Chris and I landed in the early hours after a smooth flight from Chile, a little cranky from the lack of sleep. It’s quite ironic that the seats on buses in South America are far more comfortable than those on an airplane! The flight was made all the more enjoyable by a drunken Scotsman who was cursing about everything, so that perked us up a bit. After a super friendly welcome by the airport staff we grabbed the bus for downtown Auckland and checked into the hostel for some much needed sleep. After the quick nap, we met up with Kevin who had already been in Auckland for a week and went on a walking tour of the city in the beautiful sunshine.
The next day the weather took a turn for the worse which put our tans in severe danger! We strolled for an hour or so over to Mount Eden with a friend who now live in Auckland and climbed to the top for some great views of city. On the way down we spotted a Nandos in the distance and sprinted the rest of the way. Bleedin’ delish! After heading back to the hostel we took it as our duty to go for a few scoops and finished up around 2.30am which is quite early for South America. So the three of us were left there lying in bed wide awake until about 5!
We checked out early the next day and got the bus to Rotorua. We managed to great a great deal with Naked Bus which included all our journeys and ferries in New Zealand for just over €200. Getting on the bus we were not exactly struck with confidence as the female driver proclaimed out loud that it was her first day and did anyone know the best way to get out of the city. After she pounded the gear box for a while we made it to Rotorua later that afternoon in the lashing rain.
Once we stepped off the bus we were instantly struck by the smell of rotten eggs dotted around the town. We checked into the hostel and just relaxed for the night as the lashing rain limited our options significantly. We got up early for a jog the next day that didn’t last too long as we kept running into pockets of rotten eggs! It lashed all day so again the activities we could partake in were virtually nothing. So we just relaxed in the hostel’s heated pool with some beers before heading to the bar next store to get some dance moves on. It was class being able to dance to corny pop music again and not try and pretend you know some salsa.
We arose with groggy heads the next day to yet again more lashing rain. But that wasn’t to stop us and we started the first tournament of the WPGA (Wirld PGA) Mini Golf tour of New Zealand with a classic 18 hole course. The Big Dog came out on top after a tight game. We headed for some beers after and had an early enough night as we were heading to Taupo the next morning.
The bus left us about 4.5 metres from the hostel in the middle of the town. After a quick check in we strolled for an hour to the nearest hot springs which were pretty cool. The views of the picturesque little town were also very impressive. The temperature varied from tepid to scalding your hands off. Nicely refreshed we got back to the hostel for some food and then went out for a bit of a dance.
After a celebratory beer we hopped on the night bus to Wellington in order to catch the ferry the following morning to the South Island. We arrived early in the morning with little sleep and boarded the boat no bother and we on our way.
We arrived at Picton, the first town on the South Island after midday after a breath-taking crossing through the Queen Charlotte Straights. We walked to the hostel and unwound playing with Paul on the nearest pitch. We did a walking tour of the city and managed to sneak in another game on the WPGA tour which was won by Kev. After some chocolate cake for dinner we retired for the night as there was not much night life in little oul Picton. We hopped on the bus early the next day on the way to Nelson.
After the 3 hour journey to Nelson we checked in to an amazing hostel which was more like a 5 star hotel. It had a swimming pool, sauna and Jacuzzi. The place even included a free dinner. One thing we did notice about the hostel and the majority we stayed in was that it was full of German travellers. I think we were the only English speakers in the place! After a quick walk around the town we ended up in the local Fish & Chip restaurant and got some beers on the way back. After an evening of beers by the pool we were all set to go out when we were told that no bars open midweek in Nelson…disaster! The next day we climbed to the Centre of New Zealand where we were in pensive moods.
The 3 moody men hopped on the bus far too early in the morning and made the 9 hour bus trek to Franz Josef, which is a tiny town, located in what seems the middle of nowhere. It is infamous for its now shrinking glacier. On the journey I watched the One Direction movie with Kev, which was an emotional rollercoaster to say the least. Once checked in, we scoped out the tours of the glacier and found that the only tour available was a bit out of our price range so we decided to hike up to it for free and get as near as possible
Again arising with groggy heads we killed a few hours with Paul and then got the bus from Franz Josef to Queenstown, which was an absolutely beautiful bus ride through the most amazing mountain ranges and lakes we have ever seen.
