A Travellerspoint blog

The Jump

I'm still alive. :) WARNING – THE FOLLOWING PART ABOUT THE JUMP IS VERY DETAILED. IT IS MORE FOR MY OWN MEMORY OF EVENTS THAN FOR BORING THE ARSES OFF YOU LOT, SO FEEL FREE TO IGNORE IT. :)

sunny 9 °C

So the next morning it was freezing and I didn’t want to get up out of bed at all. The girl had booked me in to jump earlier this morning – 9am. So I got up and dressed. Surprisingly I wasn’t nervous in the slightest. Maybe it was because it was too early for me to feel anything. I rang the company and they said that yes indeed they would be going ahead with jumps today. I said ‘hmm’ and got myself ready and waited outside.
When the bus did pull up, I had been chatting to two Danish girls who were also jumping with me. They were nervous as hell. I tried to calm them with statistics about skydiving that I’d read off the kitchen wall in the hostel…….
E.g. most of the instructors have over 3500 jumps under their belts.. The girl instructor also did tandem jumps with Ricky Martin…
It seemed to do nothing to assuage their fears. I on the other hand was really excited, no nervousness in my tummy, and had a huge stupid grin on my face continuously. We picked up another couple, the girl was bloody terrified. She spent the entire time
once we arrived at the jump center saying things like “why are we doing this?” And “we might die” etc etc.
I still maintained my grin, my excitement and ignored her, and repeated those earlier statistics in my head. :)

When we arrived at the jump center, it was all go go go! It was a very colourful building on the outside with things like “Feel the rush” printed above the door, whilst inside was a hive of activity. There was a big black tarpaulin cover on the floor, on which several barefooted people were jumping and squeezing things (parachutes) into backpacks, then pulling huge bundles of string together, folding more things and finally hanging the prepared backpack (i.e. chute) up a roundabout type clothesline thingy.

We all signed in, giving our next of kin details and reading all the small print and then we were handed over to this big Maori guy who pushed and pulled us into our red jumpsuits and harnesses. I had a chat about Peru with him whilst grinning like a maniac. Then I put on my bum bag, which was actually a life jacket, in case we landed in the lake. He he (yet ooherrr)

After I was kitted out in a fetching egghead style hat and goggles, I waited outside to watch the previous group of jumpers come in to land. It looked cool and I was even more excited (if possible – think Christmas eve when you’re seven years old). Me and another guy started to clap and cheer the first one into land (knob alert). They came bombing in, despite the fact that they look like they’re floating down to earth, the speed is fenomin.. phenominabl..phenomenal.. eh.. It’s really fast! :)

So once we were all suited up, the dvd guy (we had all chosen to get the free ground dvd that was thrown in with the offer) sidled up to us swishly and took some cheesy footage. Then a big hulk of a man came up to us (I instantly knew he was my guy) and said “Lisa?” and I go “yep!” and he goes “Hi I’m Dan, I’ll be your instructor today” and I go “Cool – great” (and in my head I go YES!! He’s humongous. :)) Safety is paramount kids.)

So after 20 mins, we all trek outside to the brightly painted, perfectly good plane and one by one we climb up into the airplane, with a last scary look at the dvd guy. There were two long benches inside the plane, one beside the door and one nearer the pilot. I was one of the first in so I was squeezed all the way down the inside bench beside the pilot. The door was rolled shut and we were off. My guy started to talk about cars to another instructor so I was left to my own thoughts and devices whilst staring out the window. All I could think was “holy shit, this is definitely going ahead” and instead of vomiting right there and then, I just started smiling again. :)
Dan gives me the thumbs up sign, so I thumb up him back. He says “Right, when we get to the door tuck your fingers in here and dangle your legs out, then when we jump tuck your legs back between mine and push your head right back like a banana shape, then when I tap you on the shoulder put your arms out". I nod and think “WHAT??? Eh can you repeat the part about the thing”…
Then all of a sudden, the plane slows down. Some silent horn is sounded and all the instructors start clicking themselves onto us and pulling cords so tight that I think my stomach is going to pop out of my gob. We get to 13000 ft or thereabouts and the door opens, and the first guy is gone…
whoosh goes another couple (they’re all tandem jumps).
The pilot shouts “Too Fast”.
We wait a few seconds.
Another guy is gone.
We all shuffle up towards the door a bit.
I can feel the wind now.
Then the moany girl is gone, her pigtails tucked up into her hat! Then another one.
More shuffling.
Goggles go on.
The tightest goggles in the land I may add.
And another.
More shuffling.
And another.
I’m the only one left, we have shuffled all the way down to the door at this stage.
The pilot shouts “Too Fast” and we wait maybe 4 seconds.
We shuffle to the door and my legs are dangling out the door of the plane.
They are nearly taken off with the strength of the wind.
I peek out and Dan pushes my head back.
I peek out again and he pushes my head back again.
I can see Dan's hand against the inside of the plane and

