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Kiwi come, kiwi go, kiwi stay by the looks of it!

Queenstown to Auckland Day 194 - 206

rain 14 °C
View World Wide Wander on millfred's travel map.

Chess score = Brazil 6 England 0 (Typical)
Weight of scroggin' mix (nuts, raisins, chocolate raisins and peanuts, chocolate buttons, smarties) consumed = 4kg
No. of meal breaks on the Franz Josef to Nelson bus journey (10 hours) = 6
No. of kiwi fruit for the equivalent of a pound = 15

After our day in Milford which was the highlight of our NZ adventure so far (did we mention the all you can eat buffet on board the cruise ship?) we decided to hotfoot it up to Franz Josef Glacier on the west coast of the sound island mainly because of the fear that we’d spend the rest of our budget on shotski’s (four shots of suspended in one ski)! We we’re joined on our bus journey and subsequent night-time glow worm hunt by brazilian chess wizard Felipe. The next day we tramped up to the foot of the glacier all the while amusing ourselves with the 20 questions Animal game (scraping the barrel, I know, but our lanky brazilian compadre is a vet so it seemed apt). Its was a great site even without shelling out for the guided tour.
After a strenuous days hiking I thought I (Richard) would laud it up in the Sauna that was advertised by our hostel as a bonus freebie. However instead of a steaming paradise I ended up sweating for 45 mins in what resembled a garden shed with a couple of electric heaters strapped to the walls. (I couldn’t duck out of it after committing the manager to set it up for me!)

A longer bus journey awaited the three of us (Felipe in tow) the following day as we wound our way north to Nelson. What could have been 5 hours turned out to be 10 due to the insistence of the bus company to provide their drivers with a meal break every 40 mins. Its was like we were on a Café tour (most of which had a hunting theme to Pauline’s dismay) that also happened to take us to our destination. This would have been right up my street if I could afford it or hadn’t just pilfered half the items on the hostels free food shelf! To top it all our hyperactive driver (think Danny Devito in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest) and his high pitched, village idiot, sidekick sitting behind him wouldn’t stop telling grandad jokes all the way. I had to restrain Pauline who turned to me with death in her eyes and commented ‘I think I might murder him’.

After all that the city of Nelson turned out to be a nice, chilled out stop. We checked in to ‘The Palace’ hostel (bit of a contradiction in terms maybe, but one of the best we’ve had) and were immediately offered the owner’s car to take on a day tour for free, even though we hadn’t yet paid for our room! This amused Felipe no end. We therefore hopped in the old Nissan estate the following morning (complete with our Portuguese linguist and another English traveller – Gurnam - who we hunted down after meeting her on the bus) and drove to the Abel Tasman National Park to walk the much hyped coastal track. After witnessing 3 hours of torrential rain we turned back.
We thought we’d make up for the disappointment by getting a few free tasting sessions in at the area’s famous wineries but they we’re all closed. In the end we had to settle for a self made beer tasting in a local pub (I’m trying to make it sound better than going for a quiet drink alright!)

An early morning start took us back to the North Island and the capital Wellington on the ferry.
Here we said our goodbyes to the kiwi fruit guzzling samba star. We spent an afternoon nurturing our minds at the vast museum as well as getting to know two old ladies after chancing upon an event where you had to hold hands with a stranger and chat whilst a blob of plaster hardened in between your paws. DSC_0054.jpg
Strange I know but it’ll all be part of an exhibition in a few weeks so we couldn’t resist leaving our mark here.

Heading north on the North Island we entered our next destination of Lake Taupo (an ancient Super volcano caldera) for one reason alone. Bungy. I decided to throw myself off a 47m high platform the next day and I definitely don’t regret it. It’s worth pointing out that I picked this site over the more famous Queenstown jump because I had a voucher for 30% off (my ma would be proud) but found it to be a more picturesque location anyway. Not that you notice on the way down. I did have another jumping with me, although it wasn't Pauline but her soft toy travelling companion Boss strapped to my arm!

We’re now in back in Auckland and stuck because of some volcano erupting in Chile so the next blog might be all about supermarket arguments and hostel gripes. What’s that? Can’t wait. Until then folks.

Posted by millfred 14:54 Archived in New Zealand

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Wonderful stuff! This brings back memories for us. Milford Sound was ahighight for us too, NZ is stunning stunning stunning stunning, a real live lord of the rings set! We were there in winter too and so crisp and beautiful!

by Tamara Sayers

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