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Round the World in 301 Days As long as we can just keep putting one foot in front of the other, well make it.

Middle Earth

NEW ZEALAND | Wednesday, 18 June 2008 | Views [670] | Comments [4]

New Zealand is the most beautiful country on earth.  With its endless snowcapped mountains and unspoiled countryside in every direction its easy to see why they chose to film Lord Of The Rings here for its otherworldly quality.  Its actually hard to believe that anyone lives in this wilderness, but they do - i met them.  Kiwis are the nicest bunch of natives ive come across yet and Jo and i loved it there so much we talked at length about knocking this Australia trip on the head and moving to Queenstown for the duration of our time down under - had it not been for the working visas we'd already bought for Australia and the fact that we'd made plans with people im sure id be writing this from there instead of here.


We flew in to Christchurch on the south island for the tremedous sum of $150, or 50 quid, and even managed to get flights that were at a perfect time, getting us in to Christchurch early in the morning so we still had a full day to explore.  Glorious weather meant that we wanted to actually do something rather than just wander the streets so we caught a bus to the towns gondola, a bubble lift that takes you to the top of a nearby mountain where you can look out over the whole city.  The weather was so clear that we could actually see a lot further than just over the city - we could see, from the extreme east coast, a mountain that sits right in the middle of the country.  When our friends arrived the next day, it took us almost 4 hours to drive to that mountain.  The night we were there waiting for our gang we checked in to a hostel on the outskirts of town, which had been set up in a converted prison.  That was the coldest place i think weve slept on the entire trip so far - it really added to the inmate theme they try to build up though, with both of us delighted at the chance to escape from jail the following morning.

The following day half the gang arrived and went to swim with the dolphins while Jo, myself and a couple of others were elected to stay in town and wait for one straggler who had taken a later flight.  While waiting we found ourselves in a bar with cosy little tabletop fires and settled about drinking the bar dry, though we had only planned to take a couple of drinks and then see what more town had to offer.  Before we knew it we had befriended a few people at our table, one of whom turned out to be the brand ambassador for Huggies and Kleenex and who very generously bought round after round until we found ourselves in an underground karaoke bar belting out classics until the small hours of the morning.


Hungover, we drove to the airport to collect Hatef, the straggler, and got out on the open road.  We were headed to the Franz Josef Glacier which we intended to scale in a day and feel pleased that the adventure part of our adventure sports holiday had begun.  One long drive later and it started to rain.  Alot.  We took refuge in a small bar with free pool and waited it out until the rain stopped.  Which it never did, so they cancelled our ice climbing trip and sent us on our way.  We couldnt come all this way without seeing the glacier though, so off we went and found it ourselves.  You can see in the pictures that we look a little damp.  It stopped raining just long enough to take a few photos and then started again as we got back to the car to head south.  One hour later, there were blue skies in every direction and thats how it stayed for the duration of our trip. 


We were heading now for Lake Wanaka, home of the 15,000ft skydive that we had planned as the new first extreme activity on our list.  The town was beautiful, scenic and sadly a little windy for skydiving.  They pushed our jump from 9 to 11. Then 11 to 1.  But at 1, hurrah, we got to go.  We climbed in to our dashing multicoloured onepiece jumpsuits and after a 15 minute flight up into the heavens we were strapped to the chest of an instructor and unceremoniously hurled out the side of a perfectly good aeroplane to face a 45 second freefall.  We were dropping at 200kmph.  Thats fast.  So fast, infact, that i though the skin on my face was going to peel away, but sadly it never did and instead i simply managed to whip my face raw with other, looser, bits of my face.  It was like recieving a forty five second slap to a cold face.  And it was brilliant.   The view, the thrill, the right to say ive done it - these are all things i was able to think about once my brain had started functioning again, something that didnt happen until he'd pulled the chute and we were floating down gently towards our landing site.  On our way down he gave me an aerial tour of the area involving lots of spinning around and unexpected jerks here and there, which was brilliant too.  Everyone loved it and next door there was a shooting range which we went to after to blast out the adrenalin.  A few loud bangs later, and we were on the road again.


Queenstown, an adrenalin junkies paradise.  Our first day we elected to do the highest bungee in the country, one which you leap from a platform some 165 or so meters in the air.  The plan is that you only bungee 143m but when your dropping through the air towards a river beneath you it feels like your going to be the first person to bungee 166 meters and make the news.  This is the most scary thing ive done.  No doubt about it, the worst part is shuffling to the edge of a cablecar suspended in the middle of a canyon with nothing more than elastic bands tied to your feet.  The hardest part is that here you have to make yourself jump, but with the skydiving someone does all the jumping and your simply a passenger.  Worst of all was that, being as i am the heaviest in our group, i had to jump first.  143 meters in about 8 seconds, and i still had time to think what a terrible idea this had been, who i should blame for talking me in to it, and how i was going to make it as hard as possible for those who had to go after me.  As they hoisted me up though, i had a huge smile on my face that wouldnt go away, and it was far too obvious that i had enjoyed myself to say otherwise.  Jo and another girl Megan came as spectators but once there decided that jumping was a must, payed the extra, and threw themselves over the edge too.  It was worth it just for the free T-Shirt one of the guys in our group insisted.


