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

Monday, 21 December 2015

New Zealand – Stop 12 – Queenstown part 1

The drive to both Wanaka and Queenstown was simply stunning, just so beautiful. We spent 3 nights in Queenstown, and it seems to be known as quite a party town, so we were looking forward to going out and being able to stay in bed a bit in the mornings! We had a bar crawl organised for us, that ended up in the world bar which is opposite our hostel. We went to a place called Winnies after which was a club on the first floor of a place. The floor was moving so much from all the jumping and it was so packed!

The next day was a trip to Milford Sound, which is known as the eighth wonder of the world. The trip there we were a little hungover (Melissa the worst haha) and it took 4 hours! The weather was miserable which made us in a little bit of a bad mood. When we got there we had a 2 hour boat trip around Milford Sound, which would have been so much better if the weather was good. You could tell that on a clear day the whole thing could've been very impressive, but we were just a little bit underwhelmed. We got to see penguins though! I would definitely say go if it is a nice day, as some people who went the next day the pictures looked really good, we were just a little unlucky. 

Make sure you come back to see Queenstown part 2 post!!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

New Zealand – Stop 11 – Wanaka

On our way to Wanaka we stopped for a group photo in front of Mt Cook, and had a walk around Lake Matheson. This was meant to be a reflective lake, but it was a little windy to get the full impact from it. The walk was nice though, and we got a few pictures. Along the way, as I think I have mentioned before, it seems that kiwi experience are good and we will stop at photo opportunities and for a walk where we can.

Wanaka itself is a small town set on a lake. The place seemed really nice, but it was pretty quiet as this seems to be quite a main place for the ski season. We sat and chilled by the lake for the afternoon when we got there. Then went for a drink in the evening to one of the bars.

In the morning we stopped off at puzzling world, which seemed a pretty random stop, but it was quite cheap to go in and so me and Melissa did. They have a few illusion rooms which were pretty weird, and then had a large outside maze. I get really irritated with things like that so we got to 2 out of 4 corners, and then gave up! Next stop was Queenstown, exciting!!

ACCOMMODATION – Base around $30 (can't remember)
The hostel was based right near the supermarket, and about 2 minute walk from the lake. The space in the room wasn't too bad for a 6 bed. We each had our own plugs (which is amazing) and our own light. We could also get a hair dryer from reception! The toilets were fine, but the showers were a bit flooded as I think hair was stuck in the plug (ew). The kitchen was a little bit small, but wasn't busy so was fine.
Rating – 3.5/5

Thursday, 17 December 2015

New Zealand – Stop 10 – Franz Josef

Our next stop was Franz Josef, which is a glacier, and we were excited to be spending 2 nights somewhere! Here we are planning to do a helicopter ride over the glacier, but the weather the first day wasn't looking promising for the next day, which is when we were planning on doing it. In the afternoon/evening we went in the hot tub which was at the hostel, it could fit 20 people in! Attached to the hostel they had a bar and restaurant, so we had a few cocktails (a few which turned into many...), which only cost $5 each! It ended up that we were the last people out on our bus! It was super fun, and was nice to know that we weren't going to have to travel the next day!

It was clear when we woke up that the helicopter ride was not going to go ahead, as there was such a low cloud. Being us, and we seem to love a walk, we decided to go and walk to the glacier instead. From the area of the hostels and shops there is a taxi service to the walking track up to the Franz Josef glacier, this cost $12 return. The weather was a little crappy but we made it do and walked as far as we could. We could slightly see the glacier, at least we can say we have seen it!

It was such a shame that we couldn't do the helicopter ride, as it was one of our top things that we wanted to do. Since then there has been a crash where we would've done it, which is really scary and so sad that people lost their lives. I think this really highlights the dangers of activities like this, and if we were to go there now I think I would think twice about doing it.

