Screw the weather, we going to do it anyway

A little downbeat from the dissapointment in Kaikoura, we arrived in Wellington hoping for some fun and adventure up north!

First stop, the Tongariro crossing, one of the best walks in New Zealand apparently! Well, actually first stop was Dominoes! We needed some sustinence to prepare us for the 6+ hours trek. So we bought 2 large pizzas! Well, they were only £3.50 each!! Sweeet!

Driving north up the island, it felt very different to the south island. To start with, there were other people on the road. What was that all about?! There was a town every few km and McDonalds, subway and the like were in abundance. This was like a whole new world.

After a couple hundred km we settled into the north island beauty and appreciated the contrasting nature of craters presumably from old volcanoes mixed in with green mountains and plains that lined our route. Sunshine guiding us to our destination, this was a good start to our north island adventure.

Unfortunately, that’s where the good luck ran out I’m afraid. We stopped off at the gumboot capital of New Zealand, thinking we’d book our shuttle to the Tongariro crossing for the next day only to find gale force winds were going to blow our plans out the water. Niiice!

It’s all good, we’d just reroute. That’s why we’d got a camper right?! Head over to Taupo for the night, and the following morning make our way to Rotorua after checking out the amaaaazing Huka falls. Hmmm..

Well, we did do that. We had a fabulous camp site on Lake Taupo, where we could see the moon glistening in the lake water. A fabulous place to rest up before our next fun packed day!

Huka falls were um, interesting… Ok, no they really are interesting. Its a mass of fast flowing water that passes through a very narrow escape and is eroding away at the land underneath it forming a powerful but small waterfall. The contrast in colour of the light blue water through the passageway to the deep blue as soon as the water falls is awesome.

The rain started pumelling us around then so we headed over to Rotorua, thinking that if we were going to get wet we may as well do white water rafting and REALLY get wet! Hmmm…

Little did we know that this rain was so intense that it had flooded the river. Rafting was cancelled for at least 2 days… And any chance of doing, well anything else was also cancelled. Rain = go to a museum or sit around on ya ass. We selected the later.

A quick indian lunch and kotch session in Starbeebs! Sweeeet! But, a few hours of playing black jack with Rish whooping my ass every bloody time was enough! Time for a change. We went to the cinema to watch Source Code (pretty good I’d say esp if you think Gyllenhalls a hotty). It was just what we needed, a nice rejuventation day.

The next day, the heavens were kind to us so we managed to go to Wai-o-tapu thermal park. This place is seriously mental. You feel like you are in another world, walking past craters of steaming hot water, mud pits bubbling away and fluroescent green pools.

It stank like poo but was totally worth seeing the amazing nature that lies beneath us out there in the open, just touching distance. Also if you go, at 10.15 every morning you get to see the Geyser spurt out hot mineral water upto 30m in the air…

Very cool! It really felt like we got to see something totally different, something that made us say “Wow!”

(uh… thought it would be funny to act like a witch and that be my cauldron! lol… video is even better…)

Yay, things were getting better. Next stop, Waitomo caves…we had booked in for the infamous Black water rafting Abyss trip, 5 hours including abseiling, zip-wiring, glow worm watching and floating down on a tube in the water cave as long as the rain didn’t flood the caves. Fingers crossed! The night before was looking promising, all we had to do was find a good parking spot for the night… What better than the entrance to the 30 minute trek through the jungle which lead to the Rukakuri caves? And while we are there, why not walk through that forest in the pitch black with no-one around (we hope) to see the glowworms??! I was shitting it, what if there was a serial killer or mugger just waiting for us in there… But ultimately it was a spectacular experience.. Once you walk through the jungle and arrive at the swing bridge, you turn your torch off and let the magic commence! There are hundreds of glow worms just lining the trees and the bridge. It was like something out of a Midsummer Night’s Dream! Obviously, I was still scared and insisted we leg it back to our car, fast!

We survived the night, no knocks on our windows from serial killers but inside the sound of beautiful rain battering down on us!! Faaantastic. Luckily the cave trip was still on! Whooo!

The tour is super duper awesome..

First you abseil down into the cave which involves some VERY tight and some very dark passages.

