Monday, January 30, 2006

Sorry I've been neglecting my blog a bit since I've been back, I've just been trying to catch up on emails and stuff, and not having my own PC at work, I can't do it in work time (which has been known!!) So, this is just a quick one!!
Had a good weekend, it was Jason's birthday on Saturday, so we went to the beach in the day, and then about 20 of us went out for a Thai meal in the evening. It was a good night, but far too much wine was drunk!
Yesterday we went to the shopping mall as it was extremely hot outside, and sometimes it's best just to get in the air conditioned malls. After that we went to see the film Munich. I was really excited about seeing this, I'd seen a documentary about the hostage situation a few years ago, and thought that the film would be about this....also I thought I'd see some familiar sights, but no, it wasn't like that at all, it was about tracking down and killing the terrorists after it happened, so there was only a few minutes of the hostage situation....and it was a pretty gruesome film too...oh well, you have to try these things!!

Friday, January 27, 2006

I just wanted to say, thanks for all your well wishes about our engagement, it really made us happy ;o)
I finished my first week back at work today, it's been pretty uneventful, it's a bit better than it was on Monday, but I still don't have my own desk, so it's a bit frustrating.
We had a day off yesterday for Australia Day. Jason and I went down to Darling Harbour and Hyde Park so see what was on, we didn't stay long though as we had to get over to Sue and Grants for dinner. We had a great evening there, it's never a dull moment! Also Aunty Betty and Uncle Derek were over from New Zealand (we just stayed with them last week) so it was nice to see them again. At about 9pm we took them to watch the fireworks, I'm glad we went cos they were really good. Am feeling a bit tired today, but I'm not going out tonight, so I can have an early night.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I have some big belated news from New Years boyfriend, Jason and I got engaged, he proposed at midnight when the fireworks were going off…..I was very shocked I can tell you, but really happy, it still hasn’t really sunk in yet. I have only just announced it now as I've been on holiday and wanted to try and tell all my family and close friends before I wrote it on here. I’m really sorry if I haven’t told you personally, but I guess this way I don't miss anyone out!!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Back to the grindstone today for me, I started my first day at work since about 6 weeks. It seems that I always get the boring jobs and the jobs working for the most disfunctional groups!! I'm working at TAFE (adult education) again, (the Head office was the first place I worked when I arrived in Sydney...remember the Dragon!) anyway, I'm now at one of the campuses working in the International Students office, and today I spent the whole day sticking stickers onto some brochures they had made up...exciting stuff!! I know I shouldn't complain, it is money, but I must admit, I'm dying for this temping business to finish, it's a bit demeaning some of the work I've had to do since I've been here!
Anyway, as for the weekend, Jason and I went out for a lovely meal on Saturday night, we found a really nice Mexican restaurant which had great food. We then ended up going out till all hours to the club down the road....well, it was my first night out in ages!! so Sunday I was really tired. We went down the pub in the afternoon to catch up with friends that I hadn't seen for a while so that was nice. I had to come home at 8 though cos I wanted to phone Mum to check she got back ok after her long journey. She sounded quite well considering, she was very tired though. We ended up talking for about 45 mins, which is mad we had so much to talk about as we'd only just seen each other!! anyway, she said she had a lovely holiday.
I've just been on the bus home from work and 2 guys got on to check everyones bus tickets...I've never seen that before here, it brought back memories of being in Munich and getting checked all the time.

Friday, January 20, 2006

We had a lovely evening on Tuesday meeting all the family. There were lots of us there for dinner and we had a bit of a laugh, it was great to meet everyone finally.
Next day we went for a bit of a drive, and some ice cream, we saw a bit more of Christchurch. Then in the evening we went our for dinner at one of these all you can eat buffets...and I did eat all I could...I felt quite sick afterwards!
Today I was up at 3am to get to the airport for my 6am flight back to Sydney, I had a bit of a sleep when I got back home and feel a bit better now. I feel sorry for Mum, she's flying to Sydney, then she's got a 6 hour wait until her flight to's going to be a long day for her! I was really sad saying goodbye to her, she's been with me for the last 5.5 weeks, and I kind of got used to her being around....I hate goodbyes. But we had a lovely holiday, I just hope I didn't wear her out with all the travelling and sightseeing!!
