Tag Archives: new zealand travel

New Zealand Adventure Final Part – From Wanaka to Auckland

Back on the bus at Franz Josef, we then kept heading south towards Wanaka via the beautiful sights of Lake Matheson and the towering Mount Cook. The weather wasn’t too favourable unfortunately which meant the serine view of both was disappointingly overshadowed.

Lake-Matheson-Stream, New-Zealand

Lake Matheson Stream – New Zealand

Shrub-Reflection-on-Lake-Matheson, New-Zealand

Shrub Reflection on Lake Matheson – New Zealand

Misty-Morning, Lake-Matheson, New-Zealand

Misty Morning – Lake Matheson, New Zealand

Forest-Peek, Lake-Matheson, New-Zealand

Forest Peek – Lake Matheson – New Zealand

Lake-Matheson-Reflection, New-Zealand

Lake Matheson Reflection – New Zealand

Mount-Cook-Peak, New-Zealand

Mount Cook Peak – New Zealand

Clouds-over-Mount-Cook, New-Zealand

Clouds over Mount Cook – New Zealand

Waterfall-Near-Mount-Cook, New-Zealand

Waterfall Near Mount Cook – New Zealand

A-View-From-the-Bus, New-Zealand

A View From the Bus – New Zealand

Just before we reached the huge Lake Wanaka, we stopped off to check out Lake Havea and yet another stunning viewing point.

Lake-Havea, New-Zealand

Lake Havea – New Zealand

Roadside, Lake-Havea, New-Zealand

Roadside – Lake Havea, New Zealand

Layby, Wanaka, New-Zealand

Layby – Wanaka, New Zealand

At Wanaka, Poncey organised a game of touch rugby which was enjoyed by all, and the evening was then spent watching Sherlock Holmes in one of the best cinemas I’ve ever been to! The auditorium was like your front room, with loads of comfy sofas and chairs to lounge in. Strangely, it even had a Morris Minor car which you could sit in too! Homemade cookies, hot chocolate and tea in proper mugs made it even more homely.

As we continued further south, we then hit the mad party town of Queenstown for 3 days. It almost also felt like we were about to reach the peak of our New Zealand visit, with the most enjoyable parts spent here in terms of general partying. The guys really had a chance to take stop and get to know each other even better, so much so it felt like we’d known each other for years. To me again, even amongst some of the most beautiful parts of the world, the people really made this experience come true.

Queenstown itself is built in a stunning setting of lakes and mountains, and was a town built around the majority of adventure activities and partying. The nucleus of people who live in Queenstown seemed to be those who worked in season – the rest were just there to enjoy what the town had to offer.

Lake-Wakatipu, Queenstown, New-Zealand

Lake Wakatipu – Queenstown, New Zealand

Lake-Wakatipu-Beach, Queenstown, New-Zealand

Lake Wakatipu Beach – Queenstown, New Zealand

A-View-from-Sunshine-Bay, Queenstown, New-Zealand

A View from Sunshine Bay – Queenstown, New Zealand

Sunset, Queenstown, New-Zealand

Sunset – Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown-Docks, New-Zealand

Queenstown Docks – New Zealand

Queenstown-Centre, New-Zealand

Queenstown Centre – New Zealand

Shopping-Parade, Queenstown, New-Zealand

Shopping Parade – Queenstown, New Zealand

Streets-of-Queenstown, New-Zealand

Streets of Queenstown – New Zealand

World-Bar, Queenstown, New-Zealand

World Bar – Queenstown, New Zealand

Commerce-and-Landscape, Queenstown, New-Zealand

Commerce and Landscape – Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown-Hills, New-Zealand

Queenstown Hills – New Zealand

Quay-and-Andy-in-the-Cable-Car, Queenstown, New-Zealand

Quay and Andy in the Cable Car – Queenstown, New Zealand

Sunset-on-Lake-Wakatipi, Queenstown, New-Zealand

Sunset on Lake Wakatipi – Queenstown, New Zealand

A-View-from-the-Hills, Queenstown, New-Zealand

A View from the Hills – Queenstown, New Zealand

A-View-from-the-Luging-Track, Queenstown, New-Zealand

A View from the Lugging Track – Queenstown, New Zealand

Sunset-on-Lake-Wakatipi, Queenstown, New-Zealand

Sunset on Lake Wakatipi – Queenstown, New Zealand

Cable-Car-to-the-Luging, Queenstown, New-Zealand

Cable Car to the Lugging – Queenstown, New Zealand

Just outside town, a few of the guys decided to hurl themselves off the world famous bungee jumping spot – the place where it all began. I was far too cowardly to even attempt hurling myself towards the ground on a piece of rope.