ACCOMMODATION – Rainforest Retreat- $30 dollars per night, could upgrade to $34 to a better room (we didn't)
The hostel overall was quite nice. It wasn't just for backpackers, as it had doubles and nicer rooms aswell. The kitchen was pretty massive, and was especially quiet on their pizza night, that they have every other night which is $17 for unlimited pizza chips and garlic bread, plus a drink. Attached to the hostel was Monsoon Bar which had a really good happy hour, and the cocktails were lovely. They also had a hot tub that could fit 20 people in, which was nice to go and chill for a bit. The only thing I would say that let it down was the comfort of the beds, mine and Melissa's beds were ridiculous. We were on a bunk, and Melissa basically touched the floor, and I basically touched Melissa. I wish we had upgraded for $4, so I would recommend to do so.
Rating - 4/5

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

New Zealand – Stop 9 – Lake Mahinipua

We had a couple of stops on our way to Lake Mahinipua, and first was a trek around Cape Fouwind. This was a coastal walk that was pretty long but it was really nice. We got to see our first interesting animal – seals! We then stopped at pancake rocks, which is a landform that I should know lots about as my degree is geography, but it's basically layered rocks.

Tonight we had a party with our coach and the theme was anything beginning with P. Us three, being the most inventive people in the world (hint of sarcasm there), went as princesses, so we stopped off to get our costume in Greymouth. When we got to Lake Mahinipua, we thought we had been in some remote places, but this hostel was literally along a long road, by itself, with nothing surrounding it, it did have its own bar . The lake was on one side of it, and the beach was on the other. To begin with we went down to the lake and sat on the jetty just chilling for a bit, it was nice to talk to some new people about their travels.

Before our party the accommodation included dinner and breakfast, and roast pork was on the menu. It was delicious!! Really nice not to cook, but I could've eaten about 10 portions! We then went to watch the sunset on the beach, which was cute. The party was good, everyone was so original, my personal favourites were pea on a fork, plastic bag and pensioners. Our breakfast the next day consisted on pancakes, bacon and syrup, sooooo good!! We were literally loading up our plates!

ACCOMMODATION – Lake Manhinapua Hotel - $50 including dinner and breakfast
This is quite a difficult one to compare because it was just a really odd place. The rooms were fine, although ours didn't have any plugs?! But we used next doors as nobody was in there. The accommodation seemed to be within temporary buildings, but were permanently there. You had to go outside to go to the toilet and shower. I don't think paying the extra $20 for food was bad, as both meals were a good size and delicious, but paying $30 for the room was probably a bit expensive in comparison to other hostels. I think this hostel is associated with Kiwi experience as I can't see individuals stopping here.
Rating- 3/5

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

New Zealand – Stop 8 – Westport

On our way to Westport we stopped at the most postcard-esque idyllic place so far. It was at Lake Rotoiti in Nelson National Park. We all had pictures with the mountains behind on the jetty. I had every intention of jumping into the lake, but 1 it was pretty cold, and 2 the lake consisted of what looked like man-sized eels (probably a little dramatic but hey ho), so we decided against it.

In Westport you could do surf lessons and paddle boarding, which is something I probably would've done if I had an unlimited budget, and I know we can do that stuff in Australia. Westport itself, like a lot of the places was pretty small. We spent the night drinking wine in our room (classy) and went to bed.

ACCOMMODATION – Bazils Hostel - $31
The room of ours was pretty nice,and it included a little kitchenette. The kitchen was small, but we managed, and it did include an oven. There was an outside eating area bit which was pretty cute too. We got free wifi, which wasn't too bad. Despite the hostel being relatively nice, I won't come running back due to Westport itself being rather dead. 
Rating - 4/5

Monday, 30 November 2015

New Zealand – Stop 7 – Kaiteriteri

From Wellington to Kaiteriteri we needed to get the ferry from the North to the South Island. This cost $55, and was not included in our kiwi experience ticket. The ferry took around 3/3.5 hours. Once we were starting to get closer to the south island the views were literally beautiful. There is quite a difference in the landscape between the islands, and just on the ship you could tell this.

Once we got off the ferry we had a pretty hefty drive to our next stop- Kaiteriteri. This was located next to/within the Abel Tasman national park. When we got there it was literally our hostel, and the restaurant next door, so a pretty tiny place, but I think it is being re-done. It is located on the beach which was really nice. Our evening there we didn't have any activities booked so we just chilled out really.

The following morning we went for a walk around Kaiteriteri beach towards Stephen's bay. The views were seriously stunning, and the weather was sunny which made the walk much nicer. There were only a few boats out in the sea and only a few people walking so pretty quiet again. I think this is more of a holiday home/summer destination as the more we walked round there were some pretty nice houses, but they all looked quite empty.

ACCOMMODATION – Kaiteriteri Lodge - $30
The hostel was right on the beach, which meant it was easy to go for a walk. The kitchen was quite small with everyone trying to use the hobs. We shared a bedroom of 6, with an ensuite wet room. The room was clean, but the floor space was a little cramped, but overall I think it was a pretty nice hostel.

