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New Zealand - South Island (Picton to Queenstown)

After catching the ferry across to the South Island we hopped back on the Kiwi Experience bus. As we had stayed a few extra days in Wellington most people from our original bus were already gone ahead. But fortunately all was not lost as we would all be reunited again once we reached Queenstown!!

The odd person opts to fly from the North Island across to Picton but I'd recommend getting the ferry as the views going through Cook Strait are pretty amazing plus it's cheaper!! The drive along the coast from Picton to Kaiteriteri was beautiful, in particular through Marlborough Sounds which offers gorgeous picturesque coves and beaches.

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After a short stop off at Nelson we arrived at Kaiteriteri. The following day myself and Diana got a boat taxi over to the well known Abel Tasman National Park and went for a stroll . It's surrounded my golden sands and blue water and with Kaiteriteri having some of the best year round weather in New Zealand ....it was safe to say we had an above average 'walk in the park'! Close to the park was the split apple rock, one of the world's most fascinating rock formations.

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Next on the itinerary was to the old gold miners town of Westport. Considering it's a verrrry small town we managed to have quite a BIG night out! We met the cutest of leprechaun couples from Cork...Denis and Jess. ... so I suppose when the Irish get together it's always a bit mental!

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There were some options to do activities in Westport like horse trekking, jet-boating and quad- biking but with New Zealand being on the expensive side we limited our activities to the main things we really wanted to do ...and most of them were in Queenstown!

The following day we headed off to Lake Mahinapua via the spectacular State Highway 6. The diverse landscapes that you see on the West Coast vary from farmland, deserted goldfields, green rainforests ....and the snow capped Southern Alps! (..ah ye!!)

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One of the stops along the way was at Tauranga Bay where you can see one of News Zealand's largest seal colonies! We also stopped for a few scenic walks along the coast - my favourite being to the Pancake rocks. (Basically stacks of limestone that have eroded to look like a pile of pancakes ......yummy!!!!!)

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That night we were treated to a BBQ at the 'Poo pub' followed by a fancy dress party. The theme was 'anything but clothes'. Judging by the theme I'm guessing the idea was for people to dress up kinda sexy and show a bit of skin ...with this in mind Diana and myself dressed head to toe as showers.....

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  ....needless to say we didn't win any prizes!!

To be fair one of the winners Peter managed to make a full suit and hat from newspaper! (ah heaare!!!! .....)

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Denis and Jess, the Irish couple did us proud dressed up a bottle of wine and a bunch of grapes!

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After recovering from our lil dress up party we regrouped and headed off to Franz Josef. Here we decided to trek the amazing Franz Josef glacier, the world's fastest moving glacier. The weather conditions for the previous week meant no tours were going up the glacier BUT the day we got there the weather picked up so we were able to go up ...so we were verrry lucky!! We got a helicopter flight over the glacier that dropped our group off to trek the glacier for about 2 hours.

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There was some really tight spaces at some stages where you literally had to squeeze yourself through by pulling a rope ...ideally not for people with claustrophobia!! (or morbidly obese - luckily for me I was only a few months into travelling so hadn't quite reached that stage .....yet!)

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After spending a terrific day on the glacier we decided to relax in Franz Josef's hot pools at night - great call!

After 2 nights in Franz Josef it was onwards to Wanaka. To be fair Wanaka was a very pretty place ....just not a whole lot to do there. And we were so close to Queenstown that we decided to skip the stop over night in Wanaka and hitchhike (sorry Mum!) We were slightly worried getting dropped off at a random road by our Kiwi bus driver because we knew if we didn't get picked up it was a LOOOONG walk back with our bags!!! (plus we didn't actually know the way and we had no phones!) But our driver said we'd be fine so we took his word! Low and behold the 2nd car that drove past us picked us up! (They're awfully friendly in New Zealand!) It was a lovely guy called Chris, who happened to be one of New Zealand's downhill mountain bike champions...pretty cool!

.......to QUEENSTOWN please!!!!

Posted by Julie Kavanagh 19:13 Archived in New Zealand

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