I’m linking up with Ashley to tell you about a few of my favorite things from April! April has basically been perfect, so it was hard to narrow it down, but I think this is a pretty accurate list.
1. Traveling all around the South Island and seeing so many incredible things! There’s no way that I could pick just one favorite thing from my trip, so I’m counting it as one thing. Cheating? Maybe.
2. Not camping. You have no idea how good it felt to finally sleep in my own bed after roughing it for almost three weeks in tents/hostels/kitchen floors. 24 hour access to a hot shower and running toilet is also a huge plus in my book, as is eating something other than granola bars and peanut butter.
3. Zorbing!!! Definitely one of the most fun things I’ve done in New Zealand. There will be a full post on this soon, I promise.
4. Hot tubs. There is not much I love more in life than a good hot tub sesh. I mentioned this in my post on Rotorua, but the hostel we stayed at had it’s own geothermally heated pool which I took full advantage of. We even snuck back into our hostel after we checked out and spent four hours some more time soaking in them. So worth the pruny toes. Plus Carolyn and I got some good girl talk in which is always a plus.
5. Celebrating the fact that it’s Wednesday and there are no classes on Thursday with my new BFF’s.
6. The fact that Adora is finally 21 and we can officially celebrate like adults together once I come home!! Yes, I realize I’m not in this picture and I was not even there when it was taken, but how cute are they?? FYI, this is not creepy, this is love
7. MY HAIR IS FINALLY GROWING!!! I have literally been trying to get my hair to grow since 8th grade, and it is finally happening! Turns out New Zealand is good for me. Seriously, look at this picture. Basically Rapunzel status. Please ignore my psychotic facial expression.
8. The public library downtown Palmy. The books I checked out were my salvation on the looong bus rides we took on break.
Happy Monday! I am dragging ass today and will most likely not accomplish anything, due to the fact that our bus home from Rotorua didn’t get into Palmerston North until 6 am today, and I had class at 8 am. But don’t worry, I’m supplementing with lots of naps and I’m only marginally cranky.
This past weekend, 6 of my friends and I traveled to Rotorua for 2 full days of exploring, and it was amazing!
We started off our time in Rotorua by going ZORBING!! This was one of the things I was most excited to do in New Zealand and I’m so glad I an check it off my bucket list! It was incredible, and not what I expected at all. I’m going to do a separate post all about it because it was that good, but here’s a preview.
After Zorbing, we headed back to our hostel for a really nutritious lunch of PB&J and a much needed nap. Our hostel was awesome and had its own geothermally heated pool and hot tub, so you know I took advantage of that all weekend. It was incredible. The pool was basically just a giant hot tub which was perfect since the weather was a little bit chilly!
Rotorua is basically a hotbed of geothermal activity, so there are geysers, hot springs, and hot mud pools all over. Most places have been turned into tourist attractions, but they charge you up the wazoo. We lucked out though, and ended up staying right across from the only free geothermal park in town. We took a few hours to explore, and it was really cool and REALLY smelly. These pictures are not pretty, so I apologize. But I’m pretty sure there is no possible way to take a pretty picture of a bubbling hot mud pool, so….
All of the fog in the pictures is actually steam because of how how hot the pools are. Crazy.
After walking around the park for a while, we needed a break from the smell, so we decided to head over towards the Government Gardens which we heard was beautiful (and free). We took a while exploring the gardens in front of the building and then followed a little hiking path which led us to a river. The water was really strange; it looked almost white because of all the sulphur particles in the water. It was beautiful!
I was a bad traveler on Sunday, and forgot to take any pictures (besides selfies, but don’t worry, I won’t make you suffer through those). A few people in our group went to another geothermal park/geyser but I decided to stay back and explore the city with the others who didn’t go with. Our day consisted of whiskey and cokes for breakfast (justified because 10:30 am is actually 5:30 pm in America), souvenir shopping, vegetarian nachos, and a 4 hour long hot tub session. So basically it was my perfect day.
Helloooo! How is everyone today? Good? Good. Today is Wednesday, but it’s actually like Thursday because tomorrow our classes are cancelled because of Anzac Day! This means that tonight we will be celebrating the only way I know how, with free pancakes and karaoke. And minimal school work.
