Final stops in New Zealand: Mt Cook and Christchurch

img_20161116_100200The next day, I rose from my bed early as I was catching the bus at 8.40am and I didn’t want to miss it. After showing and eating breakfast, I took my stuff down the stairs to the common area to link to the Wifi and wait for the bus.

A little late, the stray bus arrived with a new driver heading to a new destination: Mount Cook. Saying goodbye to Queenstown, probably one of my favourite places in New Zealand, we speedily headed back on the same road in to Cromwell, where we had a twenty minute stop for a coffee and toilet break, where there was a statue of huge fruit to symbolise the city.  fb_img_1479199602054Then we went on the road pass a tiny village called Tarras, which is famous for a sheep with the biggest coat. The school children in the village created and published a book about Shrek the sheep and the story behind him, which was an interesting read.

We had quick photo opportunities along the way including a mountain range and the gorgeous, baby blue Lake Pukaki. It was such an incredible sight. Eventually, we arrived in Mount Cook, where the weather started stirring with grey clouds and fog so we couldn’t see the top of Mount Cook. In the hostel, we checked in, dumped our bag and layered up for the walk.img_20161115_112823

About a dozen of us jumped on the bus to be taken to the carpark for the Hooker Valley hike. The walk was through the valleys with mountain towering over us on both side and a river flowing parallel to the path. I had never done a walk like this before with the stunning views. Majority of the track was flat but stony so it wasn’t a hard walk. The only downer was that about half way to the end of the one-way path, it started to rain: just constant, miserable rain. With my Thai rain plastic bag on, we trundled to the end of the path, over wobbly, safe bridge to Hooker Glacier Lake. The lake was a picture with sporadic pieces of ice floating on the lake. I kind of wanted to see penguin on them but unfortunately there aren’t any there.DCIM117GOPRO

Facing the rain and the cold, we strolled speedily along the same path to the car park, keeping our focus on getting back rather than the scenery. I was walking mainly with a French girl who hadn’t put many clothes on so she was freezing. While warming ourselves up in a little room, dreading the walk back to the hostel, a guy offered us a lift back to our accommodation. We were so happy and grateful. Success! As we were driving out, we picked up a couple of more travellers from the Stray bus too.DCIM117GOPRO

Back at the hostel, I striped my wet clothes and hung them up around the room, and then lavished myself with hot water from the shower. It was bliss, warming one bone at a time.

In the evening, we just cooked dinner, put up our feet in the common area, eating snacks before heading to bed to rest the body for the night.fb_img_1479199818861

The next day, once we had consumed breakfast and placed our bags on the bus, we set off towards Christchurch. We were meant to be having an overnight stay in Rangitata but due to the lake of power because of the earthquake, the bus were advice to have a night in Christchurch instead. I wasn’t overly disappointed as I had heard that it didn’t have much to do except the white water rafting, which got cancelled owing to the terrible weather. It also meant not waking up super early the next day.

Our first coffee break was in Tekapo, where I went to the toilet and purchased a soy latte to wake me up. We bused it around the corner to ‘The Church of the Good Shepherd’ viewpoint, which overlooked the tranquil Lake Tekapo with these beautiful, purple flowers swishing gently in the wind. Inside the quaint, little church was the most perfect window with an amazing sight (unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take photos).img_20161116_113414

Back on the bus, we travelled to a town called Geraldine for lunch. First we walked to the cheese shop on the other side of town, where we could get free samples of about 15 different type of cheeses. They were so tasty with so many different flavours. I ended up buying one called Mt Peel, which was a strong-flavoured, blue, soft variety. I would have to eat it all within a few day as I was flying out but that wasn’t going to be a problem.

