We’re going surfing… Surfing Byron Bay!

The alarms went off and we were up & away on time (believe it or not!) heading down the coast in the rental car to Byron bay.
The journey was going well, with the traffic being kind on the fast moving highway. After a while we drove past a sign welcoming us to New South Wales! The first and only state line we’d be crossing.As we passed the sign celebrating our second Australian state, Jen asked “when does the time difference start?”. I wasn’t really sure.
Well…..
It turns out it started right there, at that sign, and we were now already half an hour late for our surf lesson!
The clocks go forward an hour in NSW which is mental because you’re on the same(ish) latitude.
Australia-Timezones-Daylight
After resigning to the fact we may well have missed our lesson we decided to soldier on and spend the day in Byron anyway.On arrival I dropped Jen at the surf shop to apologise while I parked the car. When I went to meet with Jen she had found some of the staff outside and they’d agreed to take us down and tag along for the rest of the 3 hours! Result!
We jumped back in the car and followed the hippy surf dude & his dog, in his wing-mirror less yellow camper van, down to the beach.

We threw on the kit and had a quick land based safety / basic skills chat & demo before jumping in to catch some waves!

photo_2187063_20140313 photo_2187075_20140313

We both took to it with ease standing up on the first attempt and every one after for that matter!

photo_2187103_20140313

photo_2187108_20140313

photo_2187112_20140313

photo_2187113_20140313

Jen Even managed to surf with a new friend on board….

photo_2187098_20140313

Of course, we weren’t quite perfect…

photo_2187099_20140313

photo_2187104_20140313

photo_2187114_20140313

When our time on the wet blue stuff ended we dropped our boards off and headed to the main beach to meet back up with Darragh & Jen.

IMG_1678

The four of us chilled out for the rest of the afternoon, enjoying a buskers home made medicinal ginger lemonade & an ice cream in the blazing hot sun.

When we had been truly burnt to a crisp we said our goodbyes yet again and set off back up to our apartment. On our way we drove up to the Byron Bay lighthouse which is the eastern most point of Australia’s mainland. The views were worth the steep, sweaty walk from the car park.

IMG_1688

IMG_1685

We set off home up the coast back to southport, Queensland, regaining an hour in the process!

The day after was our final full day at our pad. We drove in to downtown surfers paradise to drop off the car and see the city. After a few hours we hit the beach which we would later use as our footpath for the long walk home!

DCIM108GOPRO

DCIM108GOPRO

IMG_1696

We put our lives back in to the backpacks and prepared for a mega greyhound journey down to Sydney to meet up with our friends and now Sydney locals, Jack & Megan.

Update soon

Gold Coast & Brisbane

From Rainbow beach we caught the early morning greyhound down to Southport (just north of surfers paradise). On arrival we were happy to see the pool, hot-tub and well equipped plush 2 bedroomed apartment we could call home for the next 6 nights.

IMG_1700

We took some time to unpack and actually settle in to one place which was nice after moving so quickly for the last seven weeks. We wondered up the coast line and found the local bars before enjoying a decent curry.

IMG_1630

In the morning we had a lie in and walked to a nearby shopping centre to do the big shop! We stocked up on food & drink then spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool. That night we booked tickets to Dreamworld and Whitewater world theme parks which were close by. Darragh and Jen (the Irish couple we’d met on Whitsundays / Fraser Island) were also due in the area, so we got in touch and arranged to meet them there tomorrow.

Me & Jen left early morning, we needed to catch two busses to get to Dreamworld and were already running a bit late (shock!). At the bus stop we noticed a familiar red car pull up! Darragh & Jen by some amazing luck were driving passed and picked us up! Result.

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 14.43.03 Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 14.44.47 Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 14.46.00 Pic 1979213_10153952803910034_1200268363408956203_o

After a great day out in the two parks, we invited Darragh & Jen back to our pad for BBQ & beers and to stay the night in our spare bedroom, so there was no chance of Darragh appearing on Australian Booze Patrol.1051587

After breakfast we all jumped in the trusty red Hyundai to go downtown surfers paradise, where me & Jen picked up a hire car to give us a bit more freedom for the next 3 days. Darragh & Jen were carrying on south so we said our goodbyes again but would keep in touch to meet them further down the line.

