Monday, March 4, 2013

The South Island of New Zealand

It’s difficult to find the time or motivation to work on my blog on a regular basis, but I am jotting notes down frequently on my IPod.  That’s helps in remembering all the small details, and coupled with the photographs, enables me to keep track of my time.  So now that I have all my notes, pictures, and time, here is the south island of New Zealand.

Back on February 17 I was recuperating from the night before in Wellington, and with very little sleep and nursing a hangover, I embarked on the ferry ride from the north to the south island.  Trying to find a spot on the boat that didn’t make me nauseas was a chore.  I split the time sitting with Anthony, Nicole, and Danielle, along with getting some fresh air on the top deck.  In Picton we were picked up by Magic Bus and shuttled to the city of Nelson.  It’s known for being the center of New Zealand as they have a point at the top of a hill designating the spot.  As I was standing up there a French guy asked me to film him for a blog video.  I agreed, and he proceeded to ramble on in French with a great amount of enthusiasm, while another man chuckled to himself.  Since I don’t care for booking a hostel in advance, I slept in a small a-frame hut.  It wasn’t as bad as it seems though.

Leaving Wellington
Large vessel with room for vehicles

I didn't stick around here very long
My a-frame Teepee
The Abel Tasman day hike was another add-on trip that I purchased.  A small boat takes you down the coast of the national park and you can choose where you get off, depending on how far you would like to walk back.  There are huts located along the route, as the full route takes four days, but Danielle, Sebastian, and I only hiked for the day.  We also stopped to have lunch and swim at one of beaches along the way.  

Giant boulder split in two
Not a bad place to be dropped off
View as we climbed higher
One of the several beaches we stopped at and the weather improved as well
Little falls are littered throughout the trail
The shop that created the “Ring” for LOTR along with a beautiful cathedral are located in Nelson.  I ended up making the 20 minute trek back up to the center of New Zealand again, because some of our friends caught back up with us.

The making of "The Ring"
When you make "The Ring" you're known as "The Ringmaker"
Christ Church Cathedral
The organ pipes
Nelson in sunset
There was a 360 degree view and this is opposite Nelson
While traveling to Greymouth we stopped at the Fouldwind Walkway and the Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki.  I stayed in a hostel that had its name changed due to flooding from a river.  The waters came all the way up to the steps and halted, giving it the name Noah’s Ark.  All the rooms were animal themed with paintings and flare dedicated to a particular animal.  Most of the bus toured Montieth’s Brewery, and went to a restaurant owned by the brewery.  We were all having such a good time laughing and yelling that a few other people in the restaurant joined us.

The solid rock on the left in the picture took years to cut out with hand tools and is a one lane road
Epic amount of sand
Dinner...  No we didn't eat him
Lookout at Foulwind Walkway
The members of the bus that day and we learned the equivalent to "Cheese" in half a dozen languages
Pancakes Rocks in Punakaiki
Amazing to see in person
Beer... enough said
Monteith's Brewery
Two Brits, Irish, German, and an American
In Franz Josef I scheduled a full day hike on Fox Glacier as the Franz Josef glacier had partially clasped a while back.  They provide the shuttle service and gear required to walk on the glacier.  I could go on forever about how awesome it was, but just take a look at the pictures.  I spent the rest of my time playing pool with James from Ireland, and conversing with others while we drank wine.  I also had to switch hostels during my stay as my booking was only for one day, instead of two.  My tent came in handy as there were no beds available anywhere that evening.

Jade carvers gettin their cut on
The Maori believe that a jade stone should be received from another and not bought or made for oneself
Someone threw enough smoke out cooking to send the fire company to the hostel
Quick stop at a little wildlife museum to see how Zealanders jumped out of helicopters onto deer
We hiked on the mountain to the glacier
Fox Glacier extends for kilometers
Jagged mountain tops to both sides
Waterfalls to the left and right while we climbed
The view to our back as we made our way up
These were 30-40 feet high at some points
What we had to walk on
Glacial river that flowed from underneath the glacier
More sharp rocks and ice
I got to use my tent and it only cost me 15$ NZD for the site and access to everything at the hostel
On the way to Wanaka the bus stopped at Lake Matheson, Haast Waterfall, and Puzzle World.  I only spent the evening in Wanaka, despite there being a beautiful lake there.  A few others and I watched Benjamin Button in the theater room at the hostel.  Wherever you may be in the evening, people want to party, or go to a club, and it’s hard to say no.  I pick and choose what nights to go out, or have a couple beers, or decide when to throw caution to the wind, and party hard.  When you’re trying to allocate your money, buying alcohol ruins any type of budget, so that night I had a couple beers at the club.

