Middle Earth Pt 2

Kia Ora! ( Maori Greeting)

I just got back from 10 days on the South Island of New Zealand, and I thought the North island was beautiful! Holy *&#^!

I left Perth Thursday night. My flight was delayed and I was so worried that I would miss my connection. I almost did but luckily they also delayed my connection because of the cyclone!

I arrived in Christchurch in the morning, so I had plenty of time to explore. The hostel I was staying in was a little out of town so I tried putting my backpack in a locker in the central bus station, but apparently if you don’t do it 100% right after .005 seconds, the locker steals your money! I did that twice then decided I would just carry around my backpack.

Christchurch has some really incredible street art and I saw a lot of it. This was my favourite :

Then I went to the Christchurch museum and walked through the Botanical Garden :

Then I made my way back to the hostel for the evening to meet up with all of the people that would be on this 10 day long bus escapade with me!

On the way back, I saw the Christchurch cathedral, which isn’t so happy looking because of an earthquake that came through three years ago. It is going to cost Christchurch millions to fix it!

The next day we woke up bright and early to go find our bus. It was a charter bus through Stray Travel, and we were all very excited to meet the driver, because he was going to be with us for the next 10 days.

His name was Twinkles and he was really cool, he gave us all easter eggs!

We had a lot of driving to do that day.

Our first stop was Castle Hill, which is also in a scene from Lord of the Rings! We climbed all the way up onto a giant boulder and admired the views.

Then we drove through Arthur’s pass which had some incredible views.

We kept driving and had to go over a long, windy and narrow bridge through the valley. I felt like we were in a movie!

We stopped in a little town called Hakatiki and saw the world’s greatest sock store!

Then we had about a three hour drive to the town of Franz Josef Glacier. On the way there we saw more than 15 rainbows. It was unreal!

We arrived at the hostel, which was the cutest little hostel I have ever seen. The wifi was called ” Free soup,” because they had free soup EVERY night. That was the best part. At the hostel I met this German guy who had just graduated high school, and had no idea what to do with his life, so he just picked up his things and decided to move to New Zealand for a year, how brave is that?!

After settling in, a few of us decided to try and find the glow worm caves which were supposed to be 20 minutes away. After about 20 minutes of walking down a pitch black dirt road, we were beginning to get super paranoid! – But what if Big foot does exist? – But then we started to see glow worms all along the sides of the path on the wet muddy areas. It was so cool! It looked like stars glistening. 20 minutes later, we still weren’t at the cave, but the path started narrowing and one of the girls suddenly screamed and ran back towards us. Of course, all of us knew it was big foot so we freaked out and started running to, but that path wasn’t wide enough for everyone so I fell down and twisted my ankle! Oh noooo! And it wasn’t even worth it because it wasn’t big foot. It was a big, terrifying possum in the middle of the path! We decided not to go any further because we had no idea how far the caves were, and my ankle was pretty swollen, so we headed back. It was still cool because we got to see the glow worms along the way! Running away from the possum had taking all of our energy away so we passed out as soon as we got back, we had a big day ahead!

The next morning, I woke up really early because I had signed up for a horse trek! I’m actually terrified of horse riding, so I was really nervous, but it ended up being really fun and I got to ride a really friendly horse called Apache, and we had some awesome views!

After that, we went and got lunch and headed out for our glacier heli hike!

We had to wear 4 layers and a really big jacket and some big snow pants, along with crampons ( which are the spikes that go on your feet.) Everyone was so excited! We walked out of the back of the reception building through this path in the rain forest, following signs towards the ” helipad.” We all felt like spies.

We had a nice fancy taxi ride up the glacier in this helicopter, then we hopped out and began our hike. We hiked through crevasses and little caves, and even saw an ice avalanche, because the ice is moving very fast ( 2m per day.) The ice was so clean that we even got to fill up our water bottles in a little stream of melted glacier that was running parallel to us. Much better than fiji water!

After our long hike, we all went to the town’s hot pools and chilled out for the evening. Man, what an awful way to spend Easter!

The next day, we woke up early to drive to our next destination. On the way we stopped at Lake Matheson, the mirror lake ( can you tell which way is the right way up?)

And Thunder falls :

I was tempted to go swimming but then realized that the water was absolutely freezing!

Then we drove past lake Wanaka, which is a lake that sits next to the town of Wanaka. Hey! Fancy that !

After driving past the lake, we stopped at the Wanaka tree ( creative names, eh?) The Wanaka tree is usually completely in the water, but the lake was much more dry than it has been in a while! Global warming isn’t real though right?

We were on our way to the hostel for the night when the bus driver made a phone call and realized the company had actually cancelled our booking there! We ended up being split up around hostels and motels across the town. I got split up from the friends I made, but that’s okay because they had extra space in their motel room, and free hot chocolate!

That night, we spent a while trying to find a good place to eat. We saw a sign down a little alley for pizza ( No Maddie! Don’t go down the dark alley!) and went down to check it out.

It was this cute little stone building called “The Cow” with an almost medieval tavern feel to it. They even had a wood stove inside and people were sitting around it. Everyone was so friendly and it was the best environment! I’m so glad we found this little place instead of going to one of the popular restaurants along the waterside.

I woke up at 6am the next day feeling very nervous. I was having an aerobatic flight lesson today! I’m scared of planes and heights! Am I stupid?!?!?!

There was 6 of us going, but I was the only one having the aerobatic lesson, everyone else was having a regular flight lesson… Still pretty cool! They all went up first at the same time in 5 little biplanes, and then once they all came down, my pilot came up and introduced herself to me and brought me over the stunt plane. I was FREAKING OUT. We took off and went up pretty high, and saw some incredible views over the lake. The way the lesson worked is that she would do a maneuver and tell me how to do it, then I would replicate it. Easy as huh?