We hopped in our Toyota Camry and drove up to Brisbane for the day!

IMG_1665

It was a nice drive straight up the coast, and when we eventually found somewhere to park for less than $40, we set off exploring the city. We caught the free ferry all the way up and then back down the river.

DCIM108GOPRODCIM108GOPRODCIM108GOPRO

This was a great way to see the city. We jumped off at southbank where we had half an hour in a bar looking out over the beautiful gardens and river.

DCIM108GOPRO

DCIM108GOPRODCIM108GOPRO

From here we did a bit of shopping and saw a bit more of downtown Brisbane as well as the botanical gardens before heading home.

We’d enjoyed our day here and was probably the only place we’d seen in Oz so far that felt like a very liveable city.

With alarms set for 6am in the morning we retired to get some much needed rest before our surfing lesson down the coast in Byron Bay!

Surfs up!

The largest sand island on earth

On the 6th of March, (my 25th Birthday!) the coach picked us up early morning outside our Hervey Bay hostel and took us to the Urangan Boat Harbour where we would board the ferry and cross over to the largest sand island on earth. Fraser Island.

When we arrived the people doing the ‘cool dingoes tour’ were separated from the rest (which filtered out all the over 30′s!) and introduced us to our tour guide for the next three days, Hayden. He welcomed the group (all 28 of us) confirming out itinerary before showing us to his monster truck-bus that he would be throwing us around the sandy terrain of Fraser Island with for the next three days.

IMG_1620

The bus seemed overkill whilst parked on this flat concrete road but it didn’t take long to find out what the rest of the Islands ‘roads’ had to offer!

We set off to stop número uno – Lake Mckenzie. With its white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, it was as picturesque as it was on the postcards…

DCIM108GOPRODCIM108GOPRO DCIM108GOPRO

…then the clouds moved in, and after half an hour of swimming, the rain forced us out undercover for lunch.

Hayden threw a mean buffet spread, sharing our dining area with these camouflaged critters

DCIM108GOPRO DCIM108GOPRO

The rain soon passed and after lunch we went on a few walks through some of Fraser’s amazing sub tropical rainforest. The walk along Wanggoolba Creek made us forget we were on a huge pile of sand…

DCIM108GOPRO

DCIM108GOPRO

After this we walked through the giant satinay trees of Pine Valley (some of which are no longer vertical)…

DCIM108GOPRO

From here we bounced our way over the very bumpy sand tracks to the cool dingoes bar where the accommodation manager set about allocating our dorm rooms in the wilderness lodge resort.

After washing away most of the sand we enjoyed pre drinks including a few rounds of kings cup & “simisimi” in our lodge before heading to the bar for happy hour and the rest of the night to celebrate my birthday!

P1080853 P1080873 P1080906 P1080857

 

10003769_10153952787105034_5129183413622306507_o-2

Day 2…

After a 7am breakfast and with slightly fuzzy heads, we were straight back on the bus headed for the east coast of the island to drive / fly up ’75 mile beach road’. This was exactly what it said on the tin, theres no secrets in Oz, they are very literal when naming things!

We drove up part way until we found a small aeroplane on the beach, you could jump in and enjoy seeing the island from above, this was fairly spectacular. Using 75 mile beach as a runway, we were elevated up over the island to take in just how big and vegetated this mountain of sand was!

DCIM108GOPRO

841102_10153952793235034_1448386881332073538_o

We landed further north up the beach to meet back up with the bus and the guys who hadn’t done the flight to enjoy the champagne rock pools. Contrary to my earlier statement, these aren’t actually full of champers but gives the bubbly effect when the rocks break the incoming waves.

champagne rock pools

When our fingers were shrivelled up like old prunes, we dried off and set off back down the beach to see the Maheno Shipwreck. This washed ashore during a cyclone in 1935, its exactly how a shipwreck should look…

DCIM108GOPRO

Next stop was Eli Creek. Wading up stream to then float back down this fast-flowing freshwater creek – which pours over four million litres of water from its mouth onto the beach and into the ocean every hour.DCIM108GOPRO

eli creek j

After this we headed back to wilderness lodge for a comparatively quiet night. After dinner we had a few beers and shot some pool.