We also did a canyon swing which is in the same vain, but without bungee.  Here, rather than being attached by your feet, your attached at you chest so you can run or sommersault over the edge and rather than bouncing up, your carried away in a big swooping arc after falling 109 meters through the air.  I did my first one backwards, and my second one i did a handstand on the edge of the platform then shot off the edge head first.  Jo did one where they dangled her by her feet then dropped her without warning and another guy, Reed, sat in a chair and tipped backwards off the edge.  Half the fun of this is that the guys who work there are partly there to strike fear into your heart, with talk of unconnected wires and 'accidentally' pushing you off the edge when you least expect it.  They make it such a great experience, so much so that Jo bough a dvd of her backwards jump and you can hear her cursing and swearing at the guys, who are clearly delighted by the reaction!


In Queenstown theres a Gondola to an observation deck too, where we went to take in the views on one on the amazingly clear days we had there.  When we got to the top we discovered they had very cleverly installed a louge track and, in the spirit of doing everything there was to do in town, went louging.  Those little buggies can really move and more than once i was up on two wheels going around a corner on the icy track -  this was actually one of the most fun activities and one of the only ones where any injuries were sustained with one of the guys running another off the course causing him to flip upsides down and continute louging along on his front.  Hilarious! 


With so much to do, and so little time to do it, our holiday was over in a flash and we found ourselves in the car on our way back to Christchurch.  Rather than check in to a hostel when we arrived at about 10pm we decided that, as we were flying at 5am and would have to check in at 3, we'd spend the night in the casino.  We saw a guy win a years wages on one spin of roulette - and then lose most of it again on the next spin.  Our bets were considerably smaller, but it was a fun end to the heart racing week.   


We said our goodbyes to our friends in the airport and boarded our plane, totally shattered.  We did decide though, before passing out through exhaustion, that when we got back to Melbourne we'd pack our bags, pack the car, and move to Sydney.  And so we did.   And here we are.  It wasnt as easy as all that mind you.  The car wouldnt start after we filled it with all our belongings.  Then it started to rain.  And i couldnt find jump leads for sale anywhere.  So we went to bed and got up really early and bought jump leads only to try and jump the car and have nothing happen because the battery was totally dead.  So we had to go and buy a battery, but the garage nearby had 'sold the only one right for our car yesterday'.  So we found another garage who had a battery but wouldnt lend me the tools to change it and who suggested i drive the car there and he'd change it for me, which brought forth some colourful language on my part about how cars with dead batteries are notoriously hard to drive anywhere.  He said he understood and for an enourmous fee would come and change it for me, to which i agreed, as i still had a 10 hour drive ahead of me and didnt want to wait any longer before setting off.  And then we were on the motorway, very low on fuel, and had to turn off and get some only to dicover that the only way back on to the motorway would send us back to Melbourne.  So back towards Melbourne we went for what seemed like an eternity at 110kmph, adding about an hour on to our trip and using a quarter tank of the fuel that id just filled up.   But we got here in the end.  Safe and sound.  And despite all the bad signs things are going very well here for us indeed.  On day two we got an apartment that im in right now, not too bad and very very centrally located.  On day three, yesterday, Jo got a job and started this morning working as a receptionist in a hospital not far from here.  And i joined a gym bargaining the guy down from $600 for 3 months to $220!  All i need now is a job and were finally on track.  I went for an interview yesterday for a landscaping job and have another on Friday to be an actor/extra in some Australian tv shows.  By Monday ill be employed im sure, then we'll actually be settled for the first time in months!! 

I hope your all well and i hope summer is glorious with you there.  Here its still winter!




There are some things I am SO pleased I hear about after the event - like possibly the entire trip to NZ. Thank God for work visas in Australia or you would be doing even more insane things that involve heights - falling from, jumping from, etc - tell Jo I am looking forward to her DVD but only when she is in front of me so I can smack her for being so silly in the first place!! Got your call, was in Poland, will call Friday, love to you both, Mum xx

  Mum Jun 19, 2008 4:54 AM


excellent chris - very glad to hear you survived it all. For gods sake dont do it again...Recovering from Sams graduation, im sure you will hear about it all soon. Hope you got your job and will speak to you sometime
lot of love to you both

  dad Jun 22, 2008 5:49 PM


I felt scared reading about your latest adventures. Had fun at Sams graduation, he looked very handsome and very very happy with life all day.

Lots of photos, food and alcohol!

Love Kate

  Kate and co Jun 24, 2008 6:39 AM


Well looks like I'm going to Queensland!

  alorraine Jul 4, 2008 9:11 PM

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