We are really loving New Zealand so far! We arrived in Christchurch
on Weds 26th March and the hostel we stayed at was soooo nice! It was in this big old house with a massive creaky wooden staircase and stained glass windows. It was comfy and clean and lovely! Plus it was right next to Cathedral square, which is the centre of town. As soon as we walked out of the airport we could tell a difference in the temperature in NZ. Even though it was warm the air was just so much fresher feeling and lovely! We spent our time in Christchurch exploring the town. We had a look at the big cathedral in the square and climbed the tower and had a bit of a shop too as we needed some warmer clothes for the rest of the time here.
We each bought a warm jumper and you will be seeing these in all of the photo's as we have nothing else warm to wear! Anyway if we did buy lots more warm clothes it would be a waste of money as we are off to Fiji next then California and then back to the sunny UK!
We picked up our camper van on the Friday and were very pleased to be given a 'Britz' one rather than a 'Back Packers' brand (they are the same company), as this makes us look posher! They are exactly the same inside though. After stocking up at the local supermarket we headed straight for a place called Hamner Springs which is North of Christchurch. There are natural hot springs there and lots of nice walks and stuff. It was such a lovely drive and the scenery is so amazing in NZ! It just gets better and better each time we drive somewhere new.
There are lots of pretty lakes and streams and they all have crystal clear water, and snow-capped mountins in the background. I've never been to Scotland before but I would imagine that the nicest place there would be a bit like NZ. Bigger obviously.
So anyway where was I? Oh yes the hot springs! We went along to have a nice soak in the lovely hot pools. Some of the pools were 41 degrees and smelt horrible! But after relaxing in them for a while we felt really nice. We had decided to come back the next day too! But only after earning it, so the next morning we hired some mountin bikes and rode along the tracks in a nearby wood. Then we went on a walk up a big hill to a look-out. Then it was time to go back to the hot springs!
Later we set off to Kaikoura. This is where you go if you want to see some whales! We booked ourselves onto a tour for the next day at 7.
Sperm Whale !!
15am as we thought it would be nice to watch the sunrise while we were waiting for the whles to appear. We are not used to getting up so early anymore but we managed it and got to the Whale-Way Station (seriously) in plenty of time only to be told the tour was cancelled due to bad weather! We booked ourselves on the next tour at 9.30am and went back to bed for a bit, turned up ready to go at 9.30am and it was cancelled again! It wasn't looking too good but third time lucky and we eventually set off at 1pm!! Hooray! We were very lucky to see 2 sperm whales and some dolphins! It was amazing and the whales were sooo big!
We left Kaikoura on Monday and headed to a little sea side town called Akaroa which is just south of Christchurch on a little peninsula. It was the first french colony in NZ and they have tried to keep it so that it is just like a little french town.
When we arrived it was very hard to appreciate its prettyness as we had managed to crack the windscreen of the van! A bloody loose stone on the road! On only our 4th day! Gutted. At the moment we are still ignoring the crack as we are scared about cracking it again and paying double and how much it will cost to replace the whole thing! :(
There are lots of nice places to stop off at along the main roads over here to buy local things like fruit and wine. On our way to Lake Tekapo
the next day we stopped off on the way at Barry's Bay Cheese factory and picked up a nice bit of gouda and some local wine. Yummy! We spent the night by the lake and we went for a little walk when it got dark to look at the stars.
They were so clear and you could see so many! It was gorgeous. It was pitch black and unfortunately we hadn't bought a torch with us and a sudden splashing sound from the lakes shore sent us running back to the campsite! It could have been a monster or anything... it was probably a duck.
I forgot to mention earlier about the ducks! There are so many over here and I have never been so harrassed by ducks in my life! They seem to hang out in gangs in campsites 'welcoming' new camper vans. At first its a novelty (and this is where the ducks are doing well) and you feed them and its all lovely, but then you realise that they are experts in getting to know when each van has breakfast, lunch and tea and they suddenly and conveniently appear! Loads of them!
We said goodbye to the ducks and set off to Queenstown
the next day via a lovely scenic drive past more beautiful lakes.
We also stopped off at a salmon farm where you can feed the fish! We bought a nice piece of hot smoked salmon for tea and had it with a nice healthy salad. It tasted really nice and fresh! There were amazing views of mount Cook from the farm too!
We loved Queenstown! There is so much to do there in the way of adrenaline inducing activities. Its a really pretty place as well (by a lake surprize surprize!). The campsite was brilliant - right in the middle of town and no ducks! There is a big hill that has cable cars (called the Gondola) going up to the top. This is a must do when in Queenstown - so we did! At the top there are various activities including bungy jumping and a little track where you ride these little carts around it really fast (The Luge). It was so much fun that once we had one go on it we just had to do it again! This is where we did our tandem Paraglide from too! The place you jump off from is 3000ft 'above worry level' high.
v high up !!
We had already watched people coming down from the top of the hill and landing in a little park, the previous day and we both said it would be good to do that. I don't know what came over us when we got to the top but we decided to do it! And we are so glad we did - it was amazing! So peaceful in the air. I wanted to do it all over again when we landed!!! ...Adam had to have a little lie down after.
We decided that although we loved Queenstown, we would have to leave otherwise we would end up spending loads of money (which we need to fix the windscreen!) on amazing activities. We set off to Te Anau
which is the main base for people who want to see Milford Sound
say Cheese !!
We booked ourselves on a 2 1/2 hour cruise which takes you through Milford sound to the Tasmen sea and back again. There was a deal on which meant we could also get another tour to the glow worm caves for really cheap so we decided to do that. I've never seen glow worms before and to be honest we weren't expecting much, but when we got into the caves and onto this little boat which takes you to the little cavern where they live it was breath taking! The guide turned off all the lights and all you could see were thousands of tiny lights in the ceiling which looked just like stars! Beautiful!
We set off early to Milford Sound becasuse even though our cruise wasn't until the afternoon, the journey takes 2 hours and there are so many amazing things to stop off at like look-outs over the mountins, glaciers and lakes.
I would like to take this oppurtunity to apologise to everyone who is looking at our pictures - there are SO MANY scenic pics!!! We just couldn't help ourselves taking so many as it is such a beautiful place and so many views we want to remember. We actually deleted loads last night too! We hope you don't get too bored with them. Well, if you are still reading this blog you must have some perseverence...
Today we are by another lake! In a place called Wanaku. Again, its so nice here and we plan to hire some bikes tomorrow morning for a bit then set off towards the west coast of the south island.
Bye for now!!!! X