20 September 2008

NZ Rundown

After finally putting all the details in my blog nearly 7 months after the fact makes it sound a little bit actual factual. But trust me I had a really good time on this trip. Got to see snow for the first time. Saw some of the most amazing scenery you could imagine with the Milford Sound being the highlight. But a lot of the north island is really pretty. You get tired from taking your camera out and when presented with yet another perfect vista you start to think "Nah, I've got plenty already."

And I think we travelled well together. Although I don't think Bill wants to be anywhere near my room in any future trips (I apparently snore loud enough to cause vibrations in his bed, or at lest Bill claims he could "feel" it in his bed, a bit of a princess and the pea if you ask me but anyway). But we didn't get on each others' nerves too much, which when you consider how much close contact we had (ie sharing rooms, all in the same car for three weeks). It could easily get old very quickly.

So yes, great holiday, would go back in a heartbeat.

Now I just need to post my diary from 2007 when we went to Japan. I found it again the other day.

18 September 2008

NZ 18/09/08

Last day in NZ.

Today was a much colder day than yesterday with the rain and all...which closed the Adrenlin Forest ¬.¬

Had a look at a kids science centre, but then the movie theater opened so we watched Taken with Liam Nielson instead. Very good non-stop action movie.

Checked into the flight, through customs, witing for plane to board. Hope the flight doesn't get delayed from the rain.

Once we reach Brisbane I'll wave Bill and Baz goodbye and catch another plane to Townsville.


Arrived in Brisbane feeling good. The combination of afternoon and good individual inflight entertainment helped a great deal. Bill and Baz have run off the the Virgin Blue lounge. So see ya at home guys. Bastards.

On board QF978 now waiting to taxi to runway. Looking forward to going out to the reef tomorrow. Then on to see Mum and Dad on Saturday...

17 September 2008

NZ 17/09/08

Last full day in NZ.

We had a look around the Antartic Centre. They fed some penguins, rode inside a vehicle they use in Antartica. That was pretty crazy. When they went through a pit of muddy water, apparently there is a slight leak somewhere near my seat and jeans got a bit wet ¬.¬

We also went into the storm room which is kept at -8°C. They then stimulate a storm with winds up to 50km/h. The wind factor reduces the temperature to -25°C!! Fricken Freezing!! I tell you, my nose and cheaks really stung. Glad it only lasted a couple of minutes.

The Restruant tram was very nice. The loop isn't all that big, and the food was quite good. Not the smoothest ride, but maybe that's just because I haven't ridden many trams before...

We had a quick look around the casino, Bill reckons that he lost $800 on the pokies (really $4.00).

Packing suitcase, going to visit Adrenlin Forest tomorrow before heading out to the Airport. They've got Rope walkways and flying foxes and such. Looks like a lot of fun.

Next: last day in NZ

16 September 2008

NZ 16/09/08


Easy start to the day. Passes Lake Tekeo and had a take some photos. The water was sky blue. Very different. Wonder what makes it that colour.

Baz chickened out of driving us through the city to the hotel and switched with me before we drove into the City itself.

After a 5hr drive and checking into the hotel (which doesn't have aircon - very bizarre to this tropical boy) we had a look around some of teh street and the Botanic Gardens (the latter of which was really good - got some good photos).

It's interesting that Auckland reminds me so much of Melbourne it isn't funny, and Christchurch reminds me of Adelaide it's amazing. Especially the suburbs. Major Deja vu.

We watched Tropic Thunder which I found pretty funny. Then we had dinner in a Irish Pub (of which there are many) which was good.

We've got a rest day tomorrow to catch up. Will probably go and see the Antartic Center or something the there is the Tram dinner.

Next: Christchurch

15 September 2008

NZ 15/09/08

Today is the last day in Queenstown. We spent the day snowboarding at the Remarkables. Not a bad day all in all. The snow was a bit slushy, and the wheather got cold when the wind picked up.