Bungee-Jumping, Queenstown, New-Zealand

Bungee Jumping – Queenstown, New Zealand

Bungee-Bridge, Queenstown, New-Zealand

Bungee Bridge – Queenstown, New Zealand

Gal-Jump, Queenstown, New-Zealand

Gal Jump – Queenstown, New Zealand

On the first night after some decent lugging fun up in the Queenstown hills, the guys hung out in the Nomads hotel for a traditional game of “Kings” – a card drinking game that always gets you into the swing of things. From there, we headed to one of the main bars called Altitude down the main high street to meet up with the rest of the guys off the buses, before moving onto the famous World Bar for some proper drinking and dancing. This also introduced us to the Tea Pot which became a consistent feature of our stay in Queenstown – this is simply some spirit concoction served in a tea pot. The second and third nights pretty much stuck to the same routines, although in all honesty, the sandwiched second one was a much quieter affair following licking our wounds from the night before. We also managed to over-indulge ourselves in what was probably one of the tastiest burger joints in the world – the Fergburger. Not only were these fresh homemade burgers a juicy affair, but they were only slightly more than paying for a Burger King.

In between the night life, Pauric, Quay and I joined in on some Canyoning. It took some huge effort to drag ourselves out of bed, but as soon as we zipped ourselves up in the diving suits, the hangover was immediately eradicated as we plunged ourselves of the edges of cliffs into dark, cold pools of water beneath us. Not only that, but we zip lined our way around the canyons like a jungle jim, abseiled down some rock faces and also slid down rock faces from one canyon jump to the next. The highest jump was around 8 metres, which doesn’t seem too high – but when the instructor tells you that you need to hit a spot the size of 2 men to avoid injury from a standing jump, this added a little more fear to it…

On the last day, we were meant to take a visit to the Milford Sounds just outside Queenstown, but the weather had decided to spoil our plans by sending in some fog and rain that meant we had to turn around when we were half way there.

For me, as I was due to fly out of Auckland for South America in a weeks’ time, I had to keep moving on toward the North Island after the three days in Queenstown. The others had the opportunity to stay for another couple of days to try and get to Milford Sounds which they decided to take, which meant that the final night of partying in Queenstown was my swan song with the majority of them. Only Team Israel and Michaela headed onwards with me. The rain continued throughout the day which meant that Poncey just kept his foot down until we ended up back at Christchurch a few hours later which gave me the chance to recharge some batteries before setting off for my second visit to Kaikoura. Team Israel and Michaela were due to fly to Australia from Christchurch, so at this point I completely said goodbye to everybody. For me, it was all about South America from here on in, although there were a couple of more sites to check out en route to Auckland.

From Kaikoura, we headed back up to Picton and took the ferry across the cook strait to the university town of Wellington on the southernmost tip of the North Island. This took up most of the day which meant I really only had the one night in Wellington to enjoy – having said that, most people commented that this was enough really, as there isn’t much to do there. I met a new guy called Try who I stuck with all the way to Auckland, and in the evening we headed down to a student bar to teach them a lesson or two at pool billiards.

From Wellington, we then headed up to Taupo. En route, we stopped off for lunch at an intriguing town called “Bull”. The town was themed with all the shops and local conveniences named using “Bull”. So, there was “Inform-a-Bull” for the tourist information office, “Relieve-a-Bull” for public toilets, “Socia-Bull” for the local pubs and “Read-a-Bull” for bookstores. They even had “Const-a-Bull” for the Police Station!

Bull-Town-Sign, New-Zealand

Bull Town Sign – New Zealand

Mothered-Goose, Bull-Town, New-Zealand

Mothered Goose – Bull Town, New Zealand

Trash-and-Treasure, Bull-Town, New-Zealand

Trash and Treasure – Bull Town, New Zealand

Bank-a-Bull, Bull-Town, New-Zealand

Bank-a-Bull – Bull Town, New Zealand

Soci-a-bull, Bull-Town, New-Zealand

Soci-a-bull – Bull Town, New Zealand

Rocking-Bulls, Bull-Town, New-Zealand

Rocking Bulls – Bull Town, New Zealand

Rat-Hole, Bull-Town, New-Zealand

Rat Hole – Bull Town, New Zealand

The bus then continued onto Taupo, passing through the Central Plateau which was the location for the filming of the Lord of the Rings and the famous Mount Doom.

Central-Plateau, Mount-Doom, New-Zealand

Central Plateau – Mount Doom – New Zealand

At Taupo, we headed straight for the Skydiving centre. I had been quite apprehensive about jumping out of a plane all the way through the trip, especially with the financial cost that came with it. But a lot of the guys had taken the plunge at Franz Josef – the second best location in the world after the Himalayas – as well as Wanaka, with everybody trying to convince me to do it. So, I’d mustered some guts to finally do it at Taupo which is also one of the best places in the world for it. But someone else was telling me I shouldn’t be doing it. As we arrived, the heavens opened up which meant all dives were cancelled for the evening. We had to wait until morning to do it. And this would be my last chance. The next morning, I woke up at 5am to the same scenes. My chances of skydiving ended.