Our last day on the island took us to a few more lakes, the first bring Lake Birrabeen. We had the chance to try some stand up paddle boarding. Once me and Darragh had inflated the damn things we had first shot, and were both as terrible at it. The girls seems to have a secret paddle boarding talent and had obviously done it before a few times!

1465762_10153952796835034_1999915055292862801_o

10014989_10153952797510034_7327981364706197331_o

After failing at paddle boarding, we were more successful at providing a solid base foundation for our human pyrammid!

922151_10153952798465034_3293844691320791560_o

We hit Eurong Beach Resort for lunch smashing their famous all-you-can-eat buffet.

The last of our Fraser attractions was Hammerstone Sandblow & Lake Wabby. We trekked over thiss vast desert-like sand blow to the beach of Lake Wabby

waby

After a swim with the catfish, we walked back to the bus through the rainforest to make our way to the ferry port.

We said our goodbyes to the group as most were going back to Hervey bay while we exited the island to the south point of rainbow beach.

On arrival at our accommodation in Rainbow beach there had been a booking mix up so we ended up in a big private luxury bungalow to ourselves! We cooked steaks on the barbie and a good nights sleep before the morning bus down to surfers paradise!

More to follow…

R&J

 

Whitsundays sailing sesh

We rolled in to Airlie Beach on the big red greyhound and dropped our bags at the YHA before walking in to town to check in for our Whitsundays sailing tour!
We had a dip in the towns lagoon followed by $10 steak & chips in the sun!

DCIM107GOPRO

In the morning we arrived at the harbour to join up with 20 others before setting sail. This was a BYO sailing tour and we were pleased to see quite a lot of the group had brought similar amounts of alcohol to us! Especially the Irish! We ditched the cardboard from the bags of goon (wine) and put them with all the beers in a big ice chest on the back of “Hammer” the maxi racing yacht, and our home for the next 2 days and 1 night.

IMG_1475

The skipper, Mick, introduced himself and his 2 (wo)men crew and gave us a chat about the boat, safety and our itinerary. Hammer is a racing yacht capable of high speed sailing and tipping to angles that you wouldn’t think were possible. We all had to muck in to help sail it when needed!
We set sail heading for Whitehaven beach, one of the best beaches in the world. Experiencing some of what the boat was capable of on the way!

DCIM107GOPRO

DCIM107GOPRO

DCIM107GOPRO DCIM107GOPRO

The beach was awesome! The sand is ridiculously fine and white in colour with crystal clear water surrounding it.

DCIM107GOPRO

DCIM107GOPRO

After our Whitehaven stop we jumped back on to the ship and set sail to our sleeping spot for the night.

We anchored in a beautiful bay amongst a few other boats in time to watch the sun set and start making our way through the contents of the ice chest to a soundtrack of chilled out house music. Perfect.

DCIM107GOPRO

Over the course of the day the group had gotten to know each other and the boat had a really good atmosphere by nightfall with the beer flowing, good music playing and everyone chatting away.

After speaking more with the Irish couple (Darragh & Jen) we found they were heading in the same direction as us down the coast, and in fact, we were due to be on the same Fraser Island tour, which was the next stop on both of our itineraries. They kindly offered us a lift down the next stretch of the coast in their hire car which we happily accepted!

The night progressed and left only a few of us standing before the rain persuaded most people to call it a night. But not Heiko, this German guy was having a whale of a time and provided the days final entertainment with his dancing in the rain up on deck. (Video will be added soon!)

IMG_1485

The morning after, with everyone surprisingly fresh, we smashed the breakfast buffet then headed to our first snorkelling spot.

DCIM107GOPRO DCIM108GOPRO

DCIM108GOPRO

Not quite as amazing as the coral we’d seen off the Cairns coast but still a lot of incredible scenery and marine life.