Took a couple of big falls today, so am thankful I hired a crash helmet and Billy recommended that I buy wrist-guards. They got put to some heavy use today.

Have the most fantastic bruise on the back of my right knee. See if I can find the photo. It was right where the chair lift bar would sit behind the knee. Very sore.

Ugh, need to do laundry tonight and get some souvenirs for family.

Lick has the best Gelato I have ever tasted. Their mint choc chip is to die for.

Long day drive tomorrow to Christchurch.

Before I sign off for the day a stocktake from my first time snowboarding:

Learnt this trip:

Standing up, heelside, toeside and very wide and slow interchange, small jumps.

At the cost of:

1. Several stacks (both forwards and backwards. I would say that forwards is the worse than backwards). 1 very impressive bruise on back of Right knee, accompanying sorness with same.

2. Mid back, general soreness.

3. Left ankle, sore from nearly twisting it going arse over tit comming off a chair lift.

4. Back deltoid of Right shoulder, sore from fall. Turning ability compromised!

5. Sternocleidomastoids (both sides), sore from head hitting snow hard during particularly hard fall.

6. Slight headache if I move my head too quickly.

Worth it? Hell YES!! I had so much fun this last week. Can't wait 'till I can do it again.

Tomorrow: Christchurch.

14 September 2008

NZ 14/09/08

Big day trip out to the Milford Sound, or more accurately, Fjord.

We stopped as a couple of places (wanaka) during the 6 hr trip. Then we went on a boat cruise down the Fjord to the sea and back again. Some of the most amazing scenery I've seen so far whilst in NZ. Although it was a bit hard to take photos with my camera because of a light drizzel. But was able to use the wide angle to take some nice photos.

On the way there we saw a rare parrot. Yay.

Also, it was only when the bus promptly went past our accommodation, that we learnt that we were on the wrong bus company. Although we are blaming the bus driver for that one. Baz showed him the booking voucher and Val (the driver) said "Yep, hop on." So we did >.<

If you are anywhere near Queenstown and have a day spare, it's worth the visit. On the day we went there was a lot of cloud cover and rain, but that made it look very ephemeral. Very cool.

Next: Queenstown.

13 September 2008

NZ 13/09/08

Today seems to have turned into a rest day. Might go out for a walk in a bit and stretch the legs, might take some photos too.

<Later> We went for a drive and we nearly ran out of fuel going up to Wanaka. What we thought were little towns were just names of places alongside a lake. So we had to double back to the last town to get some fuel. >.<

Baz bunje'd from the AJ Hackett bridge and I filmed it (badly) for him.

Had dinner by the lake in Wanaka as the sun set it went behind the mountains. But my camera's batteries were flat, Bill took some so might post those.

The temperature really dropped quickly when the sun went. That sort of killed any further desire to look around, and we headed back to Queenstown.

Off to the Milford Sound tomorrow. Early start ¬.¬

Off to bed now...ugh. Tired.

12 September 2008

NZ 12/09/08

Third Day.

Also at the Remarkables. Fantastic day. Perfect weather for snowboarding. We could actually see where we are going. Could only ski for a little more than half the day before my knee began to hurt too much after I came off a chair lift badly a couple of times. Which was annoying because previously to that I was having a lot of fun and was boarding really well. I was still sticking to the beginners' slopes and some easy intermediate, as the rest are just too steep and rough for me.

I'll post some pictures later...

Tomorrow: Queenstown.

11 September 2008

NZ 11/09/08

Second day!

We went to the Remarkables today. Very odd compared to yesterday. It's a higher mountain, plus the weather was really cold. At the lodge it was -2ºC and up at the highest slopes it was probably -5º. Then on top of that we had a lot of cloud cover, wind and even snow. I think we got at least 10-15 cm of snowfall that day. Amazing. You remember all those text books in high school that show snowflake crystals. Well, you could see then when they landed on your clothes. For someone who had never previously seen snow it was amazing.

