Well people, my prayers have been answered and I am currently in Kaikoura (again) being bathed in beautiful rays of sunshine. Though obviously not right this second as I'm quite clearly sat at a computer indoors. However the sun was shining when I came into the cafe, and from my seat here I can confirm that it is still shining beautifully :)
Anyways, so I'm in Kaikoura again (location of ill-fated yet nonetheless awesome dolphin spotting trip), and as mentioned it's a lovely day. My pass on the Kiwi bus means that I go through here and Christchurch twice, which I initially thought was quite annoying but am now quite glad of. As I said before, I'm a big fan of Christchurch (even though no one else is for some reason!) and though there's not much to do here in Kaikoura if you've already done some kind of marine life spotting/swimming adventure, it's quite nice to have half a day of 'unplanned activity'. Or rather no activity at all! Anyway, I'm here and this means that my time on the South Island is almost over. Tomorrow in fact I'll be getting the ferry from Picton over to Wellington which is right at the bottom of the North Island. I'm most definitely looking forward to the North Island, and not just for the warmer weather. There's some great things to look forward to and it'll be nice to cross paths with some people from my bus here and even from before in Australia.
So when I last blogged I was in Franz Josef, killing a day with sewing and the like. The next day we drove off to Wanaka, which is just north of Queenstown and stands on a beautiful lake (aptly named, Lake Wanaka). We had some lovely weather on the drive down and got some nice photos which was good. I really can't emphasise enough how much the weather makes a difference to enjoying New Zealand's stunning scenery. Anyway, we got to Wanaka mid-afternoon and were staying at the Wanaka hotel, which sounds quite fancy but isn't really. Though don't get me wrong, it was hands down the nicest dorm accommodation we've had so far on the trip. We had en suites (with actual baths!), fridges and TVs - oh the luxury. These things really are exciting when you're used to nothing but the basics.
Everyone was quite tired as we'd had a big night in Franz Josef the night before, and the first night in Queenstown the next day was rumoured to be a big one too, so not many people were going out. Claire and I however wanted to go to a quirky local cinema that screened films with intervals so you can get a meal/hot cookie/drink inbetween, and had sofas and an old VW Beetle to sit in to view the film. Very random but was quite a cool experience! Though not for Claire as much who found a fly on top of her hot chocolate - ewww. Anyway, the film we saw was 'No Country for Old Men'. Half way through the film if you'd asked me if it was good I would have said yes (though a bit violent for some stomachs I'm sure). However, given my bewilderment at the end as to the actualy meaning of the closing of the movie, I feel ill-equipped to confidently state that it's a good movie. Anyone else who's seen it, please feel free to explain to me the ending or if not, join me when I say 'what the hell'?! Regardless anyway, it was a novel cinema experience, and to add to the randomness, I bumped into 2 girls from my Whitsunday sailing trip who were sat next to us!
We then headed on to Queenstown the next day and since it wasn't as long a journey we made it there by lunchtime-ish. Most people tend to spend minimum 4 nights here, just because there's simply sooooo much to do! You can bungy jump, sky-dive, canyon swing, jet boat, and pretty much every other extreme sport on the planet! I only stayed 2 nights though but to be honest wasn't too gutted about it. Queenstown is awesome for going out and the aforementioned sports but the only thing I was really limited to doing there was seeing Milford Sound, and since it's quite an expensive place to stay if you're not doing loads of things, I didn't want to hang around too long.
The first night all of our bus went out and had a good night at our hostel bar, followed by the World Bar. I really have been so lucky with the people on my buses so far - everyone's really nice and easy-going. Anyway, it was a late night and I was potentially regretting this the next day as I had booked my day trip to Milford Sound. I was slightly tired, but after sleeping most of the 4 hour journey there, had a great day. The views were spectacular and I will no doubt be littering Facebook with the photos soon! Still, it was a long day and I didn't get back to the hostel until gone 8pm. Still, no one else in my room seemed game for a late night anyway so we all had reasonably early nights after a chilled political discussion following the news of Boris. I know I have no right to complain when I didn't sort my proxy vote out in time but still - what were you thinking London?!!
Anyway, I then got the bus nice and early the next day back to Christchurch and went to bed embarassingly early the first night. The next day I did pretty much nothing except for stand in bookshops for hours debating whether to buy a California Lonely Planet book for my impending roadtrip with Barney, and then after coming to the conclusion that $60 is not an acceptable price for a book (Oz and NZ: what is up with your overpriced books?!), whiled away a couple of hours in Starbucks writing postcards (oh yes - I know how to soak up foreign culture). Thus after not doing anything of note that day and more importantly, spending minimal money, I decided to treat myself to the cinema that evening. I went alone, which was a first for me, and was actually not as weird-feeling as I'd anticipated. Almost liberating in fact. Only in a 'yes, I'm on my own and I don't care' kind of way though. Anyway, I saw 'Gone Baby Gone' with Casey Affleck and Ed Harris, and it was actually quite a good movie. I actually understood the ending for this one so that straight off made it a winner.
So that's me for the last week anyway: almost finished with the South Island and it's onwards and upwards tomorrow (literally) to the North Island. It does involve a 3 hour ferry journey (even though it looks like a tiny crossing on the map!), however I am fully prepared with seasickness tablets this time - a sound investment I'm sure. Apparently it can get choppy so best to be prepared rather than faced with an embarassing bucket display I feel. So that's it for now, hopefully more from Rotarua/Auckland when I get there.