35430 kms travelled so far
28.08.2009 - 09.09.2009 18 °C
I have been very slack in writing up this blog, which is a shame because our New Zealand trip isn't as fresh in my mind any more now we have left. We were sponsored for this journey by the Christian society and in a gesture of appreciation we travelled around the island in the shape of the Christian fish symbol. Once again thanks for your funding, we spent it well on cider, fish and chips, crucifixes and death metal CD's.
When we arrived in New Zealand it felt like we were almost home again, everyone speaking English, looking the same as us, driving on the left on tarmacked roads (luxury!), fish and chips and extortionate prices . Once we had made our way into Christchurch we picked up our transport for our trip, a trusty campervan called Bernard.
Bernard was a fine van and had been decorated by a graffiti youth fiend, probably on community service for joyriding or arson. It looked great.
We escaped from the bustle of Christchurch and within no time were out in the country driving through beautiful rolling hills, dotted with frolicking hobbits and magicians.
A magicians house
We drove for a couple of hours and then realised we were shattered after flying and waiting at airports for the last 24 hours, so we pulled up at a small campsite right next to the beach and passed out for the night.
We woke up the next morning, surprised at how comfy sleeping in the campervan was, and got out only to be greeted by an excellent sunrise and NZ fur seals playing in the water just a few metres from us!
After watching them for a while, and after having a real life hot shower (a luxury, possibly the first decent one for me in 6 weeks), we set off to the nearby town of Kaikoura. We did a walk around the coast of Kaikoura; past a seal colony (nearly stepping on a seal we didnt notice), past a colony of birds and up and round some cliffs, stopping at the end for a pint of cider and fish and chips (ah bliss!). NZ was just getting better and better!
After Kaikoura we set off up North to near Picton and drove along empty roads through beautiful landscapes, we ended up camping at a DOC (Department of conservation) campsite which was pretty much just a mud path down to a small beach. We parked up and spent the afternoon alone on the beach having a BBQ, burning the food to death in traditional British style.
After a few nights we set off again and headed over West to Nelson where it rained, and rained, and rained some more. Being stuck in a campervan when it's pouring down isnt all that much fun, especially as whenever you have to go outside you seem to bring half the water back with you, along with a bucketload of mud. To pass the time we went to a wine tasting tour and were educated in the fine art of drinking, or maybe appreciated drinking. After lots of samples we wobbled out with a bottle in our hand.
Not to be deterred by the rain we drove even further West the next day, and reached Rotarua Lake, where not all that surprisingly, it was raining. We ventured out briefly to learn about the eels in the lake which dont even reach sexual maturity until 90 years old, did a short walk and then went and hid in the van. The next day we went to the local tourist information office who said that it would rain heavily on the West coast for at least the next 400 million years, so we decided that being deterred by the rain wouldnt be so bad and headed back over east again, where the sun shines and the seals play.
Weather back over the East side was good again and we pretty much stayed over that side for the rest of our trip. We travelled down the coast and ended up in Dunedin where I went on a tour and saw wild yellow eyed penguins, which are the rarest penguins in the world with under 4000 left. The penguins were used to the tours and we sat on the beach and watched them come ashore and waddle in right past us!
After the penguins we saw some male sea lions on the beach fighting constantly and generally misbehaving.
After our time in Dunedin we travelled to another coastal town where another rare species of penguin, called Blue penguins can be found. We went down to the beach and sat for a few hours in the freezing cold waiting for them to come into land, which they didnt do. The best photo I got of them was this....
We also stopped at some big round boulders which were on the beach, various theories for how these got there have been proposed ranging from them being dinosaur eggs to being alien landing sites. All of course are complete rubbish, they're obviously fossilised giant testicles.
After a week or so of alcohol deprivation (apart from the wine, cider, and beer) we decided to give our livers what they had been begging for and put our new vineyard alcohol appreciation skills into practice. We drove to Queenstown, which is the adventure capital of NZ, and so it seems, also the English capital of NZ with more Brit than Kiwi accents to be heard. We met up with a friend of Christy's and went to his house armed with the ever sophisticated Scrumpy Jack, looking back this was probably a mistake, for a night of merriment and - vomiting on the next door neighbours drive - festivity.
We drove away with grinding headaches and headed towards Mount Cook where we spent a night under its shadow. After that we headed back to Christchurch, dropped off the ever reliable Bernard and said some teary goodbyes.
We spent the last night in Christchurch with Christy's friends, who were very nice but a little quirky, a quick summary of their beliefs was:
1. You can redirect your sperm via your back, forehead and down through your body.
2. Ejaculation of your sperm can be viewed as a negative thing, keep it in!
3. If you put cow poo in a horn and bury it for a lunar month it will fertilise at least a million acres of land, and create super vegetables (charged at super prices).
4. Milk, butter, bread and cheese are evil.
5. It's ok to rename yourself after a town in China which has literally vibrated itself into an alternate reality through meditation.
6. That dogs cant look up.
7. That dolphins are evil.
Ok, so I made points 6 & 7 up but the rest were said it all seriousness. I'm not sure what the correct answer is to someone who tells you that ejaculation is bad, or that they are named after a vibrating town, but I think "hmmmmmm ok sure" probably passed the test. Either way they were very hospitable and we had a good time discussing these mental propositions whilst trying to hold back any signs of mirth at their ideas. The next day we hastlily got onto the plane checking they hadnt implanted any weird objects such as cows skulls or sperm packages into our bags and flew to the land of Oz.
We didnt really have enough time to see all of NZ, but our couple of weeks gave us enough time to see a sample of the amazing offerings, I would like to come back one day when I have more money and can actually afford to do the tours and activities and spend a little more time. Of course, I couldn't finish any blog about NZ without at least a few sheep photos so here you are
Now for the top trumps of NZ!
NEW ZEALAND SOUTH ISLAND
Natural Beauty ----------- 9.0 (Lord of the rings landscapes, say no more!)
People --------------------- 8.5 (very friendly locals and sheep)
Sights/Activities ---------- 7 (loads of stuff to do, but not cheap, back into real world prices)
Food ----------------------- 7 (fish and chips!)
Cost ----------------------- 5 (approaching English prices for food and beer)
Shopping ------------------ 5 (once again too expensive for my lame budget)
Architecture -------------- 3 (No amazing architecture, but the landscapes make up for this)
Transport ----------------- 10 (Campervans rock!)
Price of beer ----------- c.£2.50
Overall Impression ------ 8