Rating - 4/5

Friday, 27 November 2015

New Zealand - Stop 6 - Wellington

The weather was still a little crappy so it was a shame we couldn't do our walks and stops along the way to Wellington. When we got there we had a free meal at our hostel (bonus!) and we were doing a bar crawl organised by our hostel that evening. We had such a fun night, one bar had a rodeo bull in that was so funny, and we were all dragged up to have a go. It was even better that we didn't have to get up in the morning to get on the bus, as we were having two nights here. In the morning I skyped my family which was nice to have a proper conversation with them rather than the odd text.

Love a good pout photo in our cowboy hats! 

We made our way into town, and lucky us we were there when the All Blacks were doing their parade after winning the world cup. The atmosphere was really good, and the sun was shining which made it really nice. After that we took a walk around the harbour to Oriental Bay which we spent most of the afternoon sun bathing. On our way back we stopped off and had a quick look around the Te Papa museum, which is free, but we didn't spend too much time there as we were quite tired and wanted to get back to the hostel.

Wellington seemed such a good city, when walking around we were comparing it to London and they just aren't alike. Wellington seemed ultra clean, and didn't have the manic hustle and bustle that London has, but in a good way. I think if we had more time we would could've stayed there an extra night.

We shared a room of 6, and it was a pretty good size. They had separate toilets and showers for girls which was pretty good. They had locker drawers underneath which I thought was an added bonus as if you know me personally you know I'm a bit of a worrier, and leaving my laptop in my bag just doesn't feel safe to me. We paid for the wifi, but it wasn't that good of a connection. We got free food for our first night which was really good too. The kitchen was a bit small for the size of the hostel, but the dining bit was quite big. There was a bar in the basement of the hostel which was handy, and that's where we did our bar crawl from.

Rating – 4/5 

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

New Zealand - Stop 5 - River Valley

Everybody on our bus was staying two nights at Taupo, and we were only staying one to try and give us more time elsewhere, so it was a bit annoying as we were just beginning to make friends. It didn't matter too much as the weather was pretty awful but still a bit annoying. We then made our way to River Valley which is basically in the middle of nowhere.

When we got there we decided to book out the hot tub and spent an hour in there, which even though it was raining it was lovely. That night we just chilled really, some people on the bus were getting completely wasted, but as we didn't know them too well, and we didn't really mind anyway, we just made dinner and then chilled.

The next morning we went for a walk around the area, but to get across the river you had to go on this cart on a zipwire which looked a little bit uneasy. We had to pull ourselves along being suspended over this river which was hilarious. The walk itself was good, it had rained so much the day before that it was a little slippery so Holly and I fell over, but it was fine! Some people did White Water rafting that sounded pretty good, so if you go there I would probably say do that! 

ACCOMMODATION – River Valley Lodge - $31
The rooms were a pretty good size for a shared room of 6. There were bunk beds but slightly attached (in half a square shape) so I don't know if I would feel a bit weird if I shared with a randomer. The kitchen was pretty small, as I think they would prefer you to eat their dinner. The toilet you had to go outside to get to, but they had a massive bar/dining/chill area which was nice as we spent our night in there. I don't think you would stay there if you weren't on a tour like the kiwi experience, but it was a really nice place right on the river.

Rating – 3.5/5 

Monday, 23 November 2015

New Zealand – Stop 4 – Taupo

On our way to Taupo we stopped in at Redwood forest for our morning walk which was nice, and at Huka Falls for a little photo opportunity. We had always wanted to do the skydive in Taupo over the lake but throughout the day it didn't seem promising as the weather looked pretty rubbish, so by the time we went to the falls I had completely vanished from my mind the prospect of doing a skydive. Unknown by all of us that the bus picking us up for the skydive was waiting to take us as soon as we got out the bus. I. Freaked. Out. I started thinking do I want to do this? Why am I doing this? Can we go back now?

We got to the skydive place and I was adamant that I would only do the 12,000 ft one, but by the end of the welcoming/introducing process I had signed up to do the 15,000 ft one. What was I thinking? The process of getting ready, taking pictures of us in our stupid hats and suits was really fun, but by the time I got onto the plane I was having an absolute meltdown. We got a package which had pictures and video included so I had a couple of 'interviews' beforehand where I was trying my best to make out like I was absolutely fine. I wasn't.