We sailed on to 1 more snorkel spot before heading back to the mainland at speed getting fairly wet in the process…

DCIM108GOPRO

DCIM108GOPRO

DCIM108GOPRO

The crew then announced they had a table reserved for us at a bar in town with free beer, so we all agreed to meet there later on for the start of the after party!

DCIM108GOPRO

A great night out with great people!

IMG_1508

IMG_1511

Rise and shine the next morning to squeeze our luggage in to Darragh & Jen’s hire car before setting off on a two day road trip down to Hervey Bay. We broke the journey in half staying a night in the incredible Emu Park area, where we experienced our first Drive through bottle shop booze run and got a couple of huge pizzas for the night.

After around 1000km and passing a lot of road kill, the next day we arrived at Hervey Bay where we would stay the night before setting off to Fraser island in the morning. We enjoyed a BBQ & a few beers on the beach and only set it on fire once!

1510564_10153864246225034_1567766068_n

Fraser Island next up! Update to follow.

Down under the sea

Having enjoyed our last glimpse of Auckland we made our way to a hotel on the outskirts of the city near the airport, where we squeezed in 4 hours of sleep before our flight to Cairns, Australia.

Mega early morning we set off on our 5 hour flight which provided some stunning views including flying over the barrier reef. It looked amazing and had us more excited for seeing it up close & personal! The weather looked to be awesome down below too. 20140309-121022.jpg
Then, just as we finished the 10 minute descent, we went through the clouds and in to the rain!
Having successfully retrieved our bags (with a couple more from duty free!) we went outside to meet with the 28 degree heat! It was much hotter than New Zealand and even though the rain had followed us here it was so hot it didn’t matter.

We arrived at our hotel early afternoon and caught up on a spot of sleep. Luckily come morning the storm had passed and the weather was spot on. We ventured in to town for a bit of a recce and booked ourselves on to the Great Barrier Reef dive tour for the next day. To celebrate we hit the pier and had a few cold beers in the sun before a twilight swim in the esplanade lagoon. 20140309-125139.jpg

Tomorrow arrived and despite the very heavy rain overnight we set off to the reef fleet terminal to board our vessel. On route we dropped our big bags at next hotel where we were staying for 3 nights right on the esplanade.

After smashing through some fairly choppy water the boat pulled up and anchored in what looked to be a fairly ordinary chunk of sea.
We got the snorkel gear on and swam 20 meters where the view changed significantly! Through the clear plastic of our scuba masks were unimaginable colours, shapes and life forms!
After snorkelling for a while it was time to do the dive. We were equipped with air tanks and weight belts before a swift safety briefing.
Hanging off the back of the boat we both went down a few meters to try it out. Breathing underwater is not as easy as I imagined! Jen was a natural and carried on down but I couldn’t quite get the breathing right so went no deeper.
20140309-130852.jpg20140309-130900.jpg20140309-130905.jpg20140309-131158.jpg

After a bit of a ribbing from Jen upon her return to the surface, we headed to the second coral sea destination for a look at another part of the huge reef. This section was even more impressive than the first, catching glimpses of unreal marine life including clown fish, barracudas and a shark! 20140309-132359.jpg20140309-132404.jpg

After an awesome but tiring day we got back and had a quiet night by our standards!
The day after we had nothing planned which sounded boring, but was quite refreshing not having to set an alarm! We used the day to relax and see a bit of the city. Jen took part in an aqua Zumba class in the lagoon! While I stayed in the bar booking some future accommodation & travel over a beer. 20140309-133348.jpg (Jen far left)
That night we descended upon the infamous Gilligan’s bar where we enjoyed beer and jelly wrestling! A great combination.
Up & at em early the next day for the Barefoot Atherton tablelands tour.
This involved being picked up at 7:30am and heading inland to the rainforest with a good crowd of 15 others & our tour guide Emma. 20140309-141839.jpg
The first stop was Lake Eacham where we jumped in for a swim and had some breakfast. It was then on to our first waterfall; Dinner Fall, again jumping in to swim up to the falls.
20140309-140333.jpg20140309-140345.jpg20140309-140352.jpg
More of the same for our next stop after lunch where we found the “Peter Andre mysterious girl” waterfall (Millaa Millaa Falls) and mimicked some of his moves beneath it. It was also where some shampoo adverts are filmed with the women doing the famous cheesy hair flick which the boys and the girls had a go at. Mine was quite spectacular with the water flowing from my locks, unfortunately we only got Jens on camera though …20140309-140415.jpg
20140309-140433.jpg
The final stop was a naturally formed rock water slide! Josephine Falls. We had several runs down its strong current before making our way back to Cairns. 20140309-140500.jpg
Emma also got a few snaps on her cam for the companies Facebook page:
20140309-143851.jpg

