14.06.2010 - 24.06.2010 4 °C
We arrived in Christchurch with absolutely no warm clothes whatsoever, which was marvellous considering it was midnight, approximately 5 degrees and pissing it down with rain. Luckily our hostel wasn't too far and the next day was a lot brighter. We had been warned that Christchurch was dull so were thrilled that we had two days to fill before our Kiwi Experience started. However, we must be a bit dull as well as we really enjoyed our time there. Almost as soon as we left our hostel the next day, we were told that we were 'pretty fine' by two 10-year olds on bikes (and we actually mean children this time). To make ourselves feel at home, we went for Thai for our first lunch and then stumbled across possibly the best charity shop in the world. Laura could barely contain her glee as she ran around piling on jumpers keen not to miss anything. Donna had to work hard dragging her away from the kimono section, the children's section and the $5 sock section. We narrowed ourselves down to three warm jumpers and a scarf each and thoroughly entertained the lady working there by trying everything on at least twice, leaving already wearing almost everything we had bought. Our puchases included some fantastic matching lumberjack jackets which we have since decided will not be staying in NZ as per the original plan but travelling the world with us.
After cooking another amazing feast for ourselves, we stumbled across free beer and pizza in our hostel. We were thrilled, especially when we were asked to keep the 'party table' free, apparently we were the only ones who did want to party anyway. After a messy night at Base, we went for drunken munchies at McDonalds only to bump into Medhi from Fraser Island. Laura however was convinced that he was in fact Vincent, the only other French guy we've met on our travels and both Donna and Medhi had to work hard to convince Laura otherwise. Photos have suggested that Laura pranced the whole way home choosing to swing herself around any large pole she could find.
The following day, we went to the Botanical Gardens, as always, and Donna forcing Laura to go and investigate the punting claiming that she could almost definitely do it better than the professionals we could see. We then went in search of 'Science Alive!'. After a ridiculously long walk, we were told that it closed in an hour and it probably wasn't worth going in, much to Laura's disappointment after she discovered there was glow in the dark miniature golf. Since then, she's been desparately trying to find a way to spend an extra day in Christchurch so we could go back. Much to her dismay, this did not happen. That evening we were led to a tiny bar off a side street with our hostel for the best free barbeque we've experienced. The bar was run by a hilarious Asian family who spent all night on the karaoke. We did not join in.
We were up bright and early the next day for our first Kiwi Experience bus. Nervous about the group after Fraser Island, we kept reminding ourselves that we could always stay an extra day to get another bus if they were boring. How wrong we were. What followed was a truly incredible couple of weeks with 'the family'. Once on board, clueless about how the Kiwi Experience works, we were told that we would be going to Kaikoura first. The available activities were whale watching, dolphin watching, dolphin swimming and seal watching. We decided that having seen dolphins in Australia, we would go for the whale watching. Laura asked Donna in jest, how annoyed she would be if she really badly wanted to do the seal watching, considering we were only in Kaikoura for a day and could only do one. Donna replied that if she really wanted to do that, of course they could, although she would probably recommend seeing the seals in Norfolk instead. The sign-up sheet got to us and we were greeted by a $160 price tag for the whale watching. Seals were free. We have now seen more seals than we ever need to and Laura will not be making the trip in Norfolk. She was however thrilled to see one throw up right in front of her...and less keen to see that the seal was probably slowly knocking on death's door. Donna was happy to watch the seals from the safe space on the bench when Lozzy Dolittle ran off to take a picture of a massive group of seals. She soon ran back fearing death by seal as one was hidden in a bush behind and screamed at her to piss off.
That evening there was a pub quiz, which no one in our room was going to...we were not feeling hopeful about the group. We went for a fish and chip dinner and stumbled across some people from our bus, one of them a really friendly guy called Luke we had already spoken to at our pie stop earlier. This is where we met Julie, an essential member of the family, soon to be Laura's bungy buddy. We all went off to the pub quiz run by Pommie Mike and the Lucious Lisa and were soon in a team called the Spunky Whales and Luke confessing that he found it hard not to remember we were not the lads from London and quickly shattering our illusions that he was a nice boy, breaking the ice and allowing the true Laura to emerge. Pommie Mike was a raging pervert, and despite his 40-something years could not give up trying it on with an 18-year old birthday girl. May we add that there was a round specifically dedicated in Pommie Mike's sex life.