Once your down, you walk further into the cave before you are attached to a zip wire which you speed down, in pitch black darkness, guided only by the light emitted by the glowworms above and around you .. After chilling out there with some hot cocoa and flapjack, the adventure continues as you jump from a height into the bitterly cold black water with a tube held to your butt!

We traipsed, swam, floated, and manouvered our way through the cave, stopping to check out glow worms, little gaps in the walls and take funky photos!! Being a small group, we were lucky to go into areas the other’s couldn’t and venture through little cave ‘nookies’ (I’m sure that’s the technical term) bigger groups wouldn’t!

To top it off, you end the trip by climbing over and up waterfalls. My god, do you feel the force of the water as you search for rocks to grip onto with your hands and your feet! That was definitely our favourite part of the super cool tour.

(Note to campervaners: we also loved the hot showers and soup and bagel they gave us afterwards… Much needed.. Whoop whoop!)

On a high, we made our way back to Rotorua.. After all this good luck, what would we do next??

Nothing! The Tongariro crossing had predictions of gale force winds, rains and potentially snow… Probably a no go then? But ah-ha, rafting would be running the day after tomorrow. Wicked!!

We spent the Saturday excited for the rafting the next day and weren’t even too bothered that our trip to the volcanoes didn’t happen that day! We vegged out in Starbeebs for starters, fulfilled our appetite with a Mexican for main course and sat staring out at Lake Rotorua for desert.

Sods law kicked back in on Sunday though. We were up, dressed in swimwear and psyched for rafting, only to arrive at the raft centre to find a measly A4 printed sign saying that the trip was cancelled due to flooding! AARGGGH!! The sucky part was the fact that it was in fact a gorgeous sunny day.

Determined not to let it get us down, we sped off to the Coromandel peninsula. If nothing else, we would see hot water beach. And that we did. Yeup, we saw the beach, but had missed low tide, the time when you can dig a hole on the beach and it fills up with hot water, which is kind of the reason to go there! .. At least the views were beautiful.

Absolutely stunning views of the coast as we made our way over and around the coast to ‘Thames’.

In true backpacker style, we went to a Thai restaurant where I’m certain she tried to put us on a table which kept us out of the main seating area (so as not to put off the real customers) lol and seeing as we had time we watched ‘The King’s Speech’ in their teeny old school style cinema.. Very good movie fyi. Stupidly at this point we thought to go to a small town to camp for the night, little did we know that all the towns in the area were basically people’s farm land homes!! We drove around for a good couple of hours before giving up and parking in a layby!

The next morning, after our regular morning ritual, we hovered by a payphone and called the rafting people until they confirmed YES, rafting was on today!!

Yaaay, we drove all the way back to Rotorua again hoping a sudden change in weather wouldn’t dampen our plans again!

You’ll be happy to know that at 12.30 that day, we did indeed white water raft and even more exciting, we rafted down a 7m waterfall… amaaazing.. In fact I think I still have whiplash from it! Lol.. That bit was great but have to be honest that the trip overall was, well shit! Rapids didn’t seem to be rapids in the traditional sense and the guys made too many sleazy and pervy comments. We are glad we did it so that we have now experienced a grade 5 river and the waterfall fall but wouldn’t recommend it compared to other rafting trips we’d been on before!

Pleased we’d achieved something but aware that we should shower! Lol… We spent the evening at the Polynesian spa.. It was different to the Franz Josef one as it has 7 pools, is open air and a couple of the pools look out on to the Lake. We went pretty late so it was quiet and I have to say it was magical. Lay back, look at the stars while your body is being treated by 41’c thermal mineral water. Or how about when the rain falls and you can feel the coolness of that against the heat of the pools. Fantastic! Need one of these bad boys back home!

Unfortunately, it was now our last full day in New Zealand. I’d wanted to horseride here at least once but we hadn’t got round to it.. Rishi kindly looked it up and we booked on to do a 1.5hr trek in the farm lands overlooking Lake Okarewka and a volcano name forgotten, doh!).. I hadn’t been on a horse for 10 years since I broke my arm falling off one so I was a little nervous but at the same time keen to get back on..

