Easter Break Photos can be found here:
Easter Break Photos can be found here:
Dunedin, Hokitika, Lewis Pass, Lake Hood, Castle Hill, Christchurch
more pictures... click this link to see them (easier to upload on this website.. unfortunately they are a bit out of order):
25.01.2010 - 27.02.2010 25 °C
... as you have probably noticed I have not done a very good job at keeping this blog up to date. I'm lacking the motivation to keep it updated which is why I'm going to give a very brief summary of what I have been up to for the last month, add some more pictures from the last leg of my journey and most likely stop updating this blog (aside from maybe posting pictures).
January 25th: Headed to Piha Beach for the day to check out the Quiksilver junior surf competition with Michael. Packed up our stuff at the Zink's, had a delicious last meal and caught the overnight bus to Wellington (11 hours)
January 26th - January 28th: Spent time in Wellington exploring the city and areas around it. Things we did in Wellington include visiting PJ for dinner (my housemate in Christchurch who I met at Queens while he was on exchange), spending an afternoon at Days Bay and taking the cross-harbour ferry home, visiting the Yayoikusama exhibit at the art gallery, Te Papa museum, parliament, botanical gardens, hiking to the top of the tram route for a beautiful view of the city, seeing "California Love" play a free concert at the soundshell, seeing the "blue screen" where parts of Lord of The Rings was filmed, experiencing wellington nightlife with PJ and friends, etc. On the morning of the 28th we hopped on the Cook Straight Ferry to Picton. Beautiful ride, especially coming into Picton. Headed to Nelson to spend the night at a really nice hostel called Accents on The Park.
January 29th: Explored Nelson on bike, planned kayaking trip to Abel Tasman Park, went to Tahunanui Beach...
January 30th - February 1st: 3 day kayaking trip begins! 5:30 wake up, bus to Marahau. Arrived at Ocean River Kayaks Freedom Rentals depot, had a tutorial on see kayaking in the morning and some practice on water (tandem sea kayaking). Got the water taxi to Onetahuti Beach (Tonga Bay). Paddled to Bark Bay to camp for the night, stopping enroute to see the seal colonies on Tonga Island and explore some small secluded beaches, Tonga Arches, etc. Woke up the next day and paddled to Pinnacle Island to see more seals, went into lagoons at sandfly bay and torrent bay (high tide only) and stopped at Anchorage to hike (barefoot... maybe a bad idea) 45 minutes to Cleopatra Pools for a refreshing swim. Paddled to our campsite at Te Pakatea through BIG waves and tried surfing the kayak into the beach (almost dumped). Beautiful secluded bay with only a few campsites. Next morning we paddled back to Marahau stopping enroute for lunch on the beach and returned to Accents in Nelson for the night.
February 2nd: West coast bus trip stopping along the way for "morning tea," lunch, etc. at various sites which included Murchison, Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki, Hokitika. Arrived in Franz Josef to spend the night at Montrose Backpackers. Hiked to the toe of the Franz Josef glacier and hiked to see glowworms at night.
February 3rd - February 6th: Bus to Queenstown down the rest of the west coast. Stopped at Haast, Wanaka, some waterfall. Stayed at Bungi Backpackers for two nights and Southern Laughter for two nights (much more social and central). Queenstown is absolutely beautiful.. but fairly touristy. Highlights include 134m Nevis Bungee, riding the gondola and doing some "luging" at the top, spending time at the beach/wharf (live DJ's, tons of people), nightlife (World Bar serves drinks in teapots... pretty cool), live music, relaxing, visiting a local cliff jumping spot called "Little Thailand", meeting some really awesome people, etc.
February 7th - February 8th: Travelled to Wanaka to spend to nights at The Purple Cow (really nice hostel). Wanaka is a much smaller version of Queentown and serves as a gateway to Mt. Aspiring Park and apparently gets pretty busy in the ski season. Highlights in Wanaka included drinking Wanaka craft beer at Kai Whakapai cafe and listening to live reggae DJ's, hiking the Diamond Lake track, relaxing on the beach, seeing Edge of Darkness at Cinema Paradiso (really cool movie theatre with a converted car couch, lazy boys chairs, etc. AND they serve homemade cookies at intermission). Kristin went skydiving here while I did some golfing at the driving range.
February 9th: Bus to Christchurch, passed beautiful Lake Tekapo on the way, views of Mt. Cook, arrived at 10 pm to my new flat in Christchurch but had no power!
That concludes the "backpacking" portion of my trip. Kristin left for Sydney via Auckland on the 11th. Since arriving in Christchurch I've been busy getting settled into school (classes started on the 22nd), participating in "orientation week events" including live music, a cricket match, etc. a roadtrip to Akaroa, roadtrip to Dunedin for the weekend, surfing at Taylors Mistake, exploring christchurch, going to sumner beach, lyttleton, getting to know my new housemates (PJ, Mike, Brad, Steve) and their friends among many other things. That's all for now! From now on I will most likely just post pictures...
21.01.2010 - 24.01.2010 22 °C
New pictures, check them out!
