A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand

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 Comments (0)

Lasts weeks in Thailand & New Zealand

Ko Pha Ngan, Krabi, Bangkok, Auckland, Whangarei, Paihia & Rotorua

overcast 20 °C

Kia Ora!

I know it’s been quite a while, almost a month since my last post… time is indeed flying! At the moment I'm in Taupo, the largest town near Tongariro National Park. Tomorrow I'm going to do the trans alpine crossing with two French girls I met earlier today. It’s going to be a long day as I have to get up at 5.15 and walk for approximately 8 hours. And as you well know, exercise is not my main hobby! But apparently this crossing is one of the must do's in Kiwiland so I've just stocked up on food and will try to get to bed early. I've never done so much hiking in my life as here in NZ... but it’s wonderful!
Since my arrival in NZ on the 31st of March I've spend a few days in Auckland, two in Whangarei, three in Paihia (Bay of Islands), two in Rotorua and now I'm in Taupo already. A quick summary; Auckland was a nice start! I spend the night in an easygoing hostel in the Parnell neighbourhood, the loveliest in Auckland! I climbed Mt Eden, visisted the Auckland Museum and went to Rangitoto, a volcanic island in the Hauraki Gulf near the town. Fortunately I met a nice French guy in the hostel, Jacques, who’d been in NZ for a while on a work and travel visa and we explored the city together.
After that I spend two days in Whangarei (pronounce Vangarai -- WH is V is Maori), a quiet and slightly boring place, but I had a nice bush/country walk to the local waterfalls and met up with a few other travellers to check the glowworms in the local forest which was very cool! At some point they were spread over de entrance of a small cave, seemed like something out of LOTR! The next day I moved on to Paihia where I met up with Patrick (whom
I know from back home). We travelled around the Bay of Island for a couple of days. Went on a dolphin cruise, saw the Treaty Ground where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, walked around Russell (former hellhole of the Pacific) and viewed another waterfall. The power went off for a couple of hours one evening so we spend the time playing sh*thead with candlelight with a group, which was quite cozy! I'm pretty dimwitted when it comes to cardgames, but surprise, surprise I was actually pretty good at this one, or lucky anyway! After three days Paihia I went on to meet Lennart (friend from AEGEE) in Rotorua to spend the weekend together. He just moved to Auckland and already knew some nice places in Rotorua and could show me around. Haha pretty typical.. I'm travelling the world but I've hardly spend a day not speaking Dutch so far!!
The first full day we went to a local Maori village (Whakarewarewa) and saw some traditional dancing and singing. It was nice but also felt a bit awkward somehow. In addition, a Maori local showed us around the thermal pools they use for cooking food and bathing and we saw the Pohutu geyser erupt! Pretty neat! After that we walked around the bush and found a fast flowing river with some cool waterfalls. When we heard the screaming and laughter from the people rafting on the river we decided to do that too! So this morning we went on the crazy river near Okere Falls and had a huge jump down from the waterfall! Very exting and scary... but great! After that our last stop together (while already on the way to Taupo) were some remote thermal pools and we had a relaxing swim together with two French hitchhikers (Rozann and Agathe) we had just picked up. The water was so warm, a very odd experience! And I’m happy to say not as smelly as most pools near Rotorua … I'm glad to finally breath clean air again! Well, that's as far as my Kiwi experience goes so far. I love it so far! I've never seen such bright greens and blues, it’s definitely a different colour spectrum here. Guess you have to see it to believe it!
Furthermore, I also want to share with you a little about the last two weeks in Thailand. It rained almost the whole time which was very disappointing of course. I'm happy we did have nice weather and endless slumbering on Ko Tao. As we could do so little because of the bad weather we felt even more confronted with our approaching split-up. We had become like an old married couple, worrying immediately if the other was away a little longer than expected haha! After Ko Tao we did a visa run to Burma (a very long boring day) and then turned to Ko Pha Ngan where we stayed in a remote, unfriendly resort (but relatively cheap!) and just went out for food and the Full Moon Party. Most of the time we were reading in bed, eating bad 7/11 food while the rain poured down. It was pretty much the same in Krabi where we spend our last few days together. But the Full Moon Party was nice, it’s absolutely an experience! Drunken en drugged people lying asleep on the beach or going for a swim… we felt underdressed as most party-people had on neon outfits and painted faces! We partied till half past six and then took a bumpy, nauseating ride back to the resort... a once in a lifetime experience! So many people, everybody talking to each other and going crazy, great fun! After Ko Pha Ngan we moved to Ao Nang, a beachside near Krabi which was a bit dull but nice. The weather was the same unfortunately so we couldn't rent a motorbike or spend a day at the beach anymore. On the 27th me and Marije split up and I took a horrifying endless bustrip back to Bangkok. The streets were floated and the driver would not drive on without a full bus making a 9 hour trip into a 14 hour one! I arrived in BK around 1:30 at night and had to look around for a hostel on Khaosan Rd for about an hour. The next two days I walked around town, bought a lonely planet for NZ, shopped, and had time to catch up with Matthias and Jeroen (Groningers me and M. met twice before in Hanoi & Siem Reap). We had some drinks and tried a shisha before saying goodbye on the 30th when I flew via Kuala Lumpur to lovely, sunny Auckland! I won't bore you with any more details, I know this post is way too long already!

x Sanne

Posted by sanneastri 22:49 Archived in New Zealand Tagged islands auckland rotorua of bangkok bay taupo ko paihia ngan ao nang whangarei pha Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 2 of 2) Page [1]