South Island – Week Two

My friends and I finished up our New Zealand travels this past Friday. I’m currently 23 hours into my 27 hour flight/layovers home to Canada.  The first 20 hours were actually pretty great. I got an upgrade on my 15 hour flight from Sydney to Dallas, which made that flight much more enjoyable!  I’ll try to get a wi-fi connection and post this final blog asap.

Here’s a breakdown of the past week:

Day 8:

We started this day off on the west coast of the south island, in Franz Joseph.  Here we spent the afternoon completing a glacier walk.  It was really “cool” to spend an afternoon on snow and ice; much different than the typical climate I’ve gotten used to in OZ/NZ.  Fortunately for us, the weather was amazing and we ending up doing the walk in near summer weather!

Hanging in a Glacial Alley

The three of walked through tight ice alleys, climbed through tunnels and saw some pretty neat waterfalls.  We had a great time slipping and sliding all over the Glacier, especially Christina, who won for best wipe-out on the ice!

Kelly crawling through a tunnel

After our tough afternoon of ice-climbing, the girls and I sat mountain-side at local pub for dinner, and then headed to some of the hot-springs in the area to relax.

Dinner & Drinks in Franz Joseph

Later that evening we left Franz Joseph and drove to the tiny New Zealand town of Reefton.  There was actually nothing in this city, but our night stop.  Despite this, we made friends with a few locals and our Hostel owner, Trevor, and ended up having a pretty decent time!

Day 9:

We headed out of Reefton early Sunday morning and drove to the top of the South Island to Picton.  This area is known being close to the Malbourgh Sounds, which is a great bushing walking area.  Kelly and I did a short hike and wandered around the tiny town.  Afterwards we spent the evening relaxing at our Backpackers.

Pretty Picton

Day 10:

Next to Picton is the city of Blenheim, which is the winery hub of New Zealand.  The girls and I tried some of the best wine I’ve had down under to date!  My sister, who has zero interest in wine, actually enjoyed some of the samples as well! To help satisfy Kelly’s taste buds, we also sampled several beers at a local brewery.

Kelly at the Brewery

After this classy afternoon, the three of us headed to the town of Kaikoura for some seal and dolphin watching.

Seal Watching

Day 11:

We got up early on Wednesday and did a coastal walk in Kaikoura.  This hike took us past several seal colonies and along some scenic cliffs.  It was also the last fabulous day in NZ that we had weather-wise.  That afternoon we also said goodbye to Christina

Coastal View from our Hike

Day 12:

Kelly and I left Kaikoura in the morning and travelled south to Christchurch.  There really isn’t too much to see in Christchurch anymore, as a result of the massive earthquakes that have taken place over the last year.  We did a walk around the city centre, which was heavily damaged during the earthquakes.  It’s pretty unfortunate, but interesting to see.

Kelly in front of some of the earthquake reconstruction

Day 13:

Our final day in New Zealand was spent shopping in Christchurch.  The weather wasn’t great so we checked out a few malls and shopped near the replacement for the former City Centre mall.  Large shipping containers were brought in and placed near the city and the former downtown shops have set up in the containers.  It was pretty neat, and there we lots of deals!

City Centre Mall

We also checked out the Canterbury Museum near the Christchurch City Centre, which was actually really impressive.  As far as free museums go, it was probably the best I saw in OZ/NZ.  Afterwards we travelled through the botanical gardens, which again, we’re pretty sweet.  All in all, despite the damage in Christchurch, we had a more than enough to do to fill our day.

Christchurch Botanical Gardens

Day 14:

Day 14 was spent sleeping the Christchurch airport before heading out of NZ around 6am back to Brissie. Kelly and I did some last minute shopping in Oz, had dinner out with friends and left Saturday afternoon for Canada.

While I can’t believe my Aussie adventure is all over, I’m incredibly happy it happened.  I feel like I lived it up and am leaving with no regrets.  As sad as I am to see it go, I can’t wait to start planning my next one!  (And, I may graduate and work at my real job for a little while in between ;))

The End.

