What!? Fourth week already??

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It is way too cheesy to say, but yes, we dare to say it (the dare-devils that we are!): time really flies when you’re having fun!

Our previous post ended in Taupo where we did some sailing and were preparing ourselves for the clash between Japan and Tonga.  As mentioned, something big was going to happen the day after: Bas took the big jump from 15,000 feet over Lake Taupo, free-falling for about a whole minute (it’s nothing? Try to hold your breath for a minute, and imagine that you’ll be going downwards on a speed your car won’t keep up with!) before the chute opens up!! As Hasan’s job exists of flying – read: taking off and landing in an airplane – and not of jumping out of airplanes, sky-diving was definitely not an option for him. Bas did take the jump together with four others, but was the only one to jump from 15k ft, whereas the others took the jump from 12k ft, “…because of budgettary reasons”. Yeah right.
After the jump, we were able to look back the photos and videos taken from the free-fall. Unfortunately, there were some technical issues. It was even so bad, that videos of three of the other jumpers were not even working at all. Only Bas and one other girl were lucky with that. It did take the organization, however, an aweful lot of time to put together the video. Even our Belgian friend who we’ve met in Hamilton – he was working at the lovely Forty Winks hostel – with whom we by chance crossed our roads here in Taupo, and who jumped after us, was able to leave earlier. To make things even worse for the other jumpers: they still had to drive from Taupo to Wellington, and it was already 4:30PM. Good luck driving in the dark through the mauntains!!

After the sky-dive we were brought back to our hostel, from where we headed down town to have dinner and watch the game in one of the pubs. As we had to travel to Auckland the next morning, we kept it a short evening and headed back (obviously after making sure we got hydrated enough during the rugby games) to our hostel.

The next morning – which is the 23rd of September – we took our car and moved towards Auckland. Just out of Taupo, we did make a stop at the Huka Falls. Before the Huka Falls, there was a scenic lookout, where we wanted to take some pictures of the city and lake of Taupo. At that point, and while taking photos, we got into a chat with a woman who was clearly having a break. It was kind of an odd, yet friendly conversation. What would you think of someone who used to be a pilot and a circus acrobat? …Exactly.
We moved on towards the Huka Falls where we again bumped into our Belgian friend who we’ve met in Hamilton and the day before at the Sky Dive. This started to be a little bit creepy. Even though Hasan disagreed, we did not throw him into the waterfall: he was on foot and there was no way that he could beat us arriving in Auckland…

After taking the necessary photos of the Huka Falls, we moved on towards Auckland. Unfortunately, by the time we reached Auckland it was already 4:30PM, which meant that traffic pile-ups were starting to form. With a little delay, we managed to find our way directly to our hostel where we did stay before as well. We dropped our stuff and moved to the waterfront to have some dinner. We enjoyed our delicious sea food platter (it was not only fresh, it was a huge platter as well) accompanied with Job Joosse approved white wine at Kermadec. Unfortunately, we were not able to sit outside, but we had some great views in the restaurant as well…
With our tummies filled with seafood, we moved to the Sky Sports Bar to watch the game between Australia and USA. Surprisingly, there were more US supporters – I mean real Yankees, and not Kiwis who would support everyone playing the Aussies – than Australians. After the game, we slowly moved back up to our hostel, as we had to set our alarm for the next morning at 05:30.

“Why on earth would you get up at 05:30 in the morning?” one could ask. There are two reasons why someone would get up so early in the morning: to catch a flight, or to catch fish! This time it was for the latter. Gavin Roberts – still known as “Robo” – was waiting for us at the lobby at 6AM sharp to pick us up and head towards his parents’ place and pick up the boat.
The weather was teriffic: no wind, blue sky and the sun shining above us. A perfect day to take out the rods, catch some fish and catch up while waiting. Even though it was just about to become spring, we did catch a lot, and a lot of different, fish. We even reached our limit of what we were allowed to catch! From snappers to kingfishes, from marlins to killer whales; you name it, we caught it. Unfortunately, Robo (imagine why he’s called “Robo”) is against animal cruelty, and we therefore had to release them all. We were only allowed to take a photo of a little yellow tail fish and a little snapper… So, we’re sorry folks; not much to show on photos! We did have some other photos of dolphins which we unfortunately were not able to catch.

