Island Hopping

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One month in, four(ish) months to go. It’s an interesting time paradox when each day seems so long, but the weeks pass so quickly! I’m currently sitting in a cozy corner of the latest hostel listening to the din of one-upping liquor volumes in the background. One of my least favourite pastimes as it turns out. Followed closely by one-upping “This one time in Bali when I was high on…blackout” stories; etc. I mean I’m very happy that you’re enjoying your nightlife and young ladies and talking very loudly about it, but your enthusiasm was just as loud last night. But of course this is part of the hostel package: a spectrum of personalities; wafting spliff fumes; disgusting kitchen floors; stained elephant pants; 60% chance of eating pasta with canned sauce for dinner; constant foot and stale beer smell.  That being said, I love it. Curtis and I have actually met some great people as well; we’ll be reconnecting via couchsurfing soon.

From Christchurch, we hopped on the Tranz Alpine train and headed to the West Coast. It’s amazing that four hours will take you through the entire topography of Canada, or thereabouts. Coastal beaches, pallid yellow plains and rolling hills, deep gorges and mountains, then boom! Magical rainforest and land of mist and 1000 waterfalls. What’s that? Haven’t seen a waterfall in 12 seconds? Behold nature’s miracle, again. (Although strictly speaking it’s not a miracle, it’s most likely caused by a glacier, or a volcano, or being on the edge of two tectonic plates subducting like crazies.) Seriously though, I think we both got waterfall necktitis…from looking up constantly. We stayed in Franz Joseph and knocked a World Heritage site off Curtis’ New Zealand list (only subtropical rainforest in the world coupled with a glacier) then headed southeast to Queenstown. I don’t think I noticed when I was there with my mom last year, but Queenstown has a lot of “one-upping” stories to share. This isn’t surprising considering it’s the epicentre for adventure sports and adrenaline junkies. I only participated in a mild adventure, but it was really fun. Canyoning involved abseiling, rock climbing, cliff jumping and generally moving in and around rocks and water. Curtis clearly did not do this with me, but we enjoyed hikes and disc golf together as well.

The best part about Queenstown was definitely getting our sweet wheels: the campervan of awesome. It made our shoebox look like a palace, it was freezing at night when I literally wore five layers to bed, and it was the best. The last ten days of our New Zealand trip were spent driving hundreds of kilometres a day on narrow windy roads, sleeping in fields of sheep, and sitting in McDonalds cafes intermittently to abuse their free wifi. I’m so glad we chose to see the south this way, it allowed for many stops along the way. Our number one favourite place though, was definitely Fiordland National Park. In Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Slartibartfast won an award for designing the Norwegian fiords, but I reckon these were just as outstanding. We spent five hours kayaking around the glassy, placid waters of Doubtful Sound (wrongly named as apparently it’s a fiord) and I would say it’s one of the highlights of my time away thus far. Basically, from the tip of the far north North Island to the south of the South Island, New Zealand is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. Full stop. By our last day there however, it was snowing and that meant it was time to shuffle onto Australia’s sunshine once again. It’s great to be back here again, even as I sit doing constant spider-perimeter checks.

I hear the pussy willows have appeared back home. Enjoy the first whispers of spring everyone.

P.S. Curtis’ book count for this trip, thus far, is twenty. Twenty mother flipping books! This is infuriating to my four books, which includes two audio books that don’t really count because he also listened to them.  I should try reading a speed reading book next perhaps.

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