20140309-143842.jpg

20140309-143831.jpg

20140309-143825.jpg

20140309-143817.jpg

20140309-143749.jpg

Up early again the next morning to make our way south out of Cairns. Armed with fond memories, we headed down to Townsville. This is the gateway to magnetic island, our home for the next two nights.
After the short ferry across and a quick bus ride, we arrived at the koala sanctuary on the north side of the island, where we would spend the night. We checked in and signed up for the animal breakfast tour in the morning for a chance to meet the native koala bears and other creatures then went to see the day out at horseshoe bay.
20140309-223726.jpg20140309-223733.jpg20140309-223739.jpg

Back to our little hut for the night, we caught glimpses of kangaroos, a couple of possums & lot of bugs!
The morning arrived and we had quite a hands on experience meeting the animals… 20140309-221916.jpg20140309-221929.jpg20140309-221937.jpg20140309-221948.jpg20140309-222005.jpg20140309-222025.jpg20140309-222036.jpg

The next day we moved to the south side of the island to an equally beautiful but more lively setting of Base hostel. We hit the bar to see the sun out, getting involved with the bar games and winning some free beer!

With sore heads the morning after we caught the Ferry back to get our coach to Airlie beach. To sail the whitssundays!

Update to follow.

R&J

That’s a rap for NZ!

We rolled back in to Auckland to drop off the whip then jumped on a bus to our hostel for the night, Oakland lodge. This was in the Mt Eden area of the city.
We relaxed over a flat white in the sun to prepare us for Rapture 2014! 20140223-143603.jpg
Alongside 59,998 others, we made our way to western springs stadium to see Mr Mathers & co rock the mic. On arrival this place had the feel of a festival, a huge set up, in a sunny green field with bars aplenty! We checked one out and loaded up with beer to drink through the next 5 hours of hiphop! Awesome night with some top drawer performances.20140223-144718.jpg
20140223-143953.jpg

The morning after we left Auckland continuing north to The Bay of Islands. There are 144 Islands to be exact in this northland bay and we had a week up here to explore the place.
We based our selves in Pahia which is the main township of the area with easy access to surrounding islands and points of interest. We stayed in the pipi patch base hostel which was renowned for being a bit of a rave up spot!
The first day we had a bit of a chill out with beers and enjoyed a huge rack of ribs at Jimmy’s rib shack before bed. The hostel lived up to its reputation and stayed very lively until the early hours!

For the next day it was more of the same. Jen cooked a mean meal and the money we’d saved on eating out went straight to the liquor store! Ready mixed spirit / mixer combos seem to be the most popular drink over here, I opted for Jim Bean & cola, Jen stuck with the ginger beer.

The next day after very little sleep and with a bit of a sore head! We joined a tour to Cape Regina. This is the north most point of the country and also where the Tasman sea collides with the Pacific Ocean. On the way we stopped at some interesting places. Top pick was the gum diggers park, where the locals previously dug up 50,000+ year old kauri trees that had been preserved in the pete, to extract the gum. This used to be a very large and important industry here in New Zealand, for more info click here.
20140223-144628.jpg

On our way back from the cape, we cruised down the west coast on 90 mile beach. We took a bit of time out to do some sand duning. This is throwing yourself down a pretty steep sand dune on a body board!
20140223-145528.jpg

20140223-145646.jpg

With only one minor collision we continued on with no serious injuries to the Fish n chip shop, apparently the best in New Zealand if not the world! They were pretty decent, the boat literally pulls up to the restaurant with the freshly caught fish!
We arrived back home, showered off the sand (although I’m sure we’ll be finding it for days to come!) and went back to our local for some on tap ginger beer.