After fishing we went back to the house of Gavin’s parents where we had some coffee while waiting for Gavin to get ready and his brothers to arrive, as they were all going to the AllBlacks – France game that evening as well. Before going to the stadium we got to the waterfront to have some drinks at the O’Hagan’s pub. After all, and we obviously cannot mentioned it enough, hydration is important! Late afternoon we took the free bus that was going from downtown to Eden Park. Gavin, his two brothers and father were actually sitting in the section right next to us, so we were able to walk around the stadium all together and get into the same gate as well.
We all know what the AllBlacks did against the French, so needless to say that the mood was set to Party-mode! Unfortunately, the other reason why one would have to get up early in the morning was becoming reality: we had to catch a flight early next morning to go from Auckland to Queenstown. So no party for us that night, but it was clear to hear that night that the entire city did not sleep…

On the 25th of September – which is a Sunday morning – we returned our rental car, and headed towards the national airport of Auckland. We checked our stuff in, had some breakfast, waited for the plane to arrive (it was delayed) and finally jumped into our plane to take a 2.5 hour flight to Queenstown. As we were being told by many people, even the flight to Queenstown would be wonderful. And it certainly was! Mountains, lakes, snow. An awesome view! Even the airport of Queenstown itself is quite amazing: on one side you see the plane with the mountains on the background, and just a number of meters on the other side you see the exit with more mountains covered with snow.
We took a taxi to our hostel and dropped our stuff. As it was already afternoon, we moved into town to find a good bar to watch more Rugby games. A game that we looked forward to was the game between Samoa and Fiji, and we got what we expected: big hits and Samoa taking the win. After watching the following match between Ireland and Russia, we decided to move to another place and ended up, after walking around, in the Ballarat Trading Co. where we watched the thriller between Argentina and Scotland, which Argentina managed to win. In that same bar we met two Dutchies (brother & sister) and two Aussies with which we followed our evening in Winnies Bar – where Bas had to hug the toilet after downing a horrible, dark-green, still unidentified shot – Buffalo Bar, and Boiler Room. After Boiler Room Bas called it a day, as the next morning we had to take the Bottom Bus to travel around. Hasan did stick around to inaugurate a few more bars.  What happens in Queenstown…….

On Monday morning we got up on time, took our showers, packed our stuff and checked out of our Bumbles hostel, and waited outside for the Buttom Bus. We waited… and waited… and waited, but no Bottom Bus. As we started to get worried, we checked at the reception, who provided us the phone number of the company. When we called them, it appeared that the bus took off without us. Luckily for us, the driver was not too far out, so he decided to return and to pick us up. We don’t quite believe the reasoning they gave us why they did not pick us up in the first place, so we assume they simply did thought that we would not be at our place as we booked months ago and did not had any other communication ever since. In any case, we were on the bus! The Bottom Bus tour starts from Queenstown, goes to Duneden, Invercargil, Milford Sound and ends back in Queenstown. This tour takes about three days, where we stayed overnight in Duneden, and Invercargil.
So from our way to Queenstown towards Duneden, we stopped at a number of places – sight seeings and regular food/drink/leak breaks. We did stop at location as the Clyde Dam and in Lawrence (note for the ones who go there and want to buy scoops of ice creams: they’re not like the ones in The Netherlands! A scoop equals to almost a whole kilo of ice cream!!), before arriving in Duneden. In Duneden we first visited the famous Baldwin Street, which is officially the steepest street in the world. And yes, we’re even certified to say that we walked to the top! After the steepest street in the world, our driver showed us the newly built stadium in which Rugby World Cup games were played. It is quite an impressive stadium and we’re sure that the locals will enjoy it for many years to come: not only for Rugby, but for all kind of events.
After the short visit to the stadium (we did not get the chance to actually go into the stadium), we we brought to our hostel where we could drop our stuff and visit the Speight’s Brewery. Here we got the tour throught the brewery (still active) and learned a bit about the history of this particular brand. The most interesting part is obviously the end of the tour: 30 minutes of tasting different beers produced by the brewery. We were allowed to use the tap ourselves, and so we did. We were, however, quite amazed about the speed of drinking of the other visitors. We don’t consider ourselves as amateur drinkers, but keeping up with them seemed to be impossible. We tried our best…
After the brewery-tour we walked back towards the Octagon (city center) to find a proper bar to watch the Rugby and have some dinner.  The Terrace Sports Bar was the place to be, where we could enjoy our hot-stone grilled meals. After the game we went back to our hostel where we did shoot some pool before calling it a day.