Slightly deflated, I jumped back onto the bus for the final length up to Auckland. En route, we passed through the small town of Little Hobbiton which was the place where Peter Jackson bought his first plot of land for filming the Lord of the Rings before stopping off at Rotarua to check out the atmospheric bubbling mud pools.

Me-at-Little-Hobbiton, New-Zealand

Me at Little Hobbiton – New Zealand

Little-Hobbiton, New-Zealand

Little Hobbiton – New Zealand

Rotarua-River-Canyon, New-Zealand

Rotarua River Canyon – New Zealand

Rotarua-Mud-Pools, New-Zealand

Rotarua Mud Pools – New Zealand

Auckland itself was very similar to Melbourne in its layout and feel. The streets were built on grids, with shops on either side. There were little lanes in between where all the main drinking holes were located. It didn’t really open my eyes to anything new with very little to offer in terms of new experiences.

Downtown-Auckland, New-Zealand

Downtown Auckland – New Zealand

Streets-of-Auckland, New-Zealand

Streets of Auckland – New Zealand

Auckland-Museum, New-Zealand

Auckland Museum – New Zealand

Auckland-Tower, New-Zealand

Auckland Tower – New Zealand

Apart from the excitement of the impending South America, what was also important to me on the second day here was that my sister was going into labour to give birth to my first nephew! This was all very mentality strange for me being on the other side of the world whilst this change of life was happening back home, especially with my sister whom I’m very close to.

Whilst she was preparing to give birth, I was preparing for a 2-day transit to Ecuador…

Further Reading

Lake Wanaka Guide

Mount Cook

Queenstown Guide

Unforget-a-Bull – Bull Town

Lake Taupo Guide

Little Hobbiton

Auckland Guide

More Photography :

“The Photography Collection” by Antematters

Posted in New Zealand Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

New Zealand Adventure Part Three – Franz Josef Glacier

After the heavy night of drinking at the Poo Party, Poncey had decided to get us all to Franz Josef as quickly as possible with only one quick stop for a bacon sandwich at the bizarre Bushman Centre. This was a museum that was full of dead stuffed animals that ended up as a pretty eerie stop off on a hang over. Once at Franz Josef, we checked into the amazing Rainforest Retreat Lodge which was beautifully hidden away at the mouth of the surrounding mountain ranges. Pauric, Lydia, Andy and me decided to head off for some Kayaking in the afternoon on Lake Mapouria which was the first time I’d done any proper kayaking for years. The scenery for it was breath-taking, with us taking a trip down some beautiful gorges and canals in the surrounding area.

Franz-Josef-Lake, New-Zealand

Franz Josef Lake – New Zealand

Kayaking-at-Franz-Josef, New-Zealand

Kayaking at Franz Josef – New Zealand

The following day was, however, the main highlight of Franz Josef with the chance for us to go Ice Climbing on the famous glacier. I went against all photographer’s rules by leaving my SLR camera at home, fearing the worst of smashing the kit up into smithereens half way up, so all my moments were captured on my trusty old Canon Ixus 50.

The early morning start greeted us with some amazing cloud capped mountains withe the early morning sunshine peeking through.

Dawn, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Dawn – Franz Josef Glacier – New Zealand

After kitting up at the Ice Climbing centre, we took the minibus up to the base of the glaciers to start walking up through the lower rocky terrain. The views were remarkable as expected, with the huge glacier carving its way through the middle of the mountains. It was completely surreal seeing it – this huge glacier thousands of years old melting away right in front of us. What was strange is that it was relatively mild – we were kitted up for climbing the ice, but in reality, temperatures weren’t too low.

Bottom-of-Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Bottom of Franz Josef Glacier – New Zealand

The-Walk-to-the-Glacier, Franz-Josef

The Walk to the Glacier – Franz Josef

Waterfalls-of-Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Waterfalls of Franz Josef Glacier – New Zealand

Me-at-Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Me at Franz Josef Glacier – New Zealand

Embarking-on-the-Glacier, Franz-Josef, New-Zealand

Embarking on the Glacier – Franz Josef, New Zealand

As we began climbing the glacier, the fun really began as the group leaders started hacking away at the ice, building stairs and pathways through the encapsulating blue scenery. We faced huge dominating ice walls, dozens of water pools, loads of gushing ice cold water rivers and some ice tunnels carved out in beautiful glassy blue formations.

