed the night and then Liam's housemate who is a teacher dropped us back to our bus in the morning. Kiwi hospitality is so nice!
Part 2 Wellington Night We stayed in the Welsh bar for a while drinking. Met some locals who were really into Rugby. They were very interested that Chloe went to school with Sam Warburton. Obviously at this point a few people were stressed about where we were going to sleep tonight. I think in total about 10 of us had been kicked out. Some people attempted to get into other hostels but the other hostel had already sent out a blacklist email that we could not stay anywhere!! Thought this was a bit extreme as we were tourists with no where to go and the temperature was pretty cold! After spending a while in the Welsh bar they said we should try and move on and find somewhere else. One of the guys went out on to the street with his suitcase and the police pulled him over when he crossed the road - he was very drunk! After a while Anna went out to see if she could help, Chloe saw Anna going so went as well. Luckily the guys were let off being under the care of us!
In the morning we got a water taxi to see parts of the national park. We he water taxi couldn't get right up to the beach so we had to time it right to jump over the wave and into the boat!! Saw some baby seals - the area is safe as the bay is shallow so they aren't at risk of predators. It was so nice to see the babies swimming and playing around. They were a bit curious of the boat. Then we had a nice hike around a part of the national park. The beaches are so beautiful and untouched.
The baby seal colony
Split apple rock in Abel Tasman national park. At high tide, kayaks can go through the middle of the rock.

25 August 2017

Arrived at Abel Tasman which is a national park. We arrived just in time for sunset and had a walk to a view point to see if we could see any local penguins - unfortunately we weren't lucky. We had an early night after cooking a meal.
Next stop Taupo, nice town with a big lake and views of the mountains. Arrived late afternoon to our nice private room hostel for a nap. Watched the sunset over the lake and had a family dinner with everyone from the Kiwi Bus. An evening chill on the bean bags watching Wedding Crashers before an early night ready for Mt Doom hike the next day. Up at 0645 for the hike, beautiful landscape changing from volcanic rock to snow, crampons and walking sticks in hand. Pizza and gin at the hostel before surcoming to peer pressure and hitting the Irish bar with the Kiwi Bus and our new local Kiwi friends.
The morning we left Wellington was a bit of a rough start. We were still drunk. Had to sneak back into the hostel to get the rest of our stuff. Got on the bus and were told off like naughty school kids by our Driver Anna. We had text her at 2am asking if we could stay on this bus - it was a clear NO! Then we lost one of the guys Rich - it was like a scene from the hangover movie. Anna called hostels asking if a Posh English guy had tried to check in last night. They replied yes he tried but he as refused because he was drunk. Luckily he made it to the ferry on time by taxi. The ferry took us to South Island. Everyone is as sleeping for the journey.

24 August 2017

After food we had a relax and planned on going to the Welsh bar. It was Vanessa and Mathew's last night with us on the bus so we were planning on a goodbye evening. Vanessa came over to our hostel and we all started drinking in the room. Then others from the group said about meeting in their room so we all got together and played games. Next we went down to the hostels basement to have a few drinks. One of the guys was very drunk and the hostel refused to serve him.... next thing a hostel worker came down with a list of names and said we needed to leave the hostel or pay $250 for drinking in our rooms. We tried to argue it for a bit but realised it wasn't going to work. Luckily some people offered to take our bags who were going to be leaving with us the next day. So we dumped our bags to carry on with the party. Entered the Welsh pub - speaking Welsh of course in the hope they would let us stay there. However the workers couldn't speak Welsh which was a huge disappointment! Part 1
Oh Wellington! We had so much fun in this city, even though we didn't get much time here. Wellington is the capital of New Zealand but still smaller than Auckland. When we first arrived we noticed a Welsh bar opposite our hostel - Anna had already been told we had to go there. Went to a museum and there was lots of information on British people moving over to New Zealand in the 1900s. After this we had a wander around the city and waterfront. Played in a park and then had a free meal at the hostel. It was pretty small, one sausage, mash and gravy but I guess t was free so can't complain! Next entry will be about how the night escalated very quickly!!

