NZ South Island part 2

Trip Start Aug 31, 2005
Trip End Apr 11, 2007

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

So I went to Queenstown, touted as the "adventure capital of the world", also said to be a big bottomless money pit as there's so many activities there, but none of them are exactly cheap! This is the place where Bungy jumping started, so you would have thought that I would have ticked that one off. But since they invented that, kiwis have also invented the canyon swing, and this is regarded as better than bungy jumping. You basically free fall for 60m then swing in a 100 arc reaching about 3G. This seems so much better than bungy jumping where you bounce up and down at the end of the rope after your free fall. It also allows you to vary the jump you do much more, from being hung upside down and released by the crew, to tipping over backwards on a chair similar to what we all used to do at school! I opted for the easier jump off backward option, and to be honest I can't really remember any of it, as it all flashed by in an instant! Arriving back at the top I found that my legs were a bit rubbery and that I couldn't walk properly! But all in all a good experience.

After this it was up the west coast off the south island, rugged coastline and a notoriously fallow hitch hiking area, partly due to the complete lack of people and partly due to the torrential rainfall that it receives most of the time. Despite this, I managed to get lucky with my rides and didn't get rained on once! I went on a guided hike of Fox Glacier, climbing up through crevasses and avoiding large holes to see the beautiful blue ice structures that change form on a daily basis due to melting and glacier flow. I continued up the west coast to the famed and interesting pancake rocks.

I have been frustrated along the way as the weather has continually prevented me doing a sky dive, but I finally got the chance near to Abel Tasman. I was quite happy driving to the jump as rain had set in, so I wouldn't have to jump. Unfortunately though it all cleared rapidly leaving me no option but to jump out of a plane at 13,000 feet! I was pretty nervous as we started going up, but as we got further and further away from the ground it became less scary as it just looked so far away. The jump itself was not too scary as you just kind of get nudged out of the plane by your tandem guy. The free fall was amazing, a great feeling just falling and falling. Then the parachute jerked us upwards, and we saw another parachute drifting past on it's own. One of the other girls who had jumped had the parachute fail, kind of good that they have the second reserve chute there for that!

Onward to Abel Tasman National park, a stunning collection of bays, beaches and bush clad hills. I went for a 2 day sea kayaking expedition here with a Canadian friend that I met along the way, finishing the trip with a day of hiking. It's a beautiful place, including a marine reserve where we saw a seal family waking up and getting itself together before swimming off to feed. Amazingly my luck with weather is still holding out as there was only a couple of very brief showers on the trip, the rest of the time brilliant sunshine!

Not much time left now, as my loop of the south island started on it's way back to Christchurch. Plenty of time to stop off in Kaikoura though, for one of the highlights of my time in New Zealand. Swimming with wild dusky dolphins! This was amazing as the dolphins swim underneath you zipping this way and that, some stop and turn and you can see their eye looking up at you to see if you're another dolphin. Occasionally a mother would pass by, sheltering her slightly smaller child underneath her.

My last activity was meant to be going to a Super 14 rugby game (kind of like the champions league in rugby with teams from nz, oz and south africa). I went to the match which was entertaining depite the crusaders thrashing the cheetahs, unfortunately though my working visa was not processed, partly their fault partly mine for not chasing them up over it. So I had to delay my flight by a week and hope that it would get sorted after Easter weekend. Not wanting to stay in Christchurch (as there's not much to do there) I headed up to Arthur's pass, which is the main route between the East and West coasts of NZ. My luck well and truly had run out, as it proceeded to rain constantly while I was there! Just before the weather was meant to get good, I had a reply and received my visa. I also found a flight cancellation that meant that I could get to Sydney earlier than expected. This lead to some frantic travelling and sorting things out to get back to Christchurch in time for the flight. So I'll be in Sydney for a few days, play frisbee in ozzy nationals and then head down to Melbourne.
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