Monday, January 23, 2006

Heh heh... fire

Woohoo! Thanks to Marc for telling me about this site to upload videos!

The hostel Marc and I stayed at in Picton last night (much better than the Ontario Picton... haha) had to be one of the best hostels I've ever stayed in... called the Jugglers Rest. Small, friendly, they liked my guitar playing and they had a hostel cat :) But this was the coolest, one of the hostel owners Nikki put on this show for us.

She was practicing earlier in the evening without lighting them on fire, and smacked herself in the face with both balls and gave herself a fat lip. Then still did it later with the fire. Heh heh... so cool.

Anyways, the last few days have been pretty relaxing, even for me. Marc and I had our beach day in this little family resort town north of Nelson... great day of a whole lotta nothing. We stayed in a Christian caravan park, which was a pretty good place, except we were the only campers without kids running around. (I ran over my kids at that caravan park back in Australia) The first night we were there we had a few beers each, and one with our dinner... and for some reason we got a lot of dirty looks! The next morning we noticed the "No Alcohol" signs everywhere. Oops! heh

We spent our last full day with the car doing a tour up past Collingwood, checking out some really clear springs (the Pu Pu springs... heh) and a nice beach that you walked through a farm to get to.

Excellent end to the trip. I don't know what I'm going to do without a car though. After we unloaded all our stuff (about 6 trips each) our hostel room looked like our bags exploded or something. I managed to get everything jammed back in my bag though, and I'm only carrying around one extra shopping bag now.

So now I'm in Wellington, trying to figure out what to do for my week touring the North island. Hmm. I suppose I should be doing that instead of blogging, but meh. This is fun.

One more picture of the sunrise (I know, a sunrise!!) this morning. I had to get up early to catch the ferry across the strait... I was walking through the hostel kitchen when I got up, and saw this out the window. The picture was meant to be I guess, I'd forgotten my camera on the counter the night before when I went to bed. Whoops! That's what beer, fire, guitar, drunken scrabble and fatigue do to you I guess.

Probably one more post from New Zealand then I'm flying home on the 3rd of February. Ahhhh! Later...


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

...Internet fix!

Whoo, another post! Marc and Dani are probably typing something up right now, so I've gotta keep up!

Franz Josef was amazing... if you haven't seen the pictures I uploaded yet, me and Marc had a fantastic day for the glacier. Our guide told us they get 40 metres of snow at the top of the glacier every year, so having a clear day like that was pretty rare.

That last picture there were two guides making us work to fill in a crevasse so we could continue. Well... they were working, we were playing around. Idle hands, y'know? heh.

Franz Josef was a nice little tourist town anyways... our first night there before the glacier tour, Marc and I attempted a pub crawl... but since there were only two bars, that kind of got cut short. We tried though, we tried. haha

So, after we left Franz Josef we drove further up the West coast, and stayed in a nice little caravan park just north of Greymouth. After that we drove across to Christchurch again, showed Marc the sights, bought way too much cheap chocolate (I didn't eat a bite!!), and started heading up north. Stopped for an afternoon at some hot springs in Hanmer Springs, then stayed in Kaikoura, and now are up in Blenheim. Here's a driving shot just past Arthur's Pass.

I really didn't think we would get up to the top of the island this quickly, and now we've got four days left on the rental, and a quick drive up to Picton to drop the car off. Guess we'll do a little tour around the top of the island or something! It'd be nice to do a little bit of tramping for a couple days, but we'll see whether that'll work out. I know we're going to have a beach day soon anyways... Marc is still disgustingly white :)



Friday, January 13, 2006

Staying high and dry

Good to be on the road again! Been great so far on this trip too, not only is the car a 5-speed this time, but the roads here in New Zealand are nice and twisty too. Too bad our car is a Mazda Familia (like a 323)... big campervans could probably blow by us going uphill if they wanted.

Well, back to my stay in Queenstown... I figured it'd be a good idea to try and get into shape again, so I did a day walk up to the top of Ben Lomond, a 1743m mountain close to Queenstown. I started the climb down in Queenstown, at just over 300 metres... the walk actually went pretty well, considering the amount of excercise I'd gotten in the last year (basically none). About halfway up I felt like dying, but stopped for lunch and rested for a while, then practically ran up the rest. It was really windy, and cold, and I only had a beater on. Heh... everyone else seemed like they were dressed for sub-zero temperatures, and here I am, the crazy (cold) Canadian. Eeh. Good walk though, some fantastic views of the mountain ranges, plus a nice aerial view of Queenstown.

For a few days after I was pretty useless though... my knees took a beating heading back down, and my leg muscles were almost locked up the day after. I moaned a lot :)

So after we picked up the car back on Monday me and Dani and Marc headed over to the east coast to Dunedin first. Not the most impressive town in my opinion, but we did do a tour of the Cadbury factory there (since I'm off chocolate after New Years, it was an exercise in willpower), and tried to find the world's steepest street, but failed. I still think the 'ol Familia could've made it up. haha.

After Dunedin we headed up the coast past Oamaru and Timaru to Lake Tekapo. I'd already passed by here on the bus from Christchurch, but this time I got to stop. The colour of the water was unreal... a surreal kind of pale blue. The water was kinda rough, but when its clear the reflection of the mountains in the lake is supposed to be quite the sight. My pictures didn't turn out very well there, but Marc or Dani might have some good ones on their sites.