The horseride was just SUPER, awesome, fantastic.. Can’t explain exactly how amazing it was and good I felt to be riding again. It was just like getting back on a horse! Haha. We cantered up some high hills to peaks over looking the lakes, we rode through fields of sheeps, we trotted back past the paddocks. It was stunning and thrilling. I’m not suggesting everyone may find it as exciting but given that this was a sport I was good at and enjoyed when I was younger but had to stop due to an injury, it felt great to be back and overcoming the fear that had built up over the last 10 years!

I must mention that Rishi did really well too especially as he has only horse-ridden once or twice in his life!

We were soaked by the time we got back to the stables though as rain had released itself on us once again! We thought we’d change our clothes before driving to Auckland… Uh except, I didn’t have the car keys… Uh… Ooo shhhh@*, they had fallen out of my pocket on the ride! Yeup, not funny, seriously I had dropped them.. Could not believe it. Last day! Whyyyy?

We hung out with Lucy, the owner of the farm and the horses, soaking wet, until we were rescued by some locksmiths for a sizeable chunk of cash, not covered by insurance… Rish has taken photos to remind me of my stupidity.. Thanks Rish…

Luckily the rest of the day was uneventful, well apart from the fact that I have potentially been caught on a speed camera (oops!) and we went to a random woman’s house in Auckland so I could have my eyebrows threaded.. Safety first hmm

The final morning, we cleared and packed up the campervan and made our way back from the random town we’d stay at to Auckland… Feeling a little sad that our trip was reaching its final destination, my mind may have been averted or Lord knows what excuse I have for the fact that I had my first car accident! I was braking for some unexpected motorway traffic but just didn’t break hard enough and slowly slid into the car in front. To be fair I was trying to stop car behind me crashing into me and the one’s on the lane next to us slamming into Rish.

Atleast it was the last day, we were unharmed and the car rental company had to deal with it.. Right? And as Rish said, it’s an experience in itself! Lol

We have safely made it to the airport now and are enroute to Fiji. Bring on the sun, sand and sea!

New Zealand, we will meet again.. We’ve loved being here but have some unfinished business… will definitely be back… So until then… X

Loo in Rotorua aka our bathroom! 🙂

Bitter Dissapointment

New zealand so far has been exceptional and would say its up there as one of the best countries we’ve visited (equal to Japan)…soooo much to see and do it’s insane!

However one activity, which has been on my list for years (which I’ve always wanted to do) is swimming with dolphins! And when I heard that Kaikoura is meant to be the best place in the world to do it, I was over the moon.

Apparently when you go out, you will find up to 1000 wild dolphins all together jumping high out of the water with excitement and laughter in and out of the water playfully! A stunning view!

And to top it all off, you can be there in the center of them and have them swimming all around you, passing you, under you, everywhere!

And guess what, it is pretty much the only place in the world where you can swim with this many dolphins. So it was no surprise that others who had done it said it was their best experience in NZ so far. Even Anj, who had swum with dolphins before (though it was with no where near as many) told me how much she loved her experience.

So you can imagine how pumped I was for this!

Well we arrived in Kaikoura at 12.25pm with only the afternoon available for us to do the swim. But unknown to us, the final swim that day left at 12.30 and so we arrived to find it fully booked! But what was worse, it was completely booked for the next two days!

I was gutted! The one thing (apart from the bungee) that I was truly looking forward to the most.

However Anj insisted we put our name down on the waiting list for the next day, hopeful we would maybe clinch some last minute spaces and sacrifice a day elsewhere.

So we did. Low and behold at 5.30pm, as we sat at the Seal Colony watching the seals wake up from their nap, yawn and then jump into the water, we were told we would be on the next day’s 12.30pm Dolphin swimming tour!

Woooohooo! I was over the moon! How amazing! Especially since the next day predicted sunshine ahead. Even our car battery dying didn’t get me down (well done Anj!)!

However since we wanted to catch up on lost time, we woke up the next day after our freedom camp to the beautiful clear skys and sunshine and rushed to the dolphin centre to see if we could even get on the 8.30am swim! But sadly it was not to be. It was still fully booked!

Well at least, we would be on the 12.30pm, I said to myself excited for the trip ahead!

However from clear skies at midday, the thickest fog you’ve ever seen descended over the ocean within just 30 minutes! You could barely see anything!

I was shocked! And as much as we hoped and prayed, the trip was cancelled.

