A Travellerspoint blog

back to reality

last day in Christchurch

overcast 16 °C
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Day 29

Back to reality

Julian has gone, I have my bags packed and booked my taxi for tomorrow. It is back to reality I am afraid. I have even been contacted by work saying I have got to go back on Tuesday so straight back into it. Oh well good things don’t last forever.

So, in a melancholy mood, I said my farewells and wondered around Christchurch jealously watching the people going into the tourist information centre to find out great stuff to do at the start of their holidays. I managed to go back to the Botanical gardens in daylight which is well worth a visit, especially those of a green finger nature. After a bit of a slob afternoon I went out by myself for dinner then went to the cinema, I saw No Country for Old Men, then back to the Hotel.

This will be my last blog entry so I thought I would write down my thoughts on New Zealand over the last month or so. We did so many great things that it is difficult to pick out many highlights as the whole four weeks was a high. If you are planning on coming down here then do not just brush past on a World Tour or try and do Australia at the same time. We hardly scratched the surface of the place after 30 days, so do some justice to the country and spend at least a few weeks here.

Highs for me would be Auckland sailing the Americas cup boat, Waitomo Caves, Rotorua Waimangu Volcanic Valley, the ferry to Picton, the Glaciers at Frans Josef, and climbing Ben Lomond at Queenstown. There is one thing that I personally will never forget and that was the Skydive in Queenstown, if you have the nerve then it is one of those things you have to tick off as done sometime in your life.

The route we took was perfect. If doing it all again we would have spent a bit more time in some places, Picton, Taupo doing the Tongariro Crossing, and Glen Orchy, and trimmed to few days off Queenstown and maybe Auckland but that is just fine tuning.

So if you are planning a holiday and are lucky enough to get a few weeks off work then you have to come to New Zealand. The people are great, the scenery is out of this world, and there is so much to do. It has everything and I thank the Kiwi’s for their hospitality, making the last 4 weeks so memorable that I guarantee I will be back.

Hope you all enjoyed the blog and good holidaying in the future. I apologise for any spelling and grammer mistakes, usually this was due to limited internet access making me rush to write the entries and nothing to do with my dyslexia.

Happy holidaying.

The 2 Numpties.

Posted by karlg598 21:30 Archived in New Zealand Tagged air_travel Comments (2)

storm in a tea cup

Christchurch

sunny 22 °C
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Day 27

Today we jumped in the car and were off across the centre of the south island for a 7 hour drive to Christchurch. We had no real intention to go across the centre, that was just the quickest way, but we were so glad we did as the scenery was totally different to anything else we had seen and it would have been a shame to have missed it. Looking more like the rolling hills of Yorkshire or Derbyshire, Lindis Pass was simply an unexpected treat. We stopped off at the visitor centre at Lake Tekapo for a drink. Unfortunately they only had bottled water but we did not mind as the view to the west to the Southern Alps and snow capped Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand at 3754m, was out of this world.

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Mount Cook

Nearer Christchurch the land went totally flat and the traffic increased so we were glad to eventually find our Hotel in the afternoon. The Château Blanc Suites was quite central and even though it was not as good as the other places we had stayed, apart from the campervan, it did the trick for us. We had the afternoon in Christchurch and it is not a bad place at all. Some beautiful architecture and simple to get around.

So we had done the history bit, done the adrenalin bit, done the wildlife bit, and that left a bit of culture. Being rig pigs you would expect us not to have any culture in us but we got 2 seats at the Court Theatre to see Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood. It was a nice little place and lets just say the cliental were a little different to those in Queenstown. The play is a little heavy with loads of different characters being played by six actors, but I have to say I loved it. So well acted and they pulled off the welsh accents a treat.

Comedy moment of the day: we had booked one apartment over the internet with a pull out bed in the living room. When we got there the receptionist told us the website was not correct and we only had a double which I suppose being in a big city and use to that kind of thing did not bother her. I told her that we were not a couple I am afraid to which Julian piped up “there is no afraid, we are not a couple period”. The receptionist was so embarrassed and had to frantically call around to find another bed. Luckily she managed it else I would have had to spend the night in the bath tub.

Day 28

This morning we went to the Antarctic Centre which mapped the part new Zealand plays as a stepping stone for scientists studying at Scott base. It had loads of good stuff and the funniest bit was the ice storm room where you put on a jacket and they turn the temperature down to minus 18 degs while blowing wind on you. I may have got carried away and threw a few snowballs at Julian.