HOLY SHIT WE’RE OUT THE DOOR!!.

Nothing can EVER prepare you for it and there is bog all words to describe the feeling. Complete fear, my insides jump right out of my mouth as I take a huge gasp in and try to catch my breath. Fucking Hell. All I can see is blue. I can’t even shout or scream for a few seconds. I try to look up to look around and all the wind rushes up my nose and into my mouth and I can’t breathe so I look back down again and try and grab some air but then Dan taps me on the shoulder and I have to put out my arms and I’m like HOOOOOLLLEEEEEEESHIIIITTTTT. And we are bombing towards the ground and there is no feeling of weightlessness or any of that bollix, there is a feeling of “I weigh a fucking tonne and Dan does too and we are fucking bombing along”.
This all happens in the space of five seconds or so. Then I start to smile my head off and try and look up and around again but the lack of breathing ability forces me to look down again.
I go ‘Jesus I Don’t know what to say.. It’s absolutely amazing.., but "bleughbleughbleugh" comes out.
I can see the blue of the lake, patches of trees and then we’re twirling around a bit and then WHOMMMPH. The parachute is released and all I can see is my legs clad in what seems like an orange prison suit and my feet dangling below me and I go
Wow this is awesome”!
(I’m sorry, we’ve been here a bit long and everything is awesome).

Inside I’m thinking ‘Thanks be to jaysus the parachute worked, even if a bird pecked a hole in it now, we’d probably still survive.. (I know – weirdo). And then you get to look around properly and you can hear yourself talk and it’s absolutely off the fucking scale. I don’t know how to compare it to anything I’ve ever done because it doesn’t fit into the normal ‘good’ and ‘bad’ parameters of stuff.

I tell Dan he has a great job and he says ‘it’s choice alright”. Then he twirls us around a bit and my belly goes all wobbley as for a few second it feels like we’re not in control anymore (are they ever?) and the scenery is amazing. The sky is blue, there are no clouds and the sun is shining. We can see for miles around. We spin a bit more and then continue to float down for maybe a couple of minutes more (who knows?)
Then I can see some of the others and a couple of them have landed. Then the ground starts to come rushing up beneath us. Dan says “Lift up your feet until I tell you to stand up” and so the grass is nearly below us and he says “standup, standup and run” and my little legs are running before I even hit the ground and then we come in for a very good landing.

Wow.

I resist the urge to bodypop Dan and instead give him a high five.

We’re instructed to form a line and jump up and down like loonies shouting - for the dvd. Which we do gladly as we’re all so feckin hepped up on goofballs, that we couldn’t care less about looking like ejits.
Although I’m unsure as to whether those images will come back to haunt us. We all blab about it together, as you do when you do something fantastic, and tell each other about how scary/exciting/windy it was and how we couldn’t breathe/fell over/landed on our arse etc etc. Then we took some pics and were all unburdened of our harnesses, jumpsuits, hats & money. We hustled into the dvd room to watch ourselves looking cheesy (one of the girls couldn’t stop getting sick outside) and then we bundled back into the Freefall Bus and were dropped off home.
I arrived back at the lodge to waffle the ears off poor Jimbob – telling him all about it whilst we had some breakfast.
Then we hopped onto a bus and head for the hills – aka Tauranga. :)
Fucking Brilliant.