This time I was seriously gutted, I couldn’t believe it! I felt crushed I couldn’t do it here, especially since this is pretty much the only place in the world you can swim with over a hundred wild dolphins! I couldn’t have an experience like that anywhere else!

But we had to leave. There was no more time!

So we left, grudgingly, towards our next destination. Even so some of this bad luck continued. The drive from Kaikoura to Picton is a beautiful Ocean Drive and apparently one of the best in New Zealand, but due to this fog we just couldn’t see it.

However, we had been given a top secret tip to stop at the Ohau walk which is just a few kilometres past Kaikoura. It only takes 10 mins to do, but with every few steps of this pathway you find yourself stopping to admire the extremely playful seal pups in and out of the water. But whatever you do, you have to keep going!

What you find at the end is just pure awesome! There’s a wonderful waterfall, where at the base you find hundreds of pups playing in a small area, jumping high out of the water, playing, even battling each other on the rocks! In fact we saw one pup knock out another and it fell into the water! Don’t worry it was fine, they were just playing 🙂

It’s nothing like I’ve seen before and you definitely won’t find this in any zoo! These are wild seals, yet they come within touching distance of you! This is natural wildlife at it’s best!

It did make us think about how amazing the dolphin experience would have been, but we were lucky to see this, as many have not even heard of it!

So with a sigh, we headed to Picton on our 2 hour journey and arrived on time to watch a beautiful sunset. (Although, we were probably more engrossed in playing cards!) Very nice!

Well tomorrow we leave for the North Island. However, I can’t lie, It feels like the South Island is incomplete.

And normally I feel I’m quite good with handling disappointment, but missing out on the Dolphins was a big blow! I’m still working on getting over it!

But on a positive, I know we’re going to definitely come back to NZ for a longer trip some time in the near future, so I know I’ll see them soon! And being honest I can’t wait! 🙂

See ya next time guys!

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!

Oooo myyyyy Gooooood! What haven’t we jumped off in the last 3 days?!… NOTHING… Aaaahhhh!!

The last few days have been nothing short of a wild rollercoaster… Especially for me, the ultimate P+*?y but its been AWESOME!

It all began, the day after Franz Josef… We had a long day’s drive to Lake Wanaca. Lengthened by the fact that as we drove into Fox (the town of Fox glacier), we saw a fantastic view of the glacier… but by the time we reached Lake Matheson, 6km down the road, the whole area was engulfed in very low rain clouds.

Although, seeing this alone was incredible, we were gutted not to walk round the Lake where you can apparently see the most stunning reflection of Fox and Mount Cook! We did try and wait it out while staring at odd cows and making tea in the back of the van (another hot tip for campers – cheap tea can be procured by acquiring hot water in takeaway cup from cafe and proceeding to add tea bag, sugar and milk from your reserve – tasty and cheap! Mm mmm mmmmm :))but it was all to no avail, the rain was not going to shift.

It’s all good because the drive to Wanaca was spectacular, though we could not believe how big Lake Wanaca was as we drove along on what we felt was a coastline. Just as we thought we’d seen as much Lake as possible and turned away from the ginormous lake, lo and behold on the other side there lay Lake Hawea which is perhaps equally spell binding. This had to make up for the disappointment of not seeing Matheson?

(not the lakes…another gorgeous sight…unfortunately the lake photos do not do justice to their beauty… see skydive pics instead! ;))

Reaching Wanaka (town – told u it was a huuumongous lake) the plan was that if the weather stayed abysmal we would move straight onto Queenstown otherwise we would stick around and try and book me into a skydive.

The weather looked dreadful!! Whooo! Boy, was I relieved. But, yeup there’s always a big BUTT, Rishi was not content. He drove round like a man on a mission looking for the skydiving company’s offices to find out what they expected of the weather the next day. Eventually he discovered they were based 10km away so he called them. He wasn’t giving up that easy. And guess what? The weather was going to be the best of the whole week on the following day! Hurrah?! (More like aaaahhhh). I was almost paralysed with fear. Jumping out an F-ing plane, stupid thousand feet in the air, attached to a random man who relies on some plastic to stop us splatting on the ground?! Greeeeaaaat!

