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[personal profile] gnine
Sooo...I've been particularly sucktastic in updating recently, and considering my normal track record, that's saying something! Something very pathetic! :-p So...err...gomen? m(__)m. Partly it's because I've been using G+ more for quick updates/posting pics and partly I've just been busy, working and exploring New Zealand. (Also, partly, and by that I mean mainly, I'm horribly lazy...but we knew that already! ^_-)

Which brings me to the main reason for this post: I've just spent two weeks traveling all over the country with the siblings and have promised I WILL do a travel log this time! So here's me...doing a proper post! In less than a week since the trips conclusion! GO ME! (Really, I should NOT be this proud. OOPS! ^_-)

So, without further ado (or excuses! ^_-),

Our journey started in Queenstown. I flew down and met the sis and bro at the airport and together went in search of our rental car. I had driven once before on the wrong side of the road (hey, we drive on the RIGHT side so clearly here and England and Japan drive on the WRONG! ^_-) and I wasn't coming off of almost 24 hrs of travel, so I was elected to drive. (I had rented a car when I took the ferry to the south Island for a weekend in January...which I was suppose to post about and um...never did. But there are pics on picasa/G+ here. )

So, after a bit of blinker/windshield wiper confusion shenanigans (seriously, having them reversed is HARD. There was a LOT of "I'm going to just make a turn like normal and--SHIT, no, I really DON'T need the windshield, which is bone dry, wiped at this particular moment!! Grr!" by all three of us) we made our way to the first hotel, from which we had a lovely view:



That evening (after the sibs had a much needed nap) we headed into town for dinner and a little sightseeing. Watching the setting sun turn lighting the surrounding mountains was gorgeous!:



Watching the numerous ducks and seagulls get fed was also amusing. Those things were TAME! And cheeky...which pretty much describes all the birds here. Having no natural predators seems to do that. Also weak-willed tourists who can resist dropping food left and right to all the shamelessly pandering beaks. We were in no way immune ourselves! ^_-



The next day the bro and I did something I've always wanted to do: bungy jumping! We opted for the classic, Kawarau Bridge bungy, considered the first commercial bungy jump in the world. (Also, right near one of the spots used to film the Anduin in LotRs. ^___^) The few hours leading up to the jump, my excitement started to war a bit with nervousness. I mean, I LOVE heights, but here I was preparing to toss myself off a perfectly good bridge. And then the moment of truth, you're on the platform, your legs tied tight so you hopping, rather than walking the plank, and the guys counting down and you're like "Am I really going to...OH SHIT!" I definitely screamed on the way down. And then came the first bounce...and I just started giggling and giggling.

This cracked most of the spectators up as well, according to the sibs. Apparently it's not the most common response. But...you're bouncing over a deep, fast flowing, GORGEOUS river on the end of a giant rubber band. How do you NOT laugh?

Niichan actually took video of the whole jump (make sure you have the sound turned up ^_-):



Neechan meanwhile had my camera and snapped a few shots:





In conclusion? AGAIN! AGAIN!!!



Afterwards, we took the gondola up to the overlook of the town, which rewarded us with beautiful views of all of Queenstown and the surrounding area. And we could watch the paragliders flitting about. Need to do that one of these days as well!



The next day we set out for Milford Sound. The drive was beautiful (okay, ALL the drives were beautiful, even those done in the pouring rain. What can I say, it's a reeeallly pretty country!!)







And the sound itself (and actually, it's a Fjord, as our guide reiterated. Several times. Pretty sure it was a pet peeve, hilariously so ^_-) was AMAZING! Despite the pouring rain, or maybe because of it. The mist gave it a haunting quality and many of the waterfalls are temporary, only forming when its pouring. Which is it was:









Also, WINDY!:



But that didn't stop us from having a fantastic time!





The next day we headed out to Franz Joseph, with more rain accompanying our trip. Also, SANDFLIES! BLARG! Sooo not fun! Nasty little buggers that bite like mosquitoes and are EVERYWHERE down there. We started getting used to bracing ourselves "okay, everyone ready? One two three...GO GO GO! *open doors simulateously, hop out, slam them again as quick as possible.*" But was still a pretty trip:



The next day, we had scheduled a Helihike up the Glacier at Franz Joseph, but the one we were scheduled for got rained out and again later that afternoon. We had originally intended to leave for Christchurch the next morning, but decided to give it one more go and rescheduled for the nine am tour (much to Niichan's dismay. Poor boy only got to stay in bed past 10 am twice the entire trip. *pat pat* Life is HARD! ^_-). Meanwhile, we spent the rest of the rained-out day hiking out to the glacier and exploring some of the nearby trails.





Next morning we lucked out. It was completely clear, not a cloud in the sky and the guides said it was some of the best weather we'd had in a while! Score!



Riding in a helicopter is another thing that's been on my list of things to do for ages. And it was fantastically fun! The motion is just so unlike any other vehicle!



It also rewarded us some amazing views!