I've got some good news, I just phoned around all the recruitment agencies, and one phoned me back with a job that starts on Monday for 4 weeks, which is such good news as I'm very, very skint...I'll have to start saving up for my flight home now!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I haven’t had a chance to update for a couple of days, so I’ve separated the sections:
Monday 16th Jan
Our first stop today was Baldwin Street, the steepest street in the world. When the bus stopped and I looked up the hill, I though…oh my god, but we just had to walk up it, and boy was it hard work, Mum and I were out of breath within minutes and our hearts were in our throats, I thought I was going to be sick!! Anyway, we made it in the end….I feel sorry for the people that live on the road…imagine popping to the shops for a paper, not easy work to get back home! I’m relieved to say, walking down was a lot easier, I felt really good for doing it (at 8.30 in the morning!) but Mum and I did have a bad cough whenever we breathed in for the next half hour!!Fact time….the street has a gradient of 1 in 1.266.
So after that we stopped for a coffee at Moeraki, there are boulders on the beach there which are a bit of a tourist attraction ‘the Moeraki Boulders’. There are lots of them and they are all very round, noone is quite sure how they got there. We also stopped off at Lake Pukaki, and I have to say, it’s the most amazing lake I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a few!) The colour of it looked just like a swimming pool, a real turquoisey blue, it really was amazing, we also had views of Mount Cook, Mount Tasman and Mount Stirling from across the lake. Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand, 230 people have died attempting to climb it, it’s supposed to be more dangerous than climbing Mount Everest because of the unpredictable weather. Anyway, back to the water, the turquoise blue of the lake is created by rock flour. The glaciers grind rock into fine dust on their journey down towards the lake, this is then suspended in the water and when combined with sunlight creates this colour water. After we’d taken lots of pics, we set off for Lake Tekapo, we finally arrived at 3pm. The lake, again was stunning, not quite the same colour as Lake Pukaki, but still a great sight. We got off the bus and took some pictures of the little church and the statue of the collie dog (it’s to do with the towns history, but I won’t bore you). The town is very small, the population is only 340 people…tiny!. At least it gave us a bit of time to relax before heading back to Christchurch, although I guarantee we’ll be doing lots of walking tomorrow….no rest for the wicked!!
And on another note, it’s a year today that I left Munich, where has the time gone?! I’m a little sad and nostalgic too, I especially miss being close to my brother. It was such an amazing time in my life, but I’m sure there are a lot more good times to come ;o)
Tuesday 17th January
As predicted, we did a lot of walking today. We headed off from the hostel at 10am to walk up to Mount John’s summit. At first we were not sure we were going the right way as the path wasn’t heading upwards, but rather around the mountain, but we asked a guy on a horse and he said to continue on the path. It took us about 3 hours to get to the top, and we walked around the summit 1.5 times (don’t ask!) then headed back down the opposite side to which we’d gone up. We eventually got back to the hostel, shattered and achey 4 hours later …it was a long way up (and down). We didn’t do much in the afternoon, just sat around reading and had fish and chips for dinner. I was hoping I’d get a better nights sleep tonight, the previous night one of the girls in the room was snoring like a trooper….which again reminds me to never stay in a hostel dorm again (how many times I said that before!!)
Wednesday 18th January
I did get an ok sleep last night, apart from getting woken up at 4am because of the howling wind. Anyway, we arrived in Christchurch a few hours ago, it was a pretty uneventful journey It’s freezing here, well it’s 13 degrees….where is the summer??!! Aunty Betty and Uncle Derek picked us up, and we’ve just been washing and going to the shops to buy dinner….the whole family are coming over tonight…it sounds like it’s going to be a houseful…and I’ve only met a couple of them before.
