Back to Christchurch

Hey Dad,

So we all got up this morning in a low mood. This is out last day together! Most of us are staying in the same hotel, but some are not so we knew when we made it into christchurch we would be saying goodbye. 

Again we made a few stops along the way. First stop was to a salmon farm, where you could feed the fish. I was right in there. The food was only small pellets, yes half of the girls were making a fuss. This may sound weird, but the first thing I did was smell it. I received a chorus of ‘ewww’ the pellets smelt just like your ground bait. I have not smelt anything like it in a year. You know dad it’s funny the things you realise you miss, even the things you thought you never would. The whole place smelt like fish and bait, in fact it smelt just like you when you would walk in the front door on a Sunday. Made me smile. 

Well of course i was the one throwing in bait by the handful while a few people just watched. Others just tipped their pots in refusing to touch the bait. It was pellets for goodness sake! I told a few the story of when you used to take me as a kid to get your maggots, they were not impressed. 

Anyway we drove a few more hours down the road to a small town. There was a beautiful little bridge with a small church on it. Very picturesque. We wandered around for a while and grabbed some lunch. 

We made it to a very wet and grey christchurch. We had spent the last 2 hours on the coach dedicating songs to people, which was mainly to screw them over and remind then of the horrifying things they have done over the past 3 weeks. 

We decided we were not ready to say goodbye, so Damo arranged for us to go and have one last dinner together. Of course dinner was not enough for some of us. 

Most of the group had gone after dinner, but there were still eight of us left. Six of us had started the trip together in Auckland. Saying goodbye to them in a restaurant felt strange, so we went to play a few rounds of pool. Damp and Pat came with us, I don’t think they wanted us to go either. 

We said goodbye and sulked back to the hotel. No one was drinking as we all had early flights to catch. It is ridiculous how emotional is was saying goodbye to people you only met three weeks ago! 

Well I need to re-pack, got to get everything back in my case so I am good to fly. Not had to do this in a while. 
Next stop, Australia

Night dad x

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Lake Oahu

Hey Dad,

So the clocks went back this morning, giving everyone an extra hour in bed! Never has that hour been so greatly needed!

Some of the group went off for a tour of the Cadbury factory. As we have the one in Birmingham, I decided that would be a bit pointless, so Anokhi and I went out for breakfast.

Back on the coach then to travel to Lake Oahu. We took the scenic route, stopping at …….. beach to see the huge boulders. We also had lunch, blue cod and chips. You would have loved it! 

Our next stop was in a small town famous for its steam punk. Very strange place to walk around, pretty interesting though. Even the play ground was steam punk, and the sculptures around the area were very bizarre 

We stopped a number of times along the way to take in the incredible views and sights along the road. 

The lake was beautiful. It was so remote too, we had no phone reception or WiFi. Being so cut off from the world was kind of nice. 

Once we checked in and were told the rules of the lodge (no parties, no drinking in rooms, no noise after 10pm etc) we went to explore the lake. The water was freezing! The lake fills up from glacier water, so it’s unsurprising really. The waterline was made up of pebbles, so we then spent time skimming rocks, trying to hit each others stone in mid air and making the biggest splash possible. 

The hotel had a games room with pool and darts. Once that got boring we went in search of something else. We found the hotels supply of board games! 

It was hilarious. What do 20 people in and around their mid twenties do when there is no WiFi? Play board games. We found a game called ‘skip-bo’, an uno game. I am ashamed to say it took a group of us far too long to learn the rules to this stupid game. It took us hours to play one round! 

After dinner we found novel ways of brining the smuggled in alcohol from our rooms into the games room. The hotel served sangria, which tasted awful! Filling the jug up with red wine though was easy, you just had to be clever getting the jug in and out of the room. 

And again, what do a group of people do with no WiFi and a huge supply of alcohol that needs drinking?! Play drinking games! 

Once the alcohol ran dry, Well; once it became obvious we were still drinking without ever going to the bar, we gave up on the games and headed for a midnight dip in the outdoor hottubs.

Now around this lake dad there is nothing. The only artificial light we could see was from the emergency signs inside the hotel. Looking up the stars were unbelievable. I thought they were amazing in Franz Josef,but at the lake the whole sky was alight. Everyone just laid there, staring up, in silence for a few minutes. 

Well it is now definitely time for bed! Our last night together has been amazing, but we are all dreading saying goodbye tomorrow. 

