Friday, 22 January 2016

My experience with Kiwi Experience

I thought I would do this overall post on how I felt about the kiwi experience. I hope this is helpful if you are considering travelling with them or just thinking about going to NZ (which I think everyone should do). 

The pros - I have to say I think overall the kiwi experience is a really good way to travel around the country. It is obviously aimed at younger people, but despite this there was a lady who was probably about 50 on our bus! But I would say any age up until 30/35 it is more aimed at you. We had a very strict time schedule, so for us this sort of coach trip was perfect as we went everywhere. Another bonus is that they literally sort everything for you, your hostel, your activities, they sort it. A sign up board goes around the bus every day and you just write your name down. Simple! It is a great way of meeting people, we met sooo many lovely people from all around the world. I think it's especially good if you are travelling alone, as it basically throws you into making friends. I also don't think it's that expensive way of travelling around NZ, as once you've added insurance etc to hiring a car or campervan, I bet it adds up. I would always say buy the pass that's on an offer, we booked the Rangi tour for £353, which was about half price. 

The cons - Despite all of the good stuff I've just babbled on about there are some things I would keep in mind when booking. I think the whole hop-on hop-off bus thing is a little misleading. We went at just before peak season so we didn't run into much trouble when booking buses, but just as we were leaving we were meeting people who were finding it difficult to book on buses leaving Auckland! This means that you could get to a place and want to stay a bit longer, but then have to stay for 4/5 days until you can get a seat on a bus. So in this sense I would try and plan where you want to stay as much as you can beforehand, so that you can book your buses.  

Overall I would highly recommend Kiwi Experience to anyone. We had the BEST driver who I also feel needs a shout out who made the trip for us! Next stop.....FIJI!

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

New Zealand – Stop 17 – Auckland

Despite having actually been in Auckland on 2 previous occasions we hadn't actually done anything there, as it was just a stop over before we got on the bus, So it was exciting to be able to explore! 

The first place we went to was Mount Eden. It's a volcano/crater that you can walk upto. The views over Auckland were pretty amazing, and of course we had to pose like we were squashing the sky tower! 

Our next stop, as ridiculous as it sounds, was to go to the cinema! In our defense it was to see the new hunger games movie, so an obvious must!! We then went to the sky tower for sunset, which was super beautiful. 

The next day was our flight to Fiji, so I will obviously be posting about that, but before then I am just going to write a post About the whole Kiwi Experience and how we found it. 

New Zealand – Stop 16 – Bay of Islands

We flew from Christchurch to Auckland, and then the next day travelled north to the Bay of Islands. At the very top of NZ there are 71 islands that make up the 'bay of islands'. We had a whole afternoon when we got there so from Pahia (where we were staying) we got a ferry across to Russell, and had a walk over there. It seemed like a really nice place, and we walked to a view point, and there were some bars and restaurants over there. 

The next day we went on a sailing trip, that we booked through the kiwi experience bus. We ended up just being us 3 plus one other person on the trip (plus the skipper) which made it really good. We got a chance to do a bit of sailing (mainly left it up to the poor guy who was on the trip with us). We stopped off at a beach, where we did some kayaking, and actually got in the sea! First time in New Zealand! Lunch was provided and it was one of the best sandwiches that I've eaten, whilst we were chilling on the beach the guy was making them on the boat. Then over lunch the skipper was telling us loads of random hilarious stories! On the way home it got sooo windy! And we were in gale force winds trying to get back to the harbour. I don't know if people don't normally book this activity for bay of islands on the kiwi experience but if you are thinking about this as a potential activity, then I would say do it!

Before we headed back to Auckland, in the morning we did a bit of a hike. There were a number of walking trails, but we went on a relatively short one, but it was quite uphill, but the view was good. 

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

New Zealand – Stop 15 – Kaikoura

So as mentioned previously we decided we would drive to Kaikoura, and then back again the next day, before our flight. We got into our hire car and found out it was an automatic. Now you might think an automatic is meant to be easier than a manual, but after having driven only a manual since I was 17 it was a shaky start. The drive there was pretty simple, but the drive anywhere in NZ seems to be simple, as there is basically noone on the road!

Unfortunately when we got there the weather wasn't good enough for whale watching, and all of the trips were cancelled. Instead we drove upto the peninsula where there were loads of seals and had a windy walk up to the top. We weren't aloud to get too close to the seals, as we were reminded that they were visious animals, but I did get to have a selfie with one (kind of).

