Monday, 21 December 2009

West Side Story.


So after visiting the NZ fighter pilots museum (I never realised the extent of the fighting in the Pacific that NZ was involved in) we headed out on the Haast Pass road for the West Coast. This is what Steve and I have been waiting for, for a while, getting the the Bach and relaxing for a week doing absolutley nothing except for reading books, swimming and ejoying the sun, Only it didn't quite turn out that way!

Well we headed up the coast in pretty short order really as we wanted to spend as much time as possible at the bach. We did stop off at Franz Josef and Fox Glacier although we didn't get to see much as the cloud cover was down pretty low, it was good to see some glaciers though (Hence my university nickname 'Ice Boy' for my obsession with the powers of ice). However we did see Mt Cook finally in all its majesty one evening with the falling sun lighting up it's face!

Well after leaving a rather wet and dreary Franz Josef we headed straight up the coast towards the bach stopping off in Greymouth for some supplies along the way. We went all out thinking that this was going to be it one week at an awesome beach hut, I mean we even bought steaks! I tell you thats is definately saying something seen as we have been skimping it for soo long. So stupidly after we'd purchased all this food did we decide to call the guy to see if the bach was free, guess what, it wasn't! ohh no! What were we going to do with all of this food!

We headed up the coast and stayed in the bach for one night as we figured that we might as seen as it was free til tomorrow. What an awesome place right on the beach, no electricity, no gas, no nothing, just water from the local creek, and a coal range for heating and hot water. We spent our time thinking of a contingency plan which involved driving a few hundred K's up the coast and back to Karamea.

So the next day heading off in terrible weather we reached Westport by late afternoon and decided it a wise idea to stay just for the night, at least so that we could put all of our food in the freezer. Westport itself was not worth a visit so we just spent our time reading indoors.

The next day heading up to Karamea we were finally blessed with sunshine! Its a lovely part of New Zealand, as far north up the west as you can go, we spent the next few days camping on the beach, checking out so rather cool caves in the middle of the woods and going on a trek to a backcountry hut up a lovely rainforest valley. Whilst we were up there we met three Canadian guys and invited them to the bach in a few days time if they were around.

Steve and I headed back to the bach as soon as it was available motoring it in short order only stopping for one night on the way in a beautiful gorge just outside of Charleston.

Wow we were finally here at the bach, sit down and relax. To our great surprise the Candian trio (Kerf, Kenny and Sean) actually turned up on the day that we said we'd be there! We had an awesome three days swimming, fishing, kayaking, and partying on the beach with cheap NZ wine and a huge bonfire. After a week or so of doing abosolutely nothing we headed back up the coast towards Nelson and the Able Tasman National Park.


Thursday, 10 December 2009

Ready... NO... okay tilt head back, GO! WHOAAAAAA

Hey All

I know I am super duper late at updating my blog I thought that I had done so already so didn't bother updating, now I realise that I am waayyyyy behind so I am going to keep things a little shorter and in sections as it would take me too long otherwise!

Queenstown was a pretty aw some place, really liked it, Steve and I spent 3 days here and a little more in the local area. Our first night we all went out in a big group from our room, a couple of lasses from up north somewhere, Burnley I think, two Germans and a french dude. Pretty good night although it was spent drinking devil wine which loves to give you a awful hangover and memory loss, lethal stuff steer well clear! Over the three days I did manage a hatric of the infamous 'Fergburger', well known among the travelling sects as the best burger in NZ, and as I had three I agree! The second day I had decided that it would be cool to go on a jet boat ride up one of the local canyons as Neil had highly recommended a ride in one too me. I had only just woken up really and gone to the reception to enquire and ended up getting my self booked on a trip that left in ten minutes. I'm telling you now that a ride on a jet boat certainly wakes you from a hangover in quick time. The road out there was particularly spectacular, hand dug by thousands of Chinese migrants during the gold rush. The ride itself was exhilarating, shooting along at speeds of up to 55mph in anywhere from 4 inches to 39 of water, only feet from canyon walls!

Returning somewhat refreshed from my ride I met up with Steve and Harold (the french dude) before going out for another night, a little quieter this time but none the less awesome fun letting loose in Queenstown, rather spookily I stumbled upon a chap that I spent a few days with in Australia (small world). The next day we headed out on the road that took you out to the boat ride as I thought that I just had to give it a go at driving; single lane dirt track bounded by 100ft + drops in places with no barrier scary but fun! At the end of the road there was the restored remains of a 19th century mining outpost, pretty interesting the hardly lives that these very different breed of people once lived.

After a night out in the sticks we then headed back out through the other side of Queenstown to Glenorchy where a significant chunk of Lord of the Rings was filmed, although you wouldn't know it. That's one of the cons associated with these LOTR tours and whatnot as a large part of the scenery in the films has has significant details added to them rendering the original unrecognisable. The original plan was to climb to a vantage point in a remote valley where I could lay my eyes on a glacier which I had been dying to do for some time. Unfortunately we never actually made it to said vantage point as we hugely underestimated the time that it would take us to get there and back, alas I had to save my glacial urge for another day.

Next stop Wanaka for the much anticipated sky dive! Wanaka is a beautiful place but rather quiet in the off season, so much so that the local streets appeared dead after 7pm! The bars weren't much better either, being completely empty except a few backpackers and Steve and myself. Anyhow as soon as we arrived I had booked my 15'000ft skydive, it was also at this exact point that I started to worry and at 11:30 am the next morning when I rang to confirm I truly started to 'tommy tit' myself! Steve said I went white as a sheet and was either dead silent staring into nothing or talking at warp speed! What made it worse was the fact that I have already done a couple of static line jumps a couple of years ago so I knew exactly what was coming in terms of the initial 'fall' feeling.

Well after getting kitted up I ended up sitting there waiting for a couple of hours till I was called up to jump. It was at this point that I started to sweat and all of the usual don't do it reactions started kicking in big time in my head! The flight up there was amazing, cracking views of Mt Aspiring national park, the Southern Alps and Lake Wanaka itself. it seemed an age passed until it was my turn, at this point I had already watch one punter jump out a 12'000ft before climbing a few more to 15. Right so we're at the door the guy says are you ready and strangely all of my feer just seemed to disappear. I'm not saying this to big up my ego but strangely it did. I'm not afraid to admit that I was bricking it during the flight and the bum shuffle to the door, but once my feet were dangling over the edge I just well I don't really know... "was well up for it" as one might say, totally committed myself to what was about to happen, I couldn't wait. WOOOOSHHHHHHH! WOW, amazing quite possibly one of the best things that I have ever done and that is the honest truth. I can't really describe it, you know that lost stomach feeling you get when on a roller coaster or in heavy turbulence in a plane, well that lasts for what seems like a second (in reality around 10) before you feel nothing, no falling, nothing just the wind passing your face at 140 Mph. I just wish that I could remember more, in terms of the views I saw, freeze frames in my mind really, shame I didn't have the money at the time to buy the video (it was hideously expensive though). Some weeks later I actually managed to wake myself up having a rather vivid dream of my skydive buy rather audibly shouting whoaaaaaa, awesome dream though.

Anyhow time to close this chapter and start the next!