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Posted by squeakylee 19:44 Archived in New Zealand Tagged air_travel Comments (4)

Taupo

Lake Taupo

sunny 8 °C

We arrived in the pissing rain in Taupo on Sunday night. I had booked my skydive for Monday morning, so we didn’t do much. The hostel in Taupo was cool, and me and Jim were staying in the Jungle room – which really consisted of some weird brown sticks stuck to the wall, some green swathes of fabric hanging from the ceiling and a leopard skin rug – but it was mucho exciting for us all the same. :)

The next morning, I got up, dressed, nearly got sick with the nerves and bid adieu to Jim. He promised not to carry on without me, which suited me just fine. ;) I went out to ring the Great Lake Skydive Company to make sure the jump was going ahead – but shockety shock – it wasn’t. They said it was too windy to go. Ah butts. I’ve already tried to do a skydive a couple of times before in Ireland, and I was beginning to think that maybe it was not to be. I wasn’t too disappointed though as she booked me in again for the next morning so off I went to have a big breakfast with Jim. (We had huevos!!!)

After breakfast, we decided to visit the Huka Falls, followed by the Craters of the Moon (a geothermically active area, i.e. steam and bubbling mud coming out of the ground). I asked the girl in reception about the shuttle bus, and she said that it is not too far and we could walk. BOY IF I COULD HAVE KICKED HER ARSE!
We walked 2km to the start of the trail of Huka falls, which was 3km in length. The Huka Falls trail was very scenic at the start and then continued into the mud for another 2km. Huka Falls itself was cool, it supplying 15% of New Zealands electrical power. Then we walked another 3km to Craters of the Moon. At this stage it was feckin’ freezing. The area itself was cool, we saw lots of steamy holes in the ground and some bubbling mud, but I dunno if it was worth the trek. I used to think bubbling mud would make it all worthwhile, but I’m not so sure now.. Then of course we had to walk all the way back. I reckon we walked about 16km. That receptionist was lucky she was nowhere to be seen. :0 So we deserved a bit treat and bought ourselves some yummy dinner of chilli prawns & wineeeyo. Then we rented some movies from reception. A little bit of Team America put the smile back on my face. :)

So the next morning, I went through the same process of getting up, bidding Jim adieu and getting all nervous. When I rang the skydiving place they confirmed that today we were indeed going ahead! AWOOOHOO. Alas by the time they came to pick me up in the skydive bus, the wind had picked up and it was cancelled again for another day. They put my name down for tomorrow morning and I said I’d give it one last shot. We booked in for another night in the jungle. (room). Then we went for a walk along the lake, which was so choppy it looked like the sea. We didn’t last long on our walk as it was ice cold, windy and our legs and backs were killing us from all the unnecessary walking yesterday.

We spent the rest of the day lounging around, watching tv, making music on our laptop and generally vegging out. I packed my bag that night just in case I did actually get to jump the next morning (we have to be out of the room by 10am).

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Posted by squeakylee 19:42 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Auckland 2 - The Return

Doo wah diddee diddee dum Danny Howells

rain 15 °C

After our long (24 hour) trek from Queenstown via Christchurch) we were starving and plumtuckered out. We stuffed our faces with the 6 dollar breakfasts in the hostel, and went to sleep. We got up at 2 to go shopping and do the laundry, then had dinner in the food court whilst trying to avoid the homeless people’s hungry stares, and went back to our room for more sleep.

Eventually at 9pm, we got up and showered, dressed ourselves and had some wine. We headed to the clubbing (and gei) boulevard on Karangahape street where the club was. Danny was already playing when we arrived. We bounced to the bar, got ourselves some drinks and had a bop on the dance floor. I must admit, after all our traveling and spending money ongetting back to see Danny – I was hoping he would play a blinder. But it seems he may have just been blind. His music for the first few hours was shite – very hard housish.. but we weren’t going to let it bother us that much. We made the best out of it, by going nuts when the good songs came on. After a while, the floor cleared out a bit and he started playing some really good stuff, followed by some old classics, which were brilliant. We were right up the top bouncing around and whilstling and shouting until the end. James was hit on by many geis and I was starting to get a bit worried for his safety so I whisked him out of there and (unwittingly) took him to a full on gei bar down the road. Ahahahahaha. ;) It must be the Gay street but we had a brewski there and headed down towards home. It was a great night! :)

