Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New Zealand

I am tired of updating the blog, so Amanda is going to take over for the next 2 weeks. New Zealand looked absolutely stunning on the flight into town...I am excited!

Hope you all don't mind an inexperienced blogger taking over for awhile. Tucker was gracious enough to let me join up on his world travels so I asked to be allowed to share our wonderful adventures...
Monday March 2
I arrived in Christchurch a few hours before Tucker so had some time to explore the city. Christchurch is very much a walking town and I was able to get around most of the city. I visited the Cathedral, saw some street entertainers in cathedral square, and visited the beautiful botanical gardens. The rose garden and carnation display were definitely worth the stop if only for the amazing colors...plus it was free! :) It was colder than I expected so I also grabbed a hot chocolate from a local coffee shop - it was much better that the Starbucks that seem to appear on every corner even here in New Zealand.
The highlight of the day for me was when Tucker surprised me. I left a note with the front desk that I was waiting for him in the square behind the hotel and he snuck up on me - a fun surprise and a wonderful start to a great trip.
We were also able to meet up with a long lost friend of Tucker's, Gabby. He met her in Argentina and hadn't seen her since ...the wonders of facebook! We grabbed dinner and a drink with her and her boyfriend. Pizza and pasta for Tucker and I. Little did we know this would be one of the best meals we had on the trip.


Tuesday, March 3
Today was a lot of driving -a theme of this trip since we put over 3000 km on the car in two weeks. On the way to Queenstown, we stopped at the tiny town of Lake Tekapo. This was the definition of a tourist trap but the brilliant blue of the lake was worth the stop. We also forged our own path up a hilltop for a pretty great view.

Upon arrival in Queenstown we learned a few lessons- 1. Calling is the easiest way to find hostels 2. Hostels should be booked a day in advance. Luckily we were able to find a relatively cheap hotel just outside of town.

Wednesday, March 4
A truly adventurous day. We started by zooming around a canyon in the Shotover Jet - coming within 6 inches of the rocks of the canyon wall at top speed and whirling around in complete 360s. The best way to describe it is a roller coaster ride without tracks. Let the adventures of New Zealand begin...in the "adventure capital of the world!"

After a quick wine tasting for some courage, we were off to bungee. (Sorry Mrs. Jones!) We tandem jumped off the original bungy bridge plunging 45 meters straight down. There is no way to describe standing with your feet over the edge and forcing yourself to dive. As Tucker says "very unnatural." [note from TJ - I was scared to death...as my toes hung over the edge all I could keep thinking was "why am I doing this? why am I doing this?!?!] The day was complete with a self conducted wine tasting tour. The area is known for its pinot noirs and there were many great wineries but our favorite by far was Brennan's. A small family owned winery - our
tasting was given by the owner, Sean Brennan. He had a bocci court right by the tasting room, and we had a great time sipping wine and playing a few rounds. I managed to win the first game but then Tucker took over. :)

Thursday, March 5
We had an adventure getting to Milford Sound. Due to a lack of lodging we ended up driving all the way there and back in one day (at least 4 hours each way) but the Sound totally spectacular!! We hopped on the "best value" boat (cheapest for most time) and off we went on a tour of the sound. It's truly a unique place - the mile high rock formations are surrounded by water and they all have "scars" from tree avalanches. We saw the lion rock and got sprayed by a waterfall that takes 10 years off your age...
After this it was back on the road again all the way back to Queenstown but TJ did a great job driving on the opposite side of the road and didn't even mix up the turn signal with the windshield wipers[like I did many times throughout the trip - steering wheel on the right side of the car takes a little getting used to]!
We also picked up a hitchhiker for some additional adventure. This girl was EXTREME! She was a German medical student doing multiple day tramps on her own and staying in a one man tent. Not my idea of fun but she was interesting to talk to even if she did smell like she'd been in the wilderness for awhile!

Friday, March 6
No adventure for me today- I don't know if it was a stomach bug or something I ate but I did not leave the hotel room. Sad!! Tucker managed to have a great day though- white water rafting on a boogie board down a class IV river, surfing the waves along the way! Check out the really cool
video on facebook!

We also enjoyed a ferburger (only a few bites for me) - huge, delicious, and cheap! A must have if you're ever in Queenstown [best burger in the WORLD!]. One thing to note is that NZ is not cheap! After Thailand and Bali the expensive price tags have not been a pleasant surprise for the unemployed TJ.

Saturday, March 7
I managed to get out of bed and do a short hike in Queenstown. The views in NZ are spectacular!! After another stop at Fergburger for TJ to have what "may be the best burger of his life" we were off to our fave winery Brennans for some more wine and bocci. I think Sean was excited to see us again. :) We then waved goodbye to Queenstown and headed to Lake Wanaka. The scenery along the way in New Zealand is so spectacular, it takes your breath away to see such beauty everywhere you turn...wow!

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