The people I have spent the last few weeks with have been amazing. I could not have asked for a better group of people so spend my trip with. I know a group tour would not have been your way of doing it, but I am so glad I did. Having people to share the journey with has made it so much better. I have adequate some really great friends, and not just the ones you talk to while you are away and forget about. People I really want to stay in touch with. I am crossing paths with so many of them on my travels too we are all ready planning meet ups. 

Dad I love New Zealand, I know you would have too. Everyone needs to explore this amazing country. 

Night Dad x

Dunedin

Hey Dad,

So this morning we said goodbye to some of our group. It sacked big time! We got on the coach to drive off, leaving them behind waving at us.

Everyone was pretty deflated for a while, especially feeling tired and hungover. I got on the coach and fell asleep. Actually really I slept pretty much all day! 

We arrived in Dunedin mid afternoon. It’s our tour guide Damo’s home town, so he was pretty excited to show us around. 

We did a quick coach tour driving though the streets, including the university student area and their digs (crazier then Loughborough by the way). The coach then stopped at Baldwin Street – the world’s steepest street. Your knees would not have approved of this street, it was pretty exhausting to walk up. Of course some of the group tried to race, and even the fittest people didn’t make it half way. I walked, and my hips were not a fan of it. We made it to the top though, some more out of breath then others mind. 

Back down to check into the hotel and off for a walking tour of Dunedin to see some street art. Probably not your thing, but some were pretty cool.

This afternoon was spent on a brewery tour, followed by taste testing. The thought of more alcohol was still turning some people’s stomachs, but you know hair of the dog and all that. It was pretty interesting to see how beer is made, and I avoided the taste testing. They did pour me a cider to test, but it did not compare to home cider! They didn’t appreciate that when I told them. They asked me how it compared to our local home cider, so I told them. Ask an honest question and all that! 

The group was all so tired we went and grabbed a bite to eat and just headed straight to bed. Everyone needed a night off! Myself included.

Early night for me dad, definitely the first one in a while!

Night dad x

More swings, more luge, more Queenstown!

Hey Dad,

So another day of action, adrenaline and adventure today! 

This morning a small group of us walked into town to meet for our tandem swing. 

This swing was called the Nevis Swing, and is a little bigger then the canyon swing we did the other day. There was also a bungy jump there. We were told if we tandem on the swing, you go faster and higher. It was also slightly cheaper. I was going tandem with Huw. 

It took a 49 minute bus ride to get to the Nevis swing, which again was in a massive canyon. Huw had also opted to bungy, which meant I got to go and watch.  This bungy was massive! The last one was 40 or so meters, this was 130 or so! This bungy was also just on a platform over the canyon! To get out to it we were put in a small metal carriage, and rolled along a cable to meet the suspended platform. The platform had a glass floor too! The strangest bit however was when someone jumped of the platform, the platform would snake and rock! You didn’t feel very safe up there, but that kind of added to the suspense and adrenaline. Huw jumped, which was cool to watch from the glass floor. We then headed back on the sketchy cable thing to go to the swing.

The swing had a number of options on how to be attached to each other. Some more crazy then others. We opted to be side by side, to go backwards and lay completely horizontal. We kind of made the last bit up, which gave the guys working there a twinkle in their eye, I am guessing we must have been one of the first to think this up. They told us for it to work they would rig us up and have to float us out away from the platform so our legs didn’t hit as we fell. 

Unlike the other swing, where we’re where suspended from a harness at the waist, this was an actual swing. We were rigged up and told to sit on the swing. The harnesses were then attached to the swing. It was a strange feeling sitting. Although you were fully harnessed in, you kind of felt like you were just sitting on a swing. Anyway we got floated out from the platform, and leant back as far as we could kicking our legs up so we were as horizontal as we could be. The guys back on the ledge then asked if we wanted to be counted down, or a surprise release. We looked at each other and said ummm. With that he let us go! Not expecting it what so ever! Honestly the release photo is hilarious! We were so horizontal, with the release force we flipped over, feet going over our heads until we reached the bottom of the canyon where our momentum forced our feet back the right way. It was awesome! Once we had stopped swinging we were pulled back to the platform. Not one to miss an opportunity, Huw and I started playing around in the harness, flipping upside down and trying to swing on it like we were at a playground. When we got near the top, the guys were yelling at us to stop swinging! We were told to sit still or they could not drag us back in. Afterwards we learnt that the movement when we are being pulled in can cause the ropes to twist and send us off sideways. Looking at the mechanisms above us I am not sure if I believe them on that, but I am no expert so whatever. I guess when you are sitting on a swing over 100m up in the air with nothing but a rope keeping you suspended you should probably listen to the guy at the other end of the rope! 

