A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand - Canyon Swing

Even my shit was scared!

all seasons in one day 14 °C

I seem to be on a right role with the blogs from New Zealand but there is so much to do and therefore alot to report back.

We were back in Queenstown for an overnighter en route to Fox Glacier and also to see if MBNA had managed to send my card through. There had been no delivery at the hostel so I gave them a call to discover that it had actually be sent to Queensland Australia and not Queenstown New Zealand - easy mistake I suppose..? So we're back to square one but after many apologies I was assured that my request would be handled with the upmost urgency.... we'll see.

So what to do, we had an afternoon in Queenstown to kill so I decided to satisfy the adrenalin junkie hiding deep inside in me with something thrilling. Bungy jump? Jetboating? Nah.. there was a new kid in town - The Canyon Swing.

I signed myself up for a 3pm jump and after a short bus ride out of Queenstown with 7 other equally nervous looking people we arrived at the world highest Canyon Swing. Standing at 109 meters it involves throwing yourself off a edge of a cliff into a Canyon in whichever style you feel most comfortable. There is a initial 60 meter freefall before the cables kick in and then you start a 200 meter swing over a canyon at speeds of 150 kph.

I was the third person to jump from our group and was feeling pretty good about it. The first person popped off the edge no problems but the guy before me just froze and stayed on the edge for ages before he eventually went. Then it was my turn, the guys who run it are really funny and have abit of banter with you as they do the final checks and get you cabled up. Then your lead to the very edge and given the Ok to jump. I had decided to go off forwards which I don't know whether was a good or bad strategy but I figured if I'm going to throw myself down a Canyon I may as well have a good view of it.

The trick is not to think about it so as soon as I got the Ok I just went for it and chucked myself off. It was all over pretty quickly but the feeling was amazing. It felt just like I had thrown myself off a cliff and was falling towards the ground pretty bloody fast. The different between a Canyon Swing and a Bungy is that you don't feel the mechanism kick in after the freefall so it isn't until you feel yourself swinging outwards in a giant arc as apposed to just falling straight down that you know it's done it's job.

The Canyon Swing

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After I had finished swinging and was winched to safety I went to check out the photo's and DVD they take during your swing but was too alarmed at how much I was balding to part with $55 as a constant reminder.

All in all I was well chuffed I challenged myself and did it and I dare say I went to bed that night with abit of a satisfied grin on my face.

Posted by greggers 21:35 Archived in New Zealand Comments (2)

New Zealand - Milford Sound

Truly awesome scenery.

all seasons in one day 17 °C

So we headed over to Tu Anau to check out this Milford Sound place everyone has been banging on about. We had heard alot about walking the Milford Track which is a 4 day, 53.5 km walk often described as one of the finest walks in the world - we had alot of chocolate & beer to work off so why not..? Well - we soon discovered we were 3 months too late to get a booking, it appears we weren't the only ones who had caught onto this idea so we had to settle for doing Milford lazy-boy style courtesy of a cruise.

There is no denying that it really is spectacular and completely worthy of its reputation as we admired the views from the warmth and comfort of our little boat.

It is essentially a 22km long fiord which is dominated by sheer weather scuffed cliffs and peaks, the highest being an almighty 1,692 m high.

We stayed in close by Tu Anau for easy access to Milford. It was a hardcore walkers kind of place filled with the types who have all manner of equipment clanging off the back of their backpacks - I felt abit amateur in comparison.

I'll let the photo's do the talking.

Milford Sound

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Milford Sound's highest waterfall

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Milford's first Post Office

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Our next stop - Fox Glacier

Posted by greggers 01:50 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

New Zealand - Roadtrippin'

Invercargill, The Catlins & Dunedin

all seasons in one day 16 °C

We had a brainwave, instead of paying a fortune to take the bus to our next stop Dunedin we discovered that some car rental companies need cars moving from one town to another i.e Queenstown to Dunedin for really cheap rates and so our road trip was born.

We headed initially down to the very south of the South Island - Invercargill from which we would drive the coastal road through The Catlins to our final destination of Dunedin. Driving in New Zealand is so easy, there is hardly any other traffic, all the roads have 100 km speed limits so its a case of pointing the nose in the right direction and sitting pretty. Ofcourse, no road trip is complete without a soundtrack and this is where we fell short. The car had the worst radio ever which just refused to pick up any signal despite our constant efforts but more about that later.

Invercargill

We arrived in Invercargill without any real expectations and that was a good thing as there is literally absolutely nothing to do at all. We checked into a nice hostel (about the only thing going for it) and headed to the tourist information centre with the expectation of being dazzled with a list of "must see's" - no such luck. The highlight of our afternoon was chancing upon a music shop on Invercargill High St where we raided the bargain bucket and walked out rather, worryingly with Destiny's Child - all 16 Hit Singles...? Accepting that Invercargill was dull by foot we drove down to the most southerly point of the South Island just because we could really which was Ok. I'm pretty sure Invercargill has an 8pm curfew that we weren't briefed about, as we ventured out that evening in the hope of a few beers and the place was deserted - just like that film 28 days later. We ended up in the local multiplex watching Jackass 2 followed by an early night.

