Magical New Zealand
After leaving the beautiful beaches and friendly people of Fiji I was prepared for some coldness. Coming from Finland,I should be more than familiar with cold weather,I know,but I can tell you,that it still surprises me every winter... I had heard stories of the breathtaking views in New Zealand and seen pictures for sure,so I was pumped to get going and see all that beauty for myself!
On my last day in Fiji,pooped out,sad to leave all my new friends behind, I also found out that all the plans I had made for the country,had changed... We had planned a roadtrip across the country,but George,the car that pulled it together a bit later,had a sudden change of heart and decided not to move. I'll return to George a bit later... Thank goodness,I had a friend who planned a last minute accommodation for me in Auckland and a pick up from the airport,since I had no idea what to do or where to go.
So,for the first few days I stayed in south Auckland,found out that my debit card doesnt work in this country,only credit,that my balance is 11 euros and that I had no idea what the PIIP I'll do with myself or with my month in New Zealand. George was getting fixed,but how long will it take,was not known... I couldnt stay with the very lovely,yet stragers,family for longer,since I felt I'd overstayed with them already.
I decided to hop on Kiwi Experience bus,which is basically a hop on-hop off bus that takes u around the country to the most popular destinations and there's many different passes you can choose from. Luckily some of them were on sale,so I picked one,got my creditcard functioning (a.k.a.bill payed) and was ready to hit the road. The first destination was Paihia,quite at the top of the north island,and the people were only few and cool in the bus. I had a good feeling about my new plan =)
Paihia is a quaint small town with basically few main roads and...that's it. It is very beautiful,little activities to do,with extra cost,which I cant afford,so I settled to just wonder around. Done in an hour. Ok,I'm bound to stay here for three days,so I might as well spend some extra cash and join the rest of my fellowtravellers for a daytrip to Cape Reigna,the northest tip of the country,do some sandsurfing in 90 mile beach and have good times. Eventhough I couldn't actually afford it,since I am travelling with a very tight budget, it was a day and money very well spent =)
Looking through my travelplan I noticed I dont have time to complete my travels properly and that the bus didnt go to all the places I wanted to go to... It did however go to places I necessarely didnt need to go to,so it was time to do plan C. I felt a bit silly when I realized it aint actually a hop on-off bus in the way I thought it would be; if it was an overnight stop,you are staying overnight,wheather you wanted it or not. If you wanted to skip places,you needed to find another way to do it. Damn it,extra costs one way or the other.... So,after three days in Paihia,which is more than enough,we returned to Auckland for an overnight stop and instead of catching the bus the next morning,I cought a flight straight to Welligton I had heard so much of. The bus would've stayed there only for a night and for me that isnt proper travelling. I want to see places in the city,take my time,wander around without a specific destination and suck in the vibes, sort of speak.
Windy Wellington stole my attention <3 The vibe is artsy,city is small enough to get around easy and meeting up with locals you get better insight to things and tips what to do and when. For example,I dont want to pay overpriced fees to get into a zoo. Worry not,Wellington zoo had $ 5 days every Wednesday =D CHECK! FYI,my favourites,by far,were the pygmi monkeys <3
Other good,free things,to do were the Botanical Gardens,Te Papa-museum and the look out olace viewing the whole of Wellington <3
I think 4 days in Wellington wasnt enough but as I was running out of time and wanted to spend more time on the south island, I jumped again,on the KiwiE-bus. This time it was a full one... Right. I'll manage this one,I'm good at making new friends! I think...?
The ferry ride to the south island was gorgeous! For about 2 hours you get beautiful views,hopefully sunshine like us,a bit wind for sure and if you're lucky,a view of dolphins <3 I did,I did!!! The ferry isnt a cheap one,but there's food and bar and stuff for kiddies so,it could be worse. Or more pricy. It was quite worth it,scene-wise <3
To sum up the next few days in a nutshell isnt hard; I didnt do much,except sit in the bus,watch nice views and stayed overnight in hostels just to leave again the next morning. I was getting tired and felt I havent rested properly for a while... The pace was too,way too fast for me... However,the first overnight stop was at Kaiteriteri,which is a popular destination especially during summervacations and among hikers. For me,it was a beautiful beach. I didnt want to participate in yet another overpriced canoe-or hikingtrip,and both were in the morning because we arrived in the evening,left the next day at noon,so I figured I'll sleep in,check out the beach and read my book. Worked out fine. Got a bit of rest and alone time =D
Next stop,Westport. Name of the game was a barbeque and a pubnight where we watched All Blacks kick some Ozzie butt in rugby. It was actually a nice night,socializing with the other travellers and locals alike,have a few pints and unwind. Too bad I didnt see any of Westport,apart from the cute hostel and the pub. We picked up and left the next morning. Driving to Lake Mahinapua we stopped at Punakaiki,where Mother Nature has formed something very intresting; Pancake Rocks. I was happy! Gorgeous natural formations,enough time to wonder around and again,alone time. Sharing the bus with 40+ people was starting to take its toll...