I wasn’t booking it yet. “Let’s wait till tomorrow and if the weather is good, and I’m feeling ready, I’ll do it!”… at the same time, I was praying, messaging Anand to hear his support, telling myself that it will be the most amazing rush and bricking it!! I managed to get through dinner reading and re-reading the skydive leaflet, but by the time we got to the camp site (a paid one) in a local town near the jump site, I was ready to knock out. Panicking and preparing for such craziness is I tell you bloody tiring work! Thing is, it was only 8 o’ clock!! Plus the owner of the camp site which was actually just a cricket ground had verbal diaorahea and I kept stupidly making comments which set him off on new tangents of spiel! Faaaantastic…

Anywho, I still managed to get a good 10 hours sleep but was rudely awoken by Rish wanting to get me ready and set for the day… Because looking out the window, it was just clear blue sky! What a contrast to the day before?! I could only take it as a sign from the Almighty; today was my day to jump! To top it off, the guy in our neighbouring campervan was also going to be jumping. I had to do it!!!

We drove down to the offices where I sheepishly called the company, (they weren’t open yet but had a phonebox to call them!?!) trying to make any excuses possible, but inevitably ended up with a jump booking for Rish and I at 10am. No backing out now…

Sitting there in our van waiting for the booking time; preparing ourselves with the safety video, putting on the jumpsuits and even while scribbling last minute inscriptions on our hands, I couldn’t help marvel at the wonder of the mind-blowingly beautiful day it was. The sun was out in full force, the views were extraordinary; this was going to be amazing! And hopefully I wouldn’t poo in my pants from fear! That would probably not be cool? I actually felt relatively calm… My main worry was what colour my parachute would be, I really wanted one with pink in it!! For some reason it helped that the rest of my jumping group were scared. I would be their strength!

Ha!

Then my tandem buddy came over…. “Hi, I’m Jeff.. You ready?”.. Uh NO!! Literally, five minutes and we were on the teeny plane, and I was at the bloody front… Trying to focus on oo how lovely this is.. What great views, thinking all the while, “Hmm, why do we keep flying higher?” “O, this is only 6,000ft”..

“What .. The … F@*!?”

Guess what guys, 15,000ft is pretty high!! Yeeeup!! The plane just goes higher and higher and when you think its gone high enough, you know what, it goes EVEN higher!!

At around 12,000ft the tandem dude next to me jumped off at a ridiculously fast speed taking his unsuspecting Chinese passenger with him. No sitting on the edge of the plane, no “are you ready?”, no time for anything… Fffvooom, they were gone.

I can’t lie, at this point, I was bloody scared.

Higher and higher we went though, and Jeff started clipping x, y and z behind me. I just stared out….

It was time! 15,000ft above the ground that my feet love to walk on, using that glorious safety net called gravity which would now be my arch nemesis!

Legs off the edge, head up… Last screams of “I can’t do this” but still fully committed to doing it and we were out.

W
H
O
O
O

O
O
O
O

Aweeeesome!! The most unexpected feeling of stability and support while wind gushes in your face so much so that you can’t speak or hear anything but the wind and at the same time as you are taking in spectacular scenes of Lake Wanaca and Hawea and the mountain ranges and the turquoise blue river, you are falling at 200km/hr! Out. Of. This. World.

A full minute of the most amazing freefall and then whooosh, out comes the parachute. A few milli seconds of an odd speed changing sensation and then you are just chilling. No other way to explain it as you float down gently, taking in the majesty of mother nature, the craziness of man made adventure activities and revelling in the disbelief that you jumped out of a plane.

The adrenalin is intense. Even as I write this, I feel that warm, energy boosting sensation in my chest, my heart starts pumping faster and a smile is on my face.

The landing is awesome too. We sped down in a big circle to land, feet in the air zoooming into the fast approaching grass and then somehow we were back; standing upright on firm ground thrilled that I did it!!! And guess what, I had a pink parachute! Yay!

Obviously Rish was already back from his dive despite jumping AFTER me! Just another jump off a plane for him! Hehe!

Hmm, how do u go from there? Well, I jumped around like an idiot. Nothing unusual. Rish was proud and excited. Then I tried to convince the girlfriend of the guy that had camped next to us the night before to do it too… (Think she might be convinced, must check on her)!