Apparently the snow is better on this day, although I found it difficult to board today because it was white on white on white.

Because I'm travelling down a bit faster today I took a couple of big falls. Nearly did my knee and ankle twice today ¬.¬

Tomorrow: Also Remarkables!

10 September 2008

NZ 10/09/08

Whee! I love snowboarding!!

First day! Up at Coronet Peak today. Billy spend 2 hrs teaching me heel and toe side balance on the snowboard on the beginners slope. Then I spent another 1.5 hrs practising near the magic carpet.

After that I went up the beginners slope and then later some intermediate slopes. The snow was really slushy, which Bill and Baz disliked. But I think it made it easier to learn. Really fun day.

Matt: your snow gear works great!!

At the end of the day, calves were sore as hell from doing a lot of work they don't normally do.

Tomorrow will be interesting!

Tomorrow: Remarkables

09 September 2008

NZ 09/09/08

Today was spent driving up to Queenstown where we are going to spend the next 7 days. Really beautiful scenery. Exactly what New Zealand is famous for. We stopped at several photo opp places along. It was the best day of driving so far of the trip. Will have to go through and post some photos because that's all I've written in my diary for today!!

Tomorrow: snowboarding!

08 September 2008

NZ 08/09/08

Fox Glacier.

It's funny, my handwriting from my travel diary for this day is so messy I must have been really tired when I wrote it...no joke looks like chicken scrawl (more so than usual).

On to diary:

I seem to have gotten the windest roads so far on this trip. Not that I minded. The scenery was really fantastic and we go to the tour company with 40 minutes to spare.

We got geared up (socks, boots, jackets, overjeans, gloves, beanie), then headed out.

Now first off, no where do you read in the brochure that you have to hike for 1.5 hrs up a very steep hillside (which includes 600 steps [reminder of Mt Fuji guys?]), but we did. So with all the gear you are now wearing quite a bit of stuff designed to keep heat in, so I at least started to sweat while the air temperature is struggling to hit 11ºC. Apparently the local weather god heard my silent prayer and decided to send a little drizzle our way. Fantastic.

The glacier was different to what I expected. I had imagined to be a fairly solid block of ice, but it's sort of like you get a big pile of crushed windscreen glass and packed it together. A benefit of the overcast sky was that it brought out the blue colour in the ice. Our guide said that if the sun was out all we would see is white. So that's cool. Not sure if it is making up for my hands which are starting to feel cold with all the moisture soaking into the gloves.

We then travelled up the glacier and had a look in a couple of the moulans (holes in the ice formed by water). Pretty cool (later in the day, one of the people out on the tour fellover in one and dislocated a shoulder - Baz said, put some ice on it. You're a bad, bad man Baz).

The weather then took a turn for the worse and then started to rain for real. Gloves got soaked, as did our boots. But feet managed to keep the water in the boots warm. So all in all it was a hard, wet, cold day out on the ice. But looking back it was a great experience. Definetly recommend to anyone who is thinking about it.

I will say I haven't appreciated hot water as much as I did later that night back at the hotel.

Although on that, it took us no joke 15 minutes to find our hotel in that town. The town literally has one street. When we found it, we discovered it was closed for renovations and we had instructions that the owners had made an arrangement with another hotel across the street. The one we passes three time looking for the first one.

07 September 2008

NZ 07/09/08

Sometime in the evening.

We have declared the cover of Baz's rain coat cover lost. A brief ceremony was held.

Father's day today. I'll see if I can get through to make a call later this evening.

It was a bit of a long day today. We all got muddy for no good reason. Yes we are all looking at you Barry. ¬.¬

On the way we stopped and had a look at the Pancake rocks and blow holes. Was a little bit different than the mental picture my imagination made up but took some good pictures. There were baby seals!! Cute.

Tonight we are staying in Greymouth, a little country town. It's only a motel, but so far it's the nicest place we have stayed in yet...