We slept all day til 6pm, made some pasta for ourselves, then slept again until 1am. Then we got up for the FA cup final which was been shown down the road. It was a brilliant match. Westham Vs Liverpool. And just at the end the westhamians looked all chuffed like they were going home with the trophy. That is until Gerrard appeared and stuffed one in the back of their net. So it went to extra time, then penaltys and Pepe la Pew saved three so the trophy went to the scousers. I felt sorry for the Westham team and that fellow Ferdinand, as I thought they played well and it was so close, but James instructed that sympathy with the opposition is not allowed and so I blew a raspberry at them instead.
Then we went back to bed for more sleep. :)

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Posted by squeakylee 19:38 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Queenstown

semi-overcast 13 °C

Well it’s back to me again. I was delighted at my few days off there with Jimbob taking over the writing role. :) But now he feels he has done his share for life and it egging me to get on with it. ;) We jumped on the fabulous bus down to Queenstown at about 8 in the morning. It was a grand auld jaunt, but unfortunately the bus constantly stops to have toilet breaks, pick up epopele and have meal breaks. So what should have been a 4-5 hour journey takes 9 hours. Sheesh – the one thing I regret about NZ is not hiring/buying our own camper van. But at least we don’t get tired from driving around I suppose. :)

So we arrived in Queenstown at aboot 5pm, and headed to our ‘Bungi Backpackers’ hostel – which has nothing to do with bungying – I presume it’s just to make our hostel sound way more exciting!!!!! (like the addition of many exclamation marks to a not-so-interesting sentence).
Our room was called ‘The Garden Shed’ and was just that. It was tres cute though. We dumped our stuff and went for a stroll, first to the supermarket and then aboot the town to look at all the cool, very trendy, expensive skiing and snowboarding clothes. Then we had promised to drop Ger a mail (as he had headed to Qstn yesterday). So we let him know where we were staying and went off to cook a bit of grub.

Later on Ger found us! In the garden shed and all! He he. So we had a chat about music and headed out for a couple of pints. We were all minding our own business, (well I was just sitting there and the lads had gone to the bar) when a pleasant, yet slightly scary Norwegian girl approached me, blurbed something about how her dormmate had ran off and left her because she had spilt some of his wine, and asked if she could join us. Well I smiled a lil, (she seemed a bit plinkety plonkey at first) and I told her that of course she could join us. :) he he

Then she began to tell us about how yer man had run off (a few times), and we began to tell porkies about the amount of bungy jumps we had done. (Well really - who starts a conversation with ‘how many bungy jumps have you done?)
After a few minutes though, I thought she was great and great fun. So when the bar was closing, she practically forced us to come to another ‘club’ with her, so we could drink shots. Well I don’t think any of us had any time to object even if we wanted to – so we shrugged, knocked back our drinks and headed off.

In the ‘club’, we got busy drinking lovely fruity shots. You get a teapot full of the shot you chose for about 15 bucks. And maybe 2 or 3 shots each out of each teapot. The teapots were cool – I wanted one and we had a great laugh, doing stupid dancing, stopping to be sick in the toilet (me – to the shouts of ‘hey did you chunder?’) and then continue drinking more teapot shots. Yer woman was a madser and told me that she was just going to look for this guy that she had been sharing an intimate moment with last week. I said – ah grand, no worries, see ye in a few. But then she came back because she wasn’t exactly sure if she could remember what he looked like! Hee hee.

So after a few more shots we left her in the capable hands of a ‘brazilian’ (– well that’s what he told her..) We said goodbye to Ger, and tried to convince him to think aboot going to see Danny Howells with us.

The next day luckily we had decided to stay in Queenstown. It was a nice day so we had some lunch (we slept through brekkie), and decided to climb us this 907metre hill/mountain to get some fab views of Queenstown. It took feckin ages – and it was ALL uphill. The first part was kinda through a forest, climbing over tree truncks and whatnot, so it was interesting. Then we got to a road and had to continue up this boring never-ending road for what seemed like yonks! My legs were burning from all the uphillityness.