We had a fancy dress-up party arranged for the evening,so we stopped at Greymouth for a few hours to get the necessities. The theme was letter P. I was looking forward to the party,but not for extracost. Instead of running around and spending my money on things that will end up in the bin,I wondered around and bought some much needed things like socks and a sweater =D I was watching my fellowtravellers with amusement while they were running around,looking sneaky when they came up with a character. Respectful commitment,I must say.
The accommodation in Lake Mahinapua was owned and run by an 80-something year old man with a massive beard and rather questinable language =D He had prepared us a massive,VERY tasty meal before we started to get ready for the party. Oh,how my body had craved for potatoes,corn,salad and...yes,I had a MASSIVE steak as well <3
The Poo bar,which was at the location started to fill up with some intresting charaters later in the evening; boys were dressed up as princesses,pixies and whatnots,girls were turning up as perverts,pensioners,what have yous. I was a pothead =) I basically just put on my dress I had bought from Jamaica and rolled up a big as blunt,out of normal paper,nothing inside. So you know. To make people actually get dressed and make an extra effort,there was prices to be won,big ones... Party on! We had good times,gotta admit =)
Heading to Franz Josef the next morning,we did the voting. The winner would win the canyon swing and 2nd as well as 3rd would get some prizes as well. Passport won! I must say,it was inventive and no extra cash was needed. Good going,brittish boy. Yep,cant remember more than few names out of those 40+ names. Franz Josef was,like the other locations so far,a quiet town next to glaciers. Most of the buspeople had signed up for a helihike the next day. Although it sounded very tempting but for the price of $250,I was fine without it. I was also enjoying my last day with the KiwiE bus,since George was ready to roll and another kind of roadtrip was waiting for me =D with only one person!
Now,I must inform,that eventhough I have been bitching and moaning about my bus-experience,I'm not saying it's a bad choice,most definately not. I met some lovely people,saw a lot of places and it is a good way to meet up plenty fellowtravellers,get sweet deals on activities etc. It's just not for my liking. I do need to have my own time, I want to be able to make my own schedule,I want to be able to not do a thing if I choose to. And I dont have extra money to do cool,expensice activites. So,youngsters,that wanna party,meet up,do touristy,cool activieties and so on,definately your thing!
Next morning me and my new travelcompanion,before hitting the road,went to visit the glacier. Since I was there,I might as well see it. As much as it was possible,that is. It was a bit of a walk,but it was beautiful,with small waterfalls and mountains <3 I felt like I was in the LOTR =D
Our first destination was Queenstown. The drive there was beautiful,but I could feel my "driver" was already tired from all the driving since he had left early in the morning from Christchurch to pick me up. I felt bad,since I couldn't help him out with the driving. Yes,I do have a license,but A.the traffic is on the other side of the road and B. I got my license stolen way back in Costa Rica among my other stuff... Winding across the mountainious views I learned that some parts of LOTR was shot there. Cool. Nothing else there,but beautiful scenery. I was satisfied with that. And silence.
It was a nightfall before we hit Queenstown. All I knew about it,was that it's the adventure capital of NZ,lots of adrenalin-fueled things to do and more expensive than most cities. Since I'm not an adrenalin-junkie OR have extra hundreds lying around,I found one whole day to be enough in Queenstown. We did a little stroll around,went to see the skyline from the high lookout place and had a proper meal with a pint of beer.
Well-rested, we headed to what I had waited most for; Milford Sound. Every Kiwi a.k.a. New Zealander had said it is a MUST place to go and see,most gorgeous place ever etc. So I had high expectations which were fullfilled even on our way to the Fiordland. Listening to perfect music,I felt I was entering another realm,a fairytale,magical world. What ever you want to call it,I was there!
My time spent in Milfors Sound,however short it was,felt good. It was peaceful,serene and magically breath-taking <3
Our next drive was a bit longer again; from Milford Sound's breathtaking scenes to farmlands of the south to Invercargill,Bluff and up again on the east coast to Dunedin. Dunedin had again that a bit artsy,fun vibe to it. We stayed with my travelbuddy's friends house,took it easy,went to see some live music and chilled a bit more. Enjoyed good company with our hosts and walked around. I needed the time for that,because of the hectic pace I had had for the entire month. I needed to stay in one place for more than a day or two,unwind,rest for a day and not do a damn thing. It was time to go to Christchurch. The place from where I'd take off,where my host lives and where I could get that rest <3
Eventhough Christchurc is undergoing some massive construction,demolishing and rebuilding,I could see past that and noticed it was a lovely place =D After a day of resting I caught up with few people from the KiwiE-bus,went to see the most damaged areas and had some dinner <3 Last few days were dedicated to easy,not-in-a-rush-time,loking around the city,going to craftsmarket,packing and watching movies <3 Best ever! I needed to restore some energy after the hectic month and gain some at the same time for my new destination and adventure!
Australia,get your surfers,kangaroos and koalas ready,I'm rested and ready to roll!!!