Grand Adventure Time - 24 April 2013

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Day 12 - Last day :(  Got on the bus in the morning and slept most of the way back to Christchurch. Upon arrival I called my good friend Tom and he picked me up so that I didn't have to navigate on the busses.  He also made me lunch so that I didn't have to cook and I didn't have any food anyways.  I went to see the doctor and found out that I have a general throat infection.  Tom took me to go pick up my prescriptions as well so that I didn't have to walk into town.  Not exactly the ending I was expecting on my journey but I don't regret any of it!

Grand Adventure Time - 23 April 2013

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Day 11 - We had hoped for clear skies this morning because our view of Mount Cook had been obscured by the clouds yesterday and we must have hoped enough because we got them!  Bright blue skies surrounded snow capped mountains.  It was breathtaking.  We stopped to take pictures several time along our way to Rangitata where most of our group would go whitewater rafting.  It was turning out to be a beautiful day but my body just wasn't feeling up to it.  We stopped in Geraldine where we were told about a dozen people would have to stay because there wasn't enough space for us at the other accommodation.  I took them up on it because they made it sound like a better offer.  It was!  Geraldine was a quaint little town and we stayed in a quaint little hostel and it was all just so quaint!  There is no better way to describe it.  The hostel was a mom and pop place and we were in rooms with fewer people than we would have been otherwise.  The owner recommended a little café with a rose garden in town and we wandered down the main street and found it with only a few struggles.  The café was off the beaten track, a sort of 'locals only' type place.  I had a full sized meal and some lemonade and the day was perfect.  It was my last full day with the bus and I enjoyed every moment of it.

 

The gals I had been wandering with and I stopped at the library to get some free wifi and then took a glance in all of the small shops on the way back to our hostel.  I stopped for a roll at the grocery store to go along with my pumpkin thai soup that was soon to be my dinner.  It was a cheery atmosphere all around because it was our last night together.  Many people that chose to stay at the small were from my original bus.  The hostel owner had prepared a chocolate dessert for us, which was really tasty and we had ice cream with it too.  Perfect for the sick soul!  Great end to a great trip!

Grand Adventure Time - 22 April 2013

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Day 10 - Today we had a new driver.  She wasn't as cool as Chase, but she knew how to drive the bus and that's what mattered.  The drive today was from Queenstown to Mount Cook.  I slept most of the way, but I wasn't too concerned because I would be heading back to the region on a school field trip on Friday.  I picked up more medications along the way since I had run out.  The sky was cloudy and grey so the views weren't that great but I did get off the bus in Tekapo for a tea and to take a few pictures of the lake.   Mount Cook was obscured on our drive in so we had to hope for clear skies in the morning.  I did some laundry in the afternoon.  Did some more napping too.  I'm so tired of being sick at this point I'm considering just hopping off in Christchurch to go to the university doctor ASAP.  Dinner time rolled around and we ate in the restaurant.  I ordered green curry but it was suspiciously red.  I started to eat it but something with the spices just wasn't sitting right.  I stuck to the bread and rice.  Then it was time for bed.  Pretty simple day.  Wish I had more to report.  Wish I hadn't been sick!

Grand Adventure Time - 21 April 2013

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Day 9 - Today was another free day in Queenstown for me.  Last time I was here I had booked a horseback-riding trip for today.  (Hey, a girl has to find a good way to celebrate her little brother's 18th birthday even if he isn't around.)  I was picked up at the hostel at 8am and we were off to Glenochary where we arrived by 9am.  We were given gum boots (rubber boots), a riding helmet and assigned a horse.  Mine was named Keg.  We headed off to stunning views, crossed a few rivers, and took lots of pictures.  I could tell that there had been a lot of Lupine growing in the area and I can only imagine how beautiful it was in bloom.  The surroundings we could see from our ride were scenery for the Lord of the Rings including the mountains filmed as the misty mountains, somewhere up the valley was the valley where Isengard was, and one of the mountains was the one where Frodo dropped the ring and Boromir picked it up.  Another view provided us with the string of mountains in which the large piles of wood were lit as beacons along the ridge top in the third movie.  Sadly, our 2.5 hours was up too soon and we headed back to Queenstown (via car).

 

I had taken meds before leaving for horseback riding but they had worn off by the end of the ride.  Upon return to the hostel I slept until dinner time when I ventured out to find Asian noodles (someone in my room had them the night before and they smelled great.)  I got back to my room and ate a wee bit before napping again.  Then I got up and ate a wee bit more.  Nap time again.  I kept repeating this (which my roommates found amusing) until I passed out for the night.

