LAND OF THE LONG WHITE CLOUD: STARGAZING, SAYING GOODBYE AND WHY CHRISTCHURCH IS WORTH VISITING

Shout out to my night shift homies, Gemma and Helen, who I know read my blogs on their break, love ya ❤️

So upon arriving back in Queenstown, Suz and I stayed in a different Hostel than last time with Line. Adventure Hostel. I found out later that this had actually been voted the best hostel in New Zealand on Hostelworld, and I’m not going to lie, it is pretty decent. I think, despite keen for a drink with the stray crew, I fell asleep nearly as soon as my head touched the pillow.

Even with a decent lie in the next day, it was hard to get out of bed. I was the only one left in my four bed dorm when the guy from reception came to make the beds. I ended up talking to him for a bit, but as he kept coming back in the room I assured him that I wasn’t usually this lazy. It was kind of embarrassing still being in my pjs when he had been at work since 8am.

Suz, Line and I went for a walk. Suz still hadn’t tried a ferg burger as she was too tired last time we were in Queenstown. So as she waited in line for that, Line and I tried to find a bakery or the four square. This is the moment I realised never to trust Line with directions! I think we walked up and down the same street about 5 times before we realised the four square was just a little bit further than we had been walking. Line had been sure that is was ‘definitely this way… No this way.’ Once we had finally all bought our food, we took a walk to the park.

It was a beautiful day with the sun shining bright. We sat down on the grass by the edge of the lake and just talked and gossiped for hours until the sun disappeared behind the mountains and we began to get cold. We took refuge on the top deck of a bar where the heaters warmed us as much as the beer. It was just a pleasant and chilled day with good company.

We agreed we would have a proper night out on our last night in Queenstown. I actually wore a dress for once. The two German guys who we went looking for kiwis with on Stewart Island with were in the same room as Line, as well as two other Germans who ended up joining us. Marius just randomly gave me a beer, which of course I wasn’t going to decline. Glenn and Agu came from the other hostel and joined us in the kitchen to play card games and Picolo, a drinking game phone app (I would recommend). There was another group from the hostel who were also playing drinking games, so in the end we just all joined together. In this group was Eric, another Brit, who had been at Southern Laughter hostel whilst we were there.

I’m not going to go into details of what happened after this except it was a very entertaining game and I ended up drinking a whole bottle of wine. Once getting to the bar, I vaguely remember buying myself and Suz a shot a tequila and let’s just say the rest is a blur… It’s odd, before this night I had mainly been drinking beer, but having up to 8 bottles a night and barely feeling tipsy. I think it must have been the tequila that tipped me over the edge, giving me my second proper hangover of my life.

It’s not that I never get drunk enough to get a hangover, it’s just a thing in my family. My brother and sister are the same, after a night out, we usually feel more refreshed than ill the next day. However, not this day. It was a rough morning. I honestly thought I was going to have to miss the bus, but luckily, after throwing up one last time, I was able to make it to the pick up location with the others.

This was actually good tactics as we found it’s better to be hungover on a travel day than a free day where you’d be tempted to spend it in bed. Although it was a rough ride and I was extremely thankful whenever we stopped, it was nice not to feel like I was missing out on anything. We got to Mount Cook pretty late in the afternoon. After checking in, our driver took us to a little walk to the Glacier where we’d also be able to see the famous mountain. 

Unfortunately, it was raining and windy and the clouds were pretty low, we couldn’t even see a mountain that was 100m in front of us. Also, the Glacier was melted? Is it a Glacier if it’s melted? We now had Micah on our bus, the stray photographer, who took photos of Suz, Line and I as we stood on rocks. It was a nice walk, but definitely would have been more impressive if it were a clear day. 

We left again early the next day, choosing not to stay around for more hikes. Kind of regret that, but then I just remember the pain I was in after Roy’s Peak and I feel better about it. The 3 of us hopped off the bus at Lake Tekapo. There was no space at the hostel Suz had booked, so Line and I stayed at the YHA, which was actually pretty decent and cosy. I bit like a cabin right by the lake. It had a stunning view out of the big glass window in the common area.