Giant Steve
Itty bitty Steve
A little privacy before I die, please
Haast Waterfall
Queenstown is such a wonderful place that I moved my schedule around to spend a total of three and a half days there.  On the evening of my arrival I hung out with Natasha, who I also spent time with in Rotorua.  We ate the most delicious burgers that I’ve ever tasted at Fergburger.  Typing about it now is making me hungry.  We also had Tramontana ice cream at Patagonia and some cookies at Cookie time.

Don't make a picture vile I'm eating (german speech)
In the morning I had to catch a 6:45am bus for a day trip to Milford Sound.  It was a long 5 hour bus drive to the sound, but various stops along the way helped the drive.  Most of us were bummed about the cloud cover when we arrived.  The group boarded a boat for the two hour tour around the sound.  We quickly spotted 4 to 5 penguins along with some seals basking on the rocks.  As the sound opens up into the sea, dolphins swam in the distance and the captain raced out towards them.  He didn’t think we would be able to reach them, but we ended up catching up to them.  I gave up trying to photograph them and used my GoPro to film them.  I should have stuck the camera in the water now that I think about it.  On the way back to the dock, the clouds began to dissipate, and I snapped picture after picture.

Picture stop
Mirror Lakes
Lazy seals
Impossible to photograph and trying to find a spot at the edge of the boat.
Clouds dissipating
Clouds trying to escape
Snow capped mountains
Lady Bowen Falls I believe
I tortured myself climbing up to the Ben Lomond Peak in Queenstown.  At one point, I thought about turning around, especially when I ran out of water.  Deciding to eat a monster breakfast in morning didn’t help the situation either.  Four days have passed and there are still a few aches and pains.  Regardless of the pain, I still went out with a group of people on our bus, and it turned out to be one of those party hard nights.  We hit three different places, with the more notable one being cowboy themed.  I sported a cowboy hat most of the night.

Big breakfast
Ben Lomond Peak
Don't fall off
A midday start was needed following the previous night.  Five of us took the Queenstown Gondola up to the lookout, which is only a fraction of the height I had climbed the day before.  A luge track sits atop the hill overlooking Queenstown.  Gravity propels little carts that you steer down a concrete track.  I sported the GoPro on my helmet to capture a first person view.  Our group split into two, and Nicole, Danielle, and I ate ate Ferburgers.  We made room for ice cream and chilled by the lake.

Before reaching Lake Tekapo we stopped at a couple bakeries, a salmon farm, and Lake Pukaki.  The water was cold at Lake Tekapo, but I swam in it anyway.  It actually felt refreshing after you were in it long enough.  In the evening 5 of us hiked to the Mt John Observatory to watch the sun set.  Two in the group left, leaving Nicole, Jing and myself up on the windy hill, waiting for the stars to appear.  There was complete silence and a clear sky with the only light from the small, isolated city.  We could see a glow from behind a mountain range and assumed it was a larger city, but it grew brighter.  It was an amazing moment when the moon crept over the peaks, and casted its glow on the lake.  On our way down in the darkness, moths gathered around our headlamps.
Lake Pukaki
Nicolle, Jing and me
All by itself in the middle of nowhere

My final day in New Zealand was a drive straight to Christchurch International Airport.  I was told by numerous people that there isn’t much to see in Christchurch, due to the destruction from the earthquake a couple years ago.  I would’ve liked to seen the progress they’ve made, but I didn’t have the time as my flight left in the evening.  Eventually I could see myself returning to New Zealand on a work visa.  Carpenters are sought after in New Zealand, most especially in Christchurch.  Several people made me aware of this, and after a year of travel and some time back at home, I might give it a go.  I’ll definitely miss New Zealand, but more than anything else my new friends.  They made the experience exponentially better.      

1 comment:

  1. Sounds wonderful Stephen and the pictures are beautiful, although I'm sure seeing it in person is absolutely breathtaking!