The-Face-of-Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

The Face of Franz Josef Glacier – New Zealand

Commencing-the-Climb-of-Franz-Josef, New-Zealand

Commencing the Climb of Franz Josef – New Zealand

Onwards-and-Upwards, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Onwards and Upwards – Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Franz-Josef-Valley. New-Zealand

Franz Josef Valley – New Zealand

Leaders, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Leaders – Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Half-Way-up-Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Half Way up Franz Josef Glacier – New Zealand

Quick-Stop, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Quick Stop – Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Steep-Climb, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Steep Climb – Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Thumbs-Up, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Thumbs Up – Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Up-Through-the-Glacier, Franz-Josef, New-Zealand

Up Through the Glacier – Franz Josef, New Zealand

Keep-on-Moving, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Keep on Moving – Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Jumping, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Jumping – Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Aqua-Tunnel, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Aqua Tunnel – Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Inside-the-Aqua-Tunnel, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Inside the Aqua Tunnel – Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Jagged-Edges-of-Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Jagged Edges of Franz Josef Glacier – New Zealand

Building-Pathways, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Building Pathways, Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

A-View-of-the-Glacier, Franz-Josef, New-Zealand

A View of the Glacier – Franz Josef – New Zealand

Rock-Face, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Rock Face – Franz Josef Glacier – New Zealand

Precarious-Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Precarious Franz Josef Glacier – New Zealand

Moving-up-Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Moving up Franz Josef Glacier – New Zealand

In the distance, we also got to witness a huge avalanche as the side of one of the glaciers came apart before our eyes, crashing down below. After around an hour or so, we then stopped at one of the three main ice climbing glaciers that we were to take on today. This was great fun, with the first climb a chance for us to get our techniques right and get to grips with the task at hand. Equipped with a couple of ice picks and some climbing shoes, we then strapped ourselves onto some abseiling ropes before pounding our way up the glacier face. It was an exhausting affair, especially if you didn’t get the technique right or got your ice picks jammed in the glacier face. You also needed to get the toe kick right to ensure you put most of your weight on your lower body, without exerting pressure on your upper body by holding on for dear life with the ice picks. This took me a while to master, especially as my lower body strength is quite weak, so I exhausted my upper body quite quickly!

The tallest of the glaciers was around 18 metres high and there were two walls to climb – one with an “Invisible Barrier” three quarters of the way up. This barrier basically meant that the glacier face started to curve convexly outwards making it very difficult for the climber to get over it. After I completed the easier one in just less than 5 minutes which was quite a quick time, the team then set a challenge for me to try and beat Or to the top, with me climbing the harder glacier face. So with the adrenaline pumped, off we set on the walls to large cheers and jeering from the guys. I got off to the quicker of the starts but as we reached the top we both really started struggling for pace. Having reached the Invisible Barrier, I thought I’d lost the game, but with a little bit of help from my guide who yanked on my abseiling rope, I managed to get over, but Or had pipped me at the post at the death! At the top, we had a moment were we celebrated the climb which was around 4 minutes, completely bemused by what we had just completed!

Gal-Awaiting-the-Climb, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Gal Awaiting the Climb – Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Preparation-at-the-Ice-Climb, Franz-Josef, New-Zealand

Preparation at the Ice Climb – Franz Josef, New Zealand

Ice-Climb, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Ice Climb – Franz Josef Glacier – New Zealand

Oren-Ready-to-Go, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Oren Ready to Go – Franz Josef Glacier – New Zealand

Half-Way-Point-of-Climb, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Half Way Point of Climb – Franz Josef Glacier – New Zealand

Glacier-Summit, Franz-Josef, New-Zealand

Glacier Summit – Franz Josef – New Zealand

Conquered-Glacier, Franz-Josef, New-Zealand

Conquered Glacier – Franz Josef – New Zealand

On-the-Descendancy, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

On the Descendancy – Franz Josef Glacier – New Zealand

Intermediate-Climb, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Intermediate Climb – Franz Josef Glacier – New Zealand

Abseiling-Down-the-Glacier, Franz-Josef, New-Zealand

Abseiling Down the Glacier – Franz Josef – New Zealand

Lydia-Ready, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Lydia Ready – Franz Josef Glacier – New Zealand

Oren-Booting-Up, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Oren Booting Up – Franz Josef Glacier – New Zealand

Strapping-up, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Strapping Up, Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Advanced-Climb, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Advanced Climb, Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Happy-Smiles, Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Happy Smiles – Franz Josef Glacier – New Zealand

To complete the day, we then headed back to the Franz Josef Spa Resort which was a great way to relax our bodies after an action fuelled day.