We later found Suz sitting in the cafe by the hot springs pool and treated ourselves to coffee and lunch before taking a walk up a considerably smaller mountain than what we’re used to climbing. This was called Mt. John (I think) and on top is a star gazing tower. Lake Tekapo is meant to be one of the best places to star gaze in New Zealand. There’s not a lot of light pollution and it’s even possible to see the southern lights, which, compared to the northern lights, are red and not green.

Just like Wanaka, the trees on our walk were a beautiful crisp golden colour. The perfect colour of autumn. It was hard not to take pictures. Line and Suz said my hair looked nice next to the trees and grass and told me to go run around in the grass whilst they took pictures. Obviously, I look awkward.

It was such a stunning view from the top. It’s so hard to convey it all in a picture. The sun was out for us again and we took some fun pictures of us standing on rocks in front of the sun.
The lady, Lorna, who worked at our hostel was so nice and helpful. Instead of journeying back to the top of Mt. John, she told us a route to walk where there would be no one else to stargaze and we’d be far enough away from the light. So we joined up with Suz and her new roommate, Dylan, and ventured into the residential area, getting lost several times, until we finally found the track Lorna, had pointed out on the map. It seemed to be in the middle of this farmers field, but directed us to the top of a hill. It was perfect. The moon was so big and bright and the stars were all so clear. Suz had a stargazing app on her phone showing us which constellation was which and even pointing out Jupiter and Saturn. We sat and just looked at the stars for about an hour. It was peaceful here. I love space, it’s the most curious thing. I have always loved Doctor Who and any sort of sci fi movie, and I find it so interesting just looking at the stars and thinking, there could be life out there.

When we got cold, we journeyed back to our hostels. Lorna was still up and asked us how it was. Obviously it was magical! She then showed us the Southern Cross, something you obviously cannot see back home in England. Mel Coles, if you read this, I tried to take a picture for you, because I know you love space and stars as well, but it wouldn’t show up on camera. I’m sorry. Lorna showed us how you’re meant to line up the stars with you hands, clap your hands and then bow. This is meant to show you something, but I forgot what it was… maybe the direction of South?

The next day, I needed to do a lot of ‘admin’ stuff, so whilst the others took a walk around the lake and to the church, I stayed at the hostel and organised some more flights and researched which route I should take in the countries I’ve decided to visit. So I’m now officially heading to Singapore after my outback tour in Australia. I’ll stay there for 3 nights before moving on again. I was getting so excited, I nearly wet myself.

We were picked up by the stray bus around 2 in the afternoon. Line and I were waiting at the pick up spot for nearly an hour and actually started to plan what we would do if we had been stranded there. Luckily though, Pickles soon turned up and we started our journey to Christchurch.

We had been warned by a lot of people that Christchurch was not really worth visiting. I originally planned to move on to Picton the next day, but since Suz was flying to Auckland the next day and Line and Katie (who we had rejoined) had decided to stay because they weren’t sure of their next plans, I also remained in Christchurch for a couple of day. As a send off to Suz, we had a meal out at a place called Mexico and treated ourselves to beer. After, we found this cool little bar made out of a bus, which had fires and heaters to keep warm around and colourful fairy lights. It was a fun night, but saying bye to Suz the next day was sad. She was the only one I knew since the start of the trip, so her leaving was the beginning of the end of NZ.

Our two days in Christchurch was spent exploring the city which had nearly been destroyed by earthquakes, most notably the one in 2011. There is so much construction work everywhere; it was hard to find a road without it. We went to a pub quiz that night, Line, Katie and I, along with Line’s roommate. I don’t think it will surprise anyone when I say we lost, bad. It was a hard quiz, the type where older people usually play and obviously they had had more life experience and time to absorb useless information and facts. So yes, we lost. But it was still fun!
The next day, we just walked around the city, trying to find a shop that sold cheap rucksacks for Line. It was quite cool, because they have a little square where all the shops are made of out containers and then some of the street art was unreal.