Back on solid ground, with a free hat added to my collection we headed back into town. 

We stumbled across a shop on the first day in Queenstown called ‘cookietime’ so of course we had to explore. One ice cream cookie sandwich and a chocolate shot later, we both felt very full and very sick! Probably not the best time for ice cream for lunch as Huw had another bungy to do! 

We walked over to the bungy and took the gondola up the hill. This was a ledge bungy, smaller but over rocks and trees, not water. We met and few others at the top and we all watched them bungy off the ledge. 

The main reason I went with Huw to this bungy was because we we had a luge booked in the afternoon, and the two were next to each other.  A few other we met at the ledge bungy were doing the luge too, so we all went together. 

First rule on this luge, do not race. First rule should be do not tell people not to race, they are going to do it! Well three of us lined up, and we’re all waved off at the same time. I was first round the first corner, then Huw nearly took me out on the second corner. By the third corner I was trying to chase Huw down so much I nearly took myself out, getting the luge on its side and barely keeping control. I didn’t wipe out, but I did loose enough momentum that catching up was impossible. The others were miles behind, amazed at the speeds we took of. We all had a second luge, this time down the more advanced track. Pretty much the same thing happened, but I didn’t nearly wipe out this time. I did however get some air over the bump! 

Down the gondola, and quick dash back to the hotel to get ready for our night out! This was our last night in Queenstown, a number of our group were finishing their tour the next day, and it’s Amanda’s 21st birthday. Being American, this was kind of a big deal. The whole group met for a pizza night and then to a haunted house! 

The haunted house was hilarious! Anokhi was terrified, which made it even funnier. I was at the back of the group, with Millie in front, who was pretty jumpy. She made me cover her ears the whole way round! Every time we flinched or moved she would scream I was not holding her ears! Anokhi buried her face into Huw’s back the whole way round, which was made even more funny when we got out of the house to find her makeup all over his white shirt! Robyn took the lead of the group, catching most of the jumpy things flying towards us! I had people behind me breathing in my ears and holding my shoulders. We basically screamed and laughed the whole way round. 

Safe to say we had the most amazing night out in Queenstown! It was the perfect way to end our trip with the people we started with. I have no idea what time we got home, or what we drank, but I know no one wanted to go to bed. 

As you have probably worked out I am writing this the morning after the night before. It’s 8am now and we have to say goodbye to people at 9am. Everyone is dreading it, no one wants to leave and we don’t want them to go. It is so amazing how close we have all become, we have been running round New Zealand shouting things like.’contiki love’ and ‘contiki family’, and now we are being pulled apart. Made even more tricky by being so tired, emotions are kind of high all around. My main group are staying on, with exception of Huw. 

Dad this next bit is going to suck.

Speak to you later x

Milford Sound

Hey Dad,

Well a bright an early start this morning!

Of course i was right about being woken up in the early hours to drunken friends coming home. However this one was a little more serious. Robyn was refused entry into a club for being too drunk. Anokhi and Millie spent hours looking for her in town, but could find her no where. They came back to the hotel but she had not made it back. 

Being fast asleep when all this happened, I had no idea if I had dreamt it other not. I had to ask Brooke if Robyn really was missing. We also have a huge group message running, and they must have posted on that, because when we went for breakfast everyone was asking if Robyn had been found. 

There were only a handful of us going to Milford Sound today, and it was so early we couldn’t go and knock on Robyn room to see if she was OK. 

The bus picked us up at 6am, to start a four hour drive to Milford Sound. Unsurprisingly everyone slept the whole way there! After three hours the driver stopped at a cafe, which woke everyone up. We all felt much better for it! The last hours drive then turned into two and a half hours as the driver was good enough to stop at scenic locations for us to take a photo. 

We arrived at Milford Sound at about midday. We then boarded a boat and sailed through Milford Sound for about two hours. The scenery was simply stunning. It kind of made up for Hayling Bay being so overcast when I was there. The water was bright blue too, absolutely beautiful. We even got to see seals, dolphins and a Kea birds while travelling.