On to Queenstown, let’s get Rish on a bungy… TODAY!

Ok, so we drove through the Crown ranges, which really are magnificent, but our brains were on Queenstown and BUNGY! (I didn’t have to do any activities now that I’d done a sky dive.. Achievement enough!) … you can see Rishi was keen to jump off anything…

Unfortunately we weren’t there in time to push Rish off the Nevis bungy ledge but wanting to capitalise on the fabulous weather we hopped on to the shotover canyon jet.

The boat ride is a pretty cool, twist, turn and spin 360′ action adventure in a thin gorge passageway. To be honest, it didn’t have us quivering as we might have done if we hadn’t sky dived that morning. (We did still scream. Yes Rishi too.) But still have to commend the driver’s excellent skills and give the ride a big thumbs up!

Next day was going to be the beast. We questioned every man, woman and their dog about the bungy and swing options before finally booking Rish into jump the canyon swing in the morning, have a quick lunch and then thrown him off the Nevis Bungy that afternoon. It was gonna be one big headrush! Well, we didn’t have much time in Queenstown but couldn’t leave without those activities under Rish’s belt, and so a man’s got to do what a man’s go to do! And Rish usually copies what the man does!

I on the other hand wasn’t even sure I was going to go along because you have to pay to go watch!!! Mental.. Being a good wife though, I thought I’d go watch Rish throw himself off a cliff edge (the canyon swing) and give him moral support (aka check he follows through) as that was only $20.

Another fabulous evening of suburban camping, an early morning wake up and we were off. Almost a private tour to the Canyon Swing. (Guess backpackers like to have a decent night’s rest before throwing themselves off cliffs – go figure!)

Rish was off pretty fast. He threw himself off backwards first but not quite scared by the feat, he requested the jump master suggest the scariest jump and so they tied him up upside down, attached a gimp teddy bear and threw him off again. He was a little more satisfied with that jump (which fyi, is known as ‘gimp goes to hollywood’ .. Hmm) and was considering what would make the swing just that little bit more challenging…

Having watched this ordeal, like any normal god fearing person, I felt I was missing out, so after a little extra push from the jump helper men I got myself saddled up, tied to Rish and somehow was hanging off a rope above a 109m canyon. Hmm, right, how the hell did this happen?? I thought the sky dive was my last challenge!! Reality kicked in around that point but before I could fully realise the concept that I was paying stupid money to swing down a canyon with my stomach in my mouth, we were hurling our way down… And actually it wasn’t that bad! In fact, I might say, it was kinda nice! Wonders never cease hey?!

Pumped again by another dose of adrenalin, we purchased any photo and video we could find of our madness and headed back to town…. (can’t find the photos! 🙁 )

We had a little rest period. Well, by rest I mean, we fueled ourselves with caffeine in Starbucks and carbs and fat in MacDs. Hmmm, healthy!

Next stop, Rishi’s Nevis Bungy. The big mama. The halapalooza of adrenalin and fear led mentalness. The honker stonker of bungys at 134m high. The held at your feet by a stretchy rope jump off a ledge with a 8.5 second freefall into potential oblivion… Head first!!!

What the hell was Rishi thinking? I feared that I would convert (spectator to crazyator) but no chance, this beast was evil… I turned back to look at Rish as we stood on the holding platform before they took us over to the jump ledge expecting fear and trepidation but instead he stood there smiling, excited and egging to go!!! No exaggeration, he was the only one that was this thrilled to be jumping off that ledge! He wasn’t even wanting to ‘quick, get it over with’… No, no, the anticipation of waiting was part of the fun for this numpty!

We went over to the ledge, Rish calming me down as we went. (I know, I know, I wasn’t even jumping)! We watched as one after the other, mindless boys and girls dived off the ledge and then there was ‘the one’. There’s always the one person who gets to the edge … And stops! Yeup, she gave up, panic, grabbing hold of people and scrambling back.. Everyone went quiet. The thought of 134m of nothingness was just too much and everyone could feel the fear and tension in the air.

O well, Rishi up next!

They tied his legs up, my tears welled up, he got up, hobbled to the edge, LOOKED DOWN, took a deep breath and just went for it. AaaarrgggHhhh.