The next morning it was good enough weather to do dolphin swimming in the morning at 5.30am! We were told this was the best time to go as the dolphins would be coming back from going out of the bay area to feed. We were kitted up with wet suits, mask, snorkel, and flippers. It took us quite a while to find them, but when we did the whole experience was amazing. We went to 4 different places, and I think in the last place the pod may have been about 20-50 dolphins. In the second dive my gopro was full of water, but I did get a few videos before it broke. (since then I put in in rice for 2 days and it works now, horay!). The dolphins came up so close, close enough to touch if we wanted to but we were told not to. It felt like they were really looking at you in the eye. I would definitely say do it if you get a chance!

After the dolphin swimming we were in a massive rush to go back to Christchurch to get our flight up to Auckland. Holly drove, and nearly killed us at one point as she forgot the car was automatic and put her left foot on the break like it was the clutch, so we came to a dramatic stop! A story that I definitely won't forget in a while!!

Kaikoura is a definite must to do in NZ, I just wish we could've done some whale watching as I think that would have really been amazing.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

New Zealand – Stop 14 – Christchurch

Christchurch was a massive city back in 2010, but in 2011 it was struck by a massive earthquake, so although it's still a relatively large city in NZ it is still recovering. There was so much construction work going on around the city, and some buildings didn't even look like they had been touched since the earthquake. We went for a bit of a walk, but in all honesty there wasn't that much to see. We went to a shopping area which had stores in containers which was pretty cool, and then we went for a walk around the botanical gardens which were pretty, but that was basically it.

The rest of the afternoon we were sorting out how to get to and from our next stop. The next stop was Kaikoura, which was on our top list to visit as it is where you could do whale watching and dolphin swimming. The issue was we had to be back in Christchurch the following day to catch a flight which made things complicated if we were going to get the kiwi experience bus. In the end we decided the next day we would hire a car and drive ourselves to and from Kaikoura.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

New Zealand – Stop 13 – Tekapo

In Tekapo it basically consisted of a mountain, a lake, a historic church and a small road with a couple of shops, although we didn't even walk up to the shops. We first went through Tekapo and stopped off at the most visited church in the country; Church of the good Shepherd. It sat on the lake, which was beautiful and there was loads of flowers, rocks, and we got some lovely pictures. We stayed at a hostel out of the main street part which was at the bottom of Mount John.

We took a walk up Mount John which was a proper trek! At the top was an observatory as the University of Canterbury researched the stars from there, but also a small cafe and seating area. We sat here looking over the lake for a good couple of hours, it was so lovely. The longer time we spent there the lake was beginning to mirror the landscape which was good as we still hadn't properly seen a mirrored lake. This, I would say, was a definite must to do, as long as it's a nice day it was nice just to chill up there for a while.

This was right on the lake and really near the tracks up Mount John. There were hot springs down the road, but the actually shops (just one I think) were a little further away. There was an OK size kitchen, and a nice outside area where was nice to sit. There were quite a big lounge space with sofas. There were only 3 showers, which I don't think was probably enough as some people had to queue. The really downside was the size of the room though. For 4 of us it was ridiculous. We were in children's sized bunkbeds and there was absolutely no floor space at all, such a shame as everything else was pretty good.

Rating – 3.5/5

Sunday, 27 December 2015

New Zealand – Stop 12 – Queenstown part 2

The next morning Melissa was being totally mental and went off to do a bungee jump which was 134m high!! Myself and Holly were wayyyyy too scared to do that so we decided to go up the gondola and do a little bit of luging. The views from the top were quite impressive. Luging is basically tiny go karts that you go down a track on, which were really fun! I would totally recommend doing this if you have a spare afternoon! 

Next stop was lunch, and no one can come to Queenstown and not go to Fergburger. Apparently you can wait upto 2 hours, but we only waited half an hour. It is amazing. The biggest, juiciest burger, and we shared chips and onion rigs, which were both equally as good. I seriously recommend going here for food, and I'm sure it would be the best hangover cure too!

We had our last night night out, and it was so good! Queenstown tends to be the place where everyone starts doing their own thing. Some people stay for a week, but some people decide they want to work there, which I'm sure would be pretty fun to do. But the following morning we were off to our next stop, Tekapo!

ACCOMMODATION – Nomads - $31
The location of this hostel is perfect, it is opposite 'the world bar' which is where we spent a lot of time on the nights out. It is right by the lake also. We had a room of 12, with an ensuite. This is the biggest dorm room we had stayed in and we thought it was going to be horrible but it was fine. Everyone except one person we knew so I guess that made it easier. The room was fine though, it was big enough and we had a balcony too. The kitchen was a little small but had a huge seating/lounge area.
Rating - 4/5