Spring Break: Part 1
Wow I can’t believe I’ve already had mid semester break. I didn’t know it was possibly for time to pass this quickly. I went down on a two week road trip to the South Island with three of my friends from Massey for the break. We left on Sunday the 26th which just so happened to be the day that all my friends from Saint Michael’s were moving back into school. To sum it up this was the best spring break of my life or actually the best two weeks of my life. I will try to keep the updates nice and short so I don’t lose any readers 😛
We left for the Auckland Airport at 3:30 in the morning. This may seem early but I actually stayed out in Auckland that night and got back to Albany at 3:15 so it actually just seemed really late. We ended up being at the airport way earlier than we needed to be but better safe than sorry. We flew down to Christchurch to start our adventure. When we got there we rented a car (“El Cheapo” from Juicy) and were on our way. We booked all the hostels ahead of time to make things less stressful but didn’t plan out every day. We ended up going to the Antarctic Center since it was right next to the airport. This was the only let down of the trip. We didn’t know exactly what to expect but from all the ads and awards we were expecting a little more. We did get to see some penguins though which was nice. Then we made our way to the Botanical Gardens. If I had one of these near me back home I would be there everyday. It was so peaceful and beautiful. We also went to the restart mall which is made of shipping containers. If you don’t know, Christchurch got hit by a big earthquake last year and they are still recovering. It ended up being really warm which was surprising since we were closer to the south pole than Auckland. Since it was so warm we decided to go for a walk along the beach. I was considering swimming but just as I was about to go in some clouds came over which made it a lot cooler. That night we stayed in a hostel right outside of Christchurch.
The next day we drove up to Marlborough but made a few pit stops along the way. The first stop was at Hamner Springs. They had some hot pools as well as some water slides. The weather was just warm enough to do the waterslides without getting cool but still cool enough to enjoy the hot springs. We even got half off thanks to our Juicy key chain. After a few hours there we continued over to Kaikora. We were told that there are some nice beaches there and that we might see some seals. Turns out we saw tons of seals! We asked around in town to see where the seals hang out and were told to go to a waterfall a few kilometers north of town. All the seal pups go there while their parents are off hunting. There were seals everywhere! One was a little further down than the rest and came right up to us and seemed to be showing off a little bit. He was playing with a leaf so we got him/her some more to play with. The seal was loving the attention and we loved giving it. It was by far the coolest part of the trip! Once the sun went down we figured it was time to continue our journey.
The next day started with a hike around Queen Elizabeth sound. The water was so green and the views were great. We were then off to a wine tasting/tour at Cloudy Bay. It wasn’t much of a tour but the tasting was fun. They told us about a nearby place where the wine cellar is built into the hills so we decided to check that out. It turns out they don’t give tours on the weekdays in winter but we still got to do some more tasting. We also stopped at this store with tons of samples. I love free food so I was in heaven. There were all kinds of sauces to try and they were even giving out free liquor. We spent a good amount of time between there and the fudge shop next door. After that we started the drive to Nelson. We got to our hostel just in time for free dessert! They had really good chocolate pudding and my friends didn’t finish theirs so being the only guy in the group I felt it was my job to help them. We then went shopping to get food for dinner. We kind of mixed up the order of meals but I was fine with that.
In the morning we went kayaking in the Tasman Sea near the Abel Tasman National Park. The water had a really nice light blue/aqua color to it and I realized that we were in paradise. Sure it could have been a little warmer but I was still able to go swimming afterwards. Swimming in New England makes your body used to really cold water. After a nice picnic lunch we went on a hike around the top of one of the hills in the park. I felt like I was in Lord of the Rings! The scenery looked just like the movies and we could even see the island that we kayaked around earlier. Around sunset we started our drive to Greymouth. We didn’t get there until late and had to start driving at 5am the next day so we didn’t really get to see anything around there. Other groups said we didn’t miss much though.
I was the only one awake enough to make the drive down to fox glacier the next morning. The views were remarkable! They were in my opinion the best views I saw driving during the entire trip which is saying a lot since this whole country could be on the front of a postcard. Sadly everyone else was asleep so we didn’t get any pictures. The glacier walk itself provided plenty of Kodak moments to make up for the lack of driving pictures. We opted to go on a guided walk since that is the only way you can actaully walk on the ice. It was well worth the money. There were about 10 people per guide so the groups were nice and small. It just so happened that one of the people I ate dinner with back in LA was in our group. She came with some friends from her program. It was really nice to catch up since I honestly didn’t think I would ever see her again. We started off hiking though a rainforest (yup that’s right we walked to a glacier through a rainforest) up to a viewpoint then down to the glacier. The guide was really knowledgeable and told us tons of fun facts along the way. We got to walk on the glacier for three hours and went through lots of tunnels. I thought I was going to get stuck in one but we all made it.
The next day consisted of a long drive from fox glacier to Queenstown. Once again we made a few pit stops along the way. We stopped at a gas station and picked up some maps of hikes along the road. We ended up each picking a hike to do. They were all pretty short hikes so they easily fit into our schedule. I of course picked the longest once since I love hiking up mountains. The three girls all picked shorter hikes. One of the shorter hikes led to these really awesome blue pools. It was by far the coolest looking water I have ever seen. After all the hikes we continued into Wanaka where we stopped at Puzzling World. It was a really neat little place with different illusion rooms. After that we continued onto Queenstown which is where part 2 will pick up.
I had a few thoughts by this point in the trip the main ones being:
-I should have studied in the south island
-The people are even friendlier here than in Auckland
-Hostels are lots of fun. It is really cool sharing a common room with everyone. We heard so many fasinating stories and met all kinds of people. During this portion of the trip we mostly kept to ourselves with the exception of socializing when we were making dinner but this changed overtime.
-Roadtrips are the best!
Now the photos/video:
This is a video of a seal that came up to us. You have to click and download it since I don’t have a Youtube account. I’ll get one by the next post though! Seal!