Finally we reached the top and there was some amazing views of the lakes and Queenstown and the snow-capped mountains. We rambled around, took a few pictures and had a look at the bungy jumping place, which is balanced very precariously on the side of the mountain with a huge shear drop underneath it. It is the highest one in NZ apparently, and there is no way in hell I would EVER jump off it.. *shudder* Then I spotted a kind of ski-lift which went up even higher into the air. I asked James would he go on it with me, but he was adamant that he was not getting on it. Then we spotted these small little cart type of things, that were close to the ground. They had wheels and handlebars that you pull towards your knees to brake. I bargained with Jim and said if he went on the ski-lift with me, we could do the small car things (Luge) when we got to the top (as they started at the top of the hill). So eventually he said ok and off we went. Perhaps I should have let him walk up as I was not allowed to laugh, look around or move about in the ski-lift as he clung on for dear life! ;)
When we got to the top, with our safety helmets, we were given a small little cart yoke (aka the Luge) and showed to the driving path. It was downhill all the way and it definitely made my day. It bombed along and soon my hands were freezing (as it is quite cold up there). We had a right auld race with two Japanese people behind us. He he. :)

It was starting to get dark then and as Jim didn’t want to get on the cable car (we walked up because the cable car was mucho expensive and Jim was a bit nervous of Cable cars), we decided to walk back down as quick as we could. We bombed it down. We ran all the way down the road, and manouevered our way through the ever darkening woods as fast as possible. We met a few heads on the way up. They asked us if we thought they would make it before dark… oh how we scoffed and laughed at their naiievity and optimism. ;)
When we did reach the bottom, we took some pics and ate some cheapo Indian food in the food court. Then to our disgrace we fell asleep at about 8pm. Loohooohooohooosers. :0

So our flight from Queenstown was at 1.25pm the next day. We went for a Starbucks, then headed to the airport. Why bother! Due to very low cloud and krappy weather conditions, our flight was delayed. And delayed. And delayed. And delayed. And finally cancelled. Bums.

So we were offered a bus to Christchurch and then the option to fly from Christchurch to Auckland in the morning. When we heard the checkout lady say that the weather could be like this for a few days, we took the bus to Christchurch.
Quantas paid for our dinner at a small café along the way and then when we got to Christchurch at 1am, they put us up in an airport hotel for free too. It’s a pity we didn’t have longer to make use of the kettle and tv there but we pocketed the soap and conditioner and made do with that.

At 4.30am we headed to Christchurch airport and waited for checkout to open (it didn’t open til 5.30). Then we had to wait again as they did something with all our names (it was the same gang in CC airport) as we had been entered as flying yesterday (or something), so it was more waiting. I was tired and starting to get a lil grumpy when I heard the checkout people arguing over who was going to ring HQ back and find out if we’d all been cleared. I wanted to shout “I’ll f*cking ring them – give me the phone”. However there was no need, as with one wave of her hand the supervisor said ‘Do it’ and off we went on our flight to Auckland. 24 hours later, we arrived in Auckland. (The flight from Queenstown to Auckland was not even 2 hours.) So our plan to fly the day before so we would be all rested for going out to see Howells was a waste of time as we got no sleep and were bollixed tired for the day. Bums. :/

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Posted by squeakylee 09:33 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Fox Glacier

Just like the mints!!!

sunny

We got the bus to Fox Glacier after the cold nights sleep, it was only about 30minutes down the road. The half day hike was booked for 1:45pm and we were in FG at 8:30 with no room ready in the hostel until 12:30, we scratched our heads and thought “hmmm I wonder if we could get on the earlier hike at 9:15am” We went into the Hike center and they said no problem. Lisa pointed out a warning card on to me regarding people who suffer from vertigo, it said the hike involved some points along the hike where u are walking along holding a chain with a 300 foot vertical drop beside you and to inform your guide before setting off. Now more than two pairs of socks on (as my day would say) and I’m starting to get scared, needless to say I was getting quite anxious. Although Lisa was reassuring me it was ok and I knew it was ok as I have gotten quite used to pushing myself to face my fear of heights quite regularly it still plays on my mind. Anyway we went through to the boot room at 9:15 and met with our gnome-like mountaineer guide. He talked us through what we would be doing, what we should be wearing and to use as many pairs of socks as we liked to get comfy in their hiking boots. We set off in an old bus thingy up to the car park of the Fox Glacier. Apparently the car park is over a massive piece of ice and recently they had to re make it with a huge steel base to stop it becoming submerged. FG is much easier to access than FJG and equally if not more impressive, as your very near the terminal face of it. We set off in two groups of 13. Our group had the gnome guy Chris and the others had some younger lad. Chris was quite funny cracking jokes about the Irish here and there along the way. When we were telling Chris where we were from a guy beside us said “Ireland? No way I’m from Dublin”. His name was Ger and from Rathmines, we waffled our way up to the Glacier with Ger and the guide. It wasn’t as physically demanding as we imagined. Eventually we got up to the scary height bit, where we had to climb up a ladder then grab a chain and ease our way along the rockface slowly, always keeping one hand on the chain. This was no where near as bad as I thought it was gonna be. I had told him I was scared of some heights so he moved me to the front with the two old biddies who were also scared lol.