Most southern point of the South Island

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We checked out the following morning and armed with Beyonce and the girls headed for The Catlins coastal road en route to Dunedin. In a complete twist of irony it ended up taking us 45 mins to get out of Invercargill (and I wasn't even map reading)

The Catlins

We had a great day driving The Catlins and taking in the awesome scenery. There are about 8 or 9 suggested tourist spots to visit along the way including small secluded beaches popular with Sealions, numerous bays and ever popular rock formations. It was a pretty long day on the road and to honest we both got abit sick of listening to the same 16 Destiny Child tracks despite putting the CD on random hoping that the change of track order would help - it didn't.

Sealions at The Catlins

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Dunedin

Dunedin, the South Islands second largest city after Christchurch brought hope of some action and didn't let us down - I really liked it.

It poured down the whole of our first day but fear not we had a chocolate and beer extravaganza planned. Dunedin is home to both Cadbury World and Speight's brewery which both run very agreeable tours to cater for the hungry and thirsty backpacker community - the promise of free chocolate & beer - where do we sign?

We kicked off with Cadbury World a proper Charlie and The Chocolate Factory experience. We saw huge vats of steaming chocolate, easter eggs being moulded and chocolate bars flying in all manner of directions on conveyor belts. Free chocolate was hanged out at regular intervals so we concluded the tour with our little plastic bags full to bursting.

Speight's Brewery was a similar affair (in the sense that it was also a tour) One of the largest independent breweries in New Zealand and "Pride of the South" We were shown round by a very charismatic fella who looked like he had enjoyed a few Speight's in his time for an hours long insight to the brewing process. This was all well and good but the real deal breaker of the Speight's tour is a visit to the tasting room - and boy were we thirsty after all that chocolate. To cut a long story short and with little surprise we both discovered that Speight's was pretty awesome stuff and our short teasing taster session was followed by an evening in the Speight's pub next door getting pretty familiar with the bottom of empty pint classes.

Getting stuck in at Speight's

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Excellent news - Speight's doesn't give you a hangover so we were up bright as buttons the next morning for our Eco-Tour of the Peninsula. First stop - Royal Albatross which I was surprised to learn was a bird and not a pig liked animal... They look like really big sea gulls and to give you some perspective as to size they can be up to 1.8 meters from beak to the tip of their tail and have a wing span of over 3 meters - impressive stuff. We piled back in the bus and headed for a private nature reserve where we got up close and personal with wild sealions and seals on the beach. The sealions where all sleeping so they didn't provide too much action but the seals did plenty of things that made us all go Aahhhh. The highlight in my opinion though were the yellow eyed penguins. Just was the sun is going down they all come in from the sea to kip in the nests they have made on the banks of beach. They are very shy creatures but if you keep really still they can get pretty close as they wander past.

Yellow eyed Penguins

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Seals

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Our next stop - Milford Sound

Posted by greggers 01:26 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

New Zealand - Queenstown

Walking and being puzzled.

all seasons in one day 14 °C

Ok - so we've made it to Queenstown but only just. We had a connecting flight from Christchurch to Queenstown and were given 1 hour to clear immigration, collect our bags, walk the entire length of Christchurch airport, stand in the wrong queue for 10 mins, stand in another wrong queue for a further 10 mins before we were rescued by a rather flustered member of the Qantas floor staff who bundled us onto our plane. All this excitement and we hadn't even left the airport...we're gonna like New Zealand.

We checked into our hostel which is run by a cat called Thomas. I kid you not it's called Thomas's Hostel and Thomas is a rather knackered looking old cat who wears a cravat and runs the hostel via telekinetic's. We headed out for a quick mosey, the hostel was right on the bank of a massive lake and surrounded by mountains it has a real Ski resort feel to it and it also feels abit like being in Scotland but we're at the other side of the world.... We returned to discover we were sharing a dorm with a young American girl (Andrea) who was like Uber "oh my god" "that's sooo totally awesome" American and an older Kiwi guy who was pissed (it was 6pm) So we all headed out for drinks, Andrea kept on getting shushed by fellow patrons as she had the loudest voice in the world ever and the Kiwi guy got more and more drunk. Then the Kiwi guy (we never knew his name) had a massive go at Andrea for being so American and then he passed out and we went to a Halloween party.

The following day we decided that climbing a mountain would be the perfect hangover cure so off we set after a hearty Subway lunch. The mountain was only an hours walk but it was hard going so we were relieved to reach the top and rest our feet. The views from the top were amazing I really am totally impressed with the scenery New Zealand has to offer - very Lord of the Rings. We discovered you could take a cable car to the very top of the mountain and then take these little Go-Cart style cars called Luge's down again. The Luge's were wicked, on your first run you had to do the scenic route down which was pretty good but after you have proved you are capable of steering a little car down a hill you could take the advanced route so we caned it down there a few more times proper boy racer stylie.

Worth a stroll up a hill for.

