A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand Part 2.

from where I left off...

rain 19 °C

Hello :)
Since leaving Queenstown we have been slowly making our way back up to Auckland, and we went right down south and right out east as well. We went on what the Kiwi Experience call the 'Bottom Bus' which is a bus from Queenstown through to Dunedin then to Invercargill and then to Milford Sound and back to Queenstown. To be honest the trip was a bit rubbish... Dunedin wasnt as nice as the other cities in New Zealand and we had to stay in a tiny, smelly dorm with 10 other people so that wasnt brilliant either. We went on a Brewery Tour of Speights Brewery which was actually pretty good and we got a few free beers at the end too. In the hostel, in the dorm we were with people who kept turning the light on in the middle of the night, and to add to it, when we got on the bus the next morning, one of the boys there had nicked James' snorkel that he had got from Australia with the Cairns Dive Center Badge on it :/ The bus driver of the bottom bus insisted that we all get off the bus every 5 minutes to look at something not very worth while (like a tiny river called the Niagra Falls) and we stopped in each stop for so long that we didnt reach an overnight stop untill at least half 7 which meant we couldnt actually see the city. Invercargill was a ghost town, we were there on a Saturday night and no one was to be seen; there wasnt a car on the road. The city looked nice though, everything was shut when we got there but it would have been nice to spend a bit longer there if we had the time. On the last day we went to Milford Sound on a cruise which was really nice, there had been a lot of rain in the morning so when we were looking around, there were waterfalls and streams everywhere.
The Next Day we left Queenstown and went to Kaikoura. This was one of my favourite places in New Zealand! It's such a small town, right on the coast and does trips for Whale Watching and Dolphin Swimming. Considering we had already been swimming with dolphins, we decided to try Whale watching. It was a 3 hour trip and we went right out into the ocean and immediatly spotted a huge Sperm Whale. We could only see the top of its head (and even that was enormous!) but after its taken in all the air it needs to, it goes back to the bottom of the ocean for 45 minutes and to get down, it lifts it tail in the air and drops straight. The tail was huge! I got some brilliant photos of it though. Whilst the whale was underwater the boat went to find dolphins and when we found them it was incredible! There were about 300 of them in a pod (but there can be up to 1000) and everywhere you looked in the water they were swimming all around, jumping in the air or swimming underneath the boat. When we go back to Kaikoura, I am deffinatly going to go swimming with them again. We stayed in the Dusky Lodge in Kaikoura and it was quite nice. The only problem was that they had no tin opener, which meant that for tea, Beans on toast (which has become one of our very standard backpacker meals) james and I spent a good hour hacking away at a can on beans with a carving knife and a spoon.
From Kaikoura we got the ferry over to Wellington again, and decided to go to the cinema again. We went to see Hall Pass which was very funny, and we managed to get students tickets so it wasnt too expensive. From Wellington we came up to Taupo and from there we started the ''East As'' Pass which is a bus pass round the east coast of the north island. We were warned that for the entirety of this pass we would have to pay in cash because there would be no cash machines, and also to make any last phone calls because there would be no signal either. The east was pretty awesome though. We went to Gisbourne to begin with and staying in 'Dive Tatapouri' which is just outside Gisbourne and right on the beach. We spent the afternoon surfing the huge waves there. Two other options there were Sting Ray Feeding and Shark Cave Diving (both a little out of our budget but looked pretty cool.) I was a little nervous though when I realised the beach we were surfing on was the same beach that they did both of these activities on, I was praying to not encounter either.
We next went from Gisbourne to Rangatukia and on the way stopped off at a Marae, which is an ancient traditional Maori town hall type thing. We had to be invited in by the leader and then we had to sing a song to show we were thankfull so our bus driver taught us a Maori song called 'Kare kare Ana.' The song is pretty sad though, it's about a boy who is brought up without his mother and then falls in love with the sister he didnt realise he had, then she gets killed trying to cross the river to him. In Rangatukia we did bone carving too, where you can make your own necklace out of a cow's bone. They give you drills and tell you where to carve and they turned out pretty good. Our last day on the East as pass we went to Te Kaha. We stayed in a homestead there but it was raining really badly so we couldnt go down to the beach. Apparently they see a lot of Killer Whales there because the whales are coming after the sting rays that hide in the rocks. The film 'Whale Rider' was filmed there.
Now we are back in Roturoa and tomorrow we head for Auckland. Our parents are both coming out on Friday so Im really looking forward to that!
Love Aliss xoxo