Another early start tomorrow, off to spend the day on Fox Glacier!

Tomorrow: Fox Glacier.

06 September 2008

NZ 06/09/08

1935 Saturday

We got to the ferry after some confusion about which wharf complex the ferry terminals are located on (the harbour seems to have 3 separate complexes for shipping and the like). Finally we got there with about 20mins spare. And we all breathed a sigh of relief.

The Interislander is pretty big. Has 5 decks including two cinemas.

Oh and this was just hilarious, and I made fun of Bill the rest of the trip was when we went to put some of our backpaks into the lockers.

Now, 95% of the blame rests with Bill, I may accept 5%, but that's only because I trusted that Bill knew what he was talking about.

Bill thought from previous experience with locker systems that someone had not paid for (or else the time limit had expired) a locker that had a laptop in it. So Bill pulled out the other stuff and put in his some of mine and Baz's stuff as well. Then I closed the door, and I heard a metallic 'click', then I tried to open it it wouldn't open. Then after actually reading the instructions printed in easy to read big letter, we concluded that the guy had in fact paid for the locker, he just forgot to lock it. So now we have our snacks, road maps and souvenirs in a lockerto which we don't know the combination to...

Anyway, we decided to worry about that at the end of the trip, and had a look around the ferry.

We have 'heavy' seas today with swells topping out at 4m high. Apparently they get as high as 8 metres...

It's 5ºC outside, blowing a gale, and to complete the trifecta, it's raining. Yay.

05 September 2008

NZ 05/09/08

1535 Wellington

As predicted, a long drive to Wellington. 0800 start. 4ºC. Whakapapa looked amazing. Took some photos, hope they look okay.

The drive got a bit tedious after the second hour.

We arrived in Wellington around midday and it's cold,and blustery! If the weather holds tomorrows ferry ride should be interesting.

We had a walk around the wharfs and like and I'll post some of the pics that demonstrate just how cold it was. We could see the beginnings of waves in the marina from the wind!

We are going to clean out the car and get it ready to drop off at the rental office tomorrow before we hop on the ferry.

The accommodation is a bit of a joke but oh well.

Tomorrow: Nelson

04 September 2008

NZ 04/09/08

1950 Tongario

A nice easy start to the day, but we had a few kilometres to travel today. First we had to go back to Rotorua, then onwards for another hour to Lake Taupo. We stopped at Lake Huka and Huka Falls on the way. Took some photos of the falls because a very large amount of water flows through a narrow channel. The water is so clean. But too cold for this tropical boy to consider swimming in.

We kayacked on Lake Taupo like we planned. The water temperature was 10ºC and the air was around 15. We were afraid that the weather would turn bad, but it cleared up to turn into a really nice day. 3 other Aussies also kayacked on the same day. AJ's from the Airforce. But they made good company.

Although we had thought that the carvings were hundreds of years old, but it turns out they are only 15. Very impressive though. They did it to help preserve the skill of stone carving.

Afterwards we went to a hot spring pools which was just the thing after a day spent on the water.

Another 1·5 drive (which nobody wanted to do because we all just wanted to sleep), landed us in our hotel for the night Chateau Tongario. It's about 5ºC outside atm. But the room is so stuffy we've opened a couple of windows while we went to dinner.

Bax thinks the pollen from the pine forrests were setting off major sneezing fits. Max of 4 in one set so far.

Too cold to go walking around, not much to see anyway. Been a long day. Got another long drive tomorrow.

Tomorrow: Wellington.

03 September 2008

NZ 03/09/08

1740 Ohope

Hi All.

We had a bit of an earlyish start to the day (0630). We drove to Whatakane, where we were dut to go out to White Island, but that was cancelled as the seas were too rough apparently...