So we ended up staying in Raglan at Raglan Backpackers for three nights, definitely the best hostel we've been to yet (awesome people, very relaxed atmosphere, fun town, hammocks and hot tubs, etc.). We went surfing on Friday and Saturday at Ngaranui Beach which was a lot of fun. Day one I used a giant soft-top board which was difficult NOT to stand up on it was so big. Day two I was on a more normal sized longboard which was actually more fun, just meant a bit more work to get up. The surf was pretty good with about 4-6 foot waves but a lot of wind meant that waves were going in all directions. We also cooked some great meals (steak one night, pasta another and homemade hamburgers on another night) and enjoyed a nice game of (free) golf. Apparently in NZ nobody cares if you are on the course after 5 pm (except the sheep, there were hundreds of them, thats how they keep the grass short). We also got to see some Canadian live music at the "Yot Club" one night (Jay Spector... never really heard of them) as well as spending time at the Harbor View Hotel Pub.
Sunday morning we woke up and headed back to Auckland to bungee jump off the harbor bridge at 1:30. Unreal! It's pretty terrifying the moment that you jump headfirst off a bridge 45m above the water. It was awesome because we had a 2 for 1 voucher, making it a pretty cheap trip. The guy before us was there after his stag the night before and they decided to dunk him about 4 feet into the water... haha. After that we spent some time exploring downtown Auckland and finally returned to the Zink's for some delicious Thai food. To make our stay with the Zink's complete, Peter took us each for a ride around Auckland on his BMW motorcycle (sorry mom... he's a good driver, I promise!) which was really really awesome, especially coming back into Auckland at night over the Harbor Bridge.
We are headed to Piha Beach now to watch some the the junior surf competition before heading on an overnight bus to Wellington and to commence our traveling on the South Island. That's all for now!
Sorry about the lack of updates... I've been super busy and lacking internet for almost a week! This update will be quick (I have 17 minutes of internet time left) and I will add pictures in a 2-3 days.
Anyways, we left Auckland on the 14th and headed to a small town called Paihia in the Bay of Islands which is located north of Auckland. We had the priveledge of driving the Zink's Mini which was awesome! (aside from me being terrified about driving a brand new mini on the left side of the road). Paihia is a beautiful little town with an unreal view. That night was our first night staying in a hostel (after trying 3 different ones with no vacancies) and turned out to be a wicked experience (turns out Paihia has a pretty big party scene). The next morning we continue our trip around Northland, visiting a beautiful cafe in Rawene, seeing giant trees in the Waipoua Forest and visiting the Haruru Falls (about 1/100th the size of Niagra falls). We finished off back in Auckland, staying with the Zink's for another night.
On the 16th we headed to Edgecumbe (near the Bay of Plenty) to Eric Zink's farm (Peter's Brother) for his 50th Birthday Party. We got to see a bunch of cool sights on the way down but the best part was being "welcomed" into the family (via a shot of southern comfort) and getting to experience a bit of the farm life. Everyone was incredibly friendly and a ton of fun.
The next morning we got in the Mini again and headed south towards Rotorua. We stopped onroute at one of many lakes and watch a waterski race. We actually got to go out in the supervising boat to watch and learned a bit about the sport (basically the boat goes around 4 buoys as fast as the skier is willing to go, whichever boat does the most laps in 20 minutes wins). We stayed at "Crash Palace," a friendly hostel in Rotorua complete with a hot tub. We spent the afternoon/evening exploring Rotorua, which is a beautiful (although very touristy) town on a lake. The whole town smells like sulphur and has steam rising from the ground everywhere due to all the volcanic activity in the area.
On the 18th, we woke up bright and early to go "Zorbing", a activity invented in Rotorua that involves rolling down a hill in a big ball. They put water in the ball and you slosh around inside. You can either go down a ziz zag track or a straight track (tandem or solo)... we did three run which was really really fun. Following this we went Whitewater Rafting on the Kaituna River, which included going over a 7m waterfall, the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world! The river we rafted on was absolutely beautiful and felt like being in the middle of a rainforest. Also, half the staff were Canadian which was pretty cool. We headed to Waikite Valley Thermal Pools (free voucher from rafting) for the night and camped there after spending about 4 hours soaking in the pools. We also randomly found one of Kristin's friends from summer camp there (Andy) who lives in the area and spent a few hours at his house.
The morning of the 19th we headed to Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland which Andy worked at (and therefore got us in for free) to check out the Lady Gnox Geyser and all of the sights (some really cool thermal pools, craters, etc.). We went swimming down the road at a hot/cold mixing area where two streams (one thermally heated, one cool) mix. That night we stayed with Andy at his house in their beautiful guest house after a night of tree/bridge jumping into water and rope swings.
The 20th turned out to be a BIG day! We woke up at 5:30 AM and drove to Tongariro Park (South of Lake Taupo) and hiked the Tongariro Alpine Pass. This included a 19.4 km hike PLUS hiking to the top of Mt. Ngourahoe (Also know as Mt. Doom to Lord of The Rings fans) which is the highest peak on the North Island. It was basically straight up a volcanic cone and there was a huge crater on the top. Amazing view from the top but a pretty tough climb! The rest of the hike was beautiful, aside from getting fogged in at a few points. No major blisters which was a bonus! That night we drove to Tu Kuiti and stayed at a hostel in the country overlooking the town (we basically got there, showered and slept... exhausted).
The next morning we got up and headed north again for Raglan, a small surfing town along the west coats, about an hour from Auckland. Checked into Raglan Backpackers, by far the best and most relaxed hostel yet. Awesome town! Spent the afternoon exploring, see the beach (after torrential downpour), skim boarding, etc. About to go eat dinner now and the internet time is up... Surfing tomorrow followed by a $15 round of golf! Over and out.