Posted by AMellar 15:37 Archived in New Zealand Tagged new zealand Comments (0)

New Zealand! From Auckland to Queenstown

Its amazing here!!!!

sunny 23 °C

Its been a really long time since my last blog and frankly it's because there is so much to do in New Zealand that I have neither had the chance nor wanted to go on the internet since my last blog. This is going to be a fairly long blog i think because i have a lot of htings to tell you. So after the bay of Islands James and I went back to Auckland for a night then early the next morning we started to Whitianga. On the way over there we stopped at the 'Hot water Beach' which explains itself really. It is a beach with hot springs underneath so you take a shovel down and dig a hole in the sand and have your own jacussi on the beach. It was raining but that didnt stop us testing it out. As quick as we got in we got out, the water was ridiculously hot! We had a new group of people on our bus and we really really liked them. Its a lot cheaper to buy drinks in new zealand and the hostels do brilliant deals for the Kiwi experience so we were going out a lot more than in Australia and spending hardly any money. A lot of bars had bar tabs so we stocked up and didnt have to buy any at all. The day after we went to roturoa which is an absolutly gorgeous place! We were only there for one night but we went Luging and it was actually really good. Luging is basically getting in a go-kart and going down a mountain in it, it goes really quickly though, its brilliant. To get back up to the top of the mountain you go up on ski lifts and get some excellent views of roturoa. We were racing on the luges and a couple of people fell off, its actually pretty dangerous and a few of our mates had bruises 10 or so inches long right down their thighs. The next day we left Roturoa and went to Taupo where James and I spent 3 nights. On the way over me and a few others decided to go Zorbing. It was excellent, you get into a big balloon-like ball filled with 100 litres of water and roll down a huge hill, we got to do it twice. The first time, all the people who didnt do the zorbing lay down on the path we were going down so we rolled over them, we couldnt feel it at all though.The next day everyone signed up to do the Tongariro Crossing, which is a mountain climb up 'Mount Doom' from Lord or the Rings and some of the mountains surrounding it. It was a 5am wake up and then an excrutiating 8-11 hour walk through 23km of pure mountains. The first bit wasnt too bad, then we reached what the Kiwis call 'The Devils Staircase' and it was so hard! When we got to the top we were at the base of Mt Doom and everyone was going to just carry on around it. I was absolutly knackered already but seeing as I'd come so far I was determined to get to the top. James said no way so I went up anyway and turned around to find he'd followed. 2 hours later we had crawled (literally, there is no path and as the mountain is actually a volcano the rubble gives way under your feet so without using your hands as well you are screwed..) up to the top of the volcano. The views of the Southern Alps were amazing and from the top you could see right the way over to the other side of the coast. its a lot of fun getting down again, you just lean back on your heels and ski down the rocks. I fell over about 7 times but it was worth it. We got to the bottom and saw we still had another mountain to climb, that wouldnt have been so bad if that was it, but we still had another 5 hours of walking and by the end we were aching so bad! Mt Doom is 2291 metres tall, the next mountain was 1660m tall and the last was 1454 meters tall all together thats 5405 meters thats 3443meters short of mount Everest. We couldnt move the next day so we spent the day reading in the hostel haha. We went to River Valley next and we had a new group of people who were rubbish compared to our last. Not only we we the only English Speaking passengers but 2 girls seemed to really hate us, (we found this out later on in the week when on the bus over to the ferry port over to Picton we had our rucksacks on our backs (which weigh a tonne!) and they refused to move their 2 bags which were taking up 2 seats to let us sit down) anyway they kept eviling us in the kitchen and we found the whole thing very wierd. River Valley was fun though, we went white water rafting on a grade 5 river (any river over grade 5 is off limits to rafters because it is so dangerous) and we had a really good time.