The next morning we were picked up by another driver – Roger – who brought us to the Kaka Point Café to have some breakfast before moving on. Both Bas and Hasan were a bit afraid that it would be like the first day: a lot of driving, not seeing much and just being able to say: yep, we’ve been there! Luckily, between Duneden and Invercargil there were enough stops. We went after Kaka Point to the Nugget Point Light House, where we were able to see a rare white bird (so rare, that we don’t even know (or remember) the name). The view from the Nugget Point Light House was really stunning; the photos – how beautiful they may seem – do not give the original views that we’ve seen justice. It’s really a place that you must have visited and seen yourself. From the Nugget Point we moved onwards to Cannibal Bay and walked from Cannibal Bay to Surat Bay. We’ve seen about five or six sea lions: big, massive, but so lazy and careless animals… We managed to come up really close to take shots, but they were barely able to open their eyes. Nonetheless, it was really cool to see them and to take a few good shots.
In the afternoon we had lunch in Owaka, and after lunch we visited the Purakaunui Falls (“the pretty one”), Lake Wilkie, and McLean Falls (“the big one”) where Bas climbed up the higher rock to take a good photo. Going up was a bit easier than going down as it was wet and slippy.
After the falls we went to another bay called Curio Bay. This bay is quite special as apparently an entire forest has been fossilized by lava (remember that there are a lot of (active) vulcanos around here), and waves continuously pounding the rocks, finally exposing the fossils. The bay is also known for its penguins, but unfortunately they only appear around 7AM and 7PM (nope, not in between), so the seagull that we did see in the distance was apparently a false alarm.  
The Curio Bay was the last mid point that we visited before arriving at Invercargil. Here we checked into our hostel again, dropped our stuff and went next door to Speight’s Ale House Bar to have dinner and drinks together with Roger – our driver. We were joined later on by others who were on the bus as well. After dinner and watching the rugby game, we went back to our hostel and again called it a day.

The next morning – Wednesday the 28th of September – we were picked up by Roger again. This morning three other travellers joined our tour. Somewhere along the road our driver changed back to our driver of the first day, and after about an hour of driving we all moved from our Bottom Up Bus to the Kiwi Experience bus that travelled on to Milford Sound. On our way to Milford Sound, we stopped at a number of places for scenic outlooks and to see the typical and rare Kea parrots. Those cheecky animals are – what we’ve heard – the largest parrots in the world. It seemed that they were quite used to humans, which is actually not really a good thing for a rare animal. Nonetheless, because of that, we were able to get some good shots of them.
After some more driving through the Homer Tunnel (1.2 KM straight through a mountain), and a dangerous avalanche area, we arrived at Milford Sound. Here we jumped onto a touring boat, where we had an open-buffet lunch (or better said, early dinner). After the feeding frenzy, everyone went out in the rain to take photos of the breathtaking sceneries. The most impressive part was approaching one of the falls of 150 meters; we went really close and everyone standing out on the front side of the boat (which obviously included us) got completely soaking wet. Taking out your camera at that point would’ve meant the same as keeping your camera under water for a couple of minutes: not such a good idea. We toured some more – passing seals sleeping on a rock (again, like sea lions, lazy animals) and going towards the Tasman Sea – before heading back.
On our way back from Milford Sound to Queenstown everyone, except for one, was asleep. That one was unfortunate enough to ask the driver to make an immediate stop as he needed to jump out and empty his stomach contents. At that point roughly about 70% was still asleep…. Until the moment the driver used his intercom asking everyone to have a look at the omelet that poor fella did place on the side of the road asking everyone to applaud for his piece of art. Well done!
In the afternoon we arrived back in Queenstown and we once again checked in our Bumbles Hostel, dropped our stuff and moved back into town to make arrangements for Bas’ skiing gear and find a bar to watch the only game of the day: Georgia – Romania, which we did in our trusted Red Rock Bar. After the game was finished in favour of the Georgians, we went to the bar called Cowboys – based on an earlier comment of one of the boys who were in our Bottom Bus as well. There at Cowboys (nicely decorated, by the way) we got involved in some sort of a joule-game. Mixed results for us, but the double-pints (you could easily train your biceps with them) were downed like a pro. After the next bar where we continued our sessions, Bas called it a day as he had to go skiing in the morning. Hasan moved on to again several other bars and made sure that (most likely) all bars in Queenstown were inaugurated. Taking place next to the DJ and pushing him aside was a good enough reason to be escorted out at the last pub.