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Me feeding the wildlife

This afternoon we went up another Gondola on the north side of Banks Peninsula, which is a massive extinct volcano. The views over Christchurch were great and we got to see the Pacific ocean for the first time. After a bit of food we went into the Botanical Gardens, which may have been fantastic if it were not 8pm and getting dark.

It is the last day for the numpties today as Julian leaves for Auckland tomorrow to get his flight home, which marks the start of the slowdown and the end of the holiday. I have one more day in Christchurch before I have to pack and catch my 6 month flight back to Glasgow via Dubai. It will be a sad day tomorrow as it will probably be my last blog day.

Comedy moment of the day: Getting lost in the botanical gardens because it got dark and us trying to find the exit before they locked the gates.

Posted by karlg598 00:56 Archived in New Zealand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

just popping out

gold panning Queenstown

sunny 26 °C
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Day 26

Last day in Queenstown before our trek to Christchurch tomorrow and we thought we ought to see a bit of history about the place so we went to a Goldmine just outside Arrowtown. When asked if we wanted the guided talk we thought we were about to get even more cash to turn invisible by the Queentown magicians but it turned out it was only $5 each so for once we got some value for money.

Bret our guide was 3rd generation gold miner and he had some great stories. He was really interesting and made the place, which to be honest was looking a bit tired. We got a go on the jet thing that washed away the whole bank, very environmental friendly, and he cranked up the rock press which was simple in design but fascinating to watch working. Then came the gold panning which was briefly interrupted by a Chinese bus party who had not realised we were on a tour and pushed the guide out of the way to do some panning of their own, which was quite amusing. Once he told them all to be quiet he showed us the technique then Julian was off panning like his life depended on it in the “vein”, little joke there, attempt to fine a little spec to take back home. He had to make do with some fools gold he found under the hire car tyres.

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On the way back we stopped off at the Kawarau Bridge, home of the original bungy. Historians will look back to this place in a hundred years and say “this is the home of the second gold rush in Queenstown, where for a 100 years prospectors have mined for the rich pickings of 24 carat tourist dollars “. You can not see from the road but you walk into this space age building with its obligatory gift shop and café and history of bungy tour. They even squeeze cash out of the normal people who are scared of falling to their death, by strapping them into bungy simulator to have their photo taken. Still it was good to see the posh backpackers launching themselves off, I only wish I had put on my Nevis Bungy t-shirt as this is just the baby jump for the weak of heart.

On the way back to the Hotel we stopped off at Arrowtown, another gold rush town which in fact looks like what you would expect, with its wild west style buildings. We went to the museum which was done really well. Lots of facts and figures but mixed with life size models and real houses, a school, a bar etc mock ups. The best bit was the toilet with an old bloke on the dunny and a recording when you opened the door to say close the door I am busy.

So that is it for Queenstown as we drive to Christchurch tomorrow for our last leg of the holiday. The place has been nice and is certainly worth a few days but in hindsight we probably stayed too long and maybe should have done a 3 day trek or something at Glen Orchy as well. Still the things we did here were great and the Bungy and Skydive were experiences that I will never forget.

Comedy moment of the day: What a blinder today, I am still laughing about it. Young lady out on the bungy bridge with all her mates on the side watching. She shows no fear is obviously loving the attention all the crowd are giving her. Off she goes right into the water and out she pops, quite literally, as her bra and t-shirt end up around her neck, much to the joy of all the blokes on the bank. Julian had to give me a bit of a jab in the side because I was a tiny bit more enthusiastically vocal in my appreciation then everyone else, much to the disgust of a wife’ who was trying to gather her children up so they would not see the spectacle.

Posted by karlg598 23:06 Archived in New Zealand Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

You can look but do not touch

Glen Orchy

sunny 24 °C
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Day 24

The plan today was to head into town to pick up a couple of sea kayaks and have a day on the lake, so up we got and walked into town to the hire places. When we got there one place only had 1 one man and so we went to the only other place which had fun kayaks at a ridiculous hourly rate. This highlights the problem with Queenstown in that once you have walked up Ben Lomond there is very little here that you can do that does not involve a person in a logo covered T-shirt removing large quantities of paper with the Queens head on it from your wallet.

