A Travellerspoint blog

Geraldine

White water rafting

sunny 20 °C
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After leaving Queenstown I travelled up to Christchurch stopping off for a night at a place called Geraldine to do a spot of white water rafting. It’s supposed to be one of the best places in NZ for it and you get a nights accommodation thrown in and lunch the next day, sweet! The place is right on the river and has great views of the valley, the evening was spent watching DVD’s with my fellow rafters before getting some sleep ready for a day of rafting.

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The guys that run the place are hilarious, Ben decided to show us how one of the dogs likes to shag his leg much to the dismay of the Americans in the group and much to the amusement of the rest of us. We geared up for the day in wetsuits, helmets, life jackets etc and headed out to the start of the river, it starts of gentle and works it’s way up to a grade 5 which is the highest grade you can commercially raft.

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Once the raft was in the water we all got in and I managed to get up front with Scottish Dave, great for the photos, not so great for falling out potential. Scottish had done some rafting before and said the front is the best place to be but after the first rapid and a face full of water I was starting to wonder what was so great about it. However by the grade 3 rapids I was loving it and couldn’t wait for the grade 5’s. We’d done well so far and managed not to flip the thing or loose anyone over the side. Since we’d done so well it was decided that we should try and purposely flip it so we all dived onto the front and paddled head on into a fast flowing section of water, that did the trick as we all disappeared into the water I came up about 10 meters away along with someone else and we got picked up by team America in the other dingy.

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Onwards to the last section of the river, grade 5, this was so much fun seriously crazy water we were all over the shop as we went down it was all over in under a minute. As we got to the bottom we once again paddled into so really fast flowing water and the dingy was being buffeted all over the place, Ben our guide was determined to flip us again. As we headed into it for a second time the dingy suddenly lurch and I was gone, I took a big breath as I felt myself go over the side backwards the water is so powerful it only took a couple of seconds and I was on the surface about 20 meters from the dingy I looked up to see that the photographer who was also in our dingy had also fallen in, at least I wasn’t the only one!

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Posted by ride165 06:27 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Te Anau & Milford Sound

Stunning scenery

semi-overcast 19 °C
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After Invercargill we headed for Te Anau, Te Anau is the last town passed through when travelling to Milford Sound. On the way here we stopped at a New Zealand farm to get a feel for one of the historic industries in NZ, sheep farming. We had to change into wellies and attractive outdoor gear to keep the sheep shit off. First job was to bottle feed some lambs which was interesting, normally sheep and lambs run away from humans but since these have been hand reared they are quite friendly, especially when you have a bottle of milk in hand.

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Next up was a trip out to the fields where I got to drive the quad bike pulling a trailer full of my fellow passengers, hold tight everyone. Hear we were treated to a demo of sheep dog skills. The dogs hearded the sheep into the shed where they were about to get sheered. They are extremely clever dogs and highly entertaining to watch. Once in the shed a few of the people who were up for a go had a bash at sheep sheering, I wasn't really up for it after watching the guy sheer one and cutting it's ear open, lots of blood, felt a bit sorry for the sheep.

After the farm we headed for Te Anau it's self which is yet another beautiful lake side town in New Zealand, the evening was spent chilling out in the hostel playing cards. Next day we'd be heading to Milford Sound.

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Today we had a bit of a lie in as we weren't being picked up until 10:15 to go to Milford Sound which gave time for lunch making always a winner when you're gonna be on a bus for a while. The drive to Milford sound was cool as we made our way through the glacier created plains with huge 1500 meter high mountains on either side.

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Once we reached the Milford sound, although called a sound, it is more accurately classified as a fjord, we boarded the boat for a trip through the sound to take in all the breathtaking scenery and marvel at how a glacier could have created all this. The sound is home to lots of marine life and is over 500 meters deep, we visted an under water observatory to get a closer look.

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Posted by ride165 15:00 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Curio Bay & Invercargill

Coastal Scenery

rain 16 °C
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Today we left Dunedin and headed down through Curio Bay along the Southern coast of New Zealand to take in the costal scenery and do a spot of wildlife watching, namely seals and penguins. We weren't to be disapointed, our first stop was to look for Elephant seals which weigh in at a massive 600kg but unfortunately our luck wasn't in and had to settle for regular fur seals, bummer hey, we watched them from a far which I thought was still pretty cool.

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Next we headed further along the coast for a walk in Cannibal Bay to spot some more seals, obviously we were expecting to see them from a distance little did I know that they would be literally sat on the beach, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a huge adult male seal chilling out lying in the middle of the beach. Needless to say we didn't get too close to him but close enough to smell him and he stank of rotten fish, nice!. As we left the beach we spotted a much smaller female relaxing by the rocks with her head on a patch of grass, very cute, I approached for a photo and she kept lifting her head to keep an eye on me.

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As we headed closer to Invercargill we stopped again this time for a bit of penguin spotting at the petrified forest, 180 million years old, it is revealed at low tide at Curio Bay, in a spectacular area known as The Catlins. This Jurassic forest, of petrified tree stumps and logs, is most impressive you can really see how this rock was once made of wood.