We’ve only got tomorrow left here, then it’s back home for Mum, and back to Australia for me. I’m really going to miss Mum, it’ll be weird not having her here :-(

Sunday, January 15, 2006

We arrived in Dunedin on Friday afternoon. We stopped off a few times on the way, but we were here at about 2pm. We checked into the hostel, it's a really lovely place, it's old and huge, it used to be a hospital, there are so many hidden passages everywhere, it's quite easy to get lost! Our first stop of the afternoon was to Cadbury World, unfortunatley though it was only a small tour as the factory workers were still on holiday so we didn't get to see them making the chocolates :-( Anyway, we watched a short film then the guide took us inside the building, the smell of chocolate was so strong....yummy! She took us up to the chocolate fountain, which is where they drop a ton of chocolate in 30 seconds (or something), that was quite cool. We also got some free samples which we enjoyed and we bought some more chocolate in the shop there....chocolate is so much cheaper here than in Australia.
After that we took a walk to the railway station which is supposed to be the most photographed building in New Zealand, then we went to the supermarket for our dinner. Then it was pretty much an early night.
Yesterday we had a bit of a lie in, then took a walk into the city and had a look around. It really doesn't feel like summer here, the wind is really chilly even when the sun is out, and it is really windy here! We had to be back at the hostel in the afternoon for our wildlife tour, so we went back for lunch and then were picked up at 3.30. We had a bit of a drive to get to the conservation area, we had to drive right to the tip of the peninsula. As soon as we got out the bus, the wind just hit us, it was so strong as we were in a really exposed area, right on the top of a hill by the sea. We split up into 2 groups and our group walked through a field of sheep (actually we were blown down) towards the rocks where all the fur seals were. They have a little viewing station there so we were sheltered from the wind, we sat there for a while looking at the fur seals through our binoculars....they were pretty camaflagued by the rocks, but once you got used to it you could pick them out really well. It was amazing seeing them in the wild, there were loads of them, we saw a couple of bulls which were huge and there were also lots of pups cute. We walked along to another viewing area and saw even more fur seals and birds (apparently the birds feed on the seals afterbirth so they are always hanging around....yuk). After that it was a big hike up the hill again, and then back down to the beach to see the yellow eyed penguins. It was quite steep coming down so we had to be careful what with the wind as well. When we got there we were lucky enough to see a few Sealions lazing around on the beach...the guide told us that they are not scared of people like the fur seals, but we had to be careful not to get too close as they like to play (and that can include biting!). They were absolutely huge, but really cute looking. Got some photos of them, then we headed along the beach to another lookout to see the penguins, there was already one that had just come out of the water and was hobbling up the beach, I love penguins, so it was great to see a wild one. It was headed up the cliff to where all their nests are based, so we walked up to another lookout by the hill and could see all the nests....and even some little chicks too. We were lucky enough to see a parent feed 2 chicks (by regurgatating the fish for them). It was a really cool experience. On the way back we walked by the Sealions again, they hadn't moved though, still in the same positions. We had another hike right back up the hill again, I tell you this holiday is giving me so much exercise, I'm going to be shattered by the time it finishes! Back to the bus, and then we headed for the Royal Albatross sanctuary. Again we were lucky to see a couple of these huge birds flying....they really are large, their wingspan is about 3metres. They can only fly when it is windy, which was definitely the case yesterday!! We didn't get back to the hostel until about 9.30, so we didn't get much done after that.
Today we started to walk to St Clair beach, we walked for about half an hour, but then the sky looked really dodgy and we weren't even nearly there yet, so we decided to turn back, and it was a good job we did, as soon as we got to the hostel it started to rain. We are just checking our emails now, and then later we'll go to the cinema. Tomorrow we are heading for Lake Takepo, our last destination before we head back to Christchurch.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Yesterday was a real wash out, it rained the whole day, so we didn't get anything done, but it gave us the chance to chill out and watch movies all day!
Today we went to Milford Sound, and how glad were we that the trip got postponed until today...the weather was fantastic (more on that later!). I was awake at 4.30am and couldn't get back to sleep as we had to get up at 6am anyway, so I was pretty shattered this morning. We had the best day, first we drove to Te Anau a little village about 2 hours from Queenstown, we stopped off there for a coffee, and then headed off again. We had a quick stop at the Mirror lakes, which were exactly what you'd expect them to be with that name, they were really amazing, you could see the mountains and the sky reflected in the water, there was even a sign, which didn't make sense looking at it, but when you looked in the reflection in the water, it said Mirror lakes, clear as!
