A Travellerspoint blog

Blenheim - Nelson

sunny 5 °C

So when I arrived in the tiny town of Blenheim I thought I'd have no problem finding a bed for the night, what with it being winter there aren't as many of us tourists around. But oh no, it seems that now is the perfect time for all those travellers that have to work to find jobs on the vineyards, working 10 hour days to prune and tie the vines for the winter.

So, I had to stay in a place called Swampy's. The name didn't fill me with hope and I wasn't disappointed... A bit of a s**t hole to say the least. Now I know that when the Lonely Planet says it has "atmosphere" or "character" it means it's old and dirty and is in the middle of nowhere.

I only stayed 2 nights there as it just wasn't for me. The people staying there were all really lovely though, but how they spend 10 hours outside in the cold working for peanuts I don't know. I feel very lucky that I saved enough so I don't have to work whilst I travel! Well, not yet anyway!

I did do the obligatory wine tour whilst there. An afternoon spent with George, my guide, going from vineyard to vineyard, sampling their wares!! It's nice spending an afternoon drinking wine and chatting, reminded me of work!!!

Next stop was Nelson and I really liked it there. The sunniest place in NZ apparently and a really lovely little town. Lots of nice cafes and restaurants.

I spent a week here doing not a lot to be truthful. I hung out with a couple who have moved there from the UK with their 2 year old daughter who was very cute. Steayed at the lovely YHA which was dead quiet so had the run of the place really.

I did a walk in the Abel Tasman National Park. A nice 5 hour trek along the coast. It would be nice to come back in the summer as the beaches look amazing. I also visited the WOW gallery, a place where the display the Wonder World Of Wearable Art costumes. Good, but not worth the $18 entry fee and I'm not just being tight here...

After I could chill no longer I booked my journey to Wellington.

Goodbye South Island of NZ

Posted by J9travels 21:48 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Dunedin - Christchurch -Kaikoura

How lucky were we!

overcast 8 °C

We headed for Dunedin the next day, passing through Gore, where I have just found out, is the sheep shagging capital of NZ. Sorry, but a Kiwi told me that so it must be true! We didn't stop there.

Can't tell you much about Dunedin other than the 5 "sports" bars we stopped at were not showing the England match. False advertising or what?!

We did eventually find one and it had a big fire and big comfy sofas and lots of booze, sorted.

And that's all we did in Dunedin.

The following day we decided to head back to Christchurch instead of stopping another day somewhere random. This turned out to be a very wise decision.

It was nice and warm in Christchurch when we arrived and we even opted to turn the heater off for the night as it was too warm to keep it on. The next morning was a different story. We woke up to snow and the whole of Christchurch in turmoil.

Now there wasn't a lot of snow in the city but the way everyone reacted you'd have thought there was about 6 metres on the ground. When we were wondering around in the afternoon there were loads of shops and cafes that had just not opened because the owners didn't want to get there feet wet!!!

Down in the south where we had just come from was a little different. They'd received their worse snow fall in about 80 years and loads of roads were blocked (including ones we had driven on the day before) and the power had come down in a lot of areas. We definitely made the right decision to get back when we did.

And then Emma left me. Went off to Shanghai to meet some bloke. Hope he can manage to keep her away from the All You Can Eat buffets!!

Since then I have been partying, I mean, crying, but trying to make the best of it it!

I'm now in Kaikoura and it's really cold here.

Last night was spent in the pub with Jen, a Canadian girl who I am sharing a dorm with.

Today I managed to make it on a whale tour and we saw about 7 Sperm Whales. You only get to see the tops of them which only accounts for about 20%, the rest stays underwater until they decide to dive and then the tail flips up. It was a really good trip and we were lucky to see so many and even get out there at all as the sea has been so rough that they've had to cancel loads of tours. They cancelled the tour after ours.

Interesting (?!) fact about Sperm Whales - They got their name from early whalers who caught one and killed it and then chopped a bit of it's head off. Out oozed 2.5 tonnes of thick white sticky substance that they presumed to be semen. oh dear... And so they named it the Sperm Whale. Anyway, of course it wasn't, it was just oil that they have in their heads to help them dive and resurface and stuff.

Not much else happening in Kaikoura so I'll be moving on on Tuesday.

Next stop Blenheim

Posted by J9travels 18:55 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Milford Sounds

Rain and fog

rain 10 °C

Next stop was Te Anua, a small town situated between Milford and Doubtful Sounds, just in case we decided to do both.

It was cold but nice and sunny on arrival so we booked our Milford Sound trip with confidence, pleased that we didn't have to pay extra to take the coach as we were going to drive ourselves along the scenic route.

A nice campervan site was found along with spa and we settled down for the night.

Next morning we woke to lots of rain and fog, nice. We were chatting to a guy in the kitchen who informed us that the weather prediction wasn't great, snow was expected and all vehicles going to Milford had to carry snow chains... He smugly told us that he had booked the coach as he didn't want to worry about driving in possibly treacherous condictions.