Happy-at-Franz-Josef-Glacier, New-Zealand

Happy at Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Further Reading

Franz Josef Glacier Guides

Glacier Country

Franz Josef Heli Hike

More Photography :

“The Photography Collection” by Antematters

Posted in New Zealand Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

New Zealand Adventure Part Two – From Nelson to Lake Mahinapua

After breakfast in Nelson the following morning, it was all about dashing to get onto the bus as a group driven by a guy called Poncey. After a tip off from a girl at Kaikoura, she told us that out of the two coaches available, his was by the far the most fun and active. And she wasn’t wrong. From the off he was jeering us all on and making sure we kept our energy levels up whilst telling stories and jokes to keep us from passing out whilst on the road. He was also a strange mix between Harry and Hill and Freddy Kruegar which made his personality ever more intriguing…

From Nelson, we headed off towards Westport, aptly on the west coast. The weather was impeccable for our first stop off which was a nice relaxing visit to Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes National park – one of the most beautiful and peaceful lakes in the world.

Lake-Rotoiti, Nelson-Lakes-National-Park, New-Zealand

Lake Rotoiti – Nelson Lakes National Park, New Zealand

Calm-Lake-Rotoiti, Nelson-Lakes-National-Park, New-Zealand

Calm Lake Rotoiti – Nelson Lakes National Park, New Zealand

Mountains-of-Lake-Rotoiti, Nelson-Lakes-National-Park, New-Zealand

Mountains of Lake Rotoiti – Nelson Lakes National Park, New Zealand

Pauric-Flight, Lake-Rotoiti, Nelson-Lakes-National-Park, New-Zealand

Pauric in Flight – Lake Rotoiti – Nelson Lakes National Park, New Zealand

Following a daring swim, we then headed over to Murchison to tuck into some of its famous delicious ice cream before winding through the lush green landscapes of the Buller Gorge for our next activity – the Buller Jetboating!

Buller-Gorge, New-Zealand

Buller Gorge – New Zealand

Kilkenny-Lookout-Point, New-Zealand

Kilkenny Lookout Point – New Zealand

On the bus, we then recruited another member to our gang – Quay – a british Chinese guy from Essex. He is one of the guys I still keep in contact with today and he became my photography buddy, so much so, we were unsurprisingly known as Team Photo after we continuously slowed down the group from moving on by taking shots!

The Buller Jetboating was an adrenaline filled ride through the jaggy cliffs of the gorge. Packed onto the boat with our goggles and safety gear, the driver sped through the gorge whilst continuously performing donuts and 180 degree turns, sliding round dangerous bends and generally ensuring we didn’t leave the boat dry. The gorge was only around 1-2 metres deep, so he had to be pretty accurate with where he was steering the boat. It was dry season and we were told that in the wet season the gorge can rise up to 8 metres and beyond, the dry marks clear to see on the cliff faces. The danger that lurked high above on the winding roads was evidently clear when we also sped past a car that had plummeted 10 metres from the road above. The driver had lost control a couple of weeks ago and fractured his spine as a result.

Buller-Adventure-Tours, Buller-Gorge, New-Zealand

Buller Adventure Tours – Buller Gorge, New Zealand

Team-Photo, Buller-Gorge, New-Zealand

Team Photo – Buller Gorge, New Zealand

Kitted-Out, Buller-Gorge Jet-Boating, New-Zealand

Kitted Out – Buller Gorge Jet Boating, New Zealand

Behind-the-Driver, Jet-Boating, New-Zealand

Behind the Driver – Jet Boating, New Zealand

Flying-Past-the-Rock-Face, Buller-Gorge-Jet-Boating, New-Zealand

Flying Past the Rock Face – Buller Gorge Jet Boating, New Zealand

Car-Submerged, Buller-Gorge, New-Zealand

Car Submerged – Buller Gorge, New Zealand

Cliff-Roadside, Buller-Gorge, New-Zealand

Cliff Roadside – Buller Gorge, New Zealand

Back at Westport, Quay and I then headed off to check out the town and get snapping. It was a dead town really, with very little to do. Again, similar to Christchurch, it had an abandoned feeling, almost like walking into a Midwestern town in the USA, with nothing but tumbleweed and some doors of a local bar slamming in the wind.

Westport-Streets-at-Sunset, New-Zealand

Westport Streets at Sunset – New Zealand

Local-Services, Westport, New-Zealand

Local Services – Westport, New Zealand

Westport-Residency, New-Zealand

Westport Residency – New Zealand

Westport-Church, New-Zealand

Westport Church – New Zealand

Westport-Youth-Base, New-Zealand

Westport Youth Base – New Zealand

Street-Signs-of-Westport, New-Zealand

Street Signs of Westport – New Zealand

Red-Sky-Over-Westport, New-Zealand

Red Sky Over Westport – New Zealand

Sunset-Silhouette, Westport, New-Zealand

Sunset Silhouette – Westport, New Zealand

West-Coast-Bar, Westport, New-Zealand

West Coast Bar – Westport, New Zealand

Westport-Industry, New-Zealand

Westport Industry – New Zealand

Later that evening, we then headed to one of the local bars with the rest of the troops and Poncey to play some drinking games and killer pool. Pauric managed to win out of the 20 odd people taking part, with me coming a half decent 6th. As the night went on, we then met Andy, Lydia, Tamar and Jordiana, so the group just kept on expanding.