On the next bus, Luke dragged us to the back instantly solidifying our place as the cool loud kids on the bus. Our next stop was at a brewery in Nelson for wine and schnapps tasting. We were thrilled that it only cost $2, and we managed to get a free glass of wine when the woman in the shop saw us eyeing up glasses that had not been finished by other members of the group. Laura also bagged herself a free t-shirt by whining until it was hers and we didn't pay for the shots. We all left in high spirits. This all changed once we arrived at Nelson and quickly started on the walk to the Centre of New Zealand with the rest of the family. You'd think after Bokor we would be used to uphill but all it has done is convince us we never want to go anywhere with an incline again. We were not impressed by the walk to the centre. The two new members of the family, Totes and Charlotte, ran off ahead and weren't keen to be in any of our pictures. On the way down we confessed we didn't like them...we did already warn you about this girls if you're reading, we adore you now. Charlotte has even made it onto Laura's top five travelling buddies (Totes didn't), yes she is giggling away at this now. In typical Kiwi Experience style, once we arrived at the hostel we were told about a dinner deal which was too good to resist. Everyone in the family agreed and we guiltily ate our way through a lamb roast dinner and chocolate cake pudding. For Laura this also included an entire bowl of seafood chowder as she couldn't bear to see it go to waste.
Our next stop was Westport, if AIDS was a town, Westport would be it. Even the guidebook described it as dingy. Indeed it was. Most people went off to do activites (again costing them around $5000 each) while we along with Dave indulged in a free beer tasting. This was the night of the first family dinner cooked by Dave and Jules and was amazing. We all then went to Steve, our bus driver's house, to watch two rugby games. During the game we first got chatting to the London boys with Laura introducing herself to Clarky by trying to pickpocket him which he did not enjoy causing him to declare that he would hit a woman. Undeterred Laura continued and was soon labelled Jo Brand on account of her dry emotionless sense of humour. This name has stuck.
The next day we stopped off at Cape Foul Wind for a coastal walk, Steve would meet us down the road with the bus. It was only half an hour, but felt like the longest walk of our lives. Once we got back to the bus, not a single part of our bodies were dry including the only jeans we'd brought with us and most of our jumpers even down to Laura's underwear. What followed was a massive changing session on the bus as everyone struggled our of their wet clothes and into anything dry they could find. We were not pleased with Steve who seemed to find the entire situation hilarious but were pleased as we had been told we would be staying in a hotel that night...plenty of opportunity to dry our clothes. Again, another hilarious joke on Steve's part. We were staying in the infamous Poo Pub which was dedicated to the Kiwi Experience. The rooms were very smelly cabins and the showers were outside. It is also literally in the middle of nowhere. All there was to do was to get drunk especially considering the weather and everyone got on it at 5pm. The only good thing was the dinner we got served, steak and venison stew...absolutely amazing. The theme of our fancy dress party was 'tight and bright'...everyone (the cool kids of course) made a fantastic effort and outfits included a giant babygrow, teenage mutant ninja turtle, a lot of men dressed as women, a guy in just an apron and a male fairy. This prompted the names babygrow, turtle and apron to stick, we've only just learned their proper names. Drunkeness and stupid games ensued. When we were finally thrown out of the pub and were walking back to our dorm we found the London boys running out of their room screaming as Charlotte and Luke who had disappeared 'to get an apple' were getting intimate in their room. When we got back to our room, a very drunken Dave, who had unsuccessfully tried it on with any female in sight (aging barmaid included), angrily demanded of us and Julie 'why is it that girls only go for bad boys?'. We then listed all our boyfriends declaring them all to be lovely (apart from Christian).