We arrived in the party capital of New Zealand ready for some scoops and a boogie. After dominating some Domino ($5 a pizza!) we got on the wine train and headed out for a session. We gave ourselves a bit of a lie in the next day as we kind of deserved it, but in the early afternoon headed off to play Frisbee golf by the lake, which is essentially like normal golf except you use a Frisbee in place of a club and ball.
After a journey from hell, the come down from the few days in Queenstown was really on. The fear was setting in. We needed to console each other on many occasions and tell each other that everything was going to be alright. Finally after a 9 hour horror journey we arrived in Christchurch and on our walk to the hostel we saw first-hand the devastating affect the earthquake of 2011 had on the city. As we had a bus early the next morning we used the evening as a detox and relaxed in the hostel’s sauna and hot tub for the evening before confronting the fear in our beds that night! Such a scary sleep for all the Boys in Green. I dreamt that there were dead priests in everyone’s beds and Chris dreamt that One Direction had murdered Kev and I.
At 6am we grabbed the bus to Picton and directly boarded the boat for the crossing back to the North Island which went swimmingly all the way to Wellington.
With only a night in Wellington we got straight down to business…and had some spag bol in the early evening before stumbling across a Wagamanas in the city centre which was our little treat for the week. We took it handy for the night as we were meeting our friends Ryan and Caroline the next day in Featherstown, about an hour outside the city, whom had offered us to stay with them in Napier over the festive period.
So the next day we went to the train station and headed down the road to Featherstown, en route to Napier. Before hitting the road to Napier with Ryan and Caro, we stopped by his mother’s cheese shop “C’est Cheese” in Featherstown and were treated to some local cheeses. Anyone in the area should stop by! After spending a bit of time there we got on the road for the 3 hour journey, stopping on the way to try out the famous New Zealand pies which were absolutely delish!
We arrived at Caro’s parent’s place just a few blocks from downtown Napier. Napier is a beautiful art deco town which was completely rebuilt in the 1930’s following a huge earthquake. Walking through it at night felt like going back in time!
The next day all 5 of us went for another round of the WPGA Mini Golf tour which was won by the Big Dog himself to take the lead on the tour this year. As the both Caro and Ryan were working the next couple of days they kindly gave us their car to rally around the city. Getting back into a car after 7 months and an automatic at that was strange. We went for a few spins over the course of the two days and picked up a few things for Christmas along the way.
We celebrated Christmas Eve in unique fashion: doing laundry, going to see Anchorman 2 and having a slap up BBQ until the early hours with their family. We ended up stuffed and singing from the tables until the early hours!
It will probably be the only time we will have Christmas dinner wearing sunglasses, unless we have a Stevie Wonder incident. Things were not all good however, as Kevin made the crucial error of confusing the gravy with balsamic vinegar. Let’s just say turkey, spuds and balsamic vinegar is not going to catch on anytime soon!
Needless to say there was a potato joke every few minutes which was perfectly fine as we did devour about 75% of the potatoes that were laid out for everyone! To top the meal off we each had a pint of Guinness that had kindly been donated to The Wirld. After a few songs, everyone was wrecked, so headed to bed about 5 kilos heavier.
The Boys in Green had another fry up the following day and then headed back to Napier with Ryan to help prepare the house for their St Stephen’s Day party that evening. And the party was off the chain! Another huge meal was provided and after a few beers, the sing songs started and ended with us doing our rendition of Riverdance on the terrace with some of the locals joining in too.
We arrived in Auckland in the early evening and went straight to the gym to work off the Christmas belly. Needless to say it had little effect and the weight still remains! To top off our stay in NZ, we headed out for one last night on the tiles which was great fun until towards the end a bouncer came up to yours truly and asked for me to leave. Not being drunk at all, I thought he was talking to someone else, but surprise surprise, another bouncer wielding his power. So in what can only be described as the calmest being kicked out of a bar every recorded, I supped another bit of beer, tapped Kev on the shoulder “eh I am being sent outside. See you in a few” and headed out! He must not be a DWIC fan.
We spent the next day flaking in the hostel and getting things together for Australia. After a few hours’ sleep we left Auckland around 3am and waited for ages for the bus cursing it endlessly until we realised we were at the wrong bus stop! But we made it on time and were on our way to Oz!
New Zealand was an amazing journey from the North Island all the way down South. We met some incredible people along the way and would like to particularly thank Ryan, Caroline and their families for being the best host possible over the Christmas period. See you soon!