Last Wednesday to Sunday I took a trip down to the South Island with my sister Keri, her friend Zoe who are visiting till the 25th, and my American friend Kelsey. We flew into Queenstown on Wednesday May 12th where we picked up a rental car and checked into our hostel. It seems almost natural now driving on the left hand side of the road. After checking into our hostel we drove up to the Kawarua Bridge home to one of the AJ Hackett bungy jumps. In fact this is the world's first bungy jump. Keri and Zoe both planned to go for a jump. I'm sure some of you will be disappointed to hear I did not do it. Keri and Zoe were in line to go after a big family of about 6 who were tourists from India. Most of them had no problem doing it but a few of them almost had to be pushed off the platform to go. Neither Keri or Zoe had much trouble taking the plunge off the bridge. They both were dunked into the water on their first bounce and after bouncing around a bit were detached by a boat that floats in the river below. I was quite entertained from the side of the bridge. One day I may regret my decision not to bungy jump in Queenstown, but for now I'm just fine with it.
Thursday morning we woke up at the AU Crew hour of 4 am. We planned to get up to drive to Milford Sound for a boat trip we scheduled. The suggested driving time out to Milford was between 3 and 5 hours, so we played it safe and left at 4:45 to get to our 9:45 am boat ride. The drive was absolutely amazing. We entered the Fiordland National Park after the first two hours of driving and once we were driving through the park the view was absolutely incredible. The road, like most in New Zealand, was one lane (in each direction) and carved through the mountains. We saw multiple water falls and even snow-capped mountains along the drive. Milford Sound itself was also incredible. I don't think I have ever been anywhere else in the world that looks like Milford and I'm not sure that there are many places that can boast its' unique beauty. Our 2.5 hour boat ride brought us up close to the waterfalls and even right up to some seals resting on the rocks of the Sound. Even though it was a rainy dreary day, that is to be expected in Milford Sound. Our boat's tour guide said that if it doesn't rain in the Fiordland National Park for up to 9 days then it is considered a drought!
Here I am on the boat!After taking our time and stopping in Te Anua on our way back, we eventually made it back to Queenstown that afternoon. Thursday evening we experienced some of the nightlife that Queenstown has to offer...which isn't much. The town definitely lives up to its reputation of being a tourist hotspot. Even though it's not summertime there or wintertime to attract skiiers, there were tons of tourists in the town. When we went out that evening, I'm not sure we met one Kiwi between the four of us, but tons of Europeans!
Friday morning we left around 10 am to make our journey across the country to Christchurch. While Kelsey and I already went there once, we figured it'd be a good place to end the trip for Keri and Zoe and also it would be a nice way for us to see the middle part of the country. While the drive took us around 7 hours, we stopped at Lake Wanaka, Twizel, and Lake Tekapo along the way. All of the lakes that we saw were an absolutely incredible blue-green color, thanks to the glaciers that dump into the lakes. I guess the mineral buildup is what makes the water a murky color as well. Driving through Twizel we came upon a salmon farm which we stopped at. It was pretty much a bunch of huge netted-off parts of a lake that was home to thousands of salmon. The owners then caught the fish to freshly fillet and then sell from the farm. While we didn't buy any salmon ourselves, we took plenty of pictures! The drive brought us through some more incredible scenery and my camera was full by the end of the drive.
Lake Tekapo After finally arriving in Christchurch on Friday evening we went straight to a rugby match so Keri and Zoe could witness that important part of Kiwi culture. Of course Kelsey and I spent most of the match trying to explain the rules and figure them out at the same time. Keri and Kelsey spent a good part of the second half of the match trying to decide whether they though football players or rugby players were more impressive athletes. That debate is still on going.
Saturday we spent most of the day walking around Christchurch and showing Keri and Zoe what we had checked out the last time we were there. We headed back to Wellington on Sunday afternoon and I was glad to finally sleep in my own bed for a good night's sleep.
Monday was Keri's 19th birthday and while she was already thrilled to be celebrating it in New Zealand, I had planned something pretty exciting for her..a horse back ride. We took a train from Wellington about an hour north to the very small town of Featherston where we ventured out to Patuna Farms. From the farms we were suited up with an appropriate horse and then took an 1.5 hour trek through some of the 400 acres that the farm boasted. While I hadn't ridden a horse in 3 years, it was luckily just like riding a bike. Hopefully Keri can remember here birthday as an exciting one!
Tomorrow morning I'm taking the girls north to Rotorua to see some of the North Island. We're taking a 7 hour bus ride tomorrow and then returning Saturday afternoon. So while it'll be a quick trip it will be good for the girls to see some of that area and I haven't seen it either so i'm pretty psyched!
Only 5 more weeks left in New Zealand, so I'm making the most of it!
Me and Keri : )
Hope everyone back home is doing well. I miss you all!!