The following day, Team Photo was off to a flying start as we stopped off at Cape Foulwind not too far from Westport. The weather was pretty scabby with rain and wind pounding down on us in waves as we walked along the turbulent coastline.

Morning-Sunshine, Cape-Foulwind, New-Zealand

Morning Sunshine at Cape Foulwind – New Zealand

Huts, Cape-Foulwind, New-Zealand

Huts – Cape Foulwind, New Zealand

Lighthouse, Cape-Foulwind, New-Zealand

Lighthouse – Cape Foulwind, New Zealand

Coves-of-Cape-Foulwind, New-Zealand

Coves of Cape Foulwind, New Zealand

Cape-Foulwind-Coastline, New-Zealand

Cape Foulwind Coastline, New Zealand

Cape-Foulwind-Countryside, New-Zealand

Cape Foulwind Countryside, New Zealand

Rocky-Cape-Foulwind, New-Zealand

Rocky Cape Foulwind – New Zealand

Ways-to-Exit-New-Zealand, Cape-Foulwind

Ways to Exit New Zealand – Cape Foulwind

Algae-Rocks, Cape-Foulwind, New-Zealand

Algae Rocks – Cape Foulwind, New Zealand

Beaches-of-Cape-Foulwind, New-Zealand

Beaches of Cape Foulwind, New Zealand

Foggy-Road, Cape-Foulwind, New-Zealand

Foggy Road – Cape Foulwind, New Zealand

Later, we also had a chance to wander around the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks – this was like a little fantasy grotto land with the rock formation seemingly formed artistically rather than naturally. Nearby, huge blow holes would shoot water out into the air spectacularly soaking everything and everybody around them.

Beaches-at-Punakaiki, New-Zealand

Beaches at Punakaiki, New Zealand

Punakaiki-Cove, New-Zealand

Punakaiki Cove, New Zealand

The-Gang-at-Punakaiki, New-Zealand

The Gang at Punakaiki, New Zealand

Blow-Holes-of-Punakaiki, New-Zealand

Blow Holes of Punakaiki, New Zealand

Punakaiki-Pancake-Rocks, New-Zealand

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks – New Zealand

Punakaiki-Pancake-Rock-Formations, New-Zealand

Punakaiki Pancake Rock Formations – New Zealand

From there, we then moved onto Lake Mahinapua for the main party event of the trip – the Poo Party. The theme was Bright But Tight or Bad Taste and we had an hour or so in the nearby town to do a quick sweep of any gear for fancy dress. I dressed up as an old granny in a disgusting stained pink jumper, a stained tea cosy for a hat, some fake glasses and some amazing yellow trousers. Pauric dressed up like a Noddy-cum-fireman, with Quay buying the tightest clothing he could possibly find.

Sunset-at-Lake-Mahinapua, New-Zealand

Sunset at Lake Mahinapua, New Zealand

Lake-Mahinapua, New-Zealand

Lake Mahinapua, New Zealand

Dressed-up-for-the-Poo-Party, Lake-Mahinapua, New-Zealand

Dressed up for the Poo Party, Lake Mahinapua, New Zealand

Steak dinner was later served up to the hungry rabble in preparation for the ensuing drinking session that left us all in disarray for the next day’s trip to Franz Josef.

Further Reading

Nelson Lakes National Park

Buller Adventure Tours

Lake Mahinapua

More Photography :

“The Photography Collection” by Antematters

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New Zealand Adventure Part One – From Christchurch to Nelson

After my final chilled day in Melbourne following the 24-hour bus ride back from Sydney, it was time to catch my flight to Christchurch at an early 8.45am. Upon touching down and flying through customs, I booked myself into the Coachman’s Hostel in Christchurch for the one night, with plans to jump on the Kiwi Experience bus for the following 10 days.

The weather had quite dramatically changed from what I’d been used to over the course of the past couple of months, with Christchurch having a crisp late autumn feeling to it, with beautifully clear blue skies and a slight chilly breeze. Christchurch itself is a very quaint, laid back city with a similar feeling to any typical British town. The main church was central to its foundations with shops lining high streets around it.

