Sunday, 9 June 2013

South Island Adventures with my best mate! (Dolphins, mountains and Ferg Burgers!)

Me & Jen in Queenstown
Wow! What a crazy 10 weeks: with holidays in Vietnam, my parents visiting for over a month, and then the final installment - My best and one of my oldest friends Jen arriving in town! She's only been here just over a week with me, and is now currently shaking up the North Island, but it's already been quite the adventure! 
My next post will be that year review, but after exploring some of the most stunning scenery NZ has to offer this week, I felt like I just had to share the adventure! 

So having a weekend to recover from some emotional goodbyes with the folks, was just about enough time to get prepared for Jen's visit. Me and Jen were at primary school together, became best mates in our teens and have have lived through each others ups and downs, and funny relationship / dating stories ever since! Jen's family are also like a second family to me, and have been feeding me 'pasty & beans' on a Saturday morning for years! (Which are sadly missed here in NZ).

Jen quickly made herself at home, (in a good way) from day one, and our first big night out didn't even wait for the weekend, as we hit the tastiest restaurant in town 'Ombra' for food and drink with Tibo, before ending up in the dodgy and always empty Fringe Bar for some karaoke! The only problem was that Jen (who can actually sing amazingly well), and a stray we picked up called Glen set the bar too high. I normally hate singing karaoke with people who could do it professionally, but I have no such feeling with Jen, and so I quickly brought the quality back down to earth (where it should be for karaoke), but did it with a smile on my face! My flatmate Tibo watched on with a funny look on his face, somewhere between confusion and pity I think!
The main event was always going to be the 4 day trip (which turned out to be 5 days) to the South Island and Queenstown - the views did not disappoint!
First views of Queenstown.
Once we found a little room in a hostel, we went straight up the mountain via a very steep cable car, and took in 'THE POSTCARD VIEWS OF QUEENSTOWN'.

It was almost impossible to think how the day could get much better, with the stunning views, and being with my bets mate in this kind of setting, yet there was an added bonus on the first day. A friend and fellow OT Paula (who made an appearance in the very first week of this blog back in 2011), was randomly in Queenstown! Paula took us to a nice little bar, and whilst she is quite modest, I have to say I am always amazed when I listen to what Paula gets up to... sailing her boat, tramping (hiking to the rest of us), swinging through canyons, kayaking and anything else that requires some superhuman effort! (Sorry for embarrassing you Paula). Can't wait to go sailing with her at some point!
Me & Paula
The first evening was pretty eventful too, as we were joined by our lovely German room mate Kristin, who had been working as an au-pair in the north Island for 9 months. After a gorgeous dinner, we found a bar for a drink that actually had some people in, the only problem, they were having a fluorescent night, and I got a bit overexcited!
Me & Jen at the fluorescent night
The less said the better, as it just rained, and rained a bit more, then rained a bit more. Making what should have been a spectacular drive to Te Anau, we could barely see a mountain as they were covered in cloud. Arrowtown's highlight was definitely the old world sweet shop with these funny named choclate bars:
We did end the day in Te Anau watching a movie in a tiny little cinema, the movie being 'Song for Marion' - it was a real tear jerker, and beautifully written and acted.

With the road to the world famous Milford Sounds closed, we took the option of exploring another one of the stunningly beautiful sounds, called Doubtful - so named as Captain Cook was 'doubtful' that his ship could get out of the sounds if they entered it.
Doubtful Sounds
Doubtful Sounds
Don't miss the video of the dolphins below!

Doubtful Sounds
Doubtful Sounds
After warming up and driving back to Queenstown we met up with Kristin again and headed to the famour "FERG'S GURGER BAR' and let me tell you it was well worth it! We ere starving and it certainly filled the gap. A dessert at the bakery next foor followed by $5 (£2.50) glasses of pino gris wine by a log fire in a pool bar, just added the perfect touch to a amazing day!
Kristin, Me & Jen having a Ferg's burger
After a reasonable sleep in, and gorgeous breakfast we decided that rather than try and head to Wanaka,  we would enjoy the adventurous activities that Queenstown is famous for! Our first stop was the 'shot over' jet boat, which as you can see from the video and pictures below, was a high speed jet boat, through some a shallow river and some narrow gorges! The driver likes to spin the boat around and soak everybody for fun too!
The next serious piece of adventure was not caught on camera, but involved me jumping off a bridge over a very fast moving river on the original bungy jump in New Zealand! The pictures are on Jen's camera and will no doubt appear on here at some point, but the point is that I felt like I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could do the bungy jump that I did for the first time 11 years previously! I did manage it and loved experiencing that sense of free-fall  again!
Before heading off for the airport and what turned into a seriously challenging flight back to Wellington, we took in some final sights, see below!
Sunny days in Queenstown!
Me in Queenstown!
As we boarded the plane to fly back to Wellington, via Auckland, we thought we'd left the adventure behind us. However, after leaving Auckland (late) at 21:00 on Tuesday night, we knew the approach to Wellington would be rough,  due to strong winds and bad weather... what we didn't expect was 3, YES 3, FAILED ATTEMPTS TO LAND, and a return to Auckland at 23:00hrs! We were put up in a hotel for 4 hors sleep, before waking at 04:30 to get the 06:00 flight to wellington, which allowed me to get into work just ten minutes late! Needless to say I was pretty tired for the rest of the week.
Still, most importantly, we finally landed in Wellington safely, and in one piece!

Regards from a beautiful New Zealand.

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