Milford Sound is a fiord in the south West of the south Island. It is home to huge waterfalls, rainforest and crystal clear waters. Some of the water is so still it mirrors the towering rock faces above creating the most beautiful reflection.

Milford Sound was simply beautiful, but it was a crazy long drive. About 6 hours there for a two hour boat journey and a four hour drive home. There was an option to take a helicopter flight back, which would only take 45 minutes. This flight may have been in your budget dad, but it was definitely not in mine. 

Milford Sound also had no phone reception, so we had no way of knowing if Robyn was OK. We got news when we arrived home she was back and fine. Turns out she took a wrong turn out of town. Our hotel is about a 30 minute walk from town centre, and Robyn managed to walk in completely the wrong direction ending up in a housing development. Fortunately she came across a very nice backpacker who helped her make her may back to the hotel. She got home at 7am! 

Her phone managed to track her ‘lost’ movements, so we were able to see where she ended up. She went miles in the wrong direction! 

After hugging Robyn, we got ready to head into town to go to an ice bar. Basically we were partying in a freezer surrounded by ice statues. Everything was made of ice, including our glasses, which were almost impossible to hold and drink from. With it being such a long day, we were not really up for a late night, so.after the ice bar we decided to jump in a taxi home. That was until we walked past a rum bar! The group know I like rum, so we went in for one. Well our coach driver Pat joined us and got as all these very weird shots. It was some form of liquor with like a cream on top. They were called mini beers, because they looked just like a pint. They were amazing, tasted like melted vanilla ice cream. Again still not up for a late one we went back to the hotel. 

Our hotel has a restaurant and bar area with a balcony overlooking the whole of Queenstown. We decided to take a seat outside and just chill out, catch up on what we had missed all day and get to know everyone a little better. 

Next thing we knew, someone said it was 3am! So much for it not being a late one!! – at least we were sober. Well I was, some were borderline. 

With it being so late I crawled into bed and I am one again writing this the next morning. I am already sitting at breakfast waiting for the next crazy adventure to begin. 

I will tell you about that one later tonight! 

Talk to you then dad x

Shotover jet and swings

Hey Dad,

Well an action packed day today! 

We all started by heading to a river in a canyon to go on a ‘shotover jet’ which is like a speed boat that can sail in really shallow water. It goes at speeds of 90km/h and you basically just jump and skim the top of the waters surface. Well it was great fun. The captain flicked us into 360s and skidded us right up to rock faces. Everytime he got close we thought we were going to go flying into the rocks, or capsize. I am sure we were further away then it felt, because it felt like only inches. 

After have an hour of being sprayed by water and flipped around at crazy speeds we headed for a small town called Arrowhead. It is one of the cutest strangest towns I have been to. It had a wild west feel to it, picture those old western films you liked dad, I could have easily been standing on the set of one. I walked down the street waiting for a shootout. There was a great pie restaurant you would have approved of too. 

After Arrowhead we were dropped back off into town. Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand, so the whole group split up for the afternoon as we all had different activities at different times. I spend the next few hours with Huw and Matt exploring Queenstown, eating ice cream and chilling by the lake. We didn’t have long mind…. our first activity was fast approaching. 

Now dad I know I promised mum I would never do a bungy jump, and that is a promise I will of course keep. She however never said anything about a canyon swing…… 

The canyon swing is basically what it sounds like. They harness you in, and you drop from a platform where you swing in a pendulum motion through a canyon. It is a 200m swing with a 60m free fall from the platform. The craziest bit however is the ways you can be dropped! Never one to shy away from extreme adrenaline, I took the highest rated option. I was harnessed in, suspended from the swing, flipped upside down, arms out to by sides, and back arched. I would plummet to the ground eyeballs first before the cord would swing me into the canyon. The footage is great, I had my camera strapped to my wrist, and it looks pretty sketchy! 

Oh and our package included two swings…..