So in the plane, around 9,000ft up, that was high enough. I asked the guy I was strapped to the height and I just couldn't believe it. We were passing clouds?!? I basically had a breakdown. 10,000 ft up in the air little old me was attempting not to cry at the prospect of freefalling. The guy who I was strapped to was really nice, he was really calming, and talked me through everything which made me feel slightly better. Melissa went first and she literally plopped out the plane. Holy shit, it was then my turn. And I dropped. I was free falling for around a minute, and I have to say it was the best thing ever, although the relief when the parachute went up was pretty nice. The views were so good, and when I got down I thought I could truly do one again. (Although writing this a week later, I will never be doing one again, the fear of falling to my death has begun all over again). I would totally recommend to anyone to do one if they get the chance, I was probably the most scared out of everyone and I seriously loved it. Plus the videos and photos are bloody hilarious, a combination of the funniest and ugliest photos of myself.

Redwood Forest

Huka Falls

We were put in a room of 4, but weren't joined by anyone which was quite nice so it was like a private room. We had an ensuite shower and toilet which was good, and even a little balcony that looked onto the lake a little bit. There was a kettle and coffee making stuff in the room which I thought was a good touch.

Rating - 4/5

Friday, 20 November 2015

New Zealand – Stop 3 – Rotorua

On our way to our next stop we were going to Hobbiton!! Now this is quite a shock but I haven't properly seen the Lord of the Rings movies or the Hobbit ones, but despite this I was really excited about going to where they filmed them. I'm a huge Harry Potter fan and going to the Harry Potter movie set was really good, so I knew this would be amazing. It did not disappoint. The whole tour takes around 2 hours, and then it has a giftshop and cafe.

From where you can park you get a coach to the start of the tour, and you begin where all the hobbit holes are. They are so cute. They were all different sizes. Some even had mini veg patches, washing lines and postboxes. The whole thing was super cute. We then went down to see where they filmed the party scene in the Hobbit. Next we were taken to the Green Dragon Inn where we got a complimentary cider and got to sit in there for a bit. We then went round the lake and a little more scenery. The whole thing was really good and cost around 90 dollars, which is about £45. The only thing is we were quite a large group so I felt like if we were at the back we were rushed a little bit even though people ahead had the photos.

In the evening we had the choice of a Maori cultural experience evening, and we could stay if we wanted to. We decided just to do the evening as staying over was a little pricey. We were picked up from our hostel and driven back by the most hilarious driver. When we got there we were welcomed with their dance thing which was really good. From there we went around their 'village' and they spoke to each group about certain aspects of their culture, for example the haka, weaving, how the boys train and some games. We then saw our dinner being pulled from the ground where they cooked it, and boy were we excited, roast lamb!! We then went into a, sort of, mini theatre where they did a couple of performances for us. Then is was DINNER TIME, eat as much as you like and there was even pudding too. The food was nice, very smokey in flavour, but was nice. Some of the people on the bus bought tupperware to fill up which was hilarious, and we should of definitely thought about that beforehand. The whole experience was really good and it seemed nice to learn a bit more about the Maori culture.

ACCOMMODATION – Base Hot Rocks - $30
We had a mixed shared 8 bed dorm here. We had an en suite shower and toilet which was good, although a couple of the lights didn't work which was annoying, and there wasn't really enough plugs for 8 people. The space was pretty small for a room of 8. The hostel did have it's own pool which sounded nice, although we didn't have time to go in it.

Rating – 3/5

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

New Zealand – Stop 2 – Waitomo

On our way to Waitomo we had a few stops and one of which was a walk where the scenes were seriously stunning. This sounds really dumb but I never realised how green NZ was?!

In Waitomo there were a number of activities that were available for us to do, including black water rafting, which although sounded amazing we decided not to do it. Instead we went for a little walk/boat ride around the caves to see the glow worms. Who would've thought glow worms were that interesting, but they were pretty cool.

ACCOMMODATION – Kiwi Paka - $32
We were in a smaller room of four, so it was us three plus a friend we made on the bus. The rooms were spacious and there was no bunk beds! The kitchen area was pretty big which made cooking our dinner less stressful, and where to eat it was spacious too. The showers weren't that nice, and there was only 2 per floor so we had to wait.

Rating – 4/5