At the Mirror Lakes
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This is not the sky, but the reflection in the water
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Next stop was lunch at Cascade Creek, we went for a bit of a bush walk while the guide started up the barby, and by the time we got back, it was all ready for us. After a great lunch, we stopped off at the stream of Eternal youth, if you drink it you're supposed to wake up the next day looking 10 years younger, I should have just jumped in it!! We'll have to wait and see what I look like in the morning, but unless I can catch up on my lost sleep, I'll probably look 10 years older!!
Stream of Eternal youth
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We finally got to Milford Sound about 2pm, just in time to catch the boat for our trip. We were really lucky in that we were practically the only ones on the boat so we had lots of room. We learnt that Milford Sound is actually a fjord, not a sound, made by glacier activity, it was pretty spectacular, the boat slowly made it's way across the water, and we were surrounded by these amazing mountains the whole way, it was definitely a New
Zealand moment for me, absolutely stunning.
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We were really lucky to see some little seals too, they were quite content sunning themselves on the sweet! We headed out towards the start of the Tasman sea, so the water started to get a bit rougher. The captain of the boat was making his commentary and he said how lucky we were that the weather was so perfect today, it was only the second day in the last 10 that has been sunny, and he said it was a good job we weren't there yesterday as they had torrential rain and up to 116 miles an hour gusts of lucky that they cancelled our trip yesterday, Mum and I were so grateful!! The waterfalls on the mountains are supposed to be spectacular when it's raining, but we saw quite a few so we got the best of both worlds.
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On the way back to the jetty, there was another large waterfall, again this one was supposed to make you look 10 years younger if you put your hands in it..... the captain said we would go quite close so we may get a little wet....anyway, he practically drove underneath it and everyone got soaked....very amusing! At least we'll all look younger tomorrow ;o)
some more pics of Milford Sound
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We're off to Dunnedin tomorrow morning, it's our last night in Queenstown tonight, so we're quite sad, but we're uplifted a bit knowing that we can visit Cadbury World at our next destination!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Had a fun day today. We had a bit of a lie in as we were both knackered from the last few days. I forgot to mention yesterday that our room consists of a bunk bed...I did book a twin room so was a bit annoyed about that, but Mum was quite happy to sleep on the top bunk...bless her, I was quite happy about that!! Anyway, we had a look around the shops this morning and went to the supermarket for some food, we were trying to hold out for the sky to clear up as we'd bought tickets to go up the mountain on the gondola. So after lunch we headed up the road to the gondolas. It wasn't a long trip, but it was an amazing view from up there, we went out onto the viewing platform and took some pictures.
View of Queenstown
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Another view.... you can just spot the paraglider
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So then it was time to go on the luge which are little carts you sit in and go flying down one of two windy tracks. It was fab fun, we were a bit slow to start with, but once you get a bit of confidence you can go flying, it was great. I had such a laugh at Mum, we both looked really silly with our helmets on driving these little carts.
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After 2 runs on the 'scenic route' we decided to brave it and go on the 'advanced route'...First off we got a bit put off as we were given red carts instead of the normal black ones we'd been in, I don't know why, but both of us couldn't quite get the knack of the brakes at the starting point, we were of course just being silly, but I changed my cart to a black one and felt a lot better about it!! anyway it was brilliant, you have to really concentrate as you are going pretty fast down the hill and they have so many bends in them. We were in fits of giggles, at one point there is a little hill and straight after a really, really steep one...Mum happened to be in front of me at this point, and all I heard was 'oh my god' and she just disappeared, then it was my turn, and I must say it shook me up a bit, but it was a real buzz.....we had to go on the scenic route again after that just to calm our nerves!! We did go on the advanced one again on our last go though!! When we'd done with that, we got the gondola back down again. We didn't really do much for the rest of the afternoon. The guy from reception found us and told us that our Milford Sound tour had been cancelled for tomorrow, so we are going on Thursday instead, not sure what we're going to do tomorrow now. We've just been to the cinema, there wasn't much on, we saw Cheaper by the dozen 2, it was ok, just a bit of easy watching.
