26.01.2011 - 04.02.2011 30 °C
The next few days I spent at Te Anau and Wanaka. I was supposed to have a day less than I did in Te Anau and have a full day in Queenstown. However, due to getting the wrong bus time, and Nakedbus bureaucracy working against me, I was unable to do this. Still, Te Anau is a pleasant place and I didn't really mind. Besides, there's so much to do in Queenstown which costs lots of money (not good for a penny-stretching world traveller), I probably saved myself from the temptation and subsequent disappointment I would've felt spending time in NZ's adrenaline capital. I'll have to come back and do the skydiving and legendary bungee another time; when I have money!
I didn't do all that much in Te Anau or Wanaka, just chilled out and did a few short walks.
My portable home. A bit cramped with all my stuff in there - especially when it rained and I was forced to stay inside. I was trying to camp where I could to save a bit of money on the accommodation front. However, it wasn't as cheap as I'd expected (and therefore, budgeted for) as many places charge per tent site, not per person. Thus, if 3 people were all sharing a large tent it'd cost each a third of what I had to pay. Some places it was actually cheaper for me to get a bed in a dorm room than camp!
An evening by Lake Te Anau. The float plane does aerial tours of the area and the fiords. Some helicopter tours land on glaciers. Again, that'll have to wait 'til I have money!
Interesting thing to have on the menu...
In Te Anau there is a little park with a water feature in the shape of Lake Te Anau with rocks for mountains.
A Tui bird I saw from my tent. It has shimmering black-purple feathers, a white ruff at its throat and a very unnusual call. I have videos of the call... still trying to find a way of getting them online!
Although I didn´t see any kea (alpine parrots) on the way to Milford Sound, a bird sanctuary near Te Anau had some. This place takes in injured birds and releases them when they´re well enough to have a good chance of surviving by themselves.
Another view of Lake Te Anau from a walk leading to the beginning of the Kepler Track, a famous multiday hike that I, unfortunately, didn´t have the time to do.
They´re rare and nocturnal. The only place you´re likely to see them in the wild is on Stewart Island, off the coast of Southland.
Parts of Central Otago and Fiordland have an abundance of red deer. There are many deer farms you see from the road. A pie shop in Te Anau is reported to make the best venison pies in the world. I had one every day I was there (total of 3) - they were that good!
Scenery on the way to Queenstown.
The Remarkables range - a steep ridge over 2000 metres high. Queenstown is just the other side.
As I previously wrote, I hardly spent any time in Queenstown. However, in the brief time I was there, I made sure I ate a Fergburger. These things are famous and an absolute institution for backpackers. Everybody who has been to Queenstown as a backpacker has eaten at least one - a kind of right of passage. They are exceptional. I opted for the traditional Fergburger with Cheese, but there were many others on offer. Bun Laden was the falafel variation. Cooked and made infront of you as you wait, these things are seriously good - and huge! Sometimes I feel certain things people rave about (as I´m doing now) don´t live up to the hype... Not these beasts.
Wanaka is a peaceful, pleasant, lakeside town. This is the height of summer and I was there at a weekend but, still, there were hardly any people around. I did a walk along the lakeside, past sunny vinyards, and lay on a beach which I had completely to myself.
With nobody else in sight I fell asleep there, and woke up rather sunburnt. The lack of ozone above NZ means it´s very easy to get burnt.
I had planned to go, from Wanaka, up the west coast to Franz Josef to see the glaciers and mountains up close. However, the busses were all booked up (should´ve booked earlier) so I had to go back up the east coast again via Christchurch and Kaikoura. The weather was a bit better this time though so at least I got to see these places in the sunshine. Thankfully, my timing didn´t coincide with any of Christchurch´s terrible earthquakes. Whilst looking at the media coverage more recently, the images showed places I recognised, except when I was there they were still standing.
Cathedral Square in the centre of Christchurch, with the iconic tram.
The Chalice, built to celebrate the millennium.
All of my worldly posessions. Looks so small in a pile there. To last me 8 months!
I liked this.
My hostel in Christchurch, Jailhouse, was in the buildings of an old prison, only closed in 1999. Instead of a dorm, you get a cell! A really fun place, it certainly had the novelty factor.
They kept a few cells in their original state, to remind all what would happen if anyone broke the house rules...
In Kaikoura I tried a different hostel - Albatross Backpackers Inn - and was really impressed with the place. The owners were very friendly (they gave me free eggs to make an omelette for breakfast) and the facilities were great. There was free organic fairtrade tea, coffee and drinking chocolate, a herb garden for visitors to make use of in their cooking, loads of board games, guitars, ukuleles and a fantastically well equipped kitchen. In addition, they had guests´artwork all over the place, produced in the "creative corner", with paints and canvasses, and they recycled almost everything imaginable - including all kitchen food waste, which was fed to local pigs, in exchange for fertiliser for the herb garden and flower beds. Full circle.
Whilst the weather was pretty terrible when I got to Kaikoura (again! - heavy rain), it got gradually better until, by the time I caught the train the next day, there was glorious sunshine and superb views of the mountains - the first time I´d seen them.
The whole journey up the coast to Picton I spent outside on the observation carriage, getting some great views.
Very 'Lord of the Rings'-like scenery.
The sailing on the Interislander Ferry was really enjoyable. The sun shone and the sea, this time, was calm.
Leaving the South Island, the North Island is visible in the distance.
The next place on my itinerary was Napier. Totally destroyed by an earthquake in February 1931, this town was rebuilt in the, then popular, Art Deco style. When I was there the place was gearing up for Deco Weekend, when people dress up in 30s costumes and cram the roads with vintage cars. There were displays everywhere and I got the feeling that some people go a bit crazy for it.
It was certainly interesting to see the architecture as many functional, everyday buildings are in full Deco style - quite unique.
In Buenos Aires I´d met a couple from Napier, Kelly and Rick, who very kindly offered to put me up when I was there. We shared our thoughts and experiences of Argentina, and travelling in general, over a bottle of local Hawkes Bay wine, which was great. Thanks again guys.