We stayed in a caravan park by the lake, and it started raining that night. My tent is great at holding out water, except when it's running underneath the tent. Sigh... it could have been a lot worse though; some girls staying in a site across from us woke up in a pretty big puddle... and it stopped raining when we got up in the morning.

After Lake Tekapo we drove up towards Mount Cook... didn't see much of the mountain, but the drive was still fun. Part of the road was flooding, that was a blast to drive through. haha. Anyways, when we were about to leave we got a little glimpse of the summit.

Ended up staying that night in Wanaka... that was a pretty little town. The caravan park there was nice too, except someone tried to make a hedge out of all the big pine trees throughout the park. I could hardly bear to look at them... it was hideous. Also... during dinner we were being bugged by some demon child from England. Him and Marc were making fun of each other, and lemme tell ya, you've never heard such clever insults. :)

Ah well. Today we drove through the mountains to the west coast, and up to Franz Josef. Marc and I are taking a guided tour through the glacier near town tomorrow, and according to Dani it's supposed to be really good. Hopefully it doesn't rain too much either... it's been raining all day and was pouring just 10 minutes ago for a while.

Well, back to the hostel to try and persuade Marc and Dani to go out on the town tonight. Surprisingly, we've hardly had anything to drink since we've left Queenstown. That'll change if I have anything to say about it. heh.


Sunday, January 08, 2006

By popular request...

Heh... I made a pledge to Pam last week that my next post would involve me and Marc drinking, and one or more of us in a tree. So, here it is :)

Well, there it is. I'm kinda short on time today, me and Dani and Marc are renting a car for a couple weeks to tour around the south island, and we have to pick it up in 45 minutes. And I have to go finish packing and take down my tent. D'oh.

In a few days I'll post about what we've been doing, I really like New Zealand so far! It'll be great having the car too, on the bus ride to Queenstown we passed by so many nice spots where I wanted to take a picture, but we drove on by. So this'll be good. I love road trips :)


Thursday, January 05, 2006

So... cold!

I know... I'm ashamed to call myself a Canadian. It was 14 degrees when I got here in New Zealand, and yesterday was colder... and windy and rainy and I was freezing. After a walk, I tried to play some guitar back at the hostel, but my fingers wouldn't move properly. My typing was down to 20 words a minute yesterday instead of 80ish... and people in my dorm room were complaining that my teeth chattering was keeping them awake.

Okay maybe not that last one. But I was cold. Hehe, moan moan moan. This is no longer a travel blog, it's my private moaning log.

Anyways, its a lot nicer today, about 20 out, and mostly sunny. So I'm happy. Christchurch is... well, mostly the same as any Australian town I've been in, except for minor differences. They sell beer (really cheap beer too... Marc, we're in trouble) at the supermarkets, and there's a lot more prostitutes out at night than you'd expect in a city called Christchurch. (And I thought I was cold... the way they're dressed...hehe) A picture anyways (not of the prostitutes)... here's their sad attempt at a Christmas tree in Cathedral Square...

Got my short-term plans figured out... going to take a bus to Queenstown tomorrow and meet up with Marc and Dani. Christchurch is nice, but I wanna see some scenery. Plus I'm in a 38 bed dorm at a hostel here. It's unreal... first on my shopping list this afternoon are some earplugs :)

So, New Years was pretty quiet for me this year, I ended up hanging out with Anette at my hostel, (I wasn't allowed in hers...bah!) cooked us some dinner and then went out to an Irish pub with her and an Aussie friend, then went and watched the fireworks by the lagoon. I was in bed by 1:00... pretty sad again, I know. Here's the lagoon in Cairns.. I forgot my camera New Years and didn't get any fireworks shots... ah well.

Went out and did some snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef while I was in Cairns too, that was pretty good. I went out on a sailboat that used to be a pearl lugger... my pearl boat was a little more comfortable than this! Only got a couple hours snorkelling in though, unfortunately. It wasn't exactly an advanced group I was with... once we got out to the reef and they went through all the safety talk, everyone was still kind of standing around like they didn't know what to do. I hopped in the water, where I got yelled at for going out too far. (About 50 metres. sigh) When I went back to the boat an hour or so later, everyone was clustered in little groups around the boat, most of them swimming in circles with pool noodles. Later we had a group swim (!) from a sandbar to the boat... and I got yelled at for getting too far away from the group. Ah well.

Oh yeah, a bit of dumbassery for you! I missed my flight in Cairns... haha. I got to the check-in counter an hour early, but before I could get on the flight I had to show proof that I had a flight out of New Zealand. I had my ticket, of course... but the original return date out of Auckland was back in September.. I'd changed the date to February back in July and didn't print off a new itinerary. So, I had to call up the airline and get them to fax it to me, but it got there 5 minutes after the flight closed. Sigh. No harm done anyways, I got on the next flight that went to Sydney first instead of Brisbane at no extra cost, and got into Christchurch half an hour later than I would have on the original flight.

Check out new features too! I put maps of Australia and New Zealand in over on the sidebar so you can see where everything is that I'm talking about. I didn't have a clue where anything was in New Zealand before I got here... I only found out where Christchurch actually was a couple days before I flew out. haha

Anyways... I'm off to wander around town some more.