I took the last of my dressings from my New Years eve injuries last night, everything has healed up, apart from them looking a bit pink they're fine, I just hope I don't get any scars.
Here are some pics from yesterday...
Mum and I at Knights Point lookout
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Me at Lake Hawea
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Mum at Lake Wanaka
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Someone jumping of the AJ Hackett bungy bridge
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Monday, January 09, 2006

We arrived in Queenstown about 2 hours ago after a very long, but enjoyable day....and the weather was fantastic, which made it so much better. We got on the road at 7.45am, our first stop was Lake Matheson, which is a glacial created lake surrounded by ancient rainforest, we took a few photos there, and then were on our way again. Then we stopped at Knights Point lookout, the view there was fantastic, the Tasman sea was so beautiful and blue. There was supposed to be a colony of seals on some of the rocks there, but unfortunately we didn't see any. Then is was onto the Haast pass (which is named after an Austrian explorer). The roads are really windy and steep, the whole way from Franz Josef we were driving alongside the Southern Alps so the views were fantastic, some of the mountains even had snowfall on them. The Southern Alps are apparently as big in volume as the Austrian and Swiss Alps combined! Driving along the west coast has really made me miss Germany and Austria, all those mountains and the snow :-( Anyway, next stop was a 28m high waterfall called Thunder Creek falls, these flow into the Haast river, then it was onto Makarora for a quick lunch stop, there wasn't really much there, but we saw a few helicoptors and a plane land from doing their scenic flights.
After lunch we carried on and had a stop at Lake Hawea which was beautifully blue (it's 384m deep) and very, very big, it reminded me of lake Garda in Italy, except Lake Garda isn't as blue. After that, we drove alongside Lake Wanaka, which again is stunning (it's 311m deep and 193 sq km...I did my homework today didn't I!!). When we got to Wanaka we had another stop for photo opps, it is a lovely town, I would love to go back and stay there at some point, lots of lovely shops... of course the lake with the backdrop of the mountains....gorgeous! Again it reminded me of one of the little towns along Lake Garda (this trip is really making me homesick for Europe!) Apparently Shania Twain has a holiday home there (another useful bit of information!) anyway, unfortunately we only had a short stop there, then it was on to Queenstown. We stopped off to see the famous AJ Hackett bungee jump suspension bridge....we didn't go on, but hung around and watched some people jump...I tell you, I don't know how they do it, they all seemed so calm, and none of them hesitated...I was scared just being on the viewing platform!!
On the way to Queenstown we drove past the 45th parallel (it's an imaginary line, which I think marks halfway between the North Pole and the Equator...I had my headphones on at the time, so missed half of what the bus driver said!) Anyway, so we arrived here, had a quick tikky tour (thats what the kiwis call it) around town, then checked into the hostel. It's actually very nice, we have a lovely view of the lake here. We dropped off our stuff, booked a tour to Milford Sound for Wednesday, had a look around town, then bought a voucher for the gondala ride and 5 rides on the Luge (some sort of thing you sit on and you go whizzing down the hill). We've just been out for a Thai meal, and I think we'll be shortly going to bed...we're both shattered as it's been a really long day, almost 12 hours of sitting in a bus and sightseeing. But we've had a great day, the scenery is so's definitely more beautiful the further south you drive.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

It was an early start for us yesterday morning. We were ready for the bus to pick us up at 8am to take us to our next destination Franz Joseph. We had a couple of stops along the way, first one was at Hokitika, a tiny town where they make and sell the greenstone (Jade) jewellery. Next stop was at Ross which is the richest gold mining town in New Zealand, we had a bonus of being able to pan for gold too which was cool. The lady showed us what to do and then it was our turn. It was actually a lot harder than it looked..I was so worried about throwing any gold back in the water, but eventually I got there and there was 6 tiny fragments of gold...yaay!! Not quite enough to make me rich, but it was fun doing it. Then we put the gold in a little tube and filled it with water. Next stop after that was Lake Mapourika for a photo opportunity, unfortunately the driver didn't stop anywhere else as the weather wasn't clear enough to see the mountains.