Mindblowing… Never have I seen Rishi smile so much (and you know how much he loves to smile) as when he came back from that Bungy… Yet on his mind was, what next? What’s higher?!! Aaarghgh! Lol

It was time to celebrate, Rish had been on 48 hours of adrenalin overdose. the best solution was to get our teeth into a biiig, juiiiicy FERG burger… Woooh, I can hear all Queenstown visitors going, YEEAAh! That’s what it’s all about!! Woooh!! (Big satisfied grunt)… Sorry to dissapoint all the fans though, but we had veggie versions… BOOOO, I know I know. Lol. Still some big ass burger awesomeness…

Thing was this part of the trip just seemed a little incomplete for me… Rishi was content and happy, I just didn’t feel satisfied. Something was missing… I dreamt about it all night long, parked up on the lake in Queenstown. By the next morning, I knew what I had to do… I had to Bungy!! Didn’t help that even my Dad suggested I go back and do the nevis!! Thanks daddoo… But I knew that was pushing outside of my limits and off into someone else’s domain… I would only be doing that to say ‘I did the Nevis’… So I came to a comprimise.. We were driving back across South Island towards Christchurch and en route we would be passing the original bungy.. The Kawaru bridge… So off we got. I marched down, watched a little girl jump off (on her own) and then dragged Rish on with me, held on to his belt for dear life and plunged downwards attached at my feet with nothing but a towel and some buckly thingy bob… There was the river rushing fast to our face and just before we could feel the cool waters we were yanked backwards to start the plunge all over again…

What a rush… It’s a very, very unusual and different feeling to be heading down in freefall, head first, and seemingly unattached to well, anything!

Thanks to Rish for coming with me so that now I can rest easy knowing that in those 3 days, I felt the fear and still did the 3 jumps. Boooooo yaaAa!

Feel free to share when you guys have felt the fear, said F-it and done it anyway! Woooh!

The Life of a Freedom Camper

It’s been around four days in New Zealand and what an adventure it feels like already!

We arrived in Christchurch expectant of a grand scale of devastation from the horrendous quake they suffered a few months ago. The place is not in rubbles, but there are bumps on all of the roads and many buildings have had to be taken down. Having been toured around by our shuttle bus driver, we promptly made our way to our camper van collection place, picked up our home for the next 2.5 weeks and set off on our very unplanned route! Who says I can’t be spontaneous and laid back? 🙂

Despite it already being around 3.30pm, we thought we’d stop for a leisurely late lunch at Subway before getting going. To add to our stupidity, we stopped off at a grocery store to pick up food for the dinner we planned to cook that night. Note, the operative word in that sentence, planned! Ha! Suffice it to say that by the time we reached our first stop off point, Hanmer springs, it was pitch black and we were marving. We were still 80km away from our camp site! But who cares? We’d seen an indian restaurant!

It’s hitting 9-10pm by this point and so we consider the option of staying at one of the local holiday parks or hmm, driving 80km down country roads, kind of tired from the 4am wake up this morning to our free DOC site. (DOC = Department of Conservation camp sights). Yes, you guessed right, we went to the DOC sight, singing Antakshari on the way and trying to swerve from the numerous possums on the road who just wanted to play “aaah, headlights”. They survived though and we were at the stunning river side camp site which had only one other tent there. Looking up we could see the most spectacular stars, and could even spot, what appeared to us as, another galaxy. I cleverly deleted the video showing this! Doh!

The adventure for our first day was not over though. Our campervan man had suggested that we leave a little ventilation open as we slept so that there is no steaming up and supposedly that would keep the van warmer..

Uh…

Nah!

It was blisteringly cold and we froze our assess off. It was bloody hard to get out from under the duvet the next morning. We learnt our lesson though. Window = closed!

The fun part of campervaning now revealed itself to us… How to shower… Hmm, how to brush our teeth.. Hmm and what about relieving onself of ones bodily fluids?! Well, we brushed our teeth at the back of the van in our water tank sink and luckily there was a drop in hole toilet at the DOC site.. So that’s all one needs right? 🙂

We drove through the Lewis Pass that day, which is the route through the mountains from the East to the West coast. Being the lazy buggers we are, we only stopped at view points visible by car or a maximum 2 minute walk! Lol. That’s how we discovered our brekkie stop, on a stream which still has gold leaves flowing through it!! Didn’t catch any though, dammit. But can’t complain about the view while we munched on our coco cereal!

