If I had to rate the sound of my alarm in the early morning on a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is the most annoying, I would give it a 15 but not on Tuesday the 16th of April 2013! This day, I would be travelling from Queenstown via Milford Sound, Mount Cook and many other amazing spots to Christchurch with the one and only orange bus from Stray!
I jumped out of my bed to pack... well I did jump out of my bed but not to pack my bag, because my backpack was still packed from the day before when I arrived from a trip around the North Island of New Zealand, yes, lucky me!
With no time to recover from my last trip, I took the bus to Auckland airport to catch my flight onboard the proudly presented, completely black painted, All Black A330 of Air New Zealand! This trip was going to be amazing as flying in the All Black plane was a CHECK on my bucket list! (no worries my bucket list is quite big).
Once landed in Queenstown and checked into my awesome accomodation at Nomads Queenstown, I met the rest of my travel companions and we made our way to the nice and cozy World Bar for some drinks, nibbles and more drinks, but not too many because the next day we would have to wake up early again to head to the beautiful Milford Sound and 'Gunns Camp'! We left Queenstown nice and early and headed through to Te Anau on our way into Milford Sound which took us about 4 to 5 hours.
On our way mother nature offered us beautiful scenery of hills surrounded by massive mountains and the beautiful mirror lakes which showed us the landscape reflected back at us, amazing... We boarded the 1pm Milford Cruise to explore this iconic region which gave us some time to relax and enjoy the stunning views. We got back to land around 3pm & made our way into a brilliant accommodation for the night named Gunn’s Camp which is in the middle of the Hollyford Valley (Fiordlands).
Now this is what I see as a unique experience, a couple of lodges, amazing people, beers, beers, beers, and after those beers some more beers and drinking games which consisted of "ring of fire" and "never have I ever" and stars, lots of star, as many as the eye could see and as many as I will never see again, mountains, rainforest, a campfire and nothing more but nature in the middle of nowhere. Next morning I was woken up early by the sound of nature, when I say the sound of nature I actually mean people waking up making sounds which you usually hear on the Discovery Channel, all noises of course, were caused by the night before! After an amazing real English breakfast we were off to go NZ's adventure capital of Queenstown, here we come again... ROLL TIDE! Surprisingly we made it to Queenstown when the bus driver turned the bus in a direction other than the city.
Our teamleader stood up and informed us, 'as you can see we are not actually going into Queenstown because I have some other things planned for us. As everyone knows Queenstown is famous for their adrenalin activities like the Nevis Bungy which, at 134m is the highest in New Zealand and Australia, and we were going to do it!
Before everyone realised it, we were already in the canyon awaiting instructions from the Nevis Bungy crew. After the instructions we were transported by a small 6-person shuttle cabin to a highwire cable car in the middle of the canyon. That was actually already 'one bridge too far' for me! After a shaky and wet twenty minute wait, it was my go. I moved myself to the edge on auto pilot and had no fear 3-2-1 and I jumped. Now, the rush after they pulled me up again was amazing, but what actually happened when I was falling? I don't remember. I can't remember anything, a 8.5 second black out, Sweet as!
So far my Stray trip was one to remember and yet this was definitely just the beginning!
Still shaking off the adrenaline of the 134 meters bungy jump we were off to go to explore Queenstown's famous nightlife.
We started the night by joining the 'Big Night Out' bar crawl. The first bar was a party boat cruise, pretty cool if you ask me, it started off with everyone yelling and running around the boat out of enthusiasm like kids on a massive playground, I would tell you the rest of the night if I could remember it so that makes it easier to just skip the rest the evening...
BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOOOM...
Waking up from this sound I was launched out of my bed smashing the night lamp onto the ground and running to the door I opened it and saw the receptionist standing there pointing at her watch... 'you're a little bit too late mate hurry up they've given you 5 more minutes' - whaaaat!!! Yes I slept in and was running 45 minutes late!
After the quickest making myself ready for the day ever and after the whole bus laughed at me we had another cruisey start to the day before we start making our way up to New Zealands highest mountain Mount Cook.
The bus ride to Mount Cook, for me, was the best part of the trip. This picturesque area of New Zealand is filled with hills, bright blue lakes, masive mountains, land and trees in all colours you can imagine, with spacey music in the background this gave me goosebumps and an experience I will never forget!
We arrived at our accommodation at Mount Cook and I went straight to bed to get my energy back for the rest of the day. In the afternoon we enjoyed the stunning scenery and did the short hike that this area is famous for. After that we had entry to the Ed Hillary Museum and the 3D movie of the area. In the evening we had some beer, played some pool games and watched the Kiwi's against the Kangaroes game, which I feel sad about it to say that the end score was dramatic, that didn't take away the fun though.
Another relaxed start with a posh breakfast and departing time 9:00 in the morning we were off to go to Lake Tekapo to visit Alpine Springs. When we arrived there we had the option of outdoor Ice skating, tubing or a relaxing dip in the Thermal pools. Because this time no one slept through we arrived early so we could do every activity, especially the iceskating was hilarious when one of our group put on his devil suit and chased everyone down!
After lots of fun and a relaxing time at the Apline Springs our second destination was Rangitata. On our way we had plenty of time for photos of Lake Tekapo & the famous church of the Good Sheppard. Also we did a short walk through the Peel Forest.
Rangitata is a beautiful place in the middle of nowhere with a lodge and some farmers around the area. We arrived at the lodge in the afternoon, it took us at least 30 minutes to get our provisions, which was mostly Speights beer, from the bus into the lodge. In the afternoon we played some games after we had a delicious barbeque.
The next morning breakfast was nice and early before we got kitted up to tackle Whitewater rafting on the Rangitata river! This was a thrilling, scary activity where you have to concentrate to get the most out of it.
However still with the Speights in our bloodstream we had the funniest time in our lives, there was even a moment that I felt sad for our raft guide who couldn't get us under control, besides that it was one of the best moments of my life, you could compare our boat with a cage full of monkeys!! As the rapids got progressively exciting from grade 1 – 5 and the full volume of water squeezes through the narrow gorge we were still laughing, shouting and trying to throw other people out of the boats, how immature however lots of fun!
When we got back to land everyone was exhausted but satisfied! Hot, refreshing showers welcomed us. After that we enjoyed a delicious BBQ, the second meal of the day, while watching in amazement the photo evidence of our rafting experience.
After the bbq we headed to Christchurch where we had our last night of the trip. We stayed in the old country house which is a really nice and cozy place to stay. I didn't see a lot of Christchurch but I still felt the weird empty feeling atmosphere caused by the earthquake 2 years ago. I fell asleep straight away, next morning I took the plane back home to our lovely Auckland. Good to be back but what an amazing time I would pay millions to do it again!
Thanks Stray Travel for this amazing time!!