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We climbed Queenstown Hill the following day which was pretty much the same set-up as the previous day. Alot of panting, glugging of water and a decent set Subway sweats later we reached the top, took even more photo's but no Luge's on the way down this time. I am waiting for MBNA to send me a new credit card which is why I we have been doing alot of walking (it's free) and not throwing ourselves off cliffs and canyons (MBNA need to finance that) so we decided to head over to nearby Wanaka for a few days whilst MBNA where dispatching my card.

I do own more than 1 T-Shirt..honestly!

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Not sure what this is but thought it looked cool

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Wanaka - (not to be confused with Wanka)

We stayed in a hostel recommended by our Irish mates from Melbourne - it was by far the best place we've stayed in on our travels. Our first day in Wanaka was spent at Puzzling World, Wanaka's premiere tourist attraction. Puzzling World is home of the worlds biggest maze which we spent about 90 mins trying to get out of and also has a series of trippy themed illusion rooms. The highlights where one room which felt like it was on a tilt but it wasn't so as you walked in you got all disorientated and nearly fell over. It was a really bizarre feeling and you could do strange things like play pool uphill. There was also a room which when you looked through the window it was totally normal but when you went inside one side was really small and you banged your head (ever Mark did) and the other side was massive. And there was this freaky wall of famous peoples faces which followed you as walked past. So we had alot of fun being totally puzzled by Puzzling World.

Hope this is covered by my travel insurance..

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A little privacy - please!

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Mark getting freaked out

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We did another walk on our second day in Wanka - seriously though the scenery is so good that although it may sound boring just waking up and down hills all day it is actually really good - honestly! We got really lost on our way back and ended up in a tiny town called Albert Town (Pop: 13) but then we found Lake Wanaka again so we walked all the way round the lake which took about 4 hours to get back to our digs.

We went back to Queenstown to discover that my MBNA card still hadn't arrived so decided to do a road trip for a few days until it arrives.

Our next stop - Dunedin via Invercargill and The Catlins.

Posted by greggers 21:21 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Australia - Sydney (again)

Manly, Darling Harbour & Bondi.

semi-overcast 19 °C

So were back in Sydney after knocking around Melbourne for a while freezing our neenies off. It's a pretty long slog getting from Melbourne to Sydney (12 hour bus ride) so we decided to take the night bus so we didn't waste a full day travelling and also, more importantly, we are so poor travelling overnight meant we saved $24 on a dorm bed. The journey was abit painful to be honest, I got a major case of the fidgets so didn't get much sleep and the driver put on a DVD which turned out to be the shittest (sorry Mum) film ever made ever about time travel. We guessed the plot after the first 5 mins and our version was so much better. I did finish my book about the couple who set up Lonely Planet - now I want to be a travel writer.

Buskers at Central Station

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Anywho, we arrived in Sydney feeling abit tired and got the ferry across to Manly to catch some rays on the beach. Apparently it hasn't gone unnoticed that I haven't got a very good tan - better put that right. We had a right rigmarole getting booked into a hostel but eventually got a bed and our dreams of catching abit of sleep shattered courtesy of a moody french bird banging her tunes out. So we hit the beach and spent the afternoon shivering (still no tan) and watching the surfers.

Opera House from the ferry

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The following day we had to move hostels so we packed up our worldly belonging again and trotted across the road. We were issued keys to the dorm from hell - I swear to god I have never in all my life seen such a shit-tip not even after 3 months in SE Asia. It wasn't that the room itself was that bad it was the sheer state the people staying in there had got it. The whole room was like that well mingin' toilet from Trainspotting. I promptly had what can only be described as an emotional meltdown and refused to stay there so we went down to reception and the nice girl from the desk came to see what all the fuss was about. She nearly passed out from the stench and agreed to put us a different room with a lovely german couple so we were all happy again.

Manly is a pretty cool little surfing town and the hostel turned out to be a real good un'. It had a great communal area so we met loads of people and had some decent nights out one which resulted in Mark being asked to leave as he was "overly intoxicated" something he is immensely proud of. We played alot of Daytona USA (an old racing video game) I only mention this because I was totally awesome at it and kept on beating Mark who is good at everything.

Sunday morning in Sydney

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Time to move back to the city for our last few days. We got totally soaked sitting at the front of the ferry. One of the guys working on the ferry did warn us and we were like "yeah whatever" cue a massive wave that soaked us. We spent our first day exploring Darling Harbour which happened to be hosting the International Australian Motor Show so we popped in and admired very shiny, expensive cars for the afternoon. There were also numerous cool hot-hatches there which we did alot of sitting in and I am now frantically trying to justify a purchase to myself.

My next purchase

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In my dreams

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Today we went to Bondi Beach just to say that we had been, twas Ok but neither of us were that impressed. There were some cool skateboarders doing crazing tricks, I tried to take some photo's but they didn't come out too well.

So the end of our Australian adventure beckons. After a ropey start (mainly due to the culture shock after Asia) it has really grown on me. We have visited some top-notch cities, seen some stunning scenery and discovered goon.

And then to New Zealand

Posted by greggers 00:25 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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