The next day we were greeted with something we’d not seen for a long time. Rain. Or as the locals called it, liquid sunshine.
We had a relaxing morning hoping the wet stuff would pass before our planned “Hole in the rock dolphin cruise” later on! It didn’t.
We went ahead with the boat trip anyway and caught some amazing views of dolphins but unfortunately didn’t make it to the locally famous ‘hole in the rock’ because the swell (choppy sea) was too bad! We enjoyed it none the less and had round two of rib shack action later that night.

Similar story the day after in terms of weather! We changed to a less noisy part of town for the next few nights where we spent time relaxing in the hot tub (Jen managed to drop her kindle in!) and shooting some pool.

In our penultimate night in the bay we went out to a sports bar where I found a (lucky) $2 dollar coin and managed to turn it in to $90 on the fruit machine! Then spent it on beer and pizza!

For our last day in the north, the weather was better so we had a 10km round trip walk to Haruru falls. 20140223-150927.jpg20140223-151023.jpg

The next morning we checked out and made our way back down to Auckland for the day before flying out to Oz!

Lord of the caves

After a couple of long days traveling from the bottom of the South Island, we decided to chill out in Wellington for a few nights before continuing our journey north.
We spent some time in the impressive Te Papa museum where we saw the worlds largest known colossal squid! It had been captured here in New Zealand just off the South Island coast in 2007 and preserved post-mortem for our viewing!
P1210788
We had a walk around the capital city and up the famous Cuba street before beers & a bite to eat.

Whilst we had a bit of down time in Wellington, we planned for the next few days. This involved hiring a car and getting off the beaten track to some places the coach pass wouldn’t get us! To do this we used a website called transfercar.co.nz which allowed us to ‘relocate’ a car for a rental company for next to nothing! The rental ended up being $1 plus a bit extra for insurance and we got a Holden Commodore SV6  3.6 litre v6! or to Jen… “a red one”.
20140215-142523.jpg

The next morning we picked up the car and drove north for a steady 7 hours to the land of the Hobbits – Hobbiton village. This is the incredibly preserved set from the lord of the rings & the hobbit trilogy’s. It’s actually quite a big place set in to the middle of a sheep farm. Featuring 46 hobbit holes, 72 smoking chimneys and the film featured, fully functioning pub! The detail that Peter Jackson had insisted on in this place was unbelievable. To the point where the colour of the leaves on one of the full size fake trees he’d had made for set, were the wrong colour. So each individual leaf had to be taken off hand painted and wired back on to the branches manually (all 20,000 of them!) Its the tree above Bilbos house on the second picture down… 20140215-142536.jpg20140215-142555.jpg20140215-143440.jpg20140215-143509.jpg

After a pint in the green dragon we carried on to Waitomo to find our hostel for the next two nights.

Up & at ‘em early on valentines morning to go and do the ‘black abyss’ tour down the glow worm caves! This involved abseiling, flying fox, tubing, crawling through small places and climbing waterfalls! Very romantic. We wet suited up and attached our climbing equipment.
IMG_1179

After abseiling down and squeezing through a small opening in the cave roof, then zip lining deeper down in to the cave in total darkness, we saw the glow worms for the first time. Pretty awesome! We then proceeded to jump down in to the caves river and make our way downstream on a tube…

20140215-154155.jpg

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

5 hours later we climbed up through a couple of waterfalls and squeezed out in to day light again!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After hot soup & showers we relaxed back at the hostel for a while before a more romantic meal of Steak & BBQ ribs in the local restaurant.