So when we'd checked into the hostel we walked around to the glacier hiking shop to pay for our afternoons hike up the Franz Joseph glacier. We were a bit dubious about doing the hike, but we had to give it a go. So at 3pm we went back to the shop to get kitted out for our long afternoon. We got our boots, crampons, coats, trousers, hats etc and then jumped on the bus to take us there. It was about a 45 minute walk just to get to the glacier, we had to walk through small streams to get there, which was when I realised that my boots had lots of holes in feet were soaking before we even started up the glacier!! Anyway, we finally made it to the foot of the glacier, it was a great sight, this huge glacier in the valley of the rainforest, but I was a bit scared as it was really high and we put the crampons onto our boots and set off. There are staircases sculpted into the ice which were pretty hard to climb up as some of them were really steep, but the guide was patient with us so we weren't under too much pressure. The further up we got the more amazing the ice was, and the bluer it got, it was pretty spectacular, well worth the hard work to get up there. At one point I got a bit carried away and wasn't really watching the guide and started to go up a staircase that wasn't supposed to be was a lot steeper and harder....then I realised my mistake and had to cross over, everyone thought that was quite funny! Apart from being a bit scared at first and the weather being pretty dismal (it was freezing and raining), we both thoroughly enjoyed it, it was really exhilarating...Mum did really well, she was up there with the best of them, I was really proud of her! The guides did give us lots of facts about the glacier, but unfortunately I was so busy concentrating, I didn't take much in, so I can't bore you facts and figures!! After about 2.5 hours (I think) of climbing up and down the glacier we were ready to be taken back to the hostel. We were shattered and my legs were really wobbly by this point. After a cold shower (not happy that there was no hot water left) we had some food and pretty much after that went to bed.
Today we were up early again to do the kayaking on lake Mapourika. My legs are still stiff today, so I was quite glad it was just rowing with my arms...but little did I know that I'd have to actually use my legs to steer the rudder too! We had a nice day, Mum was really nervous as she's not the best swimmer, but we did pretty well. The lake was massive and you could see the reflection of the trees in it. It was pretty windy though so was quite hard work getting to the other side of the lake. After we did that the guide took us down a windy stream which was lovely, it was like floating down a jungle river because of all the greenery around, very peaceful. Mum and I got stuck a few times, but the guide helped us out...we weren't the most competent rowers. I think we rowed approx 7km today, and our arms our really sore now, it was really tough work.
We're off to Queenstown tomorrow morning, we'll be doing a few stop offs on the way, I hope it stops's throwing down again now!
Here are some pictures from the past week
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Panning for gold
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View of the valley from Franz Joseph Glacier
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Mum and I with our pick axe!
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On the way down
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View from the bottom
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Friday, January 06, 2006

We were up at 6.15 on Wednesday morning to catch the Tranzalpine Express to Greymouth (East Coast to West Coast). The train journey was excellent, we thoroughly enjoyed it.... the scenery was amazing. First we headed out of Christchurch, crossing the Canterbury Plains. Then we climbed through the alpine foothills and the Waimakariri Gorge to Arthurs Pass National Park. Mum and I made our way to the front of the train so we could get some photos from the viewing carriage, it was absolutely freezing, I made Mum say there for over half an hour, I didn't want to leave in case I missed a good photo opportunity!! We did leave after a while though, our hands and faces were soooo cold, it was amazing how cold it was! Eventually we reached 737 metres high Arthurs Pass which was surrounded by snow capped mountain peaks. After that we headed downwards again and entered the Otira Tunnel, after 8.5 kms we came out again into the rainforest of the west coast. Our journey ended in Greymouth on the shores of the Tasman Sea. The journey was 231km long, and took 4.5 hours. There are 16 tunnels on the way and the highest viaduct is the Staircase at 73m. I would definitely recommend taking this trip, it really was worthwhile.