(I love that we could see the helicopter's shadow passing over the mountain as we flew!)



Once we were on the glacier, that in itself was incredible! We had a two hour walk and our guide was great. (We actually lucked out with good guides on every tour we took! ^_^)



Also, I took pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. Glaciers are COOL! (pun intended! ^_-) And crawling in amoung blue ice caves and cravices was...was, damn, I'm running out of expletives! Good, awesome, fun, amazing, spectacular, fantastic, breathtaking. Which pretty much described all of New Zealand, really! ^_-











Following our glacier adventure, we hopped in the car and headed to Christchurch. Another incredible drive through ever changing, breathtaking scenery.



Along the way, we stopped at a rest stop whereupon neechan's day got made.

Right after climbing out, a parrot like bird landed about three feet away and started ambling towards our car, ignoring us completely. Another group pulled up and spotted us ogling the bird. They were native Kiwis, and hearing our accent, asked if we knew what it was. Neechan, being neechan, promptly answered "It's a Kea!" to which the reply was "No, the correct term is CHEEKY Kea." And boy was he right. Apparently these birds like to strip cars for fun. Rubber is particularly fun. As we were heading off, a campervan which had also stopped was starting to have its mudflaps nibbled on by the bird. While everyone watched. Cheeky, cheeky bird!





Christchurch itself, when we finally arrived, was a bit of a sad, sad city. Also, a driving NIGHTMARE! The entire city center is shut down both to car and foot traffic due to all the earthquake damage. All about the city there are buildings in various states of repair or demolishment. Poor city.

Even so, parts remain nice. The botanical gardens are very pretty and undamaged.



And they had some neat flora!



Next day, we headed out on our first LotR specific tour, to where Edoras was filmed. Mount Sunday is a several hours drive from the city, and VERY remote. As in the off road vehicle taking us had to drive through a foot or two deep stream to get us there.


(Yes, that's taken from the window when we're halfway across the stream!)

It was so worth it. The guide was fun and knowledgeable, the other people on the tour were all super friendly and the views. The views were STUNNING!







There was also some major geeking out. The tour even provided props! ^_-







Next day, we departed the South Island, flew back to Wellington and spent the day just chilling at my place.

Friday found us at Zealandia, a bird sanctuary only a ten minute bus ride from my house. Neechan was ECSTATIC! All native New Zealand birds, all the time.

Afterwards, we met up with [livejournal.com profile] aworldinside for dinner (and so her and neechan could talk AO3) and then joined in in a fangirl meetup. (Poor niichan, only guy dragged along.) Neechan and I had a great time, though and I don't think he minded overly much. ^_^

The following morning we were up bright and VERY early for the Wellington area LotRs tour. Our guide this time was HYSTERICAL and had us reenacting a few of the scenes for photos and such.













Sunday we picked up our second rental car (a muuuch newer model than the first. This one actually had an engine. HP does NOT mean hamster power. They got that confused in the last car, made passing verrry interesting :-p) and made our way up the center of the island, passing 'Mnt Doom' on the way to our stop over in Lake Taupo.



Our last full day found us stopping in Matamata, otherwise known as Hobbiton, for the set tour. It was POURING that day, as well as ridiculously windy, but we still had a fantastic time. Hobbition! The party tree! Bag End! How could we not?! ^_- Also, there were baby sheep we could feed!











That night we arrived in Auckland (where we made niichan drive. He was NOT happy as traffic was kinda sucky and our GPS was...eeeeh, NOT SO GOOD! :-p) But, when we finally found our hotel, we had AMAZING views of the harbor, so it was well worth the hassel.





As our flights were in the evening, our last afternoon we drove out to Bethells and Karekare beaches, less than an hour west of Auckland. Which we'd heard were beautiful (they were) and more importantly (at least as far as our fannish sides were concerned) where they filmed some of Xena.

These two beaches were simply amazing! Black sand, windswept, and huge. Also, empty! Very VERY empty! As in, between the two stops, I think we saw a total of maybe ten other people. And that might be a high estimate!















Then it was off to the airport (on the way to we almost ran out of gas, biiiit stressful, that.) Then it was a very rushed dinner, goodbye hugs and off to the States for them and back to Wellington (and work :-p) for me.



An all around FANTASTIC trip, ridiculously fun and ending in close to 1500 photos taken. All I can say is, thank the GODS for digital cameras because if I was still using film that would have been...err...BAD. Also, expensive!

Oh, and for anyone who wants to wade through 'em, even more pics can be found on my picasa here and here. And, while I really am going to try to be better about doing these posts, if you're really curious about what I'm up to/want to see pics, it's probably better to track my G+ as I have a slightly better track record there so far. ^_^

And, next month, I get to do it all again with the 'rents!

Then it's off to Australia with me, whee! Err, right, haven't mentioned that here either. So, at the end of May, I'm moving to Australia to do a working Holiday visa there so any Australia peeps, hopefully we'll get the chance to meet up! ^___^
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gnine

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