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Invercargill is the southernmost and westernmost city in New Zealand, and one of the southernmost settlements in the world but I wasn't that impressed on arrival, although the heavy rain might have had something to do with that. There were lots of bikers in town this day as there was an event on celebrating Burt Munro made famous more recently by the movie 'The Worlds Fastest Indian' starring Anthony Hopkins.

Posted by ride165 22:50 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Dunedin

Like Scotland

semi-overcast 12 °C
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Today we headed down from Queenstown to Dunedin, it is the second-largest city in the South Island of New Zealand and was established by the Scottish and is said to be the most Scottish place outside of Scotland but to be honest I didn't see much to indicate this except the crap weather!

On the way down we stopped off at an ice cream shop which sells the biggest ice creams ever, a single scoop was like a triple scoop back home. We arrived in Dunedin at around 2pm and visited the steepest street in the world which is crap, the one in San Fran is much more interesting.

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Once we'd checked into the hostel myself, MC and Laura booked onto the wildlife eco tour for the oppertunity to see Yellow Eyed Penguins and Royal Albertros. We weren't disapointed either as we got to see both and had a great laugh. Laura was trying to film the Albertros fly over but I hadn't realised and made a comment about the size of the poop that'd come out of one of those which can be heard on the video, she promptly fell off the rock she was stood on whilst filming. After seeing these massive birds which incidently have a wingspan of over 3 meters we headed off in search of Penguins on the coast.

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Now I don't know about you but I'd expect to see a penguin on the beach but as we approached through the field full of sheep we suddenly noticed in the adjacent field a penguin waddling up the hill facing off with a sheep. It was so funny watching them make their way up beach onto the hillside stopping every so often to cool off. We watched from a hut on the edge of the beach and right next to us were some seals, one with a pup, it was unreal how close they were.

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Posted by ride165 23:58 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Queenstown

Party, Bungy, Party

sunny 28 °C
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On arrival in Queenstown it was roasting hot which I later found out is very unusual for this time of year, none of us were complaining though as we headed down to the lake to soak up some rays and jump in the very cold water. Queenstown’s population is only 16,000 but it has a transient population of around 40,000.

The town has a good vibe and being situated right on Lake Wakatipu with stunning mountain views coupled to that the fact you can do just about all the outdoor activities you can think of means this little town has a lot going for it. One of those activities is of course bungy jumping, in fact Queenstown is the home of bungy with the first commercial bungy site being setup there, it is also home to the highest jump in the Southern Hemisphere (now that South Africa has closed down) called Nevis it stands at a vertigo inducing 134 meters suspended from a pod hanging by wires over a huge canyon this also happened to be the one I’d booked to do the following day along with Noelle and a Yank called Ian.

That evening was a large group night out which was good as it took my mind off the mental jump we had ahead of us. It was a great night with lots of Karaoke and free flowing alcohol courtesy of our driver guide Jimmy, most of the booze went in the direction of the girls though surprise, surprise. Got in at 3am and made a wise decision to drink 2 liters of water. I woke up feeling reasonable, I wish I could say the same about Noelle, she was a mess, luckily the jump pickup wasn’t until 12:20 with a 45min transfer she had time to compose herself, meanwhile myself and Ian stared nervously out of the window the whole of the journey.

Once we arrived we were harnessed up and transported 6 at a time by mini cable car across to the pod suspended high above the river below which looked tiny from up there. The do the jumps in weight order with heaviest first, luckily that day there were 2 heavier peeps so I was down to go third. I watched as they wasted no time getting the first person strapped in she looked nervous, yes I said she, she weighed 108kg, I thought she was gonna bottle it but no up she stepped and before I knew it she was gone, crap I thought my turn is coming fast!

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I’m sat in the chair having the bungy attached to my feet with the instructor telling me which strap to pull to release my feet. You are harnessed at your waist and your feet so that when they winch you back up you are in a seated/lying position instead of dangling by your feet but to get into this position you have to release your feet via this strap, scary shit when you are hanging upside down flying through the air. You have to do the release at the height of the 2nd bounce as that’s the easiest time.

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I shuffle to the edge of the platform and look out into the canyon and down at the floor, holy shit, that is a long, long way down…..3….2….1..Go the guy shouts, I jump, arms out swan dive style like I was told, it doesn’t last long though I’m flapping like a bird, like that’s gonna help. The ground arrives in no time then I feel the pull of the cord, phew it worked I’m safe springing skyward again, now I’m enjoying myself, I reach up release my feet and swing into a sitting position whoop whoop! Grinning ear to ear I arrive back at the pod, did you enjoy that asks the dude at the top, oh yeah I reply, wanna go again? Do I ,I shout, so I go again, this time head first arms by my side, this is awesome!!!!

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Videos of both jumps are now on Facebook

Posted by ride165 00:14 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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