Before leaving New Zealand my mother flew over and together we bought a car and spent five weeks driving around the country. Here is my adventure diary.
Leave Nelson and head to Totaranui in Abel Tasman national park. Arrive in paradise. Blowing up a gale though. Tent tries to fold in on itself. Suspect it is trying to escape to a different dimension. Head to beach. Glorious! Swim? Nope. Two sharks with two stingray escorts swim back and forth a metre from shore. Possibly waiting for foolish prey to enter and walk into their mouths. Foolish prey (children) run to-and-fro following sharks and screaming in glee. Four young boys on kayaks paddle over to taunt sharks. Kiwi kids either crazy brave or just plain crazy. Going by experience with Kiwi adults, suspect both. Attempt to sunbathe instead. Wind sprays us with sand. Abandon attempt. Campstove dinner and beach stroll. Retire to tent.
|Totaranui at dusk. Sharks not visible (thank fuck)|
Leave Totaranui round 9am after further failed attempt to swim in sea (shark paranoia gets the better of me) followed by Baltic cold shower. Into Ferdia our Ford Lazer and away we go. Quick stop at Motueka to say some goodbyes and play with dinosaurs. Drive down through Buller Gorge. Many scenery. Much beauty. Wow. Decide to overnight in bustling metropolis of Westport (should be noted here that this sentence is dripping in sarcasm). Set up camp and wander through ghost town. Noticeable lack of tumble weed. Beer. Sleep.
Awake to find weka trying to climb into tent beside me. Perhaps he wanted cuddles? Scare him away. Hit the road and head to Franz Josef. Stop for spot of tea at glacial river. Fill bottle full of shiny blue glacier water. Power up! Set up camp beside a lake few kilometres outside Franz. Sandfly central. Immediately regret decision. Drive to Franz Josef glacier car park and walk to see glacier. Is a big lump of ice on the side of a mountain as I suspected it would be. Head to Maori culture show. Only one other person in whole theatre aside from mother and I. Our own personal show. Get taught some basic Maori words. Tricked into doing the Hokey Kokey in Maori. Much laughing ensues. Hand phone to performer to take pictures of me while being taught poi. Phone returned with hilarious selfies. Return to camp sandfly and get bitten on every exposed piece of skin. Sleep.
|The parental unit posing at the glacier|
Awake. Blow nose. Sandfly on tissue. Probably aiming for my juicy brain and didn't quite make it. Into Ferdia and off to Queenstown. Arrive. Hostel, hurray! Beds and indoor plumbing how I missed you these last three days. Stroll through gardens by the lake. Go to Fear Factory haunted house. Maura scared shitless. Laugh my ass off. Laugh again at photo of her mid-scream. Purchase photo. Delicious Japanese meal with Canadian roommate. Exhaustion. Sleep.
|Beautiful Queenstown on the banks of Lake Wakatipu|
Wake nice and early for kayaking on lake Wakatipu. Sun and blue skies. Jackpot. Set off from beach with two guides on private tour. Paddle up the lake stopping at sunshine beach for morning tea and biscuits. Take advantage of free biscuits and gobble half the pack. Return to shore after a pleasant three hour paddle. Book onto bungy jump. Highest in New Zealand. Take the bus out, get harnessed up and watch as everyone in my group goes first. One guy does it naked. Fair play. Throw myself 134m. Grin from ear to ear and purchase dvd. Return to hostel and head to pop up bar next door to see band. Sleep.
Drag ourselves out of bed at 5.30am for drive to Te Anau. Drive an hour and a half there for Milford Sound tour and our bus has left without us. Tour organiser tells us to jump in her van and tears off down the road driving like a lunatic screaming "Ray! Ray!" while overtaking and flashing her lights. Scares driver driving between Ray and us as she flashes lights and gesticulates wildly. Eventually Ray pulls over and we board tour bus amid much laughter and apologies. Join small tour of Ray: bus driver, two of his granddaughters, American couple (wife sounds like Maude Flanders) and Israeli man. Ray drives us through Fiordland national park stopping at several scenic sights. Stop for tea and homemade scones at Hollyford. Arrive at boat terminal and sail onto the sounds. Stunning scenery. Fantastic day. Ray drives us back to Te Anau and gives us pop quiz on our day exchanging chocolates for correct answers. Return to hostel and begin drinking with room mates. Drunkenly jump in Lake Wakatipu with them at about 2am. Apparently return to hostel soon after. Pass out.
|As you can see I'm very excited to be there|
|Keas. NZ's native parrot. Spotted one trying to fly off with a tourist's shoe|
Awake late. Grab German roommate and head to Ferg Burger burger bar for magically restorative burger breakfast. Purchase pub crawl tickets for the evening. Decide to climb the mountain behind the town and try our hand at luge. Do just that. Luge, lose, grumble. Enjoy the stunning scenery from the top of the mountain. Return to hostel and take much needed nap. Roommates return from various adventures and we begin partaking of alcoholic beverages and playing Cnuno (foreign knock off of Uno). 9pm comes, time for Kiwi Crawl. Five bars, free shots, free pizza, Queenstown Ice Bar. Epic. Myself and an Aussie named Josh are last people standing. Hardcore. Club staff start turning on lights and cleaning around us, not so subtle hint to begone. Return to hostel and pass out.
|Lovely, lovely roommates|
And so ends part 1. Stay tuned for the second instalment. Peace out.