When it was time to catch the bus again in the morning, it was time to say goodbye to Katie. It just gets sadder the more goodbyes you say. Line had booked to go to a Yogo retreat and so ended up hopping off Rolex’s bus half way to Picton so she could hitchhike the rest of the way. I was genuinely worried for her, but she got there ok via 3 different drivers.

I’ve heard a lot of negativity about Picton, but it’s actually a cute little town. We cosy-ed up around the fire I had (finally) made in the hostel and I introduced everyone to the Dark Lord Funk version of Uptown Funk. Of course, they all loved it. And then a few others had never even seen Potter Puppet Pals… who are these people? I used to play this on repeat with my friends at school.

Our ferry to Wellington wasn’t until 2 the next day, so Caroline and I took advantage of the nice weather and grabbed coffee and cake whilst Micah, the photographer, took pictures of us. That was a funny experience. The ferry ended up being delayed and then the actual ferry ride was sooo long. We didn’t arrive until half 7, so it was around four and a half hours long. Grim. But it was nice to see the city I liked so much again, it didn’t matter how windy it was.

Now this is a warning to anyone thinking of staying at Base in Wellington. Don’t. I was first told I could only stay 3 nights instead of 4 because they were booked up. But then when I checked on Hostelworld of where to stay for the fourth night, it said Base had rooms. The first night I was there I was kept awake all night because of the constant dripping and rushing of water coming from the massive pipes on the ceiling. I was able to change rooms easy enough, but it was smaller, smellier and dirtier. There was even chewing gum on my bed post. And then, on checking out after the third night, I forgot to bring my pillow case down, and was told I couldn’t check out without it. So I had to go back to the fifth floor to get the stupid pillow case. Then, when I asked if I could but my bag in storage, they said I had to pay for it. I told them last time I stayed here I was able to put it behind the desk for free. Apparently it’s only free if you’re checking in. Utter BS. I was so happy when I checked in YHA and wished I had stayed there the whole time. It was so clean and beautiful.

I also finally watched Gaurdians of the Galaxy in what I later found out was the theatre where the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit premieres were.

On Monday, my last day in Wellington, I met up with Lorraine! It was so nice to see her again, but weird because I kept forgetting she hadn’t been to the South Island yet. She came with me shopping for souvenirs and we ended up getting a massive Oreo salted caramel brownie thing from New World and went back to YHA to eat them. Or half eat them as they were so sickly. We talked for hours, it was great to catch up with her. She and Jason have both got jobs and and now live in a shared house. It’s odd to think they will still be in NZ when I go home.
Instead of spending 3 nights in Auckland, I decided to hop of in Taupo as we only spent an hour there last time. And also, I now understand why so many people hate Auckland. It’s so bland compared to the rest of New Zealand. So I spent a couple of days just chilling and sleeping and taking little walks around the town and by the lake. It was nice and relaxing. I also watched a lot of Netflix, I’m not ashamed.

So the day came where I was to return to Auckland, the night before my flight to Fiji. The drive, thankfully, wasn’t too long. I had the same driver, Tia, who drove us from Wanaka to Queenstown. The only driver I’ve had twice! We arrived at half 5, pretty decent for city traffic. I had booked to stay at the Queens Street backpackers, the place I had stayed my first few nights in New Zealand. So this was it, I had gone full circle and my adventures in New Zealand would now become memories. But definitely some of the best memories!! 

I’m kind of tempted to come back and apply to be a stray driver. It would be insane because you get so many activities for free and you meet new people all the time. It’s definitely one of my options once I have finish my travels. I can’t quite believe I’m over half way through my travels now. Less than 3 months until I return home. Crazy.

Love you all ❤️ and thank you to everyone I met in New Zealand for making it special.

Qui vivra verra 

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