Grand Adventure Time - 20 April 2013

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Day 8 - I think I slept for over 12 hours and it felt great!  The guy I shared my room with and I lazed around until checkout and dropped our bags off early at the ferry.  Then, we headed off in search of Kiwi birds.  The sky was a little grey and didn't have much home considering we only had a vague idea of what they looked and sounded like.  We first headed in the direction of the Ryan's Creek track, which was 6 km, and when we came to a fork in the trail we decided to keep going instead of turning around which was our original plan.  The next section of the track took us on the Fern Gully track, which was 2.2 km out and back along a stream to a clearing in the bush.  We returned via a road to Halfmoon bay, which was another 2 km.  So despite my head cold I still got to see a bit of the island.  Sadly, no kiwi birds but we did see and hear some interesting ones!

 

We still had some time before we needed to catch the ferry so we found our way to the information/visitor center where the sweet little old lady at reception offered to but in a DVD on kiwis for us.  I certainly learned a lot but was happy to be warm and out of the wind more than anything.  I had been taking medication as needed and not eating a whole lot, but it was worth it.  Finally it was time to catch the ferry back (it's about 4pm at this point) and it wasn't as horrible as the ride to the island.  Chase, the Stray bus driver, was waiting for us and we high tailed it back to Queenstown.  I slept the whole way...

Upon arrival in Queenstown we checked into the hostel and I headed to Fergburger for some french fries.  Having not eaten much I figured it was ok to eat something hot and with a lot of calories.  They were perfect.  I also ran into my pod mate and her brother on their journey.  Queenstown was just a stop along the way to Australia for them!  After my fries I found out the there was a Ferg Bakery and I tried a piece of apple pie.  Gotta have some fruit to go with my potatoes.  It was the last night many of the people on my original bus were going to be in Queenstown and they tried to get me to go out but I fell asleep instead.  Fun things are planned for tomorrow!

Grand Adventure Time - 19 April 2013

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Day 7 - Half-way point!  Another early morning but this time it was accompanied by a sore throat.  Every time I swallowed I had to brace myself for the pain.  And what was the first thing I did?  Hike up a mountain of course!  To take us off the beaten track, Stray took us to the Roteburn track to hike to key summit.  I started off at a fairly good pace but my legs got tired and my head started to throb.  There were many times that I wanted to give up but when I thought about how lucky I am to have two fully functioning legs and decided that I had no excuse for quitting.  However, when I got back on the bus I was exhausted and slept the rest of the way back to Te Anu.  In Te Anu I found the nearest pharmacy and got day and night meds.  I took the first dose and fell back asleep most of the way to Invercargill.

 

Invercargill is one of the most southern cities in New Zealand.  They have the world's most southern McDonals, but more excitingly they have Tuatara.  At a little museum we got to see Henry the Tuatara and lots of baby tuataras.  Anyone who has taken WFS300 knows that a Tuatara is the closest living thing we have to a dinosaur and are the only living example of Sphenadons.  Needless to say I geeked out!  After a brief stop in Invercargill, we got back on the bus and headed to Bluff to see the southern most point of the south island of New Zealand as well as the anchor point of the south island.  In Maori legend, Stewart Island is the anchor for the south island so there is an anchor chain (representative statue) that connects the islands.  From there we went to the ferry where those of us headed to Stewart Island got off.

 

The ferry to Stewart Island was rough.  It was like riding a roller coaster for an hour while uncontrollably shivering.  I closed my eyes and braced myself in my seat almost the entire way. I fortunately did not get sea sick, but I was not a happy camper either.  We finally reached Stewart Island in the dark and our luggage was the last to come off the boat.  Feeling miserable (the meds were doing nothing) we found our way to the hostel where I took a shower and fell asleep by 8pm.  I had completely skipped dinner.

Grand Adventure Time - 18 April 2013

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Day 6 - By 7:00am we were off on the next part of this grand adventure.  I slept the first few hours because the landscape was farmland and I was familiar enough with that.  Our first stop was Te Anu for groceries but we had planned a group dinner so I just wandered around the town and did what I do best; I found a coffee shop.  I had skipped breakfast so I got a piece of carrot cake and a flat white.  We picked up our tickets for the Milford Sound cruise and for the ferry between Bluff and Stewart Island.