Christchurch-Church, New-Zealand

Christchurch Church – New Zealand

Christchurch-Convention-Centre, New-Zealand

Christchurch Convention Centre – New Zealand

Christchurch-Streets, Sunset, New-Zealand

Christchurch Streets at Sunset – New Zealand

Peaceful-Street-Lighting, Christchurch, New-Zealand

Peaceful Street Lighting – Christchurch, New Zealand

Coming from the towering skyscrapers of Singapore and Sydney, it was a welcomed contrast to see the one or two storey blocks. But aside from the pleasantries of middle England, Christchurch had an eerie feeling to it. Even though it was a Thursday, the town felt deserted, almost like an abandoned seaside town. The buildings were generally old and grey concrete blocks, in dire need of modernising. And there really wasn’t much to do. So after a couple of hours wandering, I retired back to the hostel and hit the sack in preparation for my 7.30 am bus pick up.

After breakfast the next day, I rendezvoused in the central cathedral square ready to set off on the Kiwi Experience. I instantly met a guy called Dave from Welwyn Garden City in the UK who was half way through his Experience having completed the South Island tour over the past week or so, and we pretty much stuck together for the next couple of days before he headed to the North Island and I continued on through the South Island. Although he was a bit of a posh boy, he was pleasant enough and we exchanged our experiences so far and both looked forward to South America – he too was planning on travelling there after New Zealand with his girlfriend for a couple of months.

Upon embarking the bus, I was at first a little apprehensive of deciding to tour New Zealand on a Kiwi Experience. I’d have much preferred to travel round the country at my own pace, but with a tight schedule, it seemed to be the most efficient way to see the sights whilst meeting people. But, as I’d heard, it was quite a young crew on board, with guys on there as young as 21 which instantly made me feel a little saggy at the edges!

As I sat back and got comfortable, I found myself just gazing out the windows for the next couple of hours or so before we arrived at our first destination, Kaikoura. The scenery was as imagined – instantly stunning with miles of lush green countryside tucked beneath snow-capped mountains far off in the distance. The roads that cut through the countryside were brilliantly winding, with every corner throwing up beautiful sites. This was a piece of country that would have been amazing to motorcycle through.

Upon arrival at Kaikoura, I was even more blown away by the beautiful coastline. The air had got even chillier complementing the cold looking sea crashing into the rocky borders. The hills nearby undulated out towards more ice capped mountains in the distance.

Kaikoura-Coastline, New-Zealand

Kaikoura Coastline – New Zealand

Kaikoura-Mountain-Range, New-Zealand

Kaikoura Mountain Range – New Zealand

Cold-Stream, Kaikoura, New-Zealand

Cold Stream – Kaikoura, New Zealand

Storm-Hit-Coastline, Kaikoura, New-Zealand

Storm Hit Coastline – Kaikoura, New Zealand

After checking into our hostel, we then charged off in a hurry to my first activity – swimming with dolphins. Although the activity maybe more clichéd as people become more travelled, it truly was one of the best things I’ve experienced. However, the event was almost completely cancelled as the weather wasn’t particularly favourable with the high winds driving up huge waves towards the coastline, almost preventing us from heading out. Fortunately, they took the chance, warning us of how bumpy the ride would be to get out there.

Once fully suited up and prepped with instructions, we all jumped in the sea to greet the dolphins that had joined us. It was unbelievably cold after crashing in and it took me a good 5 minutes or so to acclimatise to it. With the sea choppy, I also had to get used to the waves crashing into my face, often forgetting to close my mouth in time and having to chuck some back up after swallowing mouthfuls. It was often disorienting whilst you tried to navigate the snorkel and goggles and trying to tread water. Although I’m not a bad swimmer, I also sometimes get a bit claustrophobic when wearing snorkel gear, but once I got over the initial barriers, I finally settled into meeting some dolphins. The site both above and below the surface was incredible – there must have been around 50 dolphins in our vicinity, all charging around us, teasing us into play. We had entered their territory, their playground and it was up to us to entertain them – not the other way round!

So, the 17 of us humans started to swim around and imitate them. We had to try and swim just using our legs and also make as much noise as we could to try and attract their attention. For some reason, I started bellowing Sergeant Pepper’s by the Beatles as loud as I could, and within minutes I was surrounded by around 8 dolphins, each of them swimming within touching distance. They circled round me intrigued, with one the group taking particular interest in me. A few of them brushed past my feet, and a couple bumped into my side. It was quite a strange feeling, all the more so as we weren’t meant to touch them!