Anyways, back to my spring break recap!
After our 3 days in Queenstown, we headed to Dunedin. Dunedin is a college town on the east coast of the South Island and it’s known for not only being a great city, but also one of places where you can see wild penguins! Needless to say, we were really excited about this stop.
On our first day in Dunedin, we took a tour of the Cadbury chocolate factory! The tour included a self guided tour through the chocolate museum, a short movie about the company and the factories history, a guided tour through the inside of the factory, access to the gift shop, and a 1 ton chocolate waterfall. Our tour started at noon, but we got there a little bit early (which was a new feeling for me) so we spent some time exploring the chocolate museum first.
Our tour guide was the cutest old lady and I wanted to bring her home with me. I love hearing old people with accents. When we met her, she immediately gave us a piece of candy, so that might have something to do with my love for her. It was so cool to see the actual machines that mix and make the chocolate, I felt like I was on an episode of “Unwrapped”. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside of the factory, but it reminded me of Willy Wonka. The factory in Dunedin makes mostly Jaffas, chocolate buttons (for baking) and giant hollow chocolate Easter eggs. We got samples of a bunch of different products, including liquid chocolate which was delicious. Shennel is crazy and doesn’t like chocolate??! So I had to take one for the team and eat hers for her. The things I do for friendship are incredible.
Once the tour ended, we got to go outside to play on take pictures of the classic Cadbury cars. I’m calling them classic because that’s what our tour guide called them, but I had actually never heard of them before…
Another bonus to the factory tour was that all Easter candy was 50%. So basically this was my perfect day.
After our tour through Heaven the Cadbury factory, we walked a few blocks to check out the Dunedin Railway Station. Fun fact, this is the 2nd most photographed building in Australasia (yes, that is a real word). The 1st is the Sydney Opera House, which I will be taking pictures of in exactly 37 days!!!!!!!
Once we had taken enough pictures, we headed back to the hostel to make dinner and relax for the rest of the night. We were thinking about taking a tour of Speight’s Brewery, which Dunedin is pretty famous for, but none of us are that crazy about beer and it was a little spendy. But since I have serious FOMO, I bought one bottle to drink with dinner. I figured I couldn’t go back to Palmy without tasting “The Pride of the South”. I actually really liked it (nothing compared to my boyfriend Jose, but I had to make due).
PS, there was also a kitty at the hostel!!!!!!!! Which we immediately fell in love with, even though she didn’t feel the same way.
Our second day in Dunedin was dedicated to finding wild seals, sea lions, and penguins. All of the wild life is located on the Peninsula, which is a 45 minute drive from the city center. Our cheapest option was renting a car, and I volunteered to drive. There are 2 problems with this scenario. Number 1, New Zealanders drive on the left side of the road and number 2, I don’t have the best driving record, even when I’m on the right side of the road. I think I almost peed myself when I first got behind the wheel. But after about 5 minutes (and a lot of honking), I was totally fine. I even managed to not hit anything/one or get any parking tickets, which is the closest I’ve ever come to seeing a miracle.
The peninsula was one of the prettiest places we saw our whole trip. The whole area was surrounded by mountains and there were beaches everywhere. There is only one road that leads into the peninsula, and on one side of you is a giant mountain and to the other side is the ocean (level with the road). This did not help with the driving anxiety.
We spotted seals at the very first lookout we went to! I realize you can’t see them in these pictures, but trust me on this one, they were there.
After that, we decided to check out Allan’s Beach, where we were told we might be able to see sea lions up close. In order to get to the beach, we had to climb over a fence and then hike through a field of grazing sheep. I am not even kidding. If someone asked me to sum up New Zealand in one sentence, that is the sentence I would use. I would also show them this picture.
Allan’s Beach ended up being incredible. It was a great day out, so we walked along the water and just sat on the sand for a while. I also took way too many pictures of the same things from different angles because apparently I think I am a super talented photographer.
We found the sea lions!! Apparently while I was in the bathroom, Eve and Shennel got too close to one of them while he was napping, and he charged at them. This was probably similar to what it looks like when someone (Brock) tries to wake me up early. So consider this a warning, sea lions are little bitches.