So instead we caught up with Barry's Nanna in Ohope. She is such an old dear.Then we had a round of golf at the course near the beach. It was a nice, fun afternoon. We had some drizzle which made it chilly for a bit, the sun came out again so it warmed back to 15ºC in no time! Even had to take my jacket off.

We did offer to take Baz's Nanna out to dinner but she refused in that polite stubborn way of the elderly. So she cooked up a nice dinner with home grown veggies that was really good.

Tomorrow we are off to Lake Taupo for some kyacking to some rock carvings. Hope the weather holds for it, no desire to be out on the lake in the rain...

Tomorrow: Lake Taupo.

02 September 2008

NZ 02/09/08

1615 Rotorua

The thermal areas are about a 20min drive out of Rotorua. There are lots of mudpools. Got a photo that looks really funny out of one of them. Looks like a mud man is bursting up from below. We saw the Lady Cook geyser erupt. yay. Then had a look at the rest of the park which took roughly 3 hours. Took some interesting photos. It was fairly cold all day. It rained while the geyser was doing it's thing. And again, Barry wants me to write: "We think here is where the cover for his raincoat got lost".

We had lunch in an Irish pub back in town. I think I had the Guiness soup. Really good warm food.

Then we went up the skyway gondala and kart. We went on the Sky Swing. I bought the video. It's quite hilarious. I'll have to see if I can upload it somewhere and post a link (don't hold your breath). Our reactions are hilarious, I really enjoyed it, Bill almost as much as me, Barry was a bit more subdued, I must say. Though the death grip on the handle would have done Bruce Lee proud.

We then luged 6 times. It's fairly fun, though a bit tricky to handle as the kart only has three wheels. And the brakes shouldn't be called brakes, or perhaps they should because they were obviously broken...

Off to the Cultural Display tonight then over to White Island tomorrow.

Tomorrow: White Island


Just came back from the NZ Culture dinner. We had quite a fun night. Billy got to be the Chief of Our Village (Our bus, our name was Whoweare, I managed to mangle this into the much more humorous Whoarewe). Bill was selected to pick up the Peace Offering (a leafy twig). We didn't get to ask much of the performers before we were hearded to the stage performance which wasn't bad, but not long enough really.

Met a couple of nice Americans, Nate (they do exist), though this was offset by this particularly loud, obnoxious american woman from NY city. Typical americal. Don't care if you are jet lagged. Some semblance of manners should still be retained. Anyway we tried to have as little to to with her and had a good conversation with Nate. Forgot to get his email, oh well. Got a video of Bill doing the haka. Funny. Although he did get the hand shakey bit down pretty well.

Our driver was a riot, made us sing songs on the way back to our accommodation. Bill, Baz, remember "She'll be Comming around the moutain"?.

01 September 2008

NZ 01/09/08

0700 Auckland

A 0730 start today. Made it onto the motor way after only two wrong turns!!

Once we got out of Auckland proper there were some really amazing views. Then we hit a fog bay. It got really thick at times with visibility cut down to less than 50 meters. Don't see that very often in Darwin. Though it cleared up after 20 minutes of driving. The outside temperature got as low as 8ºC. We travelled 260km in about 3 hours before arriving in Waitomo to go and see the glow worms in a caving system. Amazing. A lot of fun, worth braving the freezing waters to get through it.

Travelled another 1.5hrs to get to Rotorua. Mmmm lovely sulphur! Reminded me of the seaweed that use to wash up on the beaches down in Victor Harbour in South Australia it would then start to rot if not swept away again.

That night in Rotorua, we had a buffet dinner that distinguishes itself by being the worst meal I've had in a long time. It was like a twilight zone, you could recognise what the foods were meant to be, but everything did not taste as it should. Bleah.

Bit wiped out today. Did a lot of travel and the caves was pretty tiring (you would be too walking for 3 hours in a wetsuit and gumboots).

Tomorrow we are off to see the thermal areas, the skyway lookout, a cultural display and dinner.

Tomorrow: Rotorua.