Bas woke up early on the next morning (mind you, this is a Thursday now) to go to the Coronet Peak. Before going to the peak, Bas obviously had to rent his skiing gear. Unfortunately, Bas was still a little asleep when he received the ski’s, and according to him it was the bluntness of the ski’s fault that he wasn’t able to perform as well as he normally does. Just to let you know that it was because of the ski’s. Yep…
In the meantime, when Bas was struggling with his blunt ski’s on the Coronet Peak, Hasan was snoozing his mobile phone till about 11:30AM. After a relaxing shower, a good breakfast/lunch on the waterfront, Hasan went to one of the Thai massage salons to get a proper hour-and-a-half massage. Around late afternoon both Bas – sitting at Heidi’s Hut, talking to an Australian wine farmer – as well as Hasan – sitting on one of the terraces next to the lake relaxing and enjoying the sun – were finished with what they were doing, so Bas joined Hasan in relaxing.
The next thing on the To-Do list is to have dinner. The infamous Ferg Burger was an option, but it seems that there’s a 30-minute queue 24/7. It was unbelievable how many people are waiting in queues, despite the time (even at 2:30AM) or weather (and believe us, it did rain a lot!). As patient as we are, we skipped the Ferg Burger. Instead, what we did was to make a reservation at another peak (forgot the name) at the Sky Line Restaurant, which is only accessible using the Sky Line Gondola. Heeps of fun, aye!!? Alright, there’s indeed no reason to exaggerate. It’s nice to know that you don’t have to walk upwards. The view, however, is very nice from the top. You can see quite a lot of Queenstown. Especially with the sunset it gives quite some stunning views. Unfortunately we also did find out that not all Asians with expensive cameras and lenses are good photographers. See the photo of the both of us taken by one of our fellow Asian tourists.
In any case, the dinner was doable. It was not too crowded, and we were able to get a window-seat. By the time we were done, only a couple was left, who apparently refused to leave the Sky Line Restaurant as after dinner they consumed their glass (with hidden bottle?) in the Lounge area when we were heading down. As the next morning we had to get up early, we passed all bars and moved straight to our hostel.

On Friday morning we packed our stuff, picked up our new rental car (again a Toyota Camry, but this time a newer one) and did drive towards the river where the Shotover Jet activity does take place. The Shotover Jet is a 20-minute tour through the river on a 11-seater flat-bottom boat powered by 2 x 250 horsepower engines. The jet can do roughly about 80 KM per hour and just needs about 10 to 20  cm of water to go forward. Note that the river is being flanked by rocks and of course the objective is to go as fast as possible and as close to the rocks as possible. That is how one should wake up every morning! It makes your ticker go “Whoohoo!”.
Pumped up with adrenaline, we jumped into our car again to drive towards the Franz Josef Glacier. We heard and read all kinds of positive stuff about that place that we had to go and see it ourselves. The ride itself took roughly about five hours, including the necessary stops. Believe us when we say that not much of the adrenaline was left by the time we arrived (note that we even bought a 500ml RedBull can on the way). Finally we arrived at Franz Josef, and after checking in at our hostel, we made a reservation for a Heli-hike: a helicopter flight to the top of the glacier, which would drop us off, and from there we would’ve walked our way back again. That would’ve been the best way to enjoy the glacier. After making the reservation, we did yet another adrenaline pumping activity: laundry… Yes, folks. It is part of being a back-packer: you have to do your own laundry. No more hotel-laundry services where you put your laundry in a bag and where you would have to put on a piece of paper how many socks, underwear, shirts and suits you’ve put into the bag. Just old, dollars swallowing, laundry machines and in dust covered drying machines. Yep, that’ll be good for your clothes. Anyway…
In the meantime we walked down town to sit down and have a quick drink. We arrived at Speight’s Landing Bar & Restaurant, where we enjoyed yet another Speight’s on their comfy lounge sofas. The weather was terrific! Nothing beats an ice cold afternoon drink on a comfy sofa out in the sun… We stayed there, had dinner, and watched the South Africa – Samoa game. All was great, with exception of those damned sand-flies!! My god! What’s wrong with them?? Why do they attack tourists like that!? Seriously, at the time of writing it is a number of days later, and we’re still scratching… Forget killing those possoms; ga after these flies!!
During the night it did not stop raining, and according to the weather forecast it would not stop raining at all on Saturday the first of October. That meant bad news, as the chopper would not take off in rainy weather. It was really unbelievable how the weather could change overnight. From a full sun, no cloud at all, warm weather to cold, rainy and windy weather. This was one of the activities that we were really looking forward to, but it was just not meant to be. We decided to move on, as staying overnight would’ve been a waste of time. Our plan was to visit Dan and Baukje in Nelson on the second of October, but we decided to move to Nelson right away as there was not much on the way between Franz Josef Glacier and Nelson.