We ran into a small problem when we tried to find the penguins. Apparently, the only way you are guaranteed to see them is to pay for a special tour and viewing of them running on the beach. But girlfriend is broke and $25 is a lot to see something you can see in a zoo. Especially when that money could go towards more important things like a hostel in Australia, and Srumpy. So instead we decided to drive over to the other beach and hope that the penguins would be there. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any penguins 😦 But the view was still gorgeous and totally worth the drive.
We ended the day with some ice cream, an exciting game of marry, bang, kill, and watching Little Miss Sunshine while eating our leftover Cadbury chocolates (because I’m obviously really health conscious).
The next day we packed up and started our looong journey back to Palmerston North! It included a 5 hour bus trip to Christchurch, a walk through Christchurch at night to the city bus stop, another bus from the city to the airport, a night of sleeping on the airport floor, a 50 minute flight from Christchurch to Wellington, killing 5 hours exploring Wellington in the rain, and a 2 hour bus ride back to campus. I’m tired just thinking about it.
I never thought I would say it, but I was insanely happy to be back in Palmy, and to finally eat something other than peanut butter and granola bars. I think that just means I am starting to love and feel at home here. So if anyone has any suggestions about how to convince all of my family and friends to move to New Zealand with me forever, please email me.
I will leave you with these pictures of sheep, because they are cute and hopefully will make your day.
First thing first, today is my best friend in the whole wide world Adora’s 21st birthday!!!! I am so sad I’m not at home to celebrate with her, but I’m sure she will manage to take lots of shots and eat lots of cupcakes without me. Everyone go tell her happy birthday, I’ll wait here. […]
So today I’ll be filling you in on our time in Queenstown, which was one of the cooleset places we visited during our trip. Queenstown is a great little ski town with heaps of cute stores and cafes, and it has a gorgeous waterfront.
Okay, so first thing first. The All Time Worst Camping Experience Ever. Now, like I said before, I was really really trying to be a good sport about the whole camping thing. I hardly complained and it honestly wasn’t that bad….until we got to Queenstown.
Queenstown is COLD. It’s pretty southern, and right by the water which does not help matters. I literally don’t think I have ever been that cold for that long in my entire life. And I was wearing pajama pants, the fuzziest socks in the world, a tank top, a long sleeve shirt, a sweatshirt and a sleeping bag that was allegedly supposed to be “warm as” (says the Mountain Designs salesman, clearly realizing that I know nothing about camping and will buy anything he tells me to). It was brutal.
So the next morning, after my hour long, scalding hot shower, we find out that it was actually so cold the night before that Shennel had a mini asthma attack in the middle of the night. At that point we decided that it would be worth the extra $8 per night to sleep in a hostel, but unfortunately we had already paid for the campsite for the next three nights. After having a few choice words with the woman behind the desk (who was very rude and not willing to help), we were told we could get our money back for the next 2 nights, but not that night because it was already past their check out time. Even though it was clearly a health/safety issue. Whatever. We put on our big girl panties and decided to tough it out for one more night.
After that little fiasco, we went to explore the city i.e. eat everything we could get our hands on. Our first stop was Fergburger for lunch, which we were told has the best burgers in all of New Zealand. Unfortunately, they gave me the wrong sandwich but somehow I still managed to push through and eat it all. The best part of the burger was definitely the bread, it was delicious and way better than a regular burger bun. I don’t know what they did to it, but it should be done to every burger ever made.
Once we had eaten lunch, we made our way to the waterfront, where the weekly arts and crafts fair was going on. There were so many cool things, from bracelets to coffee mugs to copper artwork to a tarot card reader (which I resisted even though it was hard).
After roaming around for a while, we decided we were hungry again and headed to Cookie Time for our daily afternoon dessert. The inside was adorable and was decorated with fur covered bar stools, red theatre curtains, and milk on tap which I have decided I need in my house. I got a mini ice cream sandwich (for only $3) which was two warm chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream rolled in either rainbow sprinkles, chocolate chips, or cookie crumbs. I think we can all guess which one I asked for.
