26th Feb 2011.
After getting settled and having a mellow afternoon in the upgraded apartment we all met up after 7pm and after a drinky we headed into town in one big group. Vinnie had arranged a night in the World bar where for $10 we had an all you can eat pizza session. The pizzas were massive and there was plenty left over, even for the gluten and dairy free people!! Beers and teapots were being sunk quickly and cheaply and it was such a good night to get away from tents and the bus, that everyone was really enjoying themselves. I had a dance and was chatting with Sandra and Sabine, when it was announced that we were heading to a club where De La Soul were playing. Unfortunately it was $65 to get in and when the free wristbands came around earlier there weren’t enough for everyone and I missed out. Although I wasnt really that bothered as Im not very good in crowds where everyone is dancing and so it may have been a godsend that I didnt get in as it might have sent me mad! Anyway, I waved everyone goodnight and went home for an early night while they continued partying. It was a shame as I was having a really good night up to that point. I nicked a beer out of the bus chill box and vegged in my bed for an hour before getting a good nights sleep!
Waheed came in later on in the night and then left again early in the morning for his parachute jump, before returning once again soon after as it had been delayed because of low cloud. He told me about the night out and that everyone had had a good time. Then after a cup of tea I headed out to meet up with a few of the bussers and our early morning Canyon Swing!
There were 5 of us in the end – Me, Becky, Ben, Stefan and Gianni who ha signed up to jump off the worlds highest cliff jump and swing across the canyon on the end of a rope. After signing the declaration to say that we couldn’t sue the company if we died, we jumped onto a minibus and were driven up the hills towards the canyon. On our arrival we walked 400m down the track past a variety of daft signs and some gnomes towards a quite modern building where we could finally see what we were jumping off – Very basically, it is a platform with a variety of ropes and cameras hanging off the cliff side. Inside the platform it was a lot warmer than outside and after a quick brief and dropping off the stuff out of our pockets, we were harnessed up and ready to go. First, Ben went off and he was quickly followed by Becky, who seemed to spend an age chatting to the instructors before finally jumping off into the chasm below. Then Gianni and Stefan followed, before I finally had my turn. I took a running jump and ended up doing a star jump type thing as I fell 109metres at 150kph – It was so much fun that I decided to have another go and this time went off backwards.
I really enjoyed the morning and would quite happily have spent the whole day jumping off again and again, but it is quite expensive and we were due to leave town today so we jumped back onto the transport and went back into town. When we go there we decided to try out the infamous furgburgers – one of the best known places in Queenstown, that does massive home-made burgers of all kinds. It has a permanent queue, sometimes right out of the shop itself and today was no different. But, we joined the queue and had a great burger each before heading back to camp. I met up with Rich and we had a wander around town for while taking photos and I also tried to call Lisa and Andrea, who are somewhere in town, but their phone was turned off so I didn’t get a chance to meet up with them, which was a shame.
As wet met up back at the camp-site we started to say goodbye to some of the group who were leaving. There were even a few tears from some of the girls, but on the whole it was a happy goodbye and we wished everyone well who was leaving. Rich, Merryl, Lauren, Gianni and Cyril. We also said hello to a couple of newbies who joined us and then we set off towards our next stop – I don’t know where it is, but it is another bush camp somewhere!
We arrived at our bush camp by the side of Lake Wanaka in the early evening and started to set up the tents. It started to get really windy and cold, so swimming was out, but instead we took a wander along the beach, where there was a lot of driftwood all piled up. People had obviously been there before as there were loads of strange arrangements of wood – shelters, wigwams shapes and single logs stood up on their own everywhere. The different colours of wood, mixed with the dark sky and sunset really made it a great photo opportunity.
After the walk we all set up for a BBQ dinner and then sat around in a huddle to keep warm and drank a few drinks while Buffy played a bit on her travel guitar. It was a chilly night, so we al;l headed off to bed reasonably early. The morning came too soon, but we had a good lie in till 9am before having breakfast and setting off. Ben didn’t have breakfast as he nearly slept in, so he was happy that we had a stop in a local café for a coffee soon after leaving. On today’s journey we visited the blue pools and the there was a downhill cycle ride which led past Thunder creek falls and ended at Pleasant Flats, where we stopped at a camp-site for lunch. A few of the bussers attempted to balance on a fence while trying to bend down and touch the fence with their nose – No one managed it, surprisingly! We then set off again into the rain. We arrived in the town of Fox Glacier late in the afternoon and were offered an upgrade for $10 (£5). Myself, Todd and Stefan decided to share a room and a few others did the same. It turned out to be a great decision as the rain continued most of the night and the few that pitched tents wouldn’t have got much sleep. The evening went along the usual lines of dinner, with a drink, but then because of the rain a few of us ended up in the TV room watching CSI on TV I then ended up watching Misfits with Michelle, Todd and Becky until it was time for bed.
After a good nights sleep, it was breakfast, a quick lift into town on the bus and then the days activity – A full days hike onto the Fox Glacier. We were issued with waterproofs, hats, mittens and a backpack to carry our lunch and then after a quick lift to the glacier we headed up onto the ice with our guides Stu and Alyssa. It was a really good day even though we got soaked by a deluge of rain. We were on the glacier for about 4 hours and spent the time exploring ice caves and tunnels, being told about how the glacier formed and having a few laughs together. It is amazing to hear that the ice could be up to 100 years old since it fell as snow higher up the mountain. The colours of the ice as we walked up changed from greys, to white., to a beautiful blue colour. Alyssa made a shit joke about smurfs being trapped in the ice and that it gave it the blue tinge!! After lunch we continued upwards until we could go no further and spent a while crawling through a naturally formed ice tunnel, which was fun. I took a few photos of everyone and then we started our descent. The guides kept stopping all the time in order to dig steps for us to follow, even though we were wearing crampons on our boots -I realised too that the steps that they dig are also used as markers so that they can find their way around on the ice, so maybe thee steps aren’t as much as a waste of time as they seemed.
We arrived back down at the bottom of the glacier after 3pm and when we got back into town, we dropped off our kit at the guide station and had a well deserved cup of tea in a local café before Vinnie turned up with the bus and took us on our way. The weather for tonight is going to be very wet and extremely windy, so we have been upgraded into a nice hostel with dorms and will at least be dry for the night. So Im now sharing with Aiden, Andy and Bern, while the wind and rain starts outside! Theres no alcohol allowed in the room, so of course the only way to get rid of it is to drink it quickly!!