So we arrived in Greymouth yesterday afternoon, there isn't actually so much here. We dropped off our stuff at the hostel (which is really nice) and then we had a walk around town and went to the supermarket to get some food. When we got back, we tried to take off the dressing from my worst arm as it had gone a funny colour, but as soon as I tried to pull it off, it really hurt as it was stuck right down on the burn and then I started to feel all queazy and faint cos it looked horrible...I'm such a big wuss, we had to go upstairs to our room so I could lie down and Mum could pull it off for me!! Later on we played a few games, Jenga, Ludo, and we tried our hands at Draughts and Scrabble, but neither of us could remember how to play them, we had fun though and it passed the time! This morning we didn't get up until 11am (how lazy are we!) but I was so tired I really needed the lie in. We had some breakfast and then set off for a walk up the northern beach. We walked past lots of houses by the beach, it really is a small town, population of 9,000, it's so quiet and everyone is so friendly here, they all stop you and say hello, it's so nice. Anyway, it actually was 6km even to get to the beginning of the walk, so we gave up after 1.5 hours of walking and headed back again! We had some lunch and then have just been walking through the town, I managed to find a cheap internet in a Turkish kebab's a bit smelly, but it's cheap!!
Tomorrow we're off to Franz Josef.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

We arrived safely in New Zealand, so I’ll continue with my update!
So Saturday night (New Years eve) Jason and I met up with Steve and Lisa at Lunar Park at Sydney Harbour, we had tickets which included entry into the theme park and free rides all night. I had a bit of a dodgy start though, even before I’d had a drink I had a slight accident, we were going down one of these big slides on a mat, and silly me, I tried to lie back cos that’s what makes you go faster, but instead of going faster, I started to spin around and nearly ended up going down head first, I tried my best to stop myself spinning, but unfortunately I ended up getting really bad friction burns on both my arms and on my back. I was a bit shaky after that, and they were stinging like mad, so I went to the first aid room and they put some cream on which helped for a while. (more to come on that later) But it sort of put me off going on any of the other rides after that!
Anyway, after a couple of drinks we went outside to see the 9pm fireworks (these are the ones for the families) they were pretty spectacular, I couldn’t imagine them being much better for the main spectacle at midnight. Anyway, we decided that we should go on the ferris wheel to see the fantastic view. The harbour looked amazing, the bridge had a pumping red heart in the middle which got brighter and bigger towards the end of the night, all the boats were lit up and also had big red hearts on them, the whole place looked amazing, we managed to get a few pics, but the night setting on my camera isn’t the best unfortunately.
After the ferris wheel we went to check out the music rooms for a while. Then at 11.30pm we went outside to get a good spot for the main fireworks at midnight. They were absolutely amazing, I have some video clips of them which I’m hoping to send out soon, the whole bridge was lit up with the fireworks and they went on for about 20 minutes, they were spectacular, truly an Australia moment!! We went back to the theme park after and Steve and Jason went on the rides while Lisa and I had a good gossip. After some food and the train ride back into the city, Jason and I went to Bondi for another party and to meet our friends that had been to see Fat Boy Slim on the beach. We didn’t stay so long though, but we still didn’t manage to get home until 5.30am!
Next day I didn’t get much done at all, and not surprisingly so, it was the hottest I’ve ever known….it was just under 44 degrees, the hottest it’s been in Australia since 1939, it was absolutely awful. Mum had gone out in the morning to the beach and she came stumbling back at about 2pm with a bright red, puffy face caused by the exertion of walking back up the hill…she was exhausted (I’m not surprised, the best thing to do on days like that is to stay inside). We watched a couple of dvd’s, but later on I had to venture down the road to meet up with Lisa and Steve to say goodbye. Going outside was like walking into an oven, I’ve never known anything like that before…thank god every day isn’t like that! Anyway, said goodbye to them, it’s been really great seeing them both, we had such a good time, and now they’re off to Thailand, lucky them!! Jason and I went out for a meal in the evening, I opted for the Thai green curry…god knows why in that heat!! Luckily the evening outside was a bit cooler by then.
Monday we were up early, Mum and I packed our bags as it was too hot to do it the day before, then we slowly got ready. We got to the airport, unfortunately we had separate flights to New Zealand as we’d both booked our tickets with different airlines…Mum’s left an hour before mine. I was a bit worried about the flight again…I’m getting quite bad lately…I’d been to the doctors for some more valium, so I was well prepared….but this time, I decided instead of having tablets, I’d just have a couple of glasses of wine (which is what I always used to do, but for some reason I stopped) and I tell you, it worked a treat, I wasn’t even worried when it was really bumpy on the descent into Christchurch….brilliant!!!
