Last night our hostel was booked out we had a last minute change of itinerary to a old motel in Omarama. At the last minute we found out there was hot springs located 900m down the road, so we quickly packed our bags and walked down, didn't give it a second thought. I'd have to admit being in hot springs with the mountains and countryside on your back at sunset was definitely a highlight of our trip. Setting us back $41 for 1.5 hours it was definitely worth it. We enjoyed a couple of drinks as well as each others company taking advantage of how little time we had together.
Today's the last day of our tour, it has been such an experience. We had a few stops on our way back to Christchurch, stopping in small towns and seeing lake tekapo and surroundings. It was a long driving day and having the whole tour start to creep up on us it was a good opportunity to take advantage and sleep. Returning around 3pm we had a couple of hours of relaxing before our last group activity - dinner. It was weird thinking after 6 days non stop with these people you will most likely never see them again. We enjoyed our time at dinner although we were all tired we called it a night early,
Waking up at 5am isn't anyones idea of a good start to the morning. Basically still sleeping I rolled out of bed and onto the bus to start our 5 hour drive to milford sound. Having breakfast on the bus and sleeping for about 2 hours we had a little rest stop in a small town to go to the bathroom and buy some snacks for the road before continuing our journey to Milford. The drive down is one of the scenic views i've ever seen. We drove for another 3 hours and arrived at Milford Sound at 11:30am. I am going to be honest for me it was a bit overrated. There are so many beautiful mountains and lakes around New Zealand very similar. It is one of the only places in the world that fresh water and salt water meet and are combined. There are various waterfalls. We got lucky as there was rainfall the night before so there was temporary water falls everywhere! It was very pretty to be fair!
There are some places to stop along the road, as it's only one way in and one way out you will see signs for them coming up as you drive. We stopped at what i can only describe as the biggest drop in a water stream i've seen. It was huge, Between all the stops we did we took about 1-2 hours longer than if we drove straight there. For memory is only 160kms away from Queenstown.
I would recommend taking the river cruise that lasts about an hour. As it was included in our topdeck I don't know pricing very well but it's worth it! The boat ride itself is gorgeous. We got lunch on the boat and spent an hour gliding through the sound checking out all the water falls and the animal life. There are seals, dolphins and sometimes whales that come through as the sound is fairly deep it allows for these sea creatures to come in and out. After seeing a few seals, travelling to the Tasman sea and taking in some tall waterfalls, the boat turned around and we headed back to the dock. Arriving back to MIlford Dock at 2:30pm we all got on the bus and started the long journey back to Queenstown. Sleeping most of the way it was a long but but very worth it!
Living in Sydney you get 45 degree summers and 15 degree winters, so snow was a concept I could never fathom. I promised myself that if I had the opportunity i'd visit the snow while in New Zealand. We have two days off and I convinced myself it was a good idea... Waking up at 7am to be down the at the ski rental shop by 7:15am practically in my pjs I arrived and got fitted. It was fairly expensive but lasted all day, included a lift pass, 2 lessons, equipment hire and the return bus from Queenstown. Costing around $220 it was a big decision as that was almost 1/4 of my budget. Once fitted I was going to go home and get some breakfast and shower, the rental owner had other ideas. Long story short after a small discussion convincing him to let me go back home I found myself on the bus to Coronet Peak at 7:45am. Mind you we only get home at 2am that morning so today was going to be an uphill battle.
Arriving at 8:20am I had two hours before my lesson. Feeling like a walking sumo wrestler I waddled up the stairs to get some breakfast from the restaurant. It was fairly expensive so if you want to eat while your up on the slopes I'd suggest to pack lunch. A locker is $10 for the day and fits a lot! After consuming what was a massive breakfast I waddled my way downstairs to my lesson. I have never seen snow let alone tried to ski so my expectations were very very low. The lesson started, I was honestly the worst beginner the instructor had every seen. He thought it was a great idea not to teach us how to brake first but how to ski down a hill. So thats exactly what I did, slide down the hill for about 20 minutes I couldn't get the hang of it and it was frustrating me to the point where I wanted to throw the towel in after 30 minutes... I persevered and thankfully after about an hour I was able to stay stationary for longer then 3 seconds... The instructors come from all over the world so it's a great way to learn how to ski/ snowboard as they are experience various conditions and all have different things that work for them.
I had a friend join me for half the day, after my first lesson I was pretty confident with the mentality I was invincible because I went from the bottom on the class to the top. So when he suggested we hit the harder slopes I thought that was a great idea. If anyone knows me well most of my great ideas don't end well... I went from the beginner slopes which is maybe 25m basically straight when a slight dip to the intermediate slopes made for skiers that have a few days or more experience. Once we took the lift up it was very high. That was the point I realised I had my work cut out for me. We went down the first curve and I was going too fast for my liking and instead of braking like I was thought how to 45 minutes before I jumped forwarded and face planted into the snow, nice one... Once I reattached my ski's I was convinced I could complete the rest of the slope even though i'd completed about 10 m by that point.