After about ten more minutes we reached the Glacier – It was so impressive. Huge in size and beautiful in colors, from white ice with bits of rock to deep blue crevices. We attached our crampons to our boots, grabbed a walking stick and proceeded onto the Glacier. On the Glacier its considerably more cold and you have to walk flat footed stamping your feet into the ice to make sure u don’t slip down a crevice or something. The views from on top the Glacier were amazing. We hiked around the top for about an hour with the guides explaining various things about the Glacier, how it’s formed, how fast its moving (about 1 meter a week) and in what direction (depending on snowfall / melt). It was much easier getting down from the Glaciar and the mountain side. We even got to hear a big piece of ice falling off the front – it sounded like thunder. We were on a high after the trip and went with Ger in his spaceship (rental car u can sleep in and contains a dvd player, cooker etc) to get a nice big unhealthy breakfast/lunch. I had the al day breakfast, which was soooooooooooooooooooo nice!! Lisa had eggs on toast, that looked yum and Ger had a bacon butty. Ger dropped us back to town after swapping email addresses and arranging to meet the following night in Queenstown. We spent the rest of the day checking our mail, cooking and relaxing in the hostel.

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Posted by James R 13:00 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Franz Joseph - Glacier!

sunny

Still half asleep we managed to get to our hostel and fall straight asleep for a few hours until our bellies awoke us to inform us it was feeding time.
After cooking up some foood we watched a movie that was playing in the TV room – “The sum of all fears” with a nice cup of tea. We awoke the next morning and went outside – WOW! All around us were mountains and the reason we had made the trip here The Franz Joseph Glacier. Since we got up late we decided to just do some walks in Franz Joseph and do the half day Glacier trek the following day in Fox’s Glacier (it was cheaper). We got the Glacier shuttle to the car park where all the walks start from Although the track was closed due to river conditions we jumped the rope and headed towards the retreated Glacier front. It took about 30 minutes and was pretty cool walking through the area where the Glacier once passed through. We could only go so far unaccompanied by a guide but it was certainly far enough to get an idea of the immense size and power of the Glacier. We done a couple of more walks around the Glacier area and eventually headed back to town. After a nice hostel cooked dinner we watched some TV with tea and headed to bed. It was a FREEZING nights sleep; the temperature must have dropped considerably as we kept waking up all night.

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Posted by James R 13:00 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Christchurch

Poooooley!

sunny

After a lengthy bus ride we finally made it to Christchurch around 4pm. The hostel was only a short walk from the bus stop in the center of town. After we got checked in we went a rambling round the city center on the never ending quest for our next meal. After about two hours of indecision and wandering about the place, we finally went back to the Irish bar we first passed by and that we had two free pints vouchers for :o)
I ordered this massive burger and chips and Lisa went for the Seafood Chowder soup and brown bread. After our food and few pints we rambled back to the hostel to use the free internet. After seeing a poster in town for the comedian Ross Nobel playing the following night we tried to book two tickets to see him. We expected it to be sold out already but we were in luck!! As we finished up on the internet, a local whats on news paper headline caught Lisa’s eye. It was a small article on German house dj Ian Pooley. We had seen posters around Auckland and Christchurch for his NZ tour but we thought it was surely a different “ian pooley” and after we googled “ian pooley” + New Zealand” back in Auckland when we first arrived, to find some blurb about “Ian Pooley, New Zealands most important hard house dj” so we took it, it was some local guy with the same name and a bad taste in music :op But after we read the article we realized it was indeed the Ian Pooley we knew and loved and had seen a few times in Dublin. After about two seconds thought of “ouu should we do Ross Nobel AND Pooley in the one night?” the answer was a resounding “feck it, lets do it!”