Then I wandered around town, observing the largest jumper in NZ, picking up some sweets from the superstore, buying a hat and sunglasses for the next part of my trip and taking advantage of the free wifi. After, we packed back on the bus to Christchurch. It didn’t take too long but by the time we reached the hostel, it was around 4pm. We lodged at the hostel I originally stayed at when I first got to New Zealand. Once we had checked in, we took our bags to our room and chilled.DCIM117GOPRO

In the evening, I made some food then sat on the balcony with the 2 Austrians and a French girl, where we slurped on some wine. When we finished the bottle, we headed to the pub next to our accommodation for a beer. We only stayed for one as it was extremely quiet so we went back to the hostel, where we joined a group of travellers outside chatting, all from various countries. One of the guys drove us in his van to the shop but it wasn’t open so we just hung out in the freezing cold until we decided to go to bed.

The following day, I actually had a bit of a lie-in but I still had to get up as check-out was at 10am. Once I had sorted myself out, I waited in the reception area for a friend to pick me up. This friend is someone I was close to at college but we kind of lost contact so the last time I saw her was about 6 years ago. Her mum works with my mum so we found out we would be in Christchurch at the same time as she is currently living there.fb_img_1479199807394

Soon enough she collected me from the hostel and took me back to her house. The weather was awful with gushes of rain constantly throughout the day. Therefore, we just caught up all morning, ordering some fish and chips before she had to go to work. It was so lovely finding out about her live. Some point in the afternoon her boyfriend came in, where we talked for a bit before he disappeared.

For the rest of the day, I just sorted out photos, researched some things and wrote more of my blog. I had a shower before going to bed quite early as I was feeling exhausted.

With my alarm waking me up at 4.00am, I grudgingly got out from under the covers to brush my teeth, shove some clothes on and pack the rest of my bag. I was leaving New Zealand. My friend kindly took me, travelling about 10 minutes to the airport. I simply and tiresomely waited in the queue to check in then go through security. I spent the last of the New Zealand cash and sat reflecting on my time in New Zealand.DCIM117GOPRO

I have to say New Zealand is probably one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to with different picturesque view every corner you turn. I have absolutely loved catching up with my friends from Thailand and home. The stray bus has made my experience here wanting me to come back to explore more as well as making some incredible friends and unforgettable memories. I have encountered many new experiences including bungy jumping, hand gliding, mountain hikes and river cruises. I have even considered staying just a bit longer but it is time to leave for now. Until next time New Zealand! Back to Australia, I go!

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The travelling begins again…New Zealand: Suprises in Christchurch

img_20161024_154151I’m on another 2 month stint of travelling. Since returning from The Philippines and my last 2 month adventure, I’ve been planning and deciding what to do next as my visa runs out in November. I couldn’t stay any longer as I didn’t do the farm work but it was time to move on. However, I didn’t realise how emotional it would be in the run up to leaving.  A year is a long time in one place, making friends, working and settling there.img_20161021_141544

After packing my room up during the day, doing some last minute organisation and saying my final farewells, I did my last walk to Central to catch a train then bus to the airport. It was usch a good decision to take an evening flight.

I checked in with jet Star with my bag being 16.5kg (a little over the limit but I didn’t have to pay extra. I went through immigration and security before sitting at my gate, waiting to board the plane. The previous aeroplane was late landed, consequently, we board the plane later than the scheduled time. However, the pilot caught up with the time in the air. On the ground, the pilot was driving fast and turning abruptly, which made me slightly scared. Even in the air, he was a rough driver, again spinning the plane quickly. The 3 hour flight flew by in no time and landed in Christchurch at about 1am in the morning.

Once I was through customs (another stamp in the passport) and security, I picked up my bag from the conveyor belt. In the airport, I exchanged some money, which was not a good idea as the exchange rate plus fee was terrible. Then outside I found a shuttle which would take me to my hostel door in the centre of Christchurch. By the time I arrived there it was late but my body was 2 hours before New Zealand time. I checked-in and rested for the night.

The next day, I had to be out by 10am, which doesn’t seem early apart from my body was still in Sydney time zone. I had a relaxed morning sorting out my visa and superannuation, skyping my mum and eating some food.img_20161024_114627

The reason I flew into Christchurch was to surprise my friend, which I lived with in Thailand, for her 21st birthday party. She had no idea I was coming. Mid-afternoon, her sister picked me up from the hotel to take me to her work place where the party was being held. Along the way, we collected some pre-ordered balloons for the celebration which took forever as they weren’t ready.