I got back onto the platform buzzing! It was such a rush. The problem I had then was how to be thrown off the platform this time around, when I had already done what they claimed to be one of the hardest methods. The guys rigging the harnesses smiled at me and said ‘how about ‘sparta’. Looking puzzled I asked for a bit more information. It is based on the movie ‘300’ and all I have to do is stand on the ledge with my heels over the side so I am balancing on my toes, put my hands behind my head and say ‘this is blasphemy, this is madness’ then the harness guy would say ‘madness, this is sparta’ and in saying that line…. kick me off the ledge. Let me tell you dad, that was way WAY worse then being suspended upside down! Looking over your shoulder to a 60m drop behind you with a guy madly smiling that he gets to boot you off a ledge. You know the old saying about wishing you could throw someone off a cliff, well someone did throw me off a cliff. Again, the footage is awesome! 

That was enough adrenaline for one day. Back down from the canyon we grabbed something to eat and went to get ready for a night out. It was not going to be a late one as I had to be up bright and early for a trip to Milford Sound.

Well I have just got back to the hotel, and left Anokhi, Millie and Robyn (who by the way are three of the coolest people ever) in town. They don’t have to be up in the morning, and they seemed to be hitting the booze pretty hard. They were up for a party so I gladly left them to it. We did however make a pit stop into a place called ‘Fergburger’ which sells the most awesome burgers. It is a thing you just have to do in Queenstown. They only shut for like two hours a day and have a queue of like 4o minutes at all times. People line up down the street for these things. Not being able to face a burger so late at night I was happy taking a bite out of everyone else’s. 

Right bed time for me. Something tells me I will be woken up in the early hours to the others stumbling in.

Night dad x

Travelling to Queenstown

Hey Dad,

Well last night turned into a late one. We turned in about 3:30am, and we were all pretty sober. We were just having fun acting like morons and messing around. We went for a walk and came across a tuk tuk, which we of course climbed all over. Then we came across a lane with a ‘no entry’ sign, so we of course entered. It was just a short Lane leading to a small electrical junction. The surrounding trees blocked out all artificial light, so we were just laying on the ground for ages looking at the stars. 

Well we had to be up at 7am to get on the coach to head to Queenstown. That was a tough one with only a few hours sleep. We had planned to sleep on the coach, but the drive and the scenery was just too beautiful to miss. Dad you would have loved this drive, granted maybe not on a coach, some high performance car would have been more up your street. Lakes, mountains, gorges, waterfalls, bridges, forests and everything in between. The driver Paddy was even awesome enough to keep stopping so we could jump off the coach and get some amazing photos. Honestly dad, everyone needs to come and see this place!

Enroute to Queenstown, we stopped at the ‘K bridge’ for some of the tour to bungy jump. Now as you know I promised mum years ago I would never ever do a bungy jump, and let’s face it I don’t promise her much, so I was true to my word. I stood on a viewing platform cheering everyone on.

It did set me back about 20 years mind. The bungy company is ‘AJ Hackett’, which didn’t mean much to me until I got in and saw the company logo. It’s the same company you did your bungy jump with when we were in Florida! I knew the logo from a t-shirt you had. Well it got even more insane when walking around the gift shop I stumbled across your exact t-shirt! I have no idea if yours is still in one piece, or if you binned it years ago, but I knew it straight off! If it wasn’t so expensive, and if I was actually alllowed to bungy jump I would have been buying it! 

The bungy looked amazing! They jumped off a bridge over water, and if you were lucky (or unlucky) enough you dunked in the water at the bottom. It looked like such a rush and the group loved it. They came back buzzing, which kind of carried on for the rest of the day! 

We arrived in Queenstown mid afternoon. Our hotel is a little out of town, but is up on a hill overlooking Queenstown. I think I may have achieved in finding a view that surpasses yours. It is beyond spectacular! Of course I am sure you would still maintain your view is better. The view is something else, especially sitting on the balcony of the hotel bar!

This evening we were heading up a hill on a gondola to have dinner. We ate at the ‘Skyline’. It was slightly pricey for our budgets, but worth it for the view at the very top. Dinner was buffet style, but surprisingly good. 

Back down the gondola we headed to a local bar. Two guys with guitars playing acoustic versions of classic songs. Perfect! My kind of evening! After the bar we all went to sit on the edge of the lake and just relax. We were pretty chilly, but whatever.

Today has again been amazing. Queenstown is just beautiful. I could live here and never get bored of looking out. This is without a doubt your kind of place! I even passed a small group of fishermen just sitting on the massive lake, I could easily picture you sitting there. It is full of crazy adrenaline filled adventures too. Watch this space over the next few days dad, it’s going to be insane! 

I am not sure I ever want to stop doing this! 

Night dad x