New Zealand: Tour Time

Trip Start Apr 09, 2010
1
19
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Trip End Sep 07, 2010


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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Saturday, July 31, 2010

We landed in New Zealand after a brief delay and hit Christchurch.

Our first impressions were that NZ resembles the UK quite a lot. In fact Christchurch in particular has its roots set in English culture and geography - with its streets all named after English towns. We repeatedly were told that Christchurch is more English than England, and it certainly seemed that way. We checked in to our hostel, and bagged ourselves a free upgrade to a gigantic private room.

We decided to head out to visit some of the 'sights', which involved going to the art gallery, which was surprisingly good, and having some food at the botanical gardens. We decided to immerse ourselves in the Englishness of Christchurch and go for some grub and a knees up at an English pub - it felt like home - bangers and mash and good ale. Ace.

The following morning we woke early, today was the day we started our week long tour of the South Island, taking in as many sites as we could. We hopped onto the bus, and met everyone that we would be with for the week - everyone was very nice, with people from all over - from Australia to Korea, Switzerland to the US - a truly eclectic mix. Our first stop on our whirlwind tour of the south was Glacier Country - incorporating Fox and Franz Josef Glacier, with a day climbing the Fox glacier itself. We hit the road, and as we did the heavens opened and the fog descended. We passed various scenic points including Arthur's Pass and Lake Matheson without actually seeing much as the weather told its hold over us. We arrived at our stopover point- the town of Fox Glacier hoping that the weather would clear in time for our glacier climb. James headed braved the rain to watch the All Blacks destroy the Aussies down at the Fox Glacier Saloon Bar, before heading to bed.

We awoke the following morning in total blackness, our hostel had a power cut, so we proceeded to have a candlelit breakfast - a pleasurable if slightly unnerving experience. As dawn broke we were able to catch a glimpse of the weather, which in summary was grey, and not a lot else. Our glacier climb was cancelled due to the glacier becoming unstable owing to the copious amount of rainfall. Good. We boarded the tour bus with the driver, Nick (or Neck, in New Zealandish), promising brighter skies at our next destination, Queenstown.

We arrived to blue skies just after lunch, after making our away down the West Coast. We had booked ourselves onto a horse ride around LOTR country for the following morning. James opted to supplement this with a 134m bungyjump and a canyon swing. In the meantime we boarded the 'skyline', a cable car up to beautiful views of Queenstown and the surrounding area. The evening was filled with an outing to Ferg Burger, a local burger joint serving up various, massive burgers. It was good. Rubbing our stomachs we proceeded to lone star bar for a couple of drinks before retiring to our dorms.

Yeeha. The next morning we headed over to Glenorchy, where we started our horse riding. Glenorchy itself is a tiny little town, so small that they don't even have a police station, with an officer dropping in every Tuesday. We saddled up and hit the road. Jen had a very big and obedient horse, Bob, whilst James was stuck with Brian, the mentally ill horse who had a penchant for rubbing his underbelly on trees. They say that they specifically picked each horse for everybody in the group, I can only conclude that they thought that I had something wrong with me when I booked. Nevertheless James, Brian, Jenny, Bob and a few others headed out to explore LOTR country, crossing rivers as we went. Brian managed to go through a few bushes, chew through his reins and refuse to canter. Cheers Brian. We did mange to see some excellent vistas, illustrating how beautiful New Zealand really is. All this was accompanied by various Peter Jackson/LOTR anecdotes. Lovely. We had the afternoon off so we chilled out with our fellow travellers and explored the town, James managed to bag a bargin snowboarding jacket which also kept out the cold New Zealand winter whilst off piste. The evening was spent having a meal with the rest of the gang and in Minus5 - an ice bar with some cheap and very cold cocktails. We moved on to World Bar for more cocktails, this time served out of tea pots which made them very easy to consume, something that James would regret in the morning.

James regretted drinking so much as he stood atop Nevis Highwire bungy the following morning. After taking the bus, checking in and watching other equally scared individuals throw themselves off the 134m platform, it was his turn to take the plunge. He was strapped up and walked/waddled to the edge of the platform, and after a brief countdown dived off the platform to his death. Amazingly he survived and was hauled back up the 134m to the safety of the cable car. Later that day he decided to throw himself off another slightly smaller platform, over the Shotover river, freefalling 60m and swinging 200m out across the canyon. Fun times.

Just as it had begun, our time in action-packed Queenstown was over and it was time to move on further South to Fjordland.
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