At this warehouse, I opened the door and her face was a picture. She was in total shock. She didn’t know what to say. It was so great to see her.

From here, we went back to her house to get ready for the evening antics. We drove to the place earlier than the party started to make sure everything was set up: balloons, food, drinks, music, TV screen with flashing photos. Most of the night consisted of drinking, dancing, chatting, playing pool and eating. It was such a lovely party which ended early hours of the morning. For New Zealanders 21st, it is a big thing where friends and family gave speeches with an email being read out from our friends from Thailand.

Slowly and delicately, we arose with our heads feeling a little worse for wear. I, however, wasn’t as bad as the others who were vomiting.  Eventually, we pulled ourselves out of bed to get some fatty food. Yes, that means Maccers. Then we headed to my friend’s work for her to open her presents and help with some of the clearing up. For the rest of the afternoon, we really didn’t do much except talk and nap.img_20161024_122155

In the evening, we decided to get all dolled up again and have another night on the town, mainly because my friend’s sister doesn’t go out much and wanted to try out an RnB club. After a couple of glasses of red in the house, we took a ride to the club. At first, it was slightly dead but it soon picked up, where the music was actually pretty good. Most of the night, we just danced plus larger Samoen guy joined our group, which was fun. Mostly in the club, there were guys trying to get with girls, which was amusing.

At about 3 in the morning, we left the club and stopped off at Maccers (AGAIN!) before sleeping back at my friend’s.

With a little lie in, we immersed from our beds to get ready for the day ahead. We hopped in the car and drove to the centre of Christchurch, where we got a tram ticket to go around the city. Christchurch is a small city with not too much there due to the earthquake 6 years earlier. There are still buildings including the cathedral which are damaged with scaffolding. However, they have managed to rebuild a lot of the infrastructure.img_20161024_122959

First stop off the tram was the casino, where we decided to explore. It had a roulette wheel on the top of the building. Inside was fancy with slot machines and different table games. The girls wanted to try the roulette so the lovely lady explained the rules and etiquettes of the game. Placing a chip on a number, the host spun the wheel with the ball zooming until it landed on a number. It dropped on 1, the number my friend had put a chip on. She won $70! She was so excited. They played a couple more games before cashing in the chips.

Next, we wandered around town where there were many impressive art sculptures and graffiti features. For lunch we ate at a recommended place called C!, which was crowded. It was a unique café, where there were sewing machines as water dispensers, hot chocolate served in Ice-cream cones and tubes on the ceiling. These pipes were to deliver fries to different areas so I ordered some to see how it worked. It was so cool. They had my name on in a medal twisty tube filled with chips. Alongside the food, I had one of the best soy chai latte I’ve had ever had.img_20161024_131115

After, we walked to the Re:Start mall, which are a variety of shops in large containers that was set up when the earthquake happened as the city had so much damage. It was worth looking around. We jumped on another tram, taking us around the city and back to where we had parked our car.

We cruised to the outskirts of the town up a mountain to The Sign of the Kiwi. On one side was a view of the city stretching for miles and miles. My friend thought it would be hilarious to get a shot of them mooning with the city backdrop. On the other side was a magnificent view of colourful hills with water surrounding it. We hiked higher up the mountain for an even better view to have a photoshoot.img_20161024_141727

Later, we chilled at the house before going to the airport to wave my friend’s sister off to go back to Melbourne. The whole family gathered in the pub to enjoy the last hour with them. There was a bit of a kerfuffle when we left as one of the family members lost her carpark ticket. In the end she had it in her hand but when she went to pay, her ticket was faulty. Eventually we escaped the airport and dropped into a Mexican place to have dinner.

By the time we entered the house, we were knackered so we headed to the bedroom, where one of the girls started have a laughing fit. In a lovely, comfy double bed, I fell asleep in no time.img_20161024_155444

The other girl was leaving for the airport at 4.30 in the morning but luckily for me I had a bit of a lie-in as I wasn’t being picked up until 9.30 from the international airport. Once I had gathered all my belongings, threw some coffee and toast down my throat, I was ready to leave.

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