The next day we had a nice sleep-in in preparation for the hectic evening ahead. We walked about Christchurch looking about shops for a few bits n bobs i.e. Lisa bought a handbag and we done a big shop in a massive budget supermarket. I also teased myself by looking at the new edition of Mixmag in a big magazine shop for the crazy priced 30 NZ dollars!
On the way home we stumbled across an Asian food court – woohoo cheap tasty eats! I had the hottest Thai Green Curry of my life and lisa went for the extra spicy Pad Thai which wasn’t hot at all!!!! They must have mixed the orders spiciness up. Much to our happiness Nobel was as hilarious as the first time we seen him in Dublin (the second time he wasn’t that good). The laughter and Steinlager set us up lovely for “The Concrete Club” Which wasn’t too busy when we first arrived but after about 3 drinks the place was getting very busy and the warm up dj Shannon Aston was rocking the place with this wicked new track on Dubsided by Jesse Rose (which I will search for)… anyway we drank ourselves silly, befriended the warm up dj, who bought us shots and introduced us to Ian Pooley (see funny pics) and stayed there till about 6am when we HAD to leave as our Trans Alpine train was leaving at 7:30am.
Oh the pain, straight home to pack our bags and head out for the free shuttle bus to bring us to the train station which NEVER APPEARED!! So we had to try and find a taxi and eventually get to the station in time to join the big backpacker queue still hanging from all the drink and serious lack of sleep. The train journey is supposed to be fantastic with amazing scenery all the way to Greymouth on the West coast. Apparently it was, but I wouldn’t know anything about that, coz all I did was snoooooooooze. Lisa did nudge me every now and again to show me a mountain or lake or something but I was out for the count.
After the train arrived in Greymouth we had to wait around for a bus and then travel a further 3 hours south to Franz Joseph, another journey we spent in a semi sleep state.

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Posted by James R 13:00 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Kaikoura

Whaletown..

sunny 14 °C

Kia-Ora Kaikoura = (Hello eat cray fish)

After stuffing our little hobo bellies with as much free toast with peanut butter and jam as we could manage, we jumped aboard the bus to Kaikoura. The journey south along the coast was pretty spectacular, lots of trees and hills with clouds wrapped around them and to our left the beautiful ocean with more sea lions, seaweed and the odd surfer to keep us amused.

We eventually found our hostel “The Lazy Shag” (where I’m writing this at the mo) it’s a lovely new place with clean ensuite rooms and a massive kitchen and bonus free internet.. :)Lisa foolishly entrusted me with the budget for the next while, so we tried to make our 30 nz dollar food allowance stretch as far as it could, which wasn’t very far at all, and once we saw an Irish pub with an open fireplace it was curtains! I couldn’t resist the lure of Guinness on Draught. We splashed out on a couple of pints each then retreated to the hostel to cook our dinner and drink some red wine and watch another family guy before bed.

Anticipation levels when we awoke this morning were at a high, its Whale Watching Day!! Woohoo.. the reason we decided to visit this town. A km and a half off the coast of Kaikoura, there is an underwater canyon that is over 1000 meters deep. It contains both cold and warm sea currents that are perfect feeding conditions for Dolphins, Giant Squid, Sharks and most importantly… WHALES!!! Its prob the only place in the world you can see whales so close to land. They get whales here all year round Orcas (Killer whales), Humpback, pilot, south right, giant Blue whale and the Sperm whale.

After watching a short video on whales in the whalewatcher centre we set off to the boat (see pics), which was pretty cool and very modern. They had a big screen that constantly displayed details like; where the boat was and how deep the sea below us was. It was manned by a maori whale guy underneath it. It also showed us what speed we were doing. As we shifted over the canyon the depth meter went crazy going from about 30 meters to over 1000 in about 2 minutes. The guy was excellent giving us loads of information about whales and how big the canyon is below us, using some pretty impressive computer graphics and getting our excitement levels pretty high.

After some sonar listening and help from a whale watch plane above a whale had surfaced to breathe about 1km south of us. Full speed ahead skipper lol we charged towards the spray of water from the Sperm whales blowhole in the distance, as once they surface, they breathe for about 5 to 10 minutes before diving to feed for about 40 minutes. Two minutes later the engines were killed and we were floating right beside the whale, so everyone was instructed to get outside fast!! We ran out and there he was - a massive Sperm whale, the second loudest creature on earth (Blue whale is louder, think 747 engines at take off) and the third biggest type of whale.