23 August 2017

Arrived at River Valley. The road to this was place was beautiful with rolling mountains and lots of sheep! The sheep are so much more timid than back home and run away from the bus which is actually unusual to see if you compare to back home! Anyway.... we got to the lodge and had a good welcome speech. We were offered a roast dinner so of course we paid for that. The accommodation was that we were all in one big room with a few partitions separating us, a group of four of us had one section. The communal area was like a big cabin with a fire in the middle, table tennis, bar and board games. There wasn't anything to do other than play games and get to know each other better as no phone signal or wifi. We all had a great evening and the roast was amazing although they used LOADS of pepper! There was also a rope bridge that we went on to cross the river. Anna went on an early morning hike.
Evening Maori Experience. We moved around the forest to different stations where we were taught about the history of the Haka, traditional female dances, house carvings and the meaning of tribal face tattoos. The Maori men spoke of how they take care of their woman, never let them fight as if anything happens to them the whole family is lost. Also they get tattoos during childbirth to empathise with their wifes pain. Display of how food is cooked in the ground and a show of tradition dance before a massive feast for dinner. Once the evening visitors leave it's off to the hot tubs and bar. Drinking wine in the rain and swapping stories, before a great nights sleep in our comfy beds and 2 pillows, what a treat!
Stopped for a hike in the national park before going to River Valley.

22 August 2017

Loved this little town. Anna went to do the hike up Lord of the Rings mountain whilst I unfortunately had to go to the dentist. The dentist was lovely and made me feel at ease. I then walked around the town, people were friendly and chatted. Once the group got back from the 8hour hike we went to buy pizza and cooked it in our hostel. We planned on having an easy night watching another film but some local kiwis convinced us to go to an Irish bar for a pub quiz. Vanessa (our little sister on the trip) did a lip sync battle of total eclipse of the heart - she got free drinks. Temperature is getting colder and hit -1

21 August 2017

Arrived in Taupo which is a small lake town. We went to see Huka falls which is where a wide river has to narrow down to a few feet, the power from the river is good to watch. We watched a sunset on the lake and then went out for a meal with the kiwi group. After the meal we went back to the hostel and relaxed watching wedding crashes.
Visited a Geothermal spring. The man boiled an egg for us in the one of the springs, this is how people still cook food. The spring will erupt every 30 minutes and is quite an impressive show. We also saw the ladies of the Mauri tribe making dresses and baskets. The men also have training for 3 years to learn how to carve stories into wood to keep their heritage alive.

20 August 2017

Second part of yesterday was just as exciting!! We went to a Maouri village. We paid extra to stay over night. When we first got there we had afternoon tea, their scones were deep fried bread. We were taught a traditional song and actions that they use - then they told us we would be performing this to the public at dinner!!! Pressure was on! We also had to sing a song to say thank you for letting us stay. The bus chose Wonderwall by Oasis. I think we nailed it. After this we learnt more about Demi gods and the Maouri culture. Then we played a traditional game of throwing large poles - this was so fun!! Then we had to run to the main event where the general public come to a show. We saw the intimidating greeting that they would use to new comers. We had to pick a chief who was Lucas. The tribe then intimidated him, the tribe would offer a fern and if the visitor picked it up this would be a sign that the newcomers come in peace. Part 2 next...
Yesterday was a very exciting day. We went to Hobbiton!!! We had a behind the scenes movie tour and learnt and played out some of the famous scenes. Chloe was small enough to have been in the cast for Hobbit as you had to be under 5ft4. This was such a pretty place even if you haven't seen the films. The director actually had a replica hobbit house (obviously a bit bigger) made for his retirement. As part of the trip we also had a cider or pale ale in the Dragon Inn. So much detail was put into the whole of this set.

