Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Auckland to Queenstown (And back to Auckland again!)

Well, everybody who said I couldn't do New Zealand in two weeks, thankfully you were wrong!

In just 15 days I've covered Auckland through to Christchurch on the Kiwi Experience bus, and back up to Auckland again in time for my flight to Fiji. *cue excited squeels*

I've had a brilliant time here and although I've spent no more than one or two nights in each place I've still managed to see and do everything I've wanted to which I am very happy about.

New Zealand is a really beautiful place, particularly the South island- which I preferred- with all its beautiful glaciers, lakes and parks. Quite similar to Tasmania in some places so obviously it was a winner for me!

Every view is a perfect post-card shot!

My highlights have been reuniting up with a friend in Auckland (who I'd met previously in Australia) and catching up over dinner and drinks at an open mic night in town. We even got up and had a little sing on stage with the local musicians which I thought was a great way to start my trip!

On the adrenalin front (as that's what we're all here for), there's been 'luging' down a mountain in Rotarua which was hilarious...

Waiting in the wings wearing my lovely and undeniably safe kids helmet...

You take a cable car up to the top, then race down a track in what is essentially a sledge for tarmac at about 40kmh. Great fun!

Then of course the skydive, which you can read all about here.

I also had the chance to climb the Franz Joseph Glacier which was an amazing (and grueling) experience. We hiked for eight hours on the rocks and on the ice and had so much fun climing the steep ice in our crampons and fetching hiking attire. Again the views were incredible and we couldn't resist stopping every now and then for a quick tourist photo moment.

National Geographic, eat your heart out.

And finally, one more thing New Zealand is undoubtedly great for... the partying!

Our Kiwi Bus at the Poo Pub in varying degrees of fancy dress.

It's been a jam packed two weeks and I will be sad to leave New Zealand, but I'm definitely ready now for some chilling and coconut drinking in the paradise that is Fiji! :D

Monday, 22 November 2010

Conquering the Fear

I DID IT! I never thought I could, but I did it.

12,000 ft through the air with nothing but my guide and a parachute; the greatest adrenalin rush you can ever imagine and the scariest thing I have ever done so far.
And the evidence...

I've always wanted to do a skydive as the thought of it both terrifies and excites me at the same time. I know how much of a coward I am as I don't even really like theme parks and I get motion sickness on pretty much anything that moves, so as much as I liked the idea I never thought I'd actually pluck up the courage to go through with it.

Thankfully, New Zealand is the perfect place for testing your limits and getting your adrenalin fix, usually for a cheaper price than the UK too.

As I only had one night in Taupo (Skydive central!) I only really had one chance to jump at the cheapest price and with people I had got to know through my Kiwi Experience bus. The weather was perfect, the price was just about affordable and the peer pressure was cranked up to the max! Within two hours of arriving in Taupo I was already at the landing site being zipped up into my fetching jumpsuit and hurried onto the plane we'd soon be plummeting from.

My guide was wonderful. He knew how nervous I was (probably by the tears I was fighting back, oh dear!) and he did everything possible to try and reassure me and calm me down. They did however make me jump FIRST and sit right by the door which was terrifying, but meant I had no real option of bottling it without causing a real hassle for everyone else on my plane (not to mention the shame I'd face!)

The minute we reached 12,000 feet the door was open and that was it, head back, deep breath, freefall. I couldn't even scream I was in so much shock at what had just happened. It felt incredible and indescribable flying through the air so fast, then opening the chute and feeling suddenly so calm watching the beautiful ground beneath me. Minutes later we landed smoothly on our feet and that was it, all over! My only words were: "Can we go again?"


Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The journey continues... Melbourne to Tasmania

My god Tasmania is a beautiful place. I am so glad that I decided to book my ticket and see somewhere with the best views I've ever witnessed. Even just flying over the island in my crammed Jet Star plane I could tell this was going to love Tassie for all its lush green mountains and clear lakes, amongst a host of other things!

Getting to Tasmania provided me with a great little detour too, as it meant I had to fly to Melbourne first; a city I'd really wanted to see but thought I wouldn't have the time. I had a wonderfully relaxed three days in Melbourne sightseeing, tram hopping, market shopping and enjoying some time to myself.

I loved the cultural diversity of Melbourne, it has so much more to offer than Sydney with all it's back street markets and a busker on every street corner. Not to mention the hundreds of tucked away restaurants and little vintage shops. I was in heaven!

Three more excitable nights sleep and a speedy 50 minute flight and I found myself in Hobart, Tasmania, a beautiful city where everyone seems to know each other and everything is within a 20 minute drive.

My intended four day stay was, as expected, nowhere near long enough for everything there was in store for me. I ended up staying for two weeks and falling in love with all the lovely people around me. My days were spent living with The Colemans, visiting a beautiful 1960s shack out on the coast, touring local gigs with the Adam Cousens band, eating ungodly amounts of chocolate, and jamming with great musicians at every opportunity I could salvage.

The bay surrounding the Shack

More amazing views

Of course, my visit to Tasmania wouldn't be complete without stealing a glimpse of the weird but wonderful Tasmanian Devil! I was a typical tourist and got myself down to Bonarong Wildlife Park to see the devils and some Koalas and Kangaroos too.

Tassie Devil, and Sarah and I with a camera shy Koala!

I made some great friends and rounded off my trip with a really fun night dancing, drinking and saying emotional goodbyes at the Tasmanian Beerfest. As sad as I was to leave, I know New Zealand will be 'heaps' of fun (as they say) and hopefully I'll get to pay another visit back there some day soon :)