I managed to control my speed a lot more once getting up and managed to complete the 150m slope. It was an unreal feeling gliding down the mountain and going in and out of other people. Consequently I convinced my friend to do it another 3 times. I didn't fall again and was basically a professional skier by the end of the day. I was so proud of myself for not giving up in the beginning when I thought it was too hard. After a very quick lunch I went back to my second lesson, I learned how to parallel ski and ski backwards. I wasn't brave enough to try them on the bigger slopes so I went up and down the learner slopes for the rest of the afternoon.
Taking a bus home around 4pm, we got some dinner with topdeck and basically crashed due to a food coma and the fact that both Kassia and I had massive days. We have to be up at 5am for our trip to Milford Sound so it's a good idea to get some sleep.
Today we had a free day in Queenstown, most of the group did activities like bungee jumping, sky driving, jet boat, scenic helicopter rides as well as other adrenaline activities. I opted for the more relaxing approach with a bike ride around the gardens, stuffing my face with crepes and churros and doing a bit of shopping. All activities aren't including in our top deck and have to be purchased at an extra cost. Most of the activities range from $140 - 500. All are organised through our top leader so there is no hassle for us.
To hire a bike i'd say is the best way to see Queenstown. It's not very big but is a lot more enjoyable and allows you to see more places as you can travel further on a bike. There is all year around bike hire from $23.80 - over $55 depending on how long you want to hire the bike for. They come with a helmet and protective gear for free. We enjoyed our 1.5 hour ride around the gardens and up the surrounds residential paths along the lake. The lake itself stretches for miles. it will take 45 minutes to ride to Frankton which is a town along the lake.
Eating around Queenstown can prove to be a little bit expensive. There are a few cheap places to eat but if you're eating out all the time you can rack up a fairly expensive bill. We decided to treat ourselves (not our bank accounts) to churros and crepes. Both roughly around $15 a plate but totally worth it. Defiantly have to try it if you're ever in Queenstown, its located across from the country road and Louis Vuitton shop along the lake.
Tomorrow we are hitting the slopes (beginner slopes) for some skiing and snowboarding. I will be sure to write up everything and tell you all about it!
We had an early rise this morning to some soggy weetbix and milk. We headed off from our hostel in Fox glacier at 8am to take the hike to the bottom of the Fox Glacier. It was a freezing start but once we started the 1 hour return hike we warmed up quite quickly. The hike itself was so picturesque. Surrounded by mountains and the river it was a great experience. We are currently in a cafe getting some lunch before driving 5 hours down to queenstown. We are so excited to get a FERG burger for dinner and do some exploring. In Queenstown we had the choice of doing adrenaline sports, apart from costing a weeks wage I am going to hit the slopes and learn how to snow board. I've heard its fairly difficult so i'm going to make sure my insurance is up to date and that i'll be covered in case this traveller takes to the trees instead.
Good evening Queenstown! We arrived just after 6:30pm local time, as its winter it's dark already so we can't do too much exploring with a camera tonight. We are going to head out to the famous Ferg Burger in town for some dinner and then get a few drinks around town. We were driving for 6 hours today so being on land is great. Experiencing a bit of car sickness and a few grazes from a little fall earlier (the camera survived, so that's all that matters) we are all set up in our cozy room. Queenstown hosts some say over 200 activities so tomorrow we are going to put that to the test. After a long day of sight seeing its going to be a good night sleep before a big day tomorrow. You can check out kassia's pre and post skydiving experience on my instagram story as well as what we get up to exploring.
What a day, we nearly missed our bus because one of our alarms this morning didn't go off. The day was off to a good start. We arrived at breakfree hostel where the bus was picking us up from at 7am. Departing shortly after, Kassia and I marked our names off and hopped onto the bus for the 45 minute drive to springfield. Home to a massive donut replica from The Simpsons it was a cute little stop in another quiet town before taking the long journey to eventually end up in fox glacier.
We stopped for morning tea at a rest station. During our drive throughout the day we sat mesmerised by the scenery New Zealand has to offer. I have never seen snow and to be able to see frost on the roads and snow on the mountain peeks is such a rare treat. We then continued onto Arthurs Pass National Park for a quick photo (check my instagram) and then continued onto Hokitika for lunch. Couldn't go past some fish and chips and a walk along the coast line. After lunch we continued our journey further down to Fox Glacier.
Fox Glacier is home to MT Cook as well as other mountain tops that are breath taking to watch. We had a small hike to the jetty viewpoint on Lake Matherson. The weather held off long enough for us to see the sunset over the water with almost crystal clear reflective views. After seeing a couple more view points we arrived at our hostel. It's a cute little place to stay located in the small town centre. I think we pretty much take up the whole hostel... After dinner we had a walk down to see glow worms in the national park. A great experience for me as i've never seen them before!
After enjoying some mulled wine we find ourselves in bed, warm enough ready to get some sleep for day two.
Tomorrow we venture onto the Glacier with a hike to the bottom of the glacier eye. We are really tired and going to need to sleep for tomorrows adventures!