Here begins the second week of my travels throughout New Zealand and this is where Alana and I began our time on the Contiki tour. The tour name was called the Big Tiki.
- We checked out of our last hostel and then for the last time stuffed all of our luggage into the car. We drove past where we would be staying on the Contiki for the first few days.
- Made our way up to Glen Orchy and explored the small township. It was a nice quiet town where we got breakfast surrounded by mountains.
- When we got back to Queenstown we had lunch at the restaurant called the flame grill or flame something and the service was so slow and we had people who ordered after we get served their food first. We were getting stressed because we had a time limit by which we had to drop the car back.
- After lunch, we made a quick dash to the airport in Queenstown to drop off our car. Handing back the car meant that it was officially the end of our road trip.
- We said goodbye to one of the friends that were travelling with us and then we checked into our accommodation. The weirdest part about the multi-person rooms was that we were all sleeping in a pod-like bed. They were very interesting and they offered a decent amount of privacy.
- After relaxing in our rooms we had to meet up with the Contiki manager (JC) and later we met our bus driver (Josh). After that, we went back to our rooms and then came back up for drinks and we met the group that we would be spending the next 17 days with.
- While at the accommodation we had drinks at the rooftop bar. Everyone had a few drinks and we got to know basically everyone that was there with us, there were so many names to try and remember. From there we left as a group and made our way up to the skyline restaurant, it was here that we had dinner booked for the Contiki.
- Later that night we went bar hopping with our tour manager as he knew the best places to go. We discovered that Queenstown was very much a party city.
- The first day of Contiki was absolutely jam-packed. We had to get up early and eat breakfast which was in the rooftop bar at the Juicy Snooze.
- Everyone got onto the bus and we made our way to the Kawarau Bridge. This bridge is the home of bungy jumping, here is where it all started. The Bungy platform was 43 metres high above the water. I was one of the few people who jumped off the bridge. It was my first time ever doing bungy jumping and I got dunked in the river all the way up to my feet. I can honestly say that it was exhilarating jumping off of that bridge.
- We went to the Central Otago Wine vineyard and Craft Brewery almost straight after everyone had jumped. Silly me forgot to bring a spare pair of clothes so I was drenched until we got back to the juicy snooze. I didn’t think that I was going to jump off the bridge let alone get dunked in the river.
- The winery had such a gorgeous view of the mountains around us and everyone was relaxing while tasting the different types of wine and beer plus a cider. Because I was still saturated when we were there I was trying to dry off in the sun. The winery itself looked like it was an old little church that had been renovated to sell their vineyards products.
- Additionally, to the Kawarau Bridge Bungy, I was doing the Nevis Bungy which was three times higher at 134 metres. Now this one was a whole lot scarier. The worst decision was to look down when I was at the edge of the platform. The platform was this large box that was suspended between two mountains.
- We went bar hopping in the night time as our manager knew some of the best places to get drinks. Being in Queenstown was a lot of fun, we basically went out drinking basically every night because that is what you do while on Contiki and while in a party town.
- We got to go inside an ice bar but we were only able to be in there for about 40 minutes because the fan broke and the ice began to melt.
- The morning was spent recovering from the big night out the night before. Queenstown is a party town unlike any other; I would love to live there at one point in my life and also to experience it in the winter as well.
- We had canyoning at 12:45 and it seemed like it would be a horrible day to be doing it in. But we realised it would be alright because we were going to be getting wet anyway. It also filled the canyons up with more water making the whole experience better.
- The whole canyoning experience was exhausting but extremely fun all the same. I had filmed the entire thing on my go pro and it was very interesting and nostalgic to rewatch.
- The hardest part for me to do was the section where we had to repel down one of the cliff walls. I was afraid of falling the entire time even though there was basically no chance of that happening. The rain made a lot of the rock surfaces slippery.
- The previous due to the rain the Funyaks had been cancelled because there was an unsafe amount of water in one of the places that you would be going.
- Because the day was much better than the last the Funyaks were able to go ahead. They were just three-person inflatable rafts but because the river had flooded a bit two of them were attached together so each boat could have a guide with it.
- On the way up to where we were starting, we got to ride in a jet boat that did several 360-degree spins. The rain as it was falling stung when it hit your face, I could barely keep my eyes open at times.
- We floated down the river and had to help steer the boat when it was needed. The currents in the water were extremely strong so we did not wish to fall out of the boat. Also because the water was extremely cold even with our wetsuits on. Before we stopped for lunch we took off our jackets and then all jumped in the water. It was so refreshing but I didn’t want to stay in there for too long.
- Lunch was provided for us and it was basically a make your own sandwich section. The sandflies at this camp group area were an absolute menace and only the wind made them go away.
- On our way down the river and on the way back on the bus from the shore we got to see several Lord of the Rings film locations: Isengard & Fangorn forest (paradise), were Boromir was killed by Lurtz
- We left Queenstown today and it was the first major bus ride for some of us on the tour – we were heading toward the Franz Joseph glacier.
- We had one interesting stop along the way and that was stopping at these waterfalls which were utterly gorgeous. Overall, the drive from Queenstown to Franz Joseph lasted about 8 hours.
- By the time that we got to the accommodation, everyone was sick of being on the bus and was very eager to get off.
- That night we had drinks at the bar in the accommodation we were staying and had a very big meal prepared for us as well.
- Our helicopter hike was cancelled due to unsafe flying conditions, it was quite a big pity. But nothing could be done because it was raining heavily and the pilots would not have been able to see clearly.
- Instead, we decided to catch a bus and then walk to the viewing point of the glacier which was about 750 metres away from the base. We got to see how far the glacier had actually retreated over the years and it was a very saddening sight.
- We went to the hot pools that they had set up. It contained three different pools, all at different temperatures; one at 36 degrees, one at 38 degrees and the other at 40 degrees.
- Alana and I plus two others from our Contiki were in the time slot to do quad bike riding at 5:30 in the afternoon. So we were unable to spend an overly large amount of time at the pools but they were very nice for the time that we were there.
- We went to King Tiger for dinner and I had butter chicken and it was absolutely delicious and along with that some of us did a chilli tequila shot and it burnt for ages. I would never recommend doing a chilli tequila shot, one of the worst shots I have ever done.
- We drove from Franz Joseph and it was the last day of the trip for some of our group
- Between Franz Joseph and Christchurch we stopped at a town called Hokitika. In this town, there was a shop called the jade mountain which I purchased my jade necklace from.
- Another stop that we made along the way was at Castle Hill, it was a rocky outcropping in the middle of a hilly plain area. It was at this location that they filmed some of the battle scenes in the movie ‘Narnia: The Lion, the with and the wardrobe’.
- After we had our big group dinner we made our back to our hotel. It was in the lobby that we said goodbye to a bit over half of our group in Christchurch.
- Even though we had only been with this group for a short amount of time it was still extremely sad to have to say goodbye to them. I have always disliked goodbyes. There are definitely a fair few people from that group that left that I would like to catch up with down the track.