 

The drive to Milford Sound was scenic with amazing mountains and valleys that words cannot quite describe.  This was the type of area that Lord of the Rings was filmed when there were big dramatic tree covered mountains...but they managed to film on days when there weren't clouds covering half of it.  At one point we drove through a tunnel in a granite mountain.  It took the workers 20 years to complete and there was only an inch of misalignment from where they had started on either side, which is pretty good considering the technology of the time they built the Homer tunnel.  Honestly, the landscape was breathtaking but got a little repetitive.  We finally reached Milford Sound where the landscape was altered with the presence of a large body of water.  Again, gorgeous!  It was sunny which made it that much more spectacular.  The only wildlife we saw was a few seals and some birds.  Still no magnificent dolphin sightings though.  We spent about 2 hours cruising along the water.  Perfect :)

 

We took our time driving back to our accommodation for the night at Gunn's Camp.  Our beds were in cabins heated by wood stoves.  Pete would have been proud of me waking up every 1.5 hours to add a log to the fire.  I slept, but not well that night.  I had some time to walk around and explore the area but was quickly chased inside by the sandflies.  We had a group dinner of bangers, mash and vege, but I just has the mash and vege.  Many of us just sat around and talked until late then time for bed!

Grand Adventure Time - 17 April 2013

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Day 5 - I slept in but because I was tired...just tired.  I lazed around in bed because I could; I hadn't really taken time to do nothing since getting on the bus.  I cooked my own lunch and by cook I mean microwaved some Uncle Ben's golden rice and opened a tin of pineapple chunks.  It was a satisfying lunch despite what it may seem.  Since I was unsatisfied with the camping towel I had borrowed from a friend I decided to go to nearest outdoor store and look for a new one.  Much to my surprise there was a three for one deal, which meant if I bought my brother one for his birthday I could get the free ones and not feel guilty!  There were also stuff sacks on sale with similar deals.  I was like a kid in a candy shop.

 

Wandering further into Queenstown I found a Starbucks and ordered a coffee I was familiar with.  I decided to read papers for one of my university classes which may not seem very relaxing while on vacation, but knowing I wouldn't be in a rush to read them later was comforting.  When had read as much as I could take I wandered around Queenstown taking pictures and taking in the quaintness of this city.  I noticed that I was hungry on the early side so I figured it was safe to wander to Fergburger and I got a burger entitled Holier than thou.  It was a tempura tofu burger with the most amazing sauces ever.  I could eat that thing every day.  I was silly enough to think that I would still be hungry so I had ordered onion rings too.  They weren't the greasy ones I had expected but rather seemed baked and weren't bad.  However, I didn't need much after the burger anyways and didn't eat anything the rest of the day.

 

Once I was able to move after consuming so much food, I went back to the hostel and skyped home to Bill and my mom.  I did some laundry too since I had limited clothes with me and then turned in for an early night.  Early morning planned for the next day!

Grand Adventure Time - 16 April 2013

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Day 4 - Just wanted to take it slow this morning.  I could have gone to Puzzle World (still not sure what it was) or gone on a hike, but I needed to let my legs continue to recover from the glacier hike.  Therefore, I found a little café that looked out on Lake Wanaka.  I ordered my usual flat white and this is where I read about Boston on Facebook.  Between sipping my coffee and checking the news as the story developed I read an article for my environmental planning class.  Later on I hopped back on the bus and we headed off to Queenstown.  Along the way we stopped at Mrs. Jones fruit stand where I bought dried mangos, which will turn out to be the best purchase I made along the way.  We stopped for many more photo opportunities along the way because there was a lot of lake (I think just one big one, maybe two) between Wanaka and Queenstown.  Arrowtown was a detour we took on the back way into Queenstown.  The fall colors were covering the mountains and we had time to walk around and enjoy them.  Arrowtown was a quaint little place; I could live there too :)

Another key stop along the way to Queenstown was the Kuwaru bridge, the first commercial bungy jumping site.  The area was pretty but I couldn't jump.  Rather, I wouldn't jump.  No thank you. 

 

We finally arrived in Queenstown and checked into the hostel.  I'm starting to get used to this kind of living.  Again, I decided not to cook and went out for what I was promised would be greasy American style pizza.  It lived up to my expectations and was delicious.  Pizza was followed by a tour of some of the bars in Queenstown where there are 315 licensed places to serve alcohol.  I think I only saw four before I called it a night.  Although I had fun singing 80s songs at the top of my lungs in a cowboy themed bar or "dancing" to some of the more recent music 1am is about my limit!

Link to Pictures of My South Island Adventure

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Enjoy!! - http://www.flickr.com/photos/72029016@N04/sets/72157633331295879/

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