We left Baukje a message on her facebook – as we did not have her, nor Dan’s, mobile number – thinking that she would read it on time. On our way to Nelson we did make a pit stop at The Buller Gorge Swingbridge. The swingbridge is with its 110 meters the longest in New Zealand. On the other side of the bridge we took a 15-minute walk around the White Creek fault line. Bas took the comet line back, during which Hasan was able to shoot a short video. We’re tourists, so there’s nothing wrong with that!!
After the Buller Gorge Swingbridge, we drove for about two more hours before we arrived at Nelson. As the Australia – Russia game was already going on that evening in Nelson itself, we decided to move quickly to a bar and have a sit before everyone else would come from the stadium into town. Good timing I must say! But there was a little problem: we didn’t hear anything from Baukje so far, and it was getting evening already. We would be lying if we would say that we did not worry at all. No sound from Dan nor Baukje, and we texted Robo (in Auckland) and even Mike (in The Netherlands) to ask for Dan’s number, but we got no response from them as well. Luckily, we eventually got a call from Dan who received the message on their facebook. Apparently, they’ve been lounging the entire day at home doing nothing… Sweet…
Dan & Baukje came up to the Lone Star bar where we were sitting and watching the games. We stayed there fore a few more drinks and lots of talks before we moved on to another place for dinner. As every other place was too busy, we headed home to have some (finally!!) home cooked meal! The meal was of course accompanied with the necessary “gele rakkers”.

The next day existed of rain, rain and guess what? More rain! It went on and on, while we were being told that it is always sunny in Nelson. Quite a disappointment!! We believe there’s a lot to see in this city, but it is just not worth it to go out with this amount of rain (thinking of the amount of hours spending at the laundry room of the hostels). Instead, we did a tour by car, lead by Dan. We went to Motueka, where we found out that the “Touch the Sea” building was completely destroyed by fire. The “Touch the Sea” is a place where people – especially kids – could see and actually touch turtles and other ocean creatures. We moved on through the Abel Tasman park where we got to see some of the sights, and especially the nice holiday sheds that were empty 90% of the time. Around afternoon we got back at home where we watched the AllBlacks game against Canada. This is the game for which we had tickets as well, but had to sell them, as we wanted to visit the Southern Island of New Zealand as well. After the game Aaron, Daniel’s brother who we’ve met on Ameland two years ago, joined us and prepared us a nice seafood meal. In the evening we moved back to the Lone Star pub to watch the Rugby League Grand Final between the Sea Eagles and Warriors, which was being played in Manly, Australia. Unfortunately for the Kiwis, the Warriors were not able to take the title for the second time in their history. After the game we moved back home where we relaxed a bit more before passing out, as the next day was a working day for Dan & Baukje.

Today, on Monday October 3, it was still raining hard. We woke up late in the morning and started writing this entire story and preparing the photos. Late afternoon Dan came along and we moved on to pick up Baukje to do some more sightseeing-à-la-voiture. We ended up in a place where they did brew their own beer, and had specialty beers as well. The Honey Bush Strong Ale (read: 8.9%) was quite nice, but quite a killer. After a few drinks we moved back home to have yet another nice home-cooked meal.

Tomorrow we will be heading towards Picton where we will take the ferry towards Wellington and see another mate of ours: Jimmy. What happens there will (or will not, depending on what happens) be shared with you on our next story.


+1 Comment
  1. Floor says:

    Why does my browser not find the word Nevis Bungee when I search for it? watjes!

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