19 August 2017

We arrived in Waitomo. It was a tiny village famous for its glow worm caves. We were spoilt and had our own private room to stay in! Our trip to the glow worms took us to a cave where we had a tour. caves have the best acoustics as there is no echo. The guide asked if anyone wanted a go at singing and this one woman broke out with an amazing gospel choir voice. Katy Perry has also performed in the cave. At Christmas that is where they hold a Christmas choir - that must be incredible! The glow worms are protected as they are endangered. Glow worms have only been found in New Zealand, Australia and Alabama. They are a type of mosquito. The females light up to attract moths to eat and also potential mates. It was so magical going into the cave in pitch black, turning a corner and then the ceiling being lit up by the glow worms. It looked like bright stars in a sky. Nothing else to do in the town though. We had a relaxing rest of the day.
Learnt a bit of history today.... Europeans settled here and tried to take over New Zealand land from the Maouri. Maouri didn't have a written language but because of the aggression over the land Europeans made a treaty. Of course the Mauri's couldn't read and were told that the land would be owned by them but it would be lent to other countries. However in reality it was that the land would now be owned by others. Slowly the government has started to give back land - especially in South Island. Also descents of Maouri can have scholarships for education. A law in education has also been passed that people need to learn the Maouri language.
Visited a goldmine town called Karangahake. We walked along the track and saw some beautiful scenery.
The night of Hot Water Beach was all about a spa night! We walked to the beach at 20:00 with little shovels. We then had to dig in the sand to find the hot water. The hot water was produced from the sea tide and a gap between some tectonic plates, pushing the magma closer to the surface. After a few attempts of trying to find the right spot it was so warm - sometimes too warm and people ran off screaming because it was too hot. One person thinks he may have burnt the bottom of his foot. So worth doing.

18 August 2017

Arrived at Top 10 Holiday Park, Hot Water Beach. It was a nice warm day and we had previously been supermarket shopping so made our lunch and had a glass of wine with it. A nice hike to Cathedral Cove. Apparently there is a scene in the new film Narnia that was filmed on there. Getting to know people a lot better on the bus now. In the evening we played ring of fire drinking game and then had to cook our evening meal a little drunk. We could only afford courgette as our vegetable as everything is so expensive. Strange fending for ourselves and having to cook after a month! We cooked chicken, courgette pasta.
Orcas actually swim up to this bay to feed on stingrays. The primary school in the small town has a bell that will ring when the orcas are in the bay and the children get to have a break and watch them. School is cancelled until they leave the bay!
On our way to Hot Water Beach. Our guide Anna is telling us some interesting facts about New Zealand. The main industry is tourism but after that it is dairy farming. New Zealand provides a third of the worlds dairy - impressive for a small country! Also 80% of the trees are indigenous to New Zealand.

17 August 2017

Our first day trip on the Kiwi Bus, better than Asia buses! (Wonder how long we will be comparing the 2 trips for?!) The hours up to the islands with stop at the bakery and for a walk around the waterfalls. Met nice people on the bus and our dorm swapping travels stories before a 4 hr coastal walk, enjoying the warmer than yesterday winter sunshine. Bbq dinner and our first glass of New Zealand wine in the evening. Looking forward to seeing more to come.
So we've arrived in Auckland and the first thing that strikes's so cold. 14°c not prepared for this after a month in Asia. Secondly we have to stay in hostels now that cost us more for 2 bunk beds, no bathroom than the private rooms we've got used to!! Ah well we will adjust and it will be part of the next adventure. Quick evening wander around the city and a pizza to share before a rubbish night sleep and early morning pick up heading North to the Bay of Islands.

15 August 2017

Our flight had no entertainment so luckily Anna and I are great at sleeping so managed to sleep both flights to New Zealand. After a thorough check at border control (we had to declare our chocolate and walking boots!) we were safe to enter New Zealand!