Dolphin-Swimming, Kaikoura, New-Zealand

Dolphin Swimming – Kaikoura, New Zealand

Jumping-Dolphin, Kaikoura, New-Zealand

Jumping Dolphin – Kaikoura, New Zealand

Dolphin-Race, Kaikoura, New-Zealand

Dolphin Race – Kaikoura, New Zealand

After around 45 minutes, we got back on the boat. Mesmerised, we headed back to shore with the dolphins leading the way. But the scenes on the boat turned bad as sea-sickness spread – with the majority of people throwing up in buckets as our brains tried to come to terms with the thrashing waves.

Back on shore and energy sapped, I headed off into town with Dave to grab some food and check out the coastline. The fish and chips we had were some of the best and cheapest I’ve tasted, with the fish freshly caught hours earlier. Later in the evening, it was then time to head to one of the local pubs to get to know some of the others. This is where I met Pauric, Lynsey and Sheika who became part of the core group going forward. They’d been out checking out on a fishing activity earlier and were already a few beers ahead of Dave and me, but we spent the rest of the evening pissing around, later heading to another bar with some late night dancing.

Crayfish-Bar, Kaikoura, New-Zealand

Crayfish Bar – Kaikoura, New Zealand

Sunset-on-Kaikoura, New-Zealand

Sunset on Kaikoura – New Zealand

Waking up on a slight hangover, I was raring to go for what was to come next. We headed out of the hostel at around 9am north up the coastline towards Picton. En route, we also stopped off to check out a seal colony lazily sitting enjoying the morning sunshine down below us on the rocks.

Rocky-Kaikoura-Coastline, New-Zealand

Rocky Kaikoura Coastline – New Zealand

Seal-Colony, Kaikoura-Coastline, New-Zealand

Seal Colony – Kaikoura Coastline, New Zealand

Sleeping-Seal, Kaikoura, New-Zealand

Sleeping Seal, Kaikoura, New Zealand

Relaxed-Face, Kaikoura, Seal-Colony, New-Zealand

Relaxed Face, Kaikoura Seal Colony, New Zealand

Dozing-Seal, Kaikoura, New-Zealand

Dozing Seal, Kaikoura, New Zealand

Sunning-Face, Kaikoura, Seal-Colony, New-Zealand

Sunning Face – Kaikoura Seal Colony, New Zealand

Morning-Stretch, Kaikoura, Seal-Colony, New-Zealand

Morning Stretch – Kaikoura Seal Colony, New Zealand

Baby-Seal, Kaikoura, New-Zealand

Baby Seal on the Move – Kaikoura, New Zealand

Posing-Seal, Kaikoura, New-Zealand

Posing Seal – Kaikoura, New Zealand

Morning-Yawn,Kaikoura, New-Zealand

Morning Yawn – Kaikoura, New Zealand

The bus then continued onto Lake Grassmere stopping off at the picturesque walk of the Kerengu Forest where I had a chance to start to really get to know the guys.

The scenery we passed through continued to dazzle, with the terrains changing quickly over very small distances. As we hit the northern parts of the island, it was becoming much greener with bushy forests covering the terrain.

At Picton, we then dropped off half the group who continued to the North Island, switching places with another half coming in the opposite direction. Dave and I said our farewells as he went off with a slim but hopeful chance we may cross roads in South America later. From there, we pretty much hammered through to Nelson without stopping too much, crossing through the Marlborough Sounds wineries where some of the best Sauvignon Blancs in the world are produced. We also randomly passed through a town called Havelock which claims to be the “Greenshell Mussel Capital of the World”.

At Nelson, I checked in with Pauric whilst Sheika and Lynsey checked in with a new addition to our group, Michaela. We then headed off up to the Centre of New Zealand which stood in the beautiful hills of Nelson, high above the location of the first ever rugby game in the country. It was there we also then met our Israeli contingent – Or, Gal and Oren – three charming lads who were (like most young Isralies), travelling round the world after their Military Service. These guys became very central to the rest of the trip, always pissing around and up for a laugh and getting the most out of every second out there!

Nelson, New-Zealand

Nelson – New Zealand

Hills-of-Nelson, New-Zealand

Hills of Nelson – New Zealand

Nelson-Coastline, New-Zealand

Nelson Coastline – New Zealand

Centre-of-New-Zealand-Plaque, Nelson, New-Zealand

Centre of New Zealand Plaque – Nelson, New Zealand

Centre-of-New-Zealand, Nelson

Centre of New Zealand – Nelson

The-Gang, Nelson - New Zealand

The Gang at Nelson, New Zealand

Team-Israel, Nelson, New-Zealand

Team Israel, Nelson, New Zealand

Back at the hostel, we then huddled round for dinner with a free beer tasting evening leading us onto another night of drinking.

Further Reading

Visit Christchurch

Dolphin Encounter – Kaikoura

Nelson Guide

More Photography :

“The Photography Collection” by Antematters

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