When we got to Wellington I knew I would absolutly love it there! It is the arts capital of New Zealand (and the actual capital too) and has hosted premieres for 'Lord of the Rings' 'Avatar' etc. We stayed in a dorm in base which meant we got no sleep what so ever but that was fine haha. One the night we got there was a rugby match, the 'Hurricanes' were playing the 'Chiefs' so James and I got tickets (for 20$!!! Very cheap!) and had a brilliant night. The Chiefs (the home team) won and we were in the home team stand so there was a brilliant atmosphere. On one night we went to the 'Embassy' for lunch which is where all the premieres are held and it was lovely, we went to see Rango too haha.
From Wellington we moved on to Nelson via Picton on Ferry. It's a shame we couldn't have stayed in Nelson a bit longer, it is really lovely, and we wanted to go to The Abel Tasman National Park but we didnt have time to do that either. We went straight on to Westport which was fairly quiet. The next day we went to Mahinapau which has just 2 residents, a barmaid and the oldest pub owner in New Zealand- Les. This man scared me from the minute we got to the Poo Pub where we were staying for the night. It's a fancy dress pub and we had the theme 'Funny Hatwear' which wasnt brilliant but we made some pretty good costumes despite this. Les got on the bus and started raving about how people weren't allowed to bring booze into the pub, he then added 'If you have anything that made you go floozy and your eyes go red, take it down the road...' He looked a bit like an angry Santa... in cowboy clothes.... He even checked James' bag as we got off to check there was no alcohol... james obviously looked pretty dodgy haha. I had bought a three dollar set of cat ears, tail and bow tie (because cats always wear bowties :S ) and I painted my nose black too, and James went full out and bought a Rasta hat with dreadlocks and some PJ bottoms to match. Other people went as: Teddy Bears, a Bum, A Pinapple, A balloon. It was a very good night though, and cheap as anything so everyone was very ill! Especially me... haha. I met a boy who I used to do Fencing with at the public schools as well, which was very very wierd and very coinsidental. The boys all swam in the (brown) lake that was there as well, it looked disgusting but I got some good photos haha.
We went from there onto Franz Josef, which is a deffinate must-do in New Zealand. From the tiny town of Franz Josef you can see the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, which as huge chunks of ice what go on for miles in the middle of a rainforest. Its so surreal being in the heat of the rainforest one moment and the cold of the ice the next. We did a trek up Franz Josef and it was excellent. We had a guide who built steps in the ice as we travelled and took us through tiny ice caves and through all these different ice formations. James fell off an ice cliff and really hurt himself, luckily he was strapped to a rope so didnt go too far. (It was a good Bungy practise for him anyway!) It took all day to climb it and there was a lot of stopping and starting because the guide had to build the track but it was so crazy and i would recommend it to anyone.
We next arrived in Wanaka for a night which is absoloutly beautiful! Its a tiny town behind a lake with a really fun atmosphere. The bus driver told us there was dolphins in the lake so I made James walk down with me so we could find them, it turns out he was lying, Dolphins are only found in the sea... Later that night when we met up with everyone else the other girls told us they had gone to look too so I didn't feel so stupid haha. All of our bus went out that night and ended up in a karaoke bar, the braver of us got up to sing and i couldnt resist when I saw that they had ''9-5'' by Dolly Parton haha. I probally made a right idiot out myself but it's all good fun, and I couldn't have been any worse than the two boys who sang 'Sex Bomb' by Tom Jones, adding a strip tease dance for effect...
And now we are in Queenstown. Apart from Wellington it's been my favourite place. It is a lot like Wanka with the set up of the town, the lake and the town on the edge, but it is a lot bigger and everything in it seems perfect. It is the adventure capital of the world (according to all the brochures) and James had taken that to heart, yesterday doing the 3rd highest Bungy Jump in the world 134meters! There was no chance at all that you could ever get me up there! We wanted to go riverboarding but it is much too much money so were going to wait to do it somewhere else.
Tomorrow we go to Dunedin so that shoudl be good. This entry has taken me 2 days to complete because I have to pay a fortune to go on the internet so can only afford to do it in short bursts haha.
Love Aliss xox