We did a roll, a flip, a barrel spin and a left stall turn! I thought it would feel like a roller coaster, but it just felt like I was floating. You could not tell you were upside down, it was the coolest experience ever!

We left Wanaka early in the afternoon and headed into Queenstown AKA Adventure capital of the world, and now officially my favourite place on earth.

We settled into the hostel and then all went on an evening boat cruise on the lake. It was beautiful and you could stargaze from the roof of the boat!

After the boat tour, most people on our tour went out to the bars, but a few of us are way cooler than that and went to a cookie place. It’s called cookie time, which is also the name of the brand of cookie itself, and is NZs favourite cookie ! I got an ice cream sandwich with Salted caramel ice cream. Yum ! That filled me up, time for bed.

The next day, three of us woke up really early to go on a day long hike. We took the Queenstown Gondola up as far as it would take us, then we started walking. It was all up hill and so tiring! At one point it started raining, and we almost turned back, but I’m so glad we didn’t because the rain stopped shortly after, and when we finally made it to the top, there were some absolutely breathtaking views. New Zealand is unbelievable. Not only that, but there was a kea ( bird) just hanging out at the top ! Next time you watch Lord of the Rings and think that there is no way the landscapes are real, think again!

It took us about 3 hours to get back to the top of the gondola. At the top of the gondola you can take a luge down, which is basically a descent powered go kart. It was so much fun!

Once we got back to the hostel, we napped for a little, then decided we wanted to watch a movie that night. Unfortunately there wasn’t wifi in the bedrooms, so we went down into the lobby to download a movie, but the wifi wasn’t fast enough, so we spent the whole evening hopping around restaurants using up all of the wifi that they would give us to try and download this movie. We eventually gave up, but at least we got some yummy food out of it ! I had some bolognese pizza, and some poutine ( Canadian dish with french fries, cheese curds and gravy.)

The next day was an adventure packed day. First thing in the morning, we went to the shotover river, to go on the world’s most exciting jet boat ride! The boat basically went through a canyon and we were so close the rocks!

After the jet boat ride, I went back to the hostel and made lunch. Pro tip : Hostels have really good kitchens with everything you could possibly need, and you will save so much money cooking for yourself!

After lunch, I started getting pumped because I was about to jump off the world’s highest cliff jump : The shotover canyon swing ! It has a 60 meter ( 200 ft) free fall that goes into a 200meter swing. The platform you jump off is 108 meters high ! I put make up on so that I couldn’t let myself cry.

There is over 70 way that you can jump/ fall off this cliff. They range from scary, to very very very scary. You can simply walk off forwards, you can ride a trike off, you can slide off, they can Sparta kick you, or you can even got thrown backwards in THE CHAIR. Dun Dun Dunnnnnn. Of course, that one sounded the most terrifying so I picked it.

The jump masters put the harness on me and sat me in the little chair, and messed with my head for about 5 minutes. “Why are you doing this? Are you crazy? Don’t you see the cross down there?” Then one of them pushed me almost all the way and I thought I was going then he grabbed me again and pulled me back up and said “Just kidding!” What a jerk. Then they eventually pushed me while I wasn’t expecting it. It was exhilarating!

I deserved a good meal after that, so we all went down to Fergburger, and waited in like for 45 minutes to get the “World’s best burger.” It was SO GOOD.

We all were in serious food comas, so we went back and passed out.

The next day we left really early because we had a lot of driving to do.

We saw some [more] incredible views along the way!

We arrived at our hostel mid afternoon, and it was in the middle of nowhere! The town we were in only has 100 year round residents! This was the view from our window of Mt Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand :

Mount Cook is what some people call Mount Everests child, and a lot of people come here to climb to the peak as practice before attempting to summit Everest.

Later in the evening, we took an Argo off-roader into the mountains to see the Tasman Glacier, the largest in New Zealand.

Later in the evening, we went stargazing and I saw the biggest shooting star I’ve ever seen.

The next day we left this cute little town and headed out towards Rangitata, which is where a really cool river scene from Lord of the Rings is filmed. In Rangitata, we were staying in this little hut in the middle of nowhere, with triple story bunk beds! Sick !

We walked down to the bluest river I’ve ever seen and hung out with some cows.

Later that night, we all made a huge dinner because it was the final night of the trip. It was sad, you make such good friends on these little trips ! During dinner, we looked outside and saw a possum with a baby on her back, it was so cool.

The next day we left bright and early for the airport, but we had a slight delay …. #NewZealand

We arrived very early at the airport, because most people had morning flights, but my flight wasn’t until 9pm, so I went and checked out the International Antarctic Discovery Centre. I hung out with some rescued huskies, and even went in a storm room and experienced an Antarctic storm for 5 minutes. I will never complain about the cold ever again.

Then I went back to the airport and waited to board my flight.

I had a 9 hour overnight layover in Melbourne, so I decided to just hang out and nap in the airport until my morning flight to Perth. I was a little bit paranoid of someone taking my bag, so my dad gave me the awesome idea of tying my shoelaces through it while I napped! Obviously if you are going to sleep in an airport, make sure you do it in a safe place, like not by the front doors where anyone can just walk in! Most airports also have showers, so make sure to check that out because I don’t know about you, but planes make me feel gross!

The day ( or like an hour later after I woke up from my nap,) I slowly made my way to my flight’s gate. I had gotten an emergency exit seat, woo! Extra leg room ! After another 4 hour flight, I made it back to Perth and napped for a really long time.

What a great 10 days!