Not meaning to, we arrived early to the West Coast so thought we’d take advantage and head up to Punakiki, the pancake rocks where there is a huge blow hole that spurts the sea water around 20 metres into the air! After a quick snack and ‘picking up’ some sugar from the restaurant.. (For my back of van teas).. We walked over to the pancake rocks which are definitely different and pretty.

On to the blow holes… “Where are they?” “That’s it…” “Uh no,” ..” Ye sure it’s that..” Yeeah so the blow holes weren’t blowing so much. The fabulous weather we were experiencing meant the water was just chilling. No blow today!! BOOO!

All good, we headed down the stunning coastline to Hokitika, spoke to mum and dad (Rish’s), did some bits and bobs and decided to be brave for the night and FREEDOM CAMP!! Oooo yeeeaah!!

What’s that you ask? .. Hello, freedom camping is the art of finding a cool place to camp overnight which is not actually a camp site… O and not get moved! Lol… Our cool place was on a suburbanish road with a railway track on one side and a church on the other!! Aweeesome huh? Hehe. We were super nervous but we did it. One night, no camp site, just us and in our campervan hiding away!

You’ll be happy to know… We made it through the night!! Wooooh!

By Day 3, we’d got the hang of this camping business. We headed over to Lake Manhinapua, enjoyed the views over brekkie.. Brushed our teeth in the toilet facilities there, took a few photos and set off towards Franz Josef, the big ass West Coast Glacier we were going to CLIMB (Anand insisted we CLIMB not trek!).. Bring it on.

The views on the way were beautiful. To be fair, all the views while driving have been beautiful. New Zealand is a ridiculously scenic country!

After arriving at Franz Josef, we actually spent most of the afternoon in the info centre. (That’s after driving up and down the time a ridiculous number of times for god knows what reason). Now, campers, listen up, info centre for us is like a electricity hot point, charge up all your devices so you don’t need to stay at a powered camp site!! We felt like real outbackers now and chatted away to another couple of campervaners exchanging stories and also trying to psyche myself and the other girl up to do a skydive! … Unfortunately…(Hmm) the weather wasn’t right for me to do one yesterday as its just a little too smoggy. O darn it! …Maybe in the next place ei?! (Aaahhhh)

Anywho, today we went for a full day glacier hike, which was brilliant. I’d done a heli-hike in Alaska years ago with Anand but Rish hadn’t been at all, so I was excited to see his reaction. We were worried it would be a bit dull because we signed up for the trek rather than a climb (sorry Anand, weather said NO to climb!) BUT as luck would have it we were in Group 3.. This means we let 2 groups rush ahead of us but when our turn came, a bit of confusion, a bit of melting snow and the fact that we had a senior group leader meant we took a VERY scenic (aka in and out and up and down some major ice crevises) route. Scary but so much fun.

We got to venture into two caves, one of which was about to fall in on us so we had to be careful, not that our grumpy tour leader minded. His response to the other tour leader was ‘they’ll work it out’. His grumpiness actually worked out well for us.

We even got to sprint down the glacier (we really weren’t meant to)… Which at the time seemed NUTS but at soon as we got to the bottom we were all very happy at how much fun it was.. Especially because we’d survived!

The wet day was followed by absolute bliss chilling out in the hot water glacier pools. (Excuse the pun). These are really funky as they have a rainforest environment with 3 different temperature pools but most importantly for us, we had a hot shower! YES! How amazing is that? Bloody fabulous I tell you!

All you need after that is a niiice Indian meal… But noo, stupid indian restaurant charges an extra $10 extra just for eating in. Out of principle we refused to do that, so got a takeway and ate on our make shift dining table.. Uh that’s the middle seat of our van. Hey, a table is a table!

Anywho, its been a really fun few days and as we settle down in our camp site for the night (a little area on the drive up to the glacier!) I feel just pumped and happy to be here and be experiencing this amazing place. Not sure if I can explain in words how cool it is, but it is great fun and the people have been really friendly too, not to mention the jokes we’ve had by travelling and staying in our psychadelic camper van…

What’s next?! 🙂