Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spring Break 2011: New Zealand and Sydney

DAY 1: In order to catch our flight on time and since we don't have cars...we arrived to the airport four hours early and we couldn't check in for another two hours. In the meantime, we planned on renting a car to drive around New Zealand. What we didn't plan on was needed a fax machine to send a paper to the dealership so they could leave us the keys for after hours.What we also didn't plan on was a charge of $160 to check-in one bag. After all of that, we arrived in Christchurch around midnight and headed to our couch surfers house. Little did we know that the house we were staying at didn't have just a few residents but 15!! It was horrible but it was a free place to sleep.
*Couch surfing is a website where people offer their couches for travelers to sleep on for free. Normally, the volunteers are people who plan on traveling and would like you to offer your couch for free in return.

DAY 2: Went to pick up our rental car where we find out that they left our car for us last night without needed the paperwork. We go to get in our car and problem...it' a manual car and no one can drive manual. Not only that but the GPS we borrowed only works in Australia so we needed to get a GPS for New Zealand too. We drive around Christchurch and meet some of the men in the army guarding the restricted area of Christchurch which is pretty much everything we wanted to see. Soo...there was nothing to do in Christchurch except see all of the destruction of the earthquake.
This is a clock tower in Christchurch that stopped at the exact time the earthquake hit.

DAY 3: We drive to a lake that was not worth it but along the way we needed to shower. We stopped in a cute little town and payed $2.50 to the local pool to use their showers. We arrived at Franz Josef that evening where we booked our glacier climb, bought some souvenirs, and ate dinner. I had the Johnny Cash Ribs which were very good! We were supposed to stay with a couch surfer that night as well but he would not any our messages. We decided just to show up anyways...and we got lost in the process. We found people on the side of the road hunting for Kiwis (New Zealand bird) and they gave us some directions. We arrived at our couch surfers house and they were awesome! They were glacier and helicopter instructors and they were super nice. They even had a goat which we met, named Billy.

DAY 4: Ate breakfast super fast because we were going to be late for our glacier climb. Our guide was Levi, who was very nice and informative. We had to wear crampons which are spikes that go on the bottom of your boots to climb the glacier. We ate some ice and drank glacier water. After our glacier climb we got lunch and started our very long drive to Milford Sound. On the way there is was very dark and all of the roads in New Zealand are very curvy...so we accidentally ran over a possum. Once we got to the Milford Sound Lodge where we were staying we found out that they didn't leave us our key like they were supposed to. We had to wake up the night guard and he wasn't too happy with us.

DAY 5: A cruise around Milford Sound. It was so beautiful with it's tall mountains, waterfalls, and dolphins! Yes! Dolphins! We got to see a bunch of dolphins swimming along side our boat.
After the cruise we went to Queenstown and on the way stopped at Mirror Lake. Once we got to Queenstown we checked into our hostel Nommad's and went for dinner at Winnie's. We also went to a bar called World Bar which was no fun at all, so we called it a night and got a good rest for our skydiving adventure in the morning!

DAY 6: Up bright and early for our morning skydive! Sky diving was awesome!! My instructor was really nice and it was a great experience. It hurt my head for a while after but it was still something I am so glad that I did! We had lunch they went on our next adventure, white water rafting!! Our instructor's name was Chief, and at first he was mean to us but we soon realized it was because he was very competitive and wanted to be in front of all the other boats! It was a great time and lots of fun and we got to ride some rapids that made me really nervous. After that adventure we had Mexican for dinner and went to Winnie's for some drinks.

DAY 7: For lunch we ate at Fergburger. We were told that this is the best burger joint ever. Well...we don't agree! It was horrible! We think that the best burger place is in Wanaka called Luxury Burger!! This was a day filled with markets and shopping. We also got some amazing gelato at Lick. It was so good that we got in three times in our four day stay in Queenstown!!
In the evening, we decided to go to Chinese for dinner and a bar called Minus 5 Degrees which is a bar made completely of ice! It was very cool but probably not worth the money we spent to go inside.

DAY 8: Easter!! We went to a little church on the hill.
The mass was a little different than what I am use to but it was a great experience to see how a different church operates. After church we headed to the Queenstown Gardens to take some great scenery pictures.
After that, we headed to our site for bungy jumping!! We jumped from the Nevis Highwire which is one of the top 5 highest bungy jumps. It was incredible!! I was freaking out a lot at first but then I just jumped and it went by so fast that I wish I could have went again! That is something I definitely want to do again in the future! That evening we had to check into a new hostel and because they had to split our group of 5 we got an upgrade which was soooo nice :) 

DAY 9: It was a rough morning to say the least. We drove to Kiakoura and on the way stopped to get some fresh fruit. We also made a stop in Dunedin, but since it was raining and we were all very tired we decided to go see a movie. It just so happened that Fast and the Furious 5 was out!! I was soooo excited and it was a great movie! After the movie we finished our drive to Kiakoura and slept in our car which was the worst sleep I have ever had!

DAY 10: We checked into our hostel and pretty much chilled the whole day and recovered from our bad sleep in the car. It was however Angelica's 21st birthday so we went out to eat at Whalers to celebrate!

DAY 11: Kayaking on the ocean in Kiakoura. The ocean was very rough and it took a lot of energy to keep our kayak going. We had to be careful not to get too close to the rocks and not to close to the crashing waves so that we didn't flip our kayak. We did get to see some seals! They were sooo cute I just wish we could have seen more. We messed our days up and thought we were leaving the next day but we weren't so we decided to drive to wine country. We found a cute bed and breakfast that was run by a lady named Barb. She was sooo nice and gave us two rooms for the price of one. The bed was a king sized bed so I had a really good sleep.

DAY 12: Barb cooked us breakfast and being a chef she told us about all the different places she has lived. We drove to Hamner Springs and enjoyed the hot pools then headed back to Christchurch for our flight. We slept in the airport that night because our flight was at 6AM.

DAY 13: We arrived in Sydney! Our couch surfer host Alex, picked us up from the airport. Once we got to his house we showered and headed out to explore Sydney. Alex was great! He was our own personal tour guide of Sydney and it was very helpful! We ate lunch at Spitroast and started our walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It started raining and although we had umbrellas we got soaked! We went to Hyde Park, St. Mary's Cathedral, and around the city. That evening we hung out with Alex and a few of his friends and went to a bar named Cargo.

DAY 14: We overslept but it was okay. We went to Manly beach and got a hamburger that was still better than Fergburger. We took the ferry and went to Paddy's Market. From there we went to Darling Harbour and then caught a ferry home. We hung out again with Alex and his friends but I called it an early night and went to bed.

DAY 15: It takes forever to get from one part of the city to the other and not knowing how to get there is a huge problem. We got different directions from everyone we asked and it took us forever to figure out the ferries, buses, and trains. We finally made it to Bondi Beach where we went to a market and got a picture with some lifeguards from a show in Australia, Bondi Rescue. We then made it to the Sydney Opera House and back home for some homemade dinner.

DAY 16: Our last day. We called a taxi to take us to the airport and almost missed our flight! They changed our gate last minute and none of us knew. We had to run to our new gate and then we couldn't bring our carry ons on the plane. Our bags had to be sent home on the next flight and we couldn't pick them up on 6PM.

Overall, this was a great spring break. It was an awesome experience and was something I never imagined that I'd be able to do. I really surprised myself with all the adventure things I did and I'm really proud that I took all these chances.

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