So I arrived (a bit tiddly) at the airport to find Mum already there with Aunty Betty, Uncle Derek and Bill and Brenda (our cousins). It was lovely to see them all again, it’d been a long time. Mum and I were staying at Aunty Betty’s, so they took us there, we had a little chat when we got there, but it was really late so we went to bed quite soon after.
Yesterday Bill and Brenda came round to take us out for the day. First off they took us through Christchurch city centre and then we headed for Akaroa (a small town about an hours drive south). We drove over the Cashmere/Port Hills and saw some amazing views, the countryside is beautiful there. It was a pretty windy, steep and long drive, eventually we got to the viewpoint for the best view of Akaroa and got out and took some pics, the sea looked beautiful. Then we headed down towards the town. It was a lovely little town, it was actually settled by the French…all the streets have French names, it really was lovely. We had some lunch there and a little walk, then we headed back up the hills and towards Lyttelton (which used to be bigger than Christchurch…a long time ago) We saw some amazing views of the Canterbury Plains. On one part of the hill we stopped the car and Mum, Bill and I walked down the bridal path to the bottom to meet Brenda who’d driven on in the car. It was a really steep walk down, but I’m glad I did it, better than walking up it anyhow!! At the bottom we had some Rocky road cake (which I think we’d deserved) then we set off again. Next stop was Scarborough beach, which was quite small and a bit muddy (and it was getting cold) so we didn’t stay there long. I wanted to get to a chemist as by now my arm (from my injuries on NYE) was really inflamed around the burns, it’d been painful for the past couple of days so I thought I’d better get it looked at. We found a chemist, the pharmacist took a look at it and said I should go to the doctors, as it looked really infected and I could even get blood poisoning from it….nightmare!! So we went over the way to the doctors to get it seen to. Finally we got in and he gave me some antibiotics and they put a dressing on them and I was told just to keep an eye on it in case the inflammation spreads. It’s still pretty painful today, and people keep squeezing or walking into it by accident which doesn’t help, but I can sleep better now as they are dressed and I don’t keep knocking them!! Anyway, after the doctors, we all went back to Aunty Betty’s to pick her and Uncle Derek up and then they took us out for dinner, it was an all you can eat carvery with all the different foods you could imagine…lovely!!
Today Aunty Betty took us to Christchurch to have a quick look around…it was very, very cold and windy though, and it started to rain, so we didn’t have much of a look around, we ended up just going to a shopping mall!! I really like what I’ve seen so far of Christchurch, it is very similar to England. It’s actually a refreshing change to come here after Australia, the climate is so different, I’ve even got a duvet at night so it’s nice and snuggly!! We now have to prepare for our trip around the South Island, we leave tomorrow on the Transalpine Express to Greymouth…I’m really looking forward to that.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope all your celebrations went well. I'm just at the airport and have found time for a quick update....I'll start from Thursday.
We went to Featherdale wildlife park on Thursday. I wanted Mum to see the native Australian animals before she left. It was quite a small park, but had a variety of animals, including loads of koalas and kangaroos etc. I think Mum was quite impressed! Mum and I went into the petting zoo to see the goats and sheep, we nearly let the goats out (by accident of course!) they got through one of the gates, and we had to try to shoo them back inside...luckily this Irish chap came by and helped us out, otherwise we'd have been stuck there for hours! So we had a nice day there. Later on we went to the Rocks and met up with Lisa and Steve again, we just sat outside a pub and had some food and some drinks, it ended up being quite a late night.
Friday Mum and I went to the shopping mall, I wanted to find an outfit for New Years Eve (it's a running tradition of mine to buy something new to wear for it). I was in luck too!! After shopping, in the evening we went to the cinema and saw a soppy romantic film which we both really enjoyed.
Saturday we got up early and I took Mum on the ferry to Manly. We had a really nice time there, Mum enjoyed it, it's always good to take someone on the ferry, the scenery is so beautiful. We had a bit of a sunbathe and I had a swim in the sea....but it was very hot. I have to go now, my flight is due to board soon....I'll update again soon from New Zealand.