there and back again…

Goodness, hasn’t it been a while!? Sorry about that… well lots has happened so we’ll start at the beginning, shall we?

So it’s actually been a little while now since we left Rotorua  and we were very sad to leave it behind.

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Rotorua: catch a bus and soak your feet!

Our last week was pretty excellent, we mainly did the same sort of things and enjoyed the time we had left in the city, we spent part of the time house sitting and we enjoyed the most of simple things like sitting on the sofa that you miss more than you realise when you’re away from home. Also, New Zealand X Factor has begun so we spent a fair amount of time glued to Daniel Bedingfield’s face.

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Who’da thunk when ‘Gotta Get Thru This’ came out 10 years ago that this legend of a man would be shaping the next generation of Kiwi musicians..?

Another thing we hadn’t realised is quite what a big country NZ is. It tends to get thought of as the little country next to Australia, but actually it’s a fair chunk bigger than the UK, and the land is distributed in a more long-and-skinny way. Whilst the UK is bigger in population (over 60million to NZ’s 3million – weird or what?!), the moral of the story is that it takes a bloody lot longer to get anywhere over here. Anyway, an 8 hour bus journey later and we made it to Wellington, and another 8 hours after that (not quite) we finally found our hostel!

Wellington is the capital and has a reputation for being very nice (as well as being very windy and being the place in the world you’re most likely to get hit by a bus). We tend to agree with all of those but we still had a good few days. We went to see a couple of flats we’d got lined up and did some boring things like applying for jobs. And we managed to squeeze in some interesting things like seeing the national museum Te Papa, which is wonderful and we’ll talk more about that later.

Despite the fact that Wellington was really nice and we’d planned to stay there for a bit, we decided to get the ferry to the South Island. What is life without a little spontaneity?! So, then we decided, since we’re on the south island, why not buy a mini bus and drive to the south of the south island?!!??! Can you think of a reason? No? Neither could we! So that’s what we did!! 😀

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HAHAHAHA just kidding, we didn’t buy it, but we did nab ourselves a dandy relocation car (where you do the rental company a favour by moving a vehicle for them and they do you a favour by not charging you to borrow said vehicle). Actually it wasn’t a car, it was a campervan, except it turned out to be not so much a camper van as a mini bus, fancy that! But we’d never driven a mini bus across New Zealand before so we thought, why not? And actually we had a pretty nice 2 days looking at the ridiculously stunning scenery that NZ has to offer. It also turns out this was a perfect time to come because autumn is really setting in here, which means the views are possibly the most beautiful  of all, with all the trees a thousand different colours, and the very first sprinkling of snow capping the mountains. Just lovely.

Here are some pictures – imagine it like that, but better.

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So, we were having a great time being in the south island when we got a text saying that we could have a flat in Wellington – excellent! The room is available from the 15th, which at that time was about 10 days away, so it really seemed most sensible course of action to run around the south island before then. Isn’t it good how everything works out?!

Queenstown is known as being a bit of a ‘party capital’, because it’s packed full of young people enjoying their time away from home I suppose! It is a gorgeous place, and it’s really wealthy because it does a great trade in winter as a ski resort type place and in the summer as a summer resort type place. It’s also the place that people go to fulfil the apparently mandatory gap year requirements of taking a couple of years of your life through terrifying adrenaline junkie pursuits – bungee jumps, canyon swings, sky dives… well we didn’t get up to any of that this time round, but maybe one day!

However, even without all of that there’s enough to do in Queenstown just wandering round looking at how pretty everything is, and despite the fact there was really low fog the whole time we were there it was still a stunner of a place. Since our time was limited we decided to tick the biggest things we wanted to see off our list, and though neither of us are able to explain why we were both certain that we wanted to visit Dunedin.

It turns out we were right because Dunedin too is a gorgeous place, a bit of a relief after spending so much time being ‘tourists’, because Dunedin is a lot more normal, just a city of working people getting on with life, which is quite refreshing. I did have one beef because apparently Dunedin is the home of Cadbury’s chocolate in New Zealand (anyone else seeing a problem here!?!?! They do know it’s not from there, right!?) Granted I was thrilled to find out I wasn’t going to be starved of decent chocolate whilst here, and sure it’s harsh to make Kiwi’s trek all the way to Birmingham for the Cadbury experience, but still, we have to protect our heritage, don’t we?

But anyway, you’ve got to love anything that makes a city smell like chocolate, even if it’s just the one street by the factory (Rotorua should figure out how to make sulphur smell like chocolate, in my opinion). We also saw one of the most exciting things we’ve seen yet – THE WORLD’S STEEPEST STREET. You might think that sounds like a bit of a boring thing to spend the afternoon seeing, but you would be wrong. I will allow Dave and the pictures to elaborate!

One of the things we were most keen to do in New Zealand was meet up with our friend Simon, who we met when we were working in America a couple of years ago and is still travelling. In the time that we completed our 3rd year of Uni, graduated and worked for a few months, he’s worked his way across America, Canada and Alaska, and for the last year or so he’s been in Christchurch, where he was nice enough to put us up, feed us, show us around and generally take care of us for a few days. THANKS SIMON! He even brought us some Walkers crisps from his trip to England. What. A. Legend.

Even though we kind of knew what to expect I don’t think we were properly prepared for Christchurch, which you should know was pretty much devastated by 2 earthquakes, 6 months apart in 2010 and 2011. It’s pretty hard to describe, so I’ll let Dave do it, but I’ll just say that even though it’s a bit crippled it’s still a wicked place, and it’s a massive inspiration to hear people’s stories and see the efforts that are going into rebuilding it. We’re a bit gutted that we didn’t get to see the traditional buildings that used to be there (Christchurch was known for having lots of nice English style architecture, it just sucks that bricks aren’t a very earthquake proof material), but in conclusion, it was excellent and very much worth the visit.

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About Penny Leigh

I was just minding my own business and now I'm fighting fracking.
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