Posted by AMellar 19:09 Archived in New Zealand Tagged queenstown taupo franz wellington josef waitomo embassy roturoa Comments (0)

Australia and New Zealand Photos :)

large_P1090021.jpglarge_P1090029.jpglarge_P1100042.jpglarge_P1090959.jpglarge_P1100038.jpgSwimming with Dolphins in Bay of Islands!

Swimming with Dolphins in Bay of Islands!


Posted by AMellar 23:47 Comments (0)

Magnetic Island- Cairns- NZ- Auckland- Bay of Islands.

What a Stressfull Few Days....

sunny 25 °C

Last week we reached Cairns and we stayed in Njoy which was brilliant, we paid less for a double than we would have in a dorm at some of the other places, we got free dinner every night and the staff were really friendly. It was also right next to the Scuba Diving Center- Cairns Dive Center, where we were training to get our SSI certification :). The course was excellent, we had an instructor called Dan who was hillarious and it was just James and I and an american soldier called Jesse from Kansas. The first two days we dived in the pool and we had to take a test which we all passed. The last two days we were transferred onto the kangaroo explorer boat on the Great Barrier Reef :) The ride over there was an absolute nightmare! There was a storm on the water so the boat was flying in the air then landing with a crash on the water every time we moved. An Asian boy behind me kept throwing up so i tried to look the other way just to discover everyone on the seats infront of my was throwing up too, so that was offputting. The food on the boat was really nice :) They did an excellent vegetarian option and I got loads because it was only me who was awkward enough to be vege. We did our first dive on East Timor on Moores Reef. I was so nervous! I was terrified that I'd jump into the mouth of a shark or go under and be surrounded by huge jellyfish, however it was fairly tame. We went down the ankor rope and saw a giant clam, we saw a load of nemos and doris and big swarms of fish. The second dive was deffinatly the best! I cant remember which site it was on but the minute we got down there everything came alive. We saw three turtles and one came over to Dan, nose to nose and just stared for a while. It was amazing, but i felt like such an intruder, like i wasnt meant to be there at all. We saw this huge barracuda which kept eviling me and that freaked me out a bit. We also found a GIANT jellyfish, but wierdly enough it was on the ocean floor, I stayed well clear though. On the second day we had a personal videographer called Caitlin. She videoed our wake-up call (at 5am :( ) and then followed us into the water where we were got our cards and certification at 18meters :) The video was excellent, we all got to hold up boards that we had prepared under water, mine said 'I found Nemo' James' said 'Its all great fun, untill someone gets eaten,' and Jesse's said 'Motorboating the GBR!' (must be an american thing...)
We thought it would be a good idea to spend out last day in Aus doing a trip to Cape Tribulation, but when it came to it the tour was pretty rubbish. We went with 'Cape Trib Connections' a company that was cheap but a little bit crap. The driver, Billy, made some terrible jokes, a personal favourite of mine was 'Like an executioner, lets head off...' It rained the whole time, so we got soaked and couldnt see anything from the lookouts. On the way to the Cape we stopped off at a Wildlife Sanctuary and I got Pecked on the arm by an Emu which had been eying me up for a good few minutes, it seemed to like my raincoat because it followed me all around the zoo. They gave us some (uncooked) chicken sandwiches which were horrible and then we had to eat our (cold) ''bbq'' (salad and chicken bones) in the rain surrounded by sandflies. The beach was flooded and infested with crocodiles so we didnt get to go there either....
Anyway. Now were in New Zealand, but thanks to Real Gap we nearly weren't. We got to the airport desk at 12-30 to catch our 1-30 flight to sydney for the lady to turn around and say- 'Havent you been told, this flight was cancelled on October 20th....' Not only had no one informed us, but they had also neglected to tell us that the flight we had been put on instead was 3 hours earlier than our original flight, so we had missed that and they had been calling us over the airport speakers all morning. The woman on the desk and her supervisor were brilliant though, they told us that it was obvious that Real Gap had messed it up (and completly screwed us over) and let us off paying the 3000+ Australian Dollars to pay for another flight (we would have been on a flight back to Heathrow instead if that had been the case) and instead they put us onto a flight to New Zealand via Brisbane. They couldnt beleive that we hadnt been told! And neither could we, we were furious! They might look good on paper but the amount of time Real Gap have screwed up now is unbeleivable, especially considering how much we've paid them! Firstly our co-ordinator couldn't be bothered to wait to book our flight so we had to change them, which could have cost us another 100 pounds, they messed up our accomodation dates in Vietnam, and thats all thing that have happened since we have been away! Before we left they said, 'oh this is all the money you have to pay,' then two weeks later, 'we need another grand because we forgot...' Grrrrrr.... And its not just us they have messed up for either, Brit and Sian from Cambodia both said how terrible they had been, organising transfers that never showed up, and forgetting to book accomodation.
Anyway, now my little rant has finished.... When we got to New Zealand my bag never showed up... So i spent all day yesterday waiting for it. Originally it was coming by 9am then 4-30pm then 9-30pm and eventually it showed up at midnight. Auckland is lovely though. It's a lot like london, with the style of the building but it has the advantage of being loads warmer :) We had a wonder round the harbours and a few of the shops too. We stayed at Base Backpackers (ACB) which was pretty good value for money. Today we started the Kiwi Experience and we are currently satying in 'Pipi Patch Base Backpackers' which is nice. We are going up to the very top of the north island tomorrow on an included day trip, where we go sandboarding, then the day after we are going swimming with dolphins around the bay of islands :) There's loads of things included on the Kiwi Bus Pass, much more than the Oz Experience. Everyone on it is english like the oz pass too though, haha we come to Australia and New Zealand and just meet more english :)
Love Aliss xoxo