My Travelling Pig keeping watch on my four planes tickets

South Island Road Trip: Week One

I’ve been spending my two final weeks down under road tripping through the South Island of New Zealand.  It’s an absolutely beautiful place. Our two week schedule is pretty tight, but we’re doing our best to see the highlights. Here’s a day-to-day break down of our adventure:

Day 1:

We arrived late to Christchurch, New Zealand and had to “break into” our first night’s accommodations. We stayed at the old Christchurch penitentiary, which was definitely the most character-filled backpacker that I’ve stayed at to date.  As a future criminal lawyer, I feel it’s important to really get to know the accommodations of your clients, so I feel this vacation experience should also be classified as a work endeavour 😉

Kelly in the "Pen"

Clearly staying outta trouble

Day 2:

After taking a few pictures of our jail house accommodations, we picked up our rental car and began our six hour drive to Queenstown, NZ.  We made a few pit stops along the way. The most notable was at Lake Tekapo.  It’s a very scenic blue lake surrounded by mountains.  We had lunch here and snapped a few pictures.  After a solid eight hours of driving and stopping, we finally arrived in Queenstown and briefly checked out the sights before heading to bed.

Lake Tekapo

Day 3:

Our second day in Queenstown was spent touring the city.  It’s got a great ski-town feel to it.  My B.C. travel buddie, Christina, claims it’s very akin to Whistler.  We did some souvenir shopping and indulged in some delicious Ferge Burgers, which are an extremely famous Queenstown dish!

Queenstown

Enjoying our Ferge Burgers

Day 4:

Queenstown is also famous for being the ex-treme capital of New Zealand.  On this date, my sister, Kelly, and I, decided take on Queenstown’s most famous attraction, the Nevis Bungy.  It’s a mere 440 foot bungy.  On the way up the extremely steep mountain to the bungy, Kelly and I both seriously questioned our sanity.  Fortunately, we able to put all rationale thought aside and both plunged to our near-deaths. The bungy was the most incredible rush I’ve experienced in my life.  It was my highlight of my NZ trip so far.

Nevis Bungy

Survivors

Day 5:

On this date, we decided to do something a touch more low-key.  We travelled four hours around one of the Queenstown Mountains and did a boat tour on the other side in Milford Sound.  This area is famous for its beautiful mountain peaks and marine life (seals and dolphins).  It was an extremely scenic tour and was pretty enjoyable, despite the looooong drive to and from.

Milford Sound from the boat cruise

That evening, we had a quick nap then headed out for pub crawl through Queenstown.  We were really excited for the pub crawl, because it included cheap entry into the local Ice Bar.  It was really “cool”, and fortunately, they provided us with winter clothes so we didn’t freeze to death during our stop there.  After that stop we were taken to a pub with a natural burning fireplace located in the middle.  I was pretty happy to thaw out there!

Pub Crawl Stop 2: The Ice Bar

Day 6:

I spent my final day in Queenstown atop a mountain with my mate Amy.  We took in the sights while also lugeing down the mountain.  Amy and I had a great time racing and smashing into each other as we travelled down the hill.

Amy's Ex-treme Luge Skillz

After our six luges, we headed to a winery for a quick tasting and tour.  After this stop we travelled out of Queenstown to the tiny town of Twizel, with really nothing more than our motel stop for the night.

Day 7:

This day included an extremely long road trip from Twizel to the town of Franz Joseph.  Here we toured the four streets found in Franz Joseph, then made a delicious dinner and planned our final days.

Up Next:

We conquer some ice & surf.

Aussie Finale

Hey all!

Last week was my final stop on my Australian travels. My girlfriends and I did our Aussie finale in Airlie Beach, Queensland, Australia.  We booked an overnight boat tour through the Whitsunday Islands, which are just off the coast of Airlie Beach.

The islands are famous for the beautiful beaches and amazing snorkelling.  We spent three days and two nights sailing around the islands. One of my favourite stops was at the world famous Whitehaven Beach.  It’s famous for its 98% silicon sandy beach, which makes it incredibly soft. It almost looks as pretty as the pictures below! While strolling along this beach I also had the opportunity to wade through the waters with string rays swimming within a few feet of me, it was spectacular!

Kelly, Amy and I in front of the Whitsundays

Kelly strolling through the stingray filled waters

One of the beautiful Stingrays

After that visit to Whitehaven Beach, our boat took us to our first snorkelling spot.  Here we had the opportunity to swim with hundreds of beautiful fish.  Afterwards, we took our turn jumping off the top of our sailboat and sliding down the waterslide.  We were on a bit of a party boat and it certainly lived up to its name!

Our boat - The Atlantic Clipper

After the boat tour we spent a night relaxing in Airlie Beach.  We had dinner with some of our friends that we met on the boat and relaxed by the lagoon in the town.

In front of the Airlie Beach Harbour

This last little stop was a great way to spend my final days in Australia. Now I’m off for two weeks in New Zealand before I head home to Canada for good.