Trip Start ??? 04, 2003
21Trip End Jul 2004
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8am, feeling shite, not really fancying a day on a bus full of strangers, i pull my arse out of bed, today i'm off to Greymouth on the Magic bus.
1st impressions of the bus were not great, full of old people and the French, very strange and not at all like the Feejee experience, our only other tour bus experience (i guess, if only because for the first time this trip, all of us are in different cities - me on the bus, Brace still in Nelson and Brad in Wellington). Anyway, the bus trip to Greymouth was fairly un-eventful, stopped at a few places, took a few pics of some scenery, usual non-discript travellers stuff. Got to Greymouth and checked into the recommended hostel, which was very nice and clean but had an atmosphere that made the YHA look banging!. It was then that i had that sinking feeling you (or maybe that should be 'i'?!) get when you think the night will involve reading a book and going to bed at 9
Another early start on the Magic Bus, this time from the Wonerful(!) Greymouth to Franz Josef. The bus journey was, once again, empty of incident and indeed atmosphere, but at least some people were talking today....which was nice. Passed through a number of towns, non of them with names i can remember, except Ross where i did a little gold panning, and found a bit along with another semi-presious stone, so that was alright, then continued along the coast road to Chateau Franz, my hostel for the night.
Franz Josef was, shall we say, wet. It was throwing down, so after a quick bit of lunch i decided to get settled for a quiet night in the hostel.....only to be greeted by Greg who i'd met in Greymouth the night before
For the 4th day in a row i was woken by 7:30 alarm, for today i was going glacier hiking. An 8am rendez-vous at the hiking centre, and the giving out of kit (crampons, Gore-tex jackets, ice poles) and we headed up to the Franz Josef Glacer. And a damn fine day i had aswell!. Our group was on the glacier for about 8 hours, covering about 10km. We climbed through ice tunnels, over bloody great drops (step over a 300 metre drop anyone?!) and up walls of ice, all while we had the most awesome views below and above us. It was all helped by the fact that our guide seemed to be making it up as he went along, digging tunnels and steps where there was something that blocked our path. Returned to the hostel about 6, tired, hungry, and feeling like i'd really done something today.
Was meeting up with Bracy again today, so he arrived about 9 after a bit of kayaking. sat around the hostel for an hour or 2, deciding what to do with the evening
Damn those early alarms!. Another day on the bus today, this time in the direction of Makarora, the wilderness stopover. Once again, we passed through some serious scenery and saw some beautiful sights on the way to our destination, place like the miroor lake Mathieson and the Fox Glacier. Makarora was indeed a wilderness stop - there was nothing there except the hostel and a jet-boat place!. However, it was night to be the anticipated quiet night as we had an option to buy a keg from the hostel owners. 2 kegs and a BBQ later and i think it's safe to say that some serious carnage had accured, ranging from some Korean drinking games, a bit of vomit (though not from me or Brace!) and all kinds of general hilarity!. Hit the saack at about 12, not looking forward to the next days alarm!.
Awoke, not feeling as bad as i should have done. The bus today took us to Wanaka and Queenstown. Wanaka was beautiful, wonderful scenery, all along the edge of a lake, and if i hadn't got somewhere booked in Queenstown i'd have liked to have stayed longer. On the way into Queenstown, we passed the Kawarau bridge, home of the first comercially operated bungy. Not one to turn this kind of thing, i once again parted with money to throw myself of a bridge. Mucho fun and i'm looking forward to doing another one soon!.
Got to the Hippo lodge and was greeted by a wonderful hostel, with top views and a quality location. Only problem with it is that it's at the top of a bloody great hill!. So, after meeting up with Bradda we decided to head to a BBQ with some of Oli's mates. A few beers, a mass of food later and a bit of football and a casul night had been enjoyed!. Finished with a couple of beers in the Red Rock and we were of to bed in anticipation of the carnage that is always xmas eve.