Well, this is going to be an embarrassingly long blog as its been about 7 years since I did the last one, a fact I only realised yesterday. So where was I ... oh yes Milford Sound had been amazing and the west coast was just waiting to be discovered. First stop was the Fox Glacier. Like the mints. Now I am experienced in glaciers, having already seen a grand total of 1, but this was pretty impressive nonetheless. You could pay hundreds of dollars to be led there by a guide or just walk there for yourselves so we did that! Even better, we discovered a secret trail that led to a lookout which overlooked the entire valley an glacier. It was a bit more impressive from up there anyway, and like nothing I've ever seen before.
From there we went to see the next glacier, Franz Josef. Not sure what kind of mint that one was named after, but it was equally impressive. There was a sign to show how far it has receded in the last hundred years, and the difference was huge. Luckily we discovered 'glacier pasties which helped us get over the shock. Weather was beautiful and we ended up playing scrabble and drinking beer in the sun. Was going brilliantly until I discovered that the sandfly population had set up a drive thru on my feet. Bad times. And about to get worse...
Had 2 more stops on the south island which were both lovely towns but less than impressive fellow hostel guests. In the first we met a 60 year old from Preston who told us where we could 'score some weed and used f and c words all over the place. In the second we seemed to have stumbled into a Mafia sort of set up and were not welcomed because we were not German or Chinese (that may be a guess..). Either way, I will say this for the south island, they have public toilets EVERYWHERE. Was suitably( impressed due to being the owner of the smallest bladder in the world.
We returned to Wellington last Monday and I was reunited briefly with my favourites from inland revenue. Was weird to be back in Welly and staying in a hostel! We stayed long enough for Ron to (somehow) pass the equivalent of an MOT and then were on our way to see what had north island had in store for us. First stop was Ohakune and a lodge called the hobbit. You can't imagine how happy I was about the hot tub until you have gone 6 months without a bath! (I have been showering just to clarify...) then we went exploring mount ruapehu (aka Mordor). Didn't find any orcs, just lots of rich people skiing. Our first sight of snow though and it was pretty impressive. Not sure if its been in the news back home but mount tongariro which has been dormant for over a century erupted the day we got to... tongariro national park. Talk about timing! Didn't see anything though not sure whether that's a good or bad thing. We also stayed in lake Taupo and saw yet more new sights, just when I thought NZ was running out of ideas. Saw some amazing bright blue rapids at Huka falls and discovered an alarming amount of geothermal activity including steam pouring out of craters in the ground and mud bubbling and hissing at us. I felt like we were in Jurassic park! Less dinosaurs mind you. Cost us about £3 to get in and well worth it! Especially when we got to Rotorua (smells like eggs) and it cost about £40 to get into a similar attraction. We are cunning little people though so we walked to the top of the redwood forest right behind the attraction and watched the geyser for free! Muahahaha.
Only one more thing to tell you about then I promise I'll stop...yesterday I finally made it to HOBBITON!!! It was every bit as good as I hoped, someone had even left the door open for me at bag end. I had to be dragged away as everytime you look you just see more and more detail. It was like all the hobbits were out for the day and would be back later. Very glad I didn't come a few years ago before they had rebuilt it all for the hobbit. My life ambition to go to the shire is now complete.
We are now in Whitianga with only a week left in NZ. Just watching the diving and planning to get up early to watch the spice girls do the closing ceremony tomorrow morning. Will try not to leave it so long until I write again, and Janine... I have no idea how to change the font on this thing I'm sorry!
With lots of love from the sunny east coast, plus lots of national pride at the moment.