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