Posted by AMellar 18:07 Archived in New Zealand Tagged islands auckland of island bay real cape cairns gap nz magnetic trib connections Comments (0)

Off to Cairns Tomorrow :)

Rainbow Beach-1770-Airlie Beach- Townsville-Magnetic Island

sunny 35 °C

The night I wrote last we ran into 2 of our friends from SUrf camp and they invited us to go and watch the sunset with them at 'The Carlo Sandblow'at the top of Rainbow Beach. To be honest I just thought the sandblow would be a little hill of sand overlooking the sea but after we walked there (half an hour up hill) it was amzing! It was just sand everywhere you could see untill it reached a rainforest of the sea, massive dunes and hills. I wish we had brought a sand board to go down the hills. We were the only people there and the sky was beautifully blue untill suddenly over the space of about 2 minutes the sky became grey and it started to rain. It wasn't just rain though, it was like a tidal wave from the sky, literally i was so drenched after running about 100 meters back into the forest. It would have been nice to just stay in the rain but we had our cameras so rushed back.
We left in the morning on'Úncle Bucks'' bus over to Town of 1770. This is a fairly long hour trip and when you start at 7am all you want to do is sleep, unfortunatly the driver insisted on listening to 'Living on a Prairie'(no not prayer, prairie) very loudly untill thankfully someone asked for it to be turned off. We stayed at the Southern Cross Backpackers at 1770 which was nice but had loads of bugs. In the evening we headed over to the beach and went in the water for a bit.
In the morning we started our 11 hour drive to Airlie Beach. Everyone was talking about how they were going to go to the Whitsundays but we didnt have the money or the time so we had to skip it. (its just another reason to come back) We stayed at The Beeches, and stayed in a dorm room, unfortunatly James was the only boy and felt a bit awkward. To be honest so did i, there were 2 canadian girls who kept telling us about the 'Zen' in Guatamala and how it can really touch our souls when we get there, Íll stick to volunteering,'I said. The driver had organised a cheap meal in the bar which was nice and we had a few drinks after but then ran out of money in our budget so went to bed. We were woken up at 3 in the morning by knocking, the canadians had lost their key.
So now we are in Townsville, which is very pretty, but the quietest city i have ever been to. We went for a walk on saturday when we got here and we saw about 5 people in the city centre, its like a ghost town. Yesterday we went over to Magnetic Island and decided to do the walk through the huge hills to get to the deserted beaches that most tourists cant be bothered to find. We went to Arthur Bay but we couldnt actually get onto the bay (the map just showed us the lookout point) so instead we headed to Florance Bay which was equally as beautiful. We were sitting and reading when 3 red andblue parrots came and sat besides us ( i got some brilliant photos) then we went in the sea and we saw a few saw fish and a couple of fish that must have been about a foot long, it was amazing. Deffinatly worth the walk! We ran back to the bus stop because we thought the bus was at half past so did the wal in 20 minutes when originally it took us nearly an hour (its all uphill on the way back too!) but it came on the hour so we could have just strolled back.
Today we leave for Cairns to start our scuba diving course! I cant wait, but i am a little nervous, less nervous now i know there are no great whites up north (just loads of box jellyfish haha.) We are meant to meet Jasmine from Cambodia in a little while but we have been organising through Facebook so im not sure if she will have got the message or not.
We leave for New Zealand a week yesterday, Im quite excited for there now too, and excited to see my family :) And doubly excited to be able to eat with them because we have been living off ''Buy one get one free Cuppa Soups'' for the last 2 weeks.
Love Aliss xoxox

Posted by AMellar 15:19 Archived in Australia Tagged beach island rainbow townsville magnetic 1770 airlie Comments (0)

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