Early night tonight as we have to get the red dragon (hire car) back to Auckland for 10am in the morning. Then it’s Rapture (Eminem gig) tomorrow night at Western Springs stadium. 20140215-142630.jpg

R&J

Milford Sound’s sound

Outside our hostel at 6:25am, we met a few others & set off on our excursion to a place called Milford Sound.
Milford sound is actually not a ‘sound’ at all in geological terms. It’s a fjord. Which is a steep sided inlet (from the Tasman sea in this case) created by glaciers. This incredible area is only 70km from Queenstown as the crow flies but we had to cover 600km of tarmac to get there & back!
Thankfully this stretch of road was slightly more interesting than most (yes even the grimey bypass) and allowed us to see & stop off at some cool places including waterfalls & mirror lake: 20140212-165058.jpg20140212-165107.jpg20140212-165523.jpg
At the end of the epic coach journey we were dropped off at the dock to board our touring ship that would take us all the way down the fjord in to the Tasman sea and back. This return cruise took 2 hours and provided some unreal views…20140212-130034.jpg20140212-130046.jpg20140212-130354.jpg
20140212-165456.jpg
It was back the same way on the coach but with less stops and more sleep! Bob, our coach driver put a film on which I slept through but Jen enjoyed, called The fastest Indian. Anthony Hopkins plays a New Zealander who makes his way to the USA to break the land speed record on a crappy old bike. True story apparently.
Back in queenstown we had to walk to our next hotel – Heritage Queenstown. This was a 25 minute walk out of the centre and up hill! Not what we needed after our 13 hour day so far but it was worth the walk!
In the morning we made our way to our next Queenstown abode. It was really busy here at this time of year so this was the 4th night and the 4th different hotel/hostel.
With no trips or adrenaline fueled activity booked we made the most of the sunshine and had a relaxing day by the lake before completing our FergBurger hat trick!

We parted company with Queenstown and headed back up north on the western coast to glacier country – Franz Joseph.
That afternoon we had a walk up to the glacier. On the way up there are plenty of information boards and pictures showing the history of the place and just how much the glacier has receded (yes Matt like my hair) over the last few years.
20140212-164334.jpg
It had also left behind “peters pool” nearby which gave an impressive reflected image of the glacier. 20140212-164532.jpg
The morning after we followed the coast further north still, all the way up to Nelson. Stopping off at a few interesting places, one of which was pancake rocks (punakaiki). Caused by 30 million years of erosion to the layers of limestone. 20140212-170606.jpg
From Nelson we would be crossing back over to the north island. Next update at the weekend.

R&J

Fun & games darn sarf

From the ferry terminal it was straight down to Christchurch, stopping off at Kaikoura on the way.
After a very scenic coach journey, we apparently arrived in Christchurch city centre, though it didn’t feel like it! The third largest city in the country was like a ghost town. The 2010/11 earthquakes had devastated the place and it was going to cost billions to put it right. Our coach driver explained the work going on at the minute was mainly underground with the sewerage system, the old pipes had been smashed to bits so needed replacing before any other work could start.

We crossed the empty streets to our hostel and had a walk back into the centre to see where things used to be!
Amongst a lot of rubble & part buildings, a nice touch was the Re:start shopping centre. Created entirely by shipping containers left over from the relief efforts. 20140208-141100.jpg
After stocking up on food & water rations at ‘pack & save’ we were off down to Queenstown!
Pulling in to the centre of Queenstown was the exact opposite of Christchurch, this place was buzzing!
After a few pints by the lake it was food time. Everyone who has been to New Zealand seemed to recommend one place here, Queenstowns famous Fergburger, so we gave it a shot and we were not disappointed.20140208-140525.jpg

The next morning we caught the gondola up to the top of ‘Bob’s Peak’ to take in the view and ride the luge! Which is essentially a tray with wheels that you aim down the hill! Good fun.20140208-134746.jpg20140208-134834.jpg

After this it was back down to board the jetboat! This 800 horse power boat skimmed you across lake wakatipu and connecting rivers performing 360 spins and getting very close to various objects in the river at speed.
20140208-140118.jpg20140208-140048.jpg

We dried off with beers on the beach celebrating Waitangi Day (NZ public holiday) with the locals and went back for a second day of Fergburger action!

In other news, our blog has become a point of contention this last few days, with my good friend Matt creating a similar site offering an alternative view on our travels… Take a look by clicking on the picture below:

20140208-141601.jpg

The good news for Matt is that the updates will undoubtably dry up a bit when we start spending longer in one place (bali beaches) where there’ll probably be less to report!

Meanwhile, its Milford Sound up next. Updates to follow.