What to do?

We found out that you could rent snow chains from the garage so we had 2 options: 1. rent the chains and risk taking the van along the twisty mountain road. 2. Book the coach and sit back and relax and let their driver worry about everything.

Obviously we choose option 1 as it worked out $50 cheaper and we thought it might be fun to drive in snow chains!!! The nice lady at the petrol station should us how to fit them and we were off. It's a 2.5 hour drive but as we were running a bit late I had to put my foot down a little (obviously never going over the speed limit) and we did it 1.5 hours! It's a nice drive and luckily the snow as no where to be seen.

Unfortunately, the fog was still around when we got to Milford and so the boat trip wasn't all that it could have been. The waterfalls were good due to the amount of rain we had had but the overall view was somewhat diminished.

A good trip none the less and the underwater viewing room was good.

A slow drive back and a spa to warm us up!

Next stop Dunedin

Posted by J9travels 18:34 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Wanaka - Queenstown

Extreme sports capital

sunny 8 °C

So we made our way down to Wanaka where it is very cold. Coldest it's been so far. Obviously I've turned into some sort of cold weather wimp and it's probably not half as cold here as it gets at home in winter but it does feel icey!!!

We didn't do much in Wanaka, just admired the lakes and the surrounding scenery, very beautiful. And went out for dinner and drank red wine

I wanted to do something extreme but didn't fancy the jet boating and I'm not ready to do a sky dive just yet so I thought I'd save it for Queenstown, the self titled extreme adventure capital.

A lot of Kiwi's don't seem that impressed with Queenstown. Whenever we told people we were heading there they said get in and get out as fast as you can. That it just robs you of your money!!

Well, it's a lovely town and yes, it is a little pricey!!

We arrived around 3pm and went into town for a look around. I had decided that I might do a bungy jump. I've been thinking about it for a while now and although the thought alone scares me to death, I think I'd be disappointed with myself if I didn't try it. Not sure why but I just feel that it's something I need to do.

So we went to bungy central and asked about the options. Just out of town is the world's first commercial bungy site. We had passed this on the way in and had stopped to have a look. It didn't look too high (about 41m) but it was over a river and I didn't fancy having my head dunked into a river in the middle of winter.

They have a few others, one is the Nevis High Wire which is a 134m drop (440 feet) which I felt was a little too high for a first timer! Then there is the Ledge Urban Bungy, which is described as:

"the only urban Bungy in Queenstown, it was clearly our duty to make it as crazy as possible. The Ledge Urban Bungy is like no other, in that it comes equipped with a 'runway' to launch you out 400 metres over Queenstown."

Yep, that's the one for me!!!

Emma had decided that she wasn't going to do a jump but would be a willing spectator and eagerly egged me on into booking a jump then and there. Thanks Em!

$140 and a half hour later and I was perched high above Queenstown watching the clock tick slowly towards 5.30pm, my jump time.

The rest is all a bit of a blur. I'm not sure how I actually managed it seeing as heights aren't my thing but I did it. I ran off the edge of the ledge and flung myself into the air and waited for the rope to do it's job and save my life. And I bought the photos and DVD to prove I did it. It's a bit weird watching it now and I do make the most awful death wail as I fall. And I didn't really fling myself either, more of a run and a fall off the edge... Oh well, I'll try and be cooler next time if I know it's being filmed!!

Pic 3[1bungy.jpg]

It was an awesome experience. Truely frightening but something that I would consider doing again, I think!!!

We had a glass of wine to celebrate (so rock and roll!!)

Next stop Te Anua and Milford Sound

Posted by J9travels 21:10 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Franz Joseph Glacier

semi-overcast 11 °C

After Hokitika we made our way down to Franz Joseph Glacier so that we could do the ice walk that's recommended by so many people.

Franz Joseph is a nice little town, a bit like a Swiss Alpine ski resort town, where the sun shines and the air is crisp and you are surrounded by snow topped mountains.

We found a nice little campervan park right in town and ventured out for a few beers trying hard to avoid the Kiwi Experience crowd (no offence!) but not managing to because there were hundreds of them!!

The next day we were up early to go on our glacier walk. We got all kitted out in big boots and spikes and we were off.

The Franz Joseph is the fastest moving glacier in the world. At the moment it is advancing and moves between 1 to 5 metres a day. Apparently that's quite fast.

Everyday, loads of guides go up to the glacier and spend hours digging steps into it so us tourists can climg up it. We did the half day tour which was just enough for me. It's a really huge mound of ice falling down the mountain and there are some reall deep crevesses in it which were a little scarey (for me!). It's quite hard climbing up and down it and the spikey things on your shoes were really heavy so despite it being really cold we were all quite hot by the time we finished.

It was a good day and really quite tiring but a good experience that we are glad we did.

That night we stayed at Foz Glacier but decided not to climb that, one glacier was enough!

Next stop Wanaka and Queenstown

Posted by J9travels 20:41 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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