Our newly established travelling trio has now been on the South Island for 10 days. The fourth member of the team, our ’03 Nissan Sunny, remains a trusted friend and continues to cart us and our ever accumulating piles of rubbish around New Zealand without complaint, save for a single puncture today.
The four of us have packed in a number of adventures in the last week and a half so I’ll summarise the highlights:
- Wellington. Capital of New Zealand and all round nice place.
Visited the national museum and parliament (culture!), stayed in the ‘best hostel in Australasia 2007’, cooked dinner under the premise of economising - then spent our budget on giant steaks, went for a beer at the only Welsh pub in the southern hemisphere.
- Nelson. Our first stop on the South Island, small but pleasant enough.
Used Nelson as a base to explore the Abel Tasman (newly christened “Abu Hamza”) national park. Essentially a bit of nice walking on the north coast, think the Peak District but prettier.
Had heated Connect 4 competition over some beers at our latest local.
- Franz Jospeh. Tiny hamlet at the foot of the Franz Jospeh glacier.
Very much a one trick pony, stayed for two nights and spent the day hiking along the glacier. After our previous experience with glaciers we were relieved to find that this one was actually quite good “fun”, not requiring a 3am start, several years of climbing experience or causing you to fear for your life.
- Wanaka. Picture postcard ski town.
Visit to Cinema Paradiso which featured Dan and Simon watching the film from inside a Morris Minor and freshly baked cookies in the interval, dodging various snowboarders in inexplicably large clothes.
- Queenstown. Extreme sports capital of the world.
Took part in a blind-folded pub crawl (featuring one bloke wearing a traffic cone as his blindfold), Cable car to the top of a nearby mountain and luge (tea tray on wheels) back down, mini golf (Burger victory), frisbee golf (Pearson victory) and hired scooters for a day.
Last but not least “Heli-Rafting”, basically getting a helicopter to the top of some white water rapids and attempting to raft back down. Great fun, if a touch extravagant.
- Te Anau and Milford Sound. South Island Fijordland.
The most beautiful place we have seen in New Zealand and up there with anywhere on our trip thus far. Snow capped mountains rising out of deep blue seas and yellow grasslands. Really stunning stuff.
In between these places, much driving, walking, impromptu caving, eating of subways, playing of monopoly, taking photos of mountains and arguing over control of the stereo.
This brings us to the south of the south island, the furthest from home that we will be on our trip, some 190,000km from Blighty and only 5,000km from the south pole. We now work our way back up the east coast before our flight to Fiji on the 30th...nearly time to crack out the shorts.
- We fought the law and the law won – On one particularly careless day last week we acquired both a parking ticket ($40 fine) and a speeding ticket ($80 fine – the culprit shall remain nameless at this point..)
- Dan’s feet – Dan managed to bring an unwanted souvenir back from South America in the form of some Chilean foot worms*. After 3 weeks of insisting “it’s getting better”, defeat was finally admitted, the doctor visited and antibiotics administered.
- Keeping up with the Jones – we have tended to stay in 4 person dorms on the south island, leaving a spare bed available. The first of these was filled by a mysterious and largely mute character by the name of “Jones”, identifiable only by the name on his bag. Several other “Jones’” have followed:
Hairy Jones (biker)
Herr Jones (German)
Aussie Jones (self explanatory)
The Jones’ (3 Aussie blokes)
- Finally, Dan’s whistling highlight of the week:
Context: Trip to the Franz Jospeh glacier
Song: Vanilla Ice - Ice Ice Baby
*Probably – test results pending