The next day we went to Franz Josef where we would be doing our glacier hike. By this point it felt as if we'd all know each other for years. We took full advantage over the next two days of the hostel's free 20 person hot tub although both of us following the previous night steered clear of any seat next to Dave which Julie noticed and found hilarious. We had been warned in Sydney that we would not be able to handle the glacier hike after our complaints about Cambodia and so were a little worried. Walking up to the glacier, we were told that our very big group would be spilt into 4 smaller groups based on ability. The girls saw ourselves as either group 2- or 3+ and decided to go into group 2. Somehow Julie ended up in group 1 with the boys as she was sharing lunch with Luke and refused to leave and it became clear that group 1 were short of 4 people. Everyone suddenly looked at us, Totes and Charlotte, a perfect group of four. Suddenly we found ourselves thrust into group one, which we soon labelled as 'Team Extreme' and petrified we moved on. We don't mean to brag, but we were amazing and found that we couldn't even compare it to Cambodia which is the one time we have not exaggerated about how hard it was. We nearly didn't make it out though when Laura almost accidentally took the wrond turning in an ice cave trying to squeeze us through a crack suitable in size only for a severely premature baby instead of the neatly carved ice steps out of the cave to her right. Donna nearly fell over laughing witnessing the confused expression on Laura's face as she declared there was no way they could get through there.
Next stop was Wanaka. As we arrived Steve informed the group that the best thing to do in the day would be to watch the dolphin feeding at half 5 or go to the cinema which was pretty special. Everyone wanted to go and see a later film, which we couldn't do as we had made plans to meet Kat from diving and Clea, Lara's sister. We decided that we didn't have time to see the dolphins but were keen to go to the cinema, so saw a different earlier film with Julie. We absolutely loved it, and the cinema. We started off with a lovely bottle of red wine which we took in to the one single screen, sat on the sofas they had which filled the room and had home made cookies during the interval. The New Zealand film we saw was called Boy and was absolutely hilarious despite the fact that Laura got told off for getting her phone out before the film had even started, she would like to add. We were thrilled when we got back to the hostel to find out that Steve had lied about the dolphins and there was in fact no dophin feeding time whatsoever. Thanks again Steve. We had a great evening, Clea somehow getting Laura free shots to the point where she couldn't do anymore. It was so nice to see our friends although we were sad that Martin was working and so couldn't make it. Donna did her best to persuade Kat to join her in a dive master next year...fingers crossed! We also stayed up for a massively disappointing England game...apparently a theme for New Zealand.
The following morning was Puzzleworld, we were all massively excited, it was so much fun, although we recommend that you only do the maze if you have plenty of time. We strolled in as Charlotte and Totes were leaving, warning us not to bother, it was actually quite hard to get out. Undeterred, we pressed on, certain that we were better than them and would be able to complete the maze. We were wrong, and couldn't even see how to cheat our way out...including Laura attempting to climb over a fence far too tall for her midget legs. Eventually we made it out, freezing and defeated. We soon got to Queenstown, by far the best stop of the whole trip.
On the way we stopped off at the bungy centre so that everyone could pay for their bungy jumps. At the bungy centre was the Karawau bridge - the site of the first ever bungy jump. A few of the guys on our bus were doing it right then so we stayed to watch. From the top of the bridge, Laura declared that it wasn't as scary as she'd thought it would be, and before she knew it had signed up and paid (non-refundable) for a tandem bungy with Julie. Donna was amazed as Laura had spent the whole trip claiming that she couldn't think of anything worse than doing a bungy jump.
That night was our bus night out and was hideously messy. It began with the naming and shaming of everyone's stupid moments from the trip so far. We will not be writing down what ours are. It ended with an announcement that for ten minutes, Jagerbombs would be only $5. We immediately bought three each. Laura, who can never be trusted in these situations, was then confronted by Julie who demanded why we had not waited for her. Laura's response was to buy another for each of us...which meant 4 jagerbombs in 5 minutes. Excellent. Somehow, Laura ended up signing herself up for the horizontal bungy run with Chalky where she had to down a glass of orange juice in the hope of winning a canyon swing...they lost to some Irish people. We moved on to World Bar where they serve shots in teapots and hand you shotglasses. Again Laura accidentally ended up ordering one each for us rather than one. While dancing, Laura complained that it stank of sick which was soon explained by Donna as she pointed behind Laura to a massive puddle of sick...lovely. We all avoided it by going upstairs to play some stupid and completely unhygenic drinking games. Following that, Dave carried Laura on his shoulders while she squealed like a little girl across the road to Fergburger, a truly magical place, we ended up having one a day...these burgers are as big as your face and we miss them desparately, almost as much as the family.