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The Southern Island: Tramping, Tramping and a Big Jump

Wellington, Nelson, Greymouth, Franz Josef, Queenstown & Dunedin

sunny 15 °C

Allo allo!

Checking in again after two weeks of spectacular New Zealand! Yesterday I flew back to Auckland from Dunedin and later today I'll be off to Melbourne, last day in NZ!
Since Taupo, after the amazing Tongariro Crossing (still the best thing I've done here I think), I've been to Wellington, Nelson, Greymouth, Franz Josef, Queenstown and Dunedin. In Wellington the weather was really bad and the hostel a bit boring. I just did a city walk and met up for a drink with a girl from CS (Maree) which was nice! Then I jumped in a car with three Germans heading for Abel Tasman and they dropped me off in Nelson!
There I spend four days in the coziest, most homelike hostel I've ever been: Palace Backpackers, a Victorian mansion on a little hill near the city centre. I met a lot of nice people there and we had a great night out barhopping.
In addition, I walked around in the Abel Tasman National Park for a day and when I was supposed to leave I met two German girls from Paihia (Julia and Sarah with whom I initially was going to do the crossing with) so I decided to stay another day.
Afterwards on the Greymouth, not worth a stop really, but I didn't want to take a really long bustrip. There I met Robb from London who made me enthusiastic about Queenstown, the Ben Lomond hike and the skydive he did there!
After one night in Greymouth off to rainy Franz Josef. I wanted to do a glacier walk but the weather was really bad so I just relaxed in the hostel for a day and just did a walk to the glacier terminal with some roommates. Two of them (Simon, Swedish and Louis, French) also went to gorgeous Queenstown later so we met up and decided to do the skydive together!
First day in Queenstown me and Louis hiked up to the Ben Lomond peak overlooking the Remarkables (yes, that's what they're really called!) for some amazing views and actually enjoyed an icecold Heineken on the top! haha
The day after Simon also joined us and we booked a skydive! The next morning we were pretty nervous, it all felt so surreal! I still don't really feel like I did it, allow myself to be dropped 12,000 feet from a plane! Crazy! It ought to be pretty special but it isn't in Queenstown... everyone seems to have done at least a bungee, canyon swing or a dive here! When we arrived at the sight we had to wait for another group to jump, aaah that doens't help! But all returned with big grins on their faces so that looked promising! When the plane went up I tried not to look out of the windows and just watched Sergei, my tandem, buckle me up.
Then suddenly we were at 12,000 feet and the door opened... its so high it doesn't feel real! And there Louis went right before me!
Sergei didn't give me any time to realise what was happening and pushed me outside of the plane. I did what I had been taught, the banana! If you skydive tandem you have to take on a banana shape before you drop... feet curled below the plane, back arched and face on your tandems shoulder haha! Then suddenly we were falling, its indescribable... so crazy and scary and until the parachute opened actually pretty nauseating! As soon as it opens you can 'relax' a little more and enjoy the view which was really spectacular!
Lake Wakatipu shone brilliantly in the sunlight and the Remarkbles hugged the lake in a crooked embrace. Sergei made sure I knew how to lift my legs during landing and pointed out some sheep and boats below us. It was his seventh or eight dive of the day already, when I asked him he didn't even know how many he'd done! After what feels like 20 seconds you're already on the ground, shaky but amazed.. your head hasn't quite understood what just happened. It was really nice to have some people around me to talk the experience over with, we felt exhausted but very proud! That night we did a bit of bar hopping which was cool but not as legendary as some claim. Maybe just because its low season? After the hardcore Ben Lomond hike and the dive I felt pretty drained, so while Louis went off to Mount Cook me and Simon spend a day leisurly strolling around Queenstown, eating muffins at the Starbucks and watching bad movies.
The next day I went on to Dunedin where I had one day to walk around, way too short for such a lovely town! I regret it a bit now, but you can't do everything! So yesterday I got up at 6.15am and flew back to Auckland. After checking into the hostel I met Lennart and his girlfriend Ruth for a drink at the Dutch Embassy where they were celebrating Queens Day. It was a really odd experience singing the national anthem 'Wilhelmus' in Auckland between elderly expats eating herring, bitterballen and drinking Heineken. Afterwards there was an
'orange party' we paid a visit to... kind of funny to hear 'Suzanne,' 'Een eigen huis' and 'Kom van dat dak af' again haha!
All in all, its been a lovely last two weeks in NZ with mostly really good weather and amazing sights. I like NZ a lot and really hope I can return some day with my own car. I know I should really get my driving license!! However, I'm also really looking forward to Australia... where I will be arriving today late in the afternoon. I booked a hostel in St.Kilda and plan on doing a few days of sightseeing and relaxing before deciding whether its 'my kind of town' and I'll want to start looking for a job there or start moving up weather-wise to Sydney/Brisbane. No worries!

x Sanne

Posted by sanneastri 16:50 Archived in New Zealand Tagged queenstown auckland hiking australia tasman dunedin franz nelson ben wellington lomond greymouth josef skydive abel barhopping

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