Wellington and River Valley

After taking the ferry back we spent the day in Wellington checking out the Galapoli exhibit in Ta Papa which was pretty awesome. The to scale life size figures were ridiculously detailed down to arm hairs.

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We then headed down to River Valley and were warmly welcomed by the complete ruralness of the place, and the incredibly friendly staff. Next up we were greeted by a roast… I’m sure roasts when you’re travelling become the best, and most memorable meals you have…. and this one was great! To then help our food down we washed it down with a couple of drinks and a trip to the jacuzzi…unfortunately it wasn’t particularly warm, so only had a short stay in there whilst drinking our wine.

The next morning we woke up bright and early for our rafting. We were about to raft the Rangiteiki river which included some Grade V rapids, the only place to do this grade in New Zealand.This fact terrified me, but once we were put in the capable hands of our Canadian Raft Guide, I felt pretty at ease as he took us down the rapids! My raft had no lost people as we floated down the river, raced down the rapids and were flung around. My face in photos looked like I hated this experience…but trust me, it was great fun!

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Moving on up (to the North Island), Moving on out (of Nelson)!

It’s time to break free and nothing can stop me! After 2 months in Nelson, my traveler side has got the better of me, and I’m starting to get itchy feet…it’s time to move on! My job contract ends next Friday and I’m ready to book a flight over to Windy Welly to try and find a job over there.

Whilst Nelson is beautiful and there is plenty of outdoorsy stuff to do, I have found it to be pretty quiet and hard to meet people, despite going to meet-ups. I’m hoping since Wellington is the capital of NZ there will be a few more opportunities to meet friends… I’m going to start with staying in a backpackers and looking for a job, and see where that takes me!

There has been plenty of things to do around Nelson:walks, Abel Tasman National Park and I have been able to find a temp job. The work place shut down over Xmas which allowed me to travel even more (Blog to come soon!). I still want to see Golden Bay and I’m cycling the Great Taste Trail this weekend, so plenty to see still!

Whilst in Wellington I’m hoping to do the Tongariro Crossing and to see New Plymouth… all whilst saving some money! Should be exciting!

Wellington and the Marlborough Sounds

I spent a couple of days in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. When we first arrived, I obviously missed the roundabouts at home and took us for a few laps of the city before finding some ridiculously expensive parking in the centre of the city, big mistake!

We then took a cable car ride up through the disco tunnels to the botanical gardens. Kiwis and Australians seem to love their botanical gardens, placing them wherever there is a park in the centre of the city. This one was my favorite from my travels so far, built over a hill which allowed the landscaping to change throughout, dotted with sculptures, and it provided a bit of a burn for the calves.

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Driving through the disco tunnels

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Cable car to the gardens

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Hills in the gardens

We then headed up to Mount Wellington, a lookout point over Wellington . Some crazy kids were running up it, but as old and creaky twenty-somethings, we decided it was safer to drive and admire the view.

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Panorama from Mt Wellington

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View from Mr Wellington

After this we headed to the 3rd best restaurant in Wellington according to TripAdvisor (#1 for most affordable) Pizzeria Napoli with some friends from my European Summer Camp for some pizza! We then tried (really hard) to find some where for an affordable drink after, but nothing compared to the $22 jug of mulled wine in Ohakune. Nevertheless, it was lovely to catch up!

The next morning after a sleep in the grotty Lodge in the City hostel, we headed out to Zumos, an amazing coffee shop recommended to us. You chose your coffee bean and take a seat with the brilliant WiFi and open fire before they bring it out to you!

Next up was Te Papa, a huge free museum spread out over 6 floors with a viewing platform on the top floor and other exhibits such as galleries, Maori exhibits, War exhibits, natural history… The museum was great for all ages, with a lot of hands on entertainment for the kids… or us…

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So nice of them to provide us with some extra layers

In the evening, the sun came out and we headed down to the South Island by ferry. The route took us through the beautiful Marlborough Sounds, where flat water and hills were plentiful.According to DOC they were formed around 10,000 years ago when the sea levels rose and drowned the steep sided valleys.

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Marlborough Sounds

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Sun setting on the Marlborough Sounds

Arriving in New Zealand and the Waitomo Caves

The trip from Hobart to Auckland took a full day from 5 am to 10pm at night. Safe to say, I went to bed quickly once I arrived! I stopped over in Sydney and had this amazing view as we flew into the airport.

The next day I met a friend from home who will be my travel buddy for the next month! We traveled down to Waitomo where a long rain shower awaited us. We set up our tent and found somewhere warm for a drink and food. The next morning, we found that our following accommodation and tours for the next 2 days had been cancelled due to the bad weather, however we were put on 2 other tours (with Waitomo Adventures) which made an exciting day!

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Our first item on the itinerary was a 4 hour “Lost World” tour, which started off with a short walk and 100 metre abseil. It seemed super safe with 4 people per instructor, where we were attached to them as we abseiled down. We arrived into a large gorge covered in pretty mosses replicating a faerie kingdom. After this we wandered through a large cave and sat under some glow worms which looked liked LED lights.

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The lost world

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Just chilling 100 metres above the floor below

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Slowly making our way down

In the afternoon, we did another tour which was a lot more scary. It consisted of abseiling down and in waterfalls in a cave, squeezing through tight spaces and crawling through streams. It definitely pushed us both more than the first tour did that morning.

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Thrown down a waterfall

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Free cold bath

Ohakune and the Tongararo region

We stayed in Ohakune which is at the bottom of Mount Ruapehu and seems to be the largest town in the area. We found out late into our time here that Mt Ruapehu is Mordor in Lord of the Rings.

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Rhuapehu- an active volcano

We were hoping to have 4 days where we could learn to snowboard, however, we quickly learnt that the end of the season is not the best time to expect the slopes to be open everyday! We managed to get 2 days of snowboarding in and progressed to one of the intermediate level slopes. So can now proclaim we snowboarded on Mordor! The volcano also had some beautiful views from the top…

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On the other days when we weren’t able to snowboard, we explored the local area. Ohekune is well known for a giant carrot statue so we walked up to this. We also mountain biked along The Old Coach Road where we had to make it across a precarious ford which was high due to the large amount of rainfall. The cycle ride was bumpy and slippery, but we managed to not fall into the pools of mud. It wasn’t the best route in the rain, but it was well worth it for some of the views.

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Pro-snowboarder

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There were plenty of short walks within the local area. These included two waterfalls which we visited, both were 30 minutes to an hour from the main road, but it was well worth it to see the water hurtling down from above.

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Quenching my thirst

Other local towns were very small, but included; Whakapapa which had a brilliant Information Centre (the best in New Zealand in my opinion) focusing on conservation and the geology of the local area. National Park Village had a few more amenities, including a brilliant cafe by the station which had reasonably priced specials, including a lovely beer and steak pie! Horopito was a very small town (would be a village in the UK) which had a large car graveyard at the base of the mountain with sheep roaming between the carcasses of the cars, it was a real ‘human vs nature’ site.

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