We weren’t really in the mood to go out and drink that night (what is happening to me?!), but because we wanted to stay away from our freezing cold tent as long as possible, we walked around town to try and find something to do for a few hours. We stumbled upon a self-serve wine tasting bar with over 80 different wines to try. Um, yes please. It worked like this: When you walked in, you were handed a card (that looked like a hotel room key) and a glass for sampling. The wines were arranged by color and type, and you could chose to drink a sample, half glass, or full glass of each one. Once you decided on a wine you wanted to try, you inserted your card and pressed a button depending on the amount you wanted. The machine would then add a value to your card, kind of like a bar tab, which you paid before you left. The man working at the time (I think he was the owner?) was really helpful and took the time to show us around and explain how the machines worked. He also was very knowledgable and answered all our questions about the different types of wines. We sampled a few and then relaxed for a while before retreating to our igloo.
Fortunately, this night wasn’t quite as cold as the first night, so we were able to get a little bit of sleep, which was good because the next day we had a day trip to Milford Sound planned and then a night out on the town for a friend’s birthday, which I will tell you all about in the next post 🙂
Happy Sunday Funday everyone!! I wish I could say that I’m celebrating, but unfortunately my immune system has other plans and I’m sick again 😦 I started my morning off with a spin class (which kicked my butt) and now I am parking myself in the library where I will remain for the rest of my existence.
Okay, so where did I leave off? We had just finished hiking Abel Tasman and were finally rejoined civilization in Nelson. One day and a 10 hour bus ride later, we arrived in Fox Glacier, a small town on the Southwest coast of the South Island. Our bus driver stopped pretty frequently to let us use the bathroom and stretch our legs, which was much needed. We stopped at pancake rocks along the way, which were super interesting and reminded me of the scene at the beginning of Shutter Island where Leo washes up on the shore of somewhere. Anyone else? Just me? Probably.
Our campsite here was really nice and they even had washing machines (!!!) so we were able to wash all our smelly, rain soaked clothes. This was a very big moment for us.
Funny story about Fox Glacier. My girlfriend Shennel was sick and it was cold outside, so we were not exactly looking forward to sleeping in our tent. Somehow, we came up with the brilliant idea to sleep on the floor of the kitchen/TV area inside. It was a good thing we did too, because it stormed like crazy that night. This was the beginning of the “sleeping in strange places” theme we had for the rest of the trip.
The next morning, we woke up bright and early (seriously, I had never woken up so early on so many consecutive days before this ever) to go see the infamous glacier of Fox Glacier. Shennel was still sick, so Eve and I had to conquer it on our own. When we arrived at the tour center, we were dressed in super stylish glacier climbing outfits. It’s really hard being so attractive all the time, but by now I’m used to it.
Our tour guides were great, super entertaining and knowledgable. And they protected us when we walked through the “avalanche warning” area. We hiked up a mountain for about 20 minutes before we came to the beginning of the actual glacier. Before we could step on the ice, we had to put these little spikes on the bottoms of our shoes so we wouldn’t fall and we each got handed a walking stick. Like I said before, really really cute.
We started by climbing up “stairs” that were carved into the side of the glacier. It is someone’s job to climb up the glacier everyday and carve out these steps, and that’s it. It might be time for me to switch my major. Our guides told us that the steps had to be carved every single day because the glacier was melting so quickly that the steps totally disappear within 24 hours.
Isn’t it crazy how blue the ice is?? Our guides gave us a long explanation about why that is, but it involved something about color spectrums and as soon as my brain hears the word “science” I stop listening and start day dreaming about things like what color I should paint my nails next or what I want to eat for lunch.
There are heaps of little streams of melting glacier ice running down the glacier which are all purified and safe to drink. Of course I had to take my mittens off and drink from one of the streams which was awesome. It tasted like really fresh, clean water. But my poor little fingers were frozen the rest of the way down.
After our tour, we met back up with Shennel, ate a quick lunch, and got on yet another bus. But don’t worry, this ride was only 6 hours, not 10. We arrived in Queenstown around 8:30 pm where we proceeded to play on giant statues, eat soup, and have the worst camping experience anyone has ever had in the history of the universe, which I will tell you all about in my next post!
(Disclaimer: Tramping is the New Zealand word for hiking. Don’t worry Mom, this post is safe for you to read.)