A little despondent we had a trek around the lake before padding out time until we could pick up our hire car in the afternoon. We had a bit of scran in town which was nice and managed to see a street performer from Oz who did some juggling act on a bed of nails. The tricks themselves were average but his comedy banter made the whole thing.

Day 25

This morning we felt we needed to do something and having the freedom of our Toyota Corolla we headed off in the opposite direction to Queenstown, namely Glen Orchy. The village itself is nothing to shout about, a few shops and an excellent tourist info centre, but I had picked out a nice light trek to do for the morning. Anybody who knows me will be aware that my little treks do tend to evolve into something epic, and 6 ½ hours and over 800metres of ascent later, this was no exception.!!!!

The route did involve walking a little bit on the Routeburn track, which is a famous 3 day hike, as well as on some of the other famous tracks around Glen Orchy. The place itself is used as a starting point for people wanting to do several day hikes staying in predetermined well equipped huts along the way.

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At this point, and trying not to sound too critical, I need to highlight one of my frustrations with not only this part but the country as a whole. There is no denying the scenery is so beautiful and out of this world, but unfortunately it is a case of see but do not touch. All the land is owned by landowners who only offer very limited access and so most of the tracks, even though they a really well marked and maintained, stick to some extent to the low lands. Around Queenstown you have all these fantastic peaks which you can not go up. It would kill me to open my curtains in the morning knowing that a peak in front of my window could never be climbed. I am not saying have a total right to roam policy, like in Scotland, which obviously has some knock on effects with the local wildlife, but opening up some of the peaks for people to enjoy could be managed to have a limited effect on the ecosystems. I am now so grateful to the National Trust and Forestry commission in Scotland and the rest of the UK who have allowed the country to be enjoyed by everyone not just the privileged few. Right rant over.

So we did manage to get back to the car and my feet were so much better for having some soles in them, unlike when we did Ben Lomond. We both needed a bath tonight though to get the limbs moving enough to walk over to the Hotel Restaurant because I did not have the energy to cook. I will say the food was great and the view from Aspen on Queenstown balcony was simply out of this world.

So tomorrow an easy day as we are going to look at some goldmines, doing the tourist bit.

Hobitometer: 4 out of 5 awks as saw loads of locations today. The back of the todays photo is where they had the two towers in the second one.

Comedy moment on the day: Me showing two American hikers were they were as they were a bit lost on the page I had ripped out of the Rough Guide while they had a real hiking map in their backpacks. Still I knew where I was even though the lack of contour symbols on my rough map made me underestimate to magnitude of our walk.

Posted by karlg598 00:23 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Jet

Jetboat in Queenstown

sunny 24 °C
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Day 23

Once again a glorious day in Queenstown and we gave up on waiting for a rainy day to do the jetboat so after a bit of a lazy morning we got shipped out to Shotover river for the “World’s most exciting jetboat ride”. I am not sure how it got that title, maybe by a panel of judges who went around the world looking for the most exciting, although I doubt it, anyway we were up for it.

Kitted up in Batman cape and lifejacket (which some of us carried off better than others), we got put in the boat then had to pose for the obligatory photo shoot, in order to squeeze an extra $50 or so out of us, then off for an “exciting” brush with certain death as we skimmed past rocks and trees in the gorge. I will say we did come very close a few times and hats off to the driver who was adept at finding what looked like impossibly small routes through the rapids.

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Being cheap skates again we did not buy the photos so the above photo was the best we could do, there may have been some editing to the above photo so I can not vouch totally for it authenticity.

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Jetboat after us

It was very good though and the 360 degree spins were particularly funny. The boat after us did win the award for loudest, as a gaggle of women probably on a Hen do, dismounted the boat without capes on, hard core!!!!!

We had a bit of a stroll around Queenstown for the rest of the afternoon then headed back to the Hotel. We have 3 more days here and to be honest even though I have enjoyed it we have exhausted most activities now without having to dig deep into our pockets for more cash. We may do a bit of kayaking tomorrow before picking up a hire car for 3 days so we can drive to Glen Orchy, do a bit of gold mining history another day, then Christchurch on Thursday.

Comedy moment of the day: me trying to copy and past mine and Julian’s face on the first photo and for some reason nearly dropping my laptop because I was laughing so much

Posted by karlg598 00:01 Archived in New Zealand Tagged cruises Comments (2)

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