After about 5 minutes of watching and photographing the giant creature, the guy got on the mic and said
“Ok get ready guys he’s about to dive, here he goes, one last breath and hes going down”.
With one last gust of air from his blowhole he started to submerge and out it came, the moment all the cameras had been waiting for, haha his massive tailfin!! (the guy said it was waving us good bye lol.) Then it was under, leaving only his “footprint” behind - a calm circular area of water on the surface.
Everyone was well happy, the whale guy told us that that whale, was a residential whale, and lives around the sea trench. Its name is Noodle after 2-minute noodles, as that’s all the time he usually stays at the surface. So after that we rushed to another sighting to see another sperm whale, the biggest one feeding in the area and nearly as big as they get. We think his name is Taoi or somink. He gave us a wave goodbye and off we went in search of another, but while waiting on the turd whale to surface, Noodle had resurfaced just a short distance away, so we went back to see him again.

It was a pretty amazing experience seeing a creature so big so close to us. On the way back we went by some sea lion colonies but Lisa and I were not that interested, we had our fair share of sea lions in the Galapagos. (ooh look at us showing off!!) So all that was left to do after that thrilling morning whale watching, was have a pint of Guinness and some ‘Traveller’
Friend’ - Subway for lunch :op

Posted by James R 20:58 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Wellington - Picton

not for long tho

sunny 18 °C

The next day we bid adieu to the golden girl lookalike and trudged on downtown to the Bluebridge Ferry Terminal to get the ferry to Picton in the south island. It was a lovely day and we had a few hours to kill so we hopped onto the Wellington Cable car for a quick spin to see some fantastic views of the city and harbour area.

The ferry itself was humoungous and had a cool lounge room showing movies and a big observation deck up on top. We ate lunch outside and took in the fantastic scenery until it got a bit too cold for Jimbob shortpants. We stocked up on tea and watched ‘Finding Nemo’ in the movie lounge. It was cool. We got to Picton and checked into one of the coolest hostels ever. It was called Atlantis Backpackers and had a huge kitchen and a big TV room. All the bedrooms & dorms were also decorated with fish & sea munsters. Quality hostel. We nosied around the picturesque Picton and then whipped up a fabulous hostel dinner of pasta, veg & sauce (it don’t get more exciting than hostel food I tell thee). He he. We watched a movie in the room with trunty other scruffians and drank some wine. :)

Posted by squeakylee 16:35 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Wellington

Wellies needed

rain 13 °C

Well here we met the second rudest person in NZ. The auld dear who ran the hostel was NOT pleased at being woken up before 8 on a Sunday and told us right off. The feckin ad for the hostel said ‘will make you feel right at home’ … Yeah feckin right. She was a right old bag and answered the door in a long green nightie down to the ground. Think the oldest dear in golden girls and that’s her. So she told us that we weren’t allowed check in til 8 and sent us off back out – in the f*ckin rain!! What a bag!! So we hobbled off to find a McDonalds (I know, I know – who in their right mind goes actively looking for a McDonalds – this is the second time since we’ve been away).

We didn’t have the dosh for anything more exciting. NZ is tres expensive. So we had our egg mcmuffin sandwiches and went back to bash on yer woman’s door. She was a lot more pleasant when she was dressed but we didn’t hang around to exchange pleasantries. We had a shower and went off to take in the sights of Wellington.

We went to the city art gallery to see this really interesting exhibition by Patricia Picinini – a Oz artist who creates some really weird creatures (and wonders aloud if they haven’t already been created). It was a cool exhibition and afterwards we went to a NZ brewery along the waterfront for a pint ((t had finally stopped raining). Then we went to the Te Papa museum – one of NZ’s best museums. It was fairly busy and pretty interesting, but at this stage, it was information overload and we had to go get some food. We went for some pretty decent grub and then headed back to our hostel, with the intention of perhaps heading out later. Yeah right. He he. We watched Jarhead on DVD and then fell asleep. Overnight buses knock the socks off ye. :)

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Posted by squeakylee 17:33 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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