So! The first official part of our Spring Break trip was a 3 and a half day hike around Abel Tasman national park. We decided on the Coast Track because it was right along the water and we could finish it in less than 4 days which is exactly what we were looking for. The coast track is over 50 k total, and since I had never been on a real hike before, I was a little bit nervous. The hiking actually turned out to be my favorite part of the trip. For the most part it was pretty easy and the scenery was gorgeous. Seriously just as pretty as the postcards.
Here’s a picture of the trail that we hiked. We started off in Marahau and ended up in Totaranui, staying overnight in Anchorage, Bark Bay, and Awaroa. All of our campsites ended up being right on the beach, which was incredible for obvious reasons.
On our first day, we hiked from Marahau to Anchorage, which was 12.4 k total. It took us a little over 5 hours because we kept stopping to take pictures along the way. We also stopped at some little beach we found to eat lunch and put our feet in the water.
I had to get my backpack in the shot because I figured no one would believe I actually went on a multiple day hiking/camping trip without some kind of concrete proof.
By the time we got to our campsite, it was around 5 pm so we ate dinner and sat on the beach for a while before going to bed really early because we are grandmas and were exhausted from the hike. Before we went to sleep, we stargazed for a while. The amount of stars you can see is unreal. It was incredible.
The next day we hiked from Anchorage from Bark Bay, which was a total of 8 k (which felt like nothing compared to the 14 k we did the day before). Chatting with Eve and Shennel made the time fly by and I don’t think we shut up once, which was probably really fun for all of the other hikers near us.
The hiking trail felt like a rainforest, but without the rain. There was an insane amount of foliage (that’s such a weird word) and it was all SO green. The only animals we saw were birds, I guess New Zealand only has like 3 native mammals? They have wild ferrets and possums, so I was not too upset that we missed them.
Since our hike was so much shorter, we had lots of extra time to do really important and exciting things, like nap on the beach. This was my favorite beach because the campsite was sandwiched between two bodies of water. It was literally like a little peninsula of sand. I also found a pirate ship, so clearly it was an exciting day. This campsite was really cool because we were able to see the tide go out and come back in. I didn’t realize just how far it went out, but when I woke up from my nap the whole beach was gone. It was so crazy; it seriously went from having water 3 feet away from me to being all sand as far as you could see. I didn’t take any before/after pictures of this, so you’ll just have to use your imagination on this one.
We made friends with a German boy and a Dutch boy who shared their fire with us. Meeting people from all over the world is one of my favorite parts of traveling. It’s so cool to learn about other cultures from someone who experiences it first hand.
The next morning we had to wake up early so that we could cross the bay while the tide was low. We were told that this hike was only 11 k, which was less than what we did the first day so we weren’t worried. But when we got to the start of the trail, we found out that it was actually 15 k. So that was a fun surprise. We also discovered another tide crossing that no one told us about and so we had to walk in a huge loop in order to get around it, so that added another hour and a half to our trip. Somehow we managed to power through and made it to our campsite around 5pm.
Our fourth day was by far the hardest. We only had to walk 5.5 k and hike through one tide crossing, so we figured that compared to the other days, it would be a piece of cake. What we didn’t know was that almost all 5k would be directly uphill, and that it would be pouring rain the entire time. We knew we were off to a rough start when we woke up to rain, and knew that we would have to cross through high water because of this. The water came up above our knees, our feet hurt from stepping on all the shells, and we were already soaked from the rain. Once we finally made it across, we figured the hardest part was over. This was clearly before we knew we would basically walking vertically for the next 2 hours. When we finally arrived in Totaranui, we were soaking, freezing cold, hungry and cranky. From there we boarded a 4 hour bus back to Nelson. Our bus driver was determined to give us pnemonia and refused to turn the air condition off the whole way back. Needless to say, a (hour long) hot shower has never felt so good.
Hiking Abel Tasman was one of my favorite parts of the trip, and definitely something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. But just in case their was any question, I’m not turning into an avid hiker/camper anytime soon. I think I handled the outdoors pretty well though…I didn’t complain half as much as I wanted to, so I’m going to go ahead and call that a success.