Franz Josef Glacier | Day 6
Day 6 was an early morning all day bus ride; we left Queenstown- the adventure city- and headed five hours to Franz Josef Glacier- the coldest and rainiest part of the trip. One of our first stops was in a town called Wanaka. Wanaka is beautiful and is surrounded by Lake Wanaka. We had an hour and a half stop and spent this time in a small cafe called ‘Cherry May’; it was a tiny, American-themed diner. So, in a classic Racquel fashion, I took advantage of the cafe and tried a Creaming Soda milkshake- whaaaaaaaat? Yeah, I know. To be completely honest, I was disappointed, it just tasted like Banana. One the other hand the caramel filled chocolate brownie was to die for!
Our last stop off was Thunder Creek Falls. Once again, another incredible eyesight. It was a huge, raging waterfall surrounded by lush green rainforest. Our tour manager mentioned this ‘magic trick’ that we needed to try. The key was to stare at one point of the waterfall for 30 seconds and then look to the right of the waterfall; the outcome was that the waterfall looked like it was merging, morphing, transforming and changing into an alternative galaxy-like shape.
After hours of driving through a dense rainforest and along curvy, windy roads, we finally arrived at Franz Josef Glacier. Our accommodation was not amazing, but you wouldn’t get anything more extravagant in a small town like Franz Josef- the place literally had around 4 streets. Holly and I bunked with Alice and Rebekah.
That night was our included dinner and 80’s party at the lodges’ bar and restaurant. The Contiki group and another travel group all dressed up and it was definitely a sight to see. After dinner I headed back to my room after grabbing ice-cream to get some shut eye.
Franz Josef Glacier | Day 7
The saddest day was probably today. Our Contiki group initially planned to fly by helicopter to the glacier and then explore it on foot. I was booked in for 12pm although Alice was booked in for 8am. I awoke to see her sneaking through our bedroom door. She told us that all the bookings were cancelled for the day due to bad weather. A couple of hours later we heard that there had been a helicopter accident. We were told that two Australians, four British people and the Pilot had died in a crash over Fox Glacier.
Firstly, it was overwhelming. Everyone on our tour was getting calls from family making sure they were okay and it was apparently on the news in many countries. Then I felt incredibly lucky and thankful. That could have easily been myself or any of my other Contiki buddies. Lastly, I felt incredible sadness and sorrow towards the people involved, the locals and their families. You would have never thought something like this would happen while on holiday.
We needed to fill in the day, so Aurora, Alecia and I visited the Kiwi bird sanctuary. We saw one bird and it was quite difficult as they live in a dark habitat. Myself and a couple of other friends went to lunch at one of the local restaurants and then most of our Contiki headed to the hot pools. There were 3 pools; one 40 degrees, one 38 degrees and one 36 degrees. We spent quite a few hours there, it was so comforting being out of the cold rainy weather and in a hot pool. That night we all headed to a Japanese restaurant; which was quite delicious! I’m not a big foreign food eater- besides from Italian and Mexican- so I was quite surprised that I liked it. I headed back to my room again that night only to be awoken at 1:30am the next morning.
I woke up after hearing our very drunk Contiki group outside our rooms, I also saw a dark figure climbing through my bedroom window. This figure came and sat down on the chair next to my bed and I was shitting myself. It had big curly hair and was clearly male. Then it spoke “how’s it going” and I breathed a sigh of relief! It was only James, a guy on my Contiki, wearing his 80’s wig. It was hilarious!
Christchurch | Day 8
Twas our last full day in the South Island today and we spent most of it on the bus seeing beautiful scenery everywhere that we went. Our first stop was in a REALLY small town called Hokitika. Here, we got the chance to purchase NZ greenstone. So I took it upon myself to buy my Mum a greenstone necklace that simply had the meaning of an important relationship.
We then drove through Arthur’s Pass. It’s incredible, the pictures can do all the explaining. Here we spotted a couple of Kea birds. These birds are the sickest thing ever. They’re really territorial and have some serious balls- when you have a group of 50+ giant humans looking and trying to get closer to get a photo of you, and then you start to walk closer to them than the humans start to know who’s boss.
We arrived in Christchurch and stayed at the nicest hotel! We went out for dinner at the VERY EXPENSIVE but delicious Lonestar Restaurant, I think I just bought a side because it was that expensive! Afterwards we headed to a small bar, had some drinks and played pool. Thinking back, at one point I was amazed at the urban, purposely-wreaked feel of Christchurch, and then I stupidly remembered that they had a huge earthquake a couple of years back. It was so interesting but devastating to see a huge city in wreckage like that.
Wellington | Day 9
Departing Christchurch we headed off to Windy Wellington! We said our goodbyes to the South Island after we stopped at Kaikoura. Kaikoura is such a small settlement but it is one of the most beautiful seaside towns i’ve ever seen. You know those scenes in movies that are set at the beach; misty, cloudy, cold and wet weather, white sand covering land with the waves hitting against the shore, a lighthouse in the back, small sand dunes, rocks covering the beaches surface- it was exactly like that!
We then stopped and got to see a seal colony! They smell horrible! But it’s so cute seeing spassy little seals fighting with each other, looking like obese, slimy, larger sloths.
Next was the dreaded 3.5 hour ferry trip from the South Island to the North Island. The ferry itself was actually awesome- great facilities, but it was just boring. Towards the end most of our Contiki group were taking up the walkways and just sleeping on the floors.
The next thing that happened after we got off the ferry was magical. Rare and unseen before. We were greeted with a new bus, but not just you’re regular white with blue writing Contiki bus, it was black and pink! The most kickass bus ever, and brand new we were told! We embarked and headed for our hotel to get ready for what I will say was the best night of the tour for me.
We walked like a bunch of gangstas to the Blend Bar. Here we were greeted with two drinks, entrees, a meal and desserts for only $25! Bargain! Also, drinks were $5 each! I decided to get particularly wasted that night without even realising. Considering it only takes one shot for me to be ‘drunk’, I was heavily intoxicated. Two vodka sunrises and two shots later I was dancing on couches with then rest of the Contiki gang to MMMbop, the macarena, YMCA and other classics! Defintely a good night had by all!
Wellington | Day 10
I woke up with hardly any voice. We had a free day so Holly and I decided to go to the museum. It was insane! The coolest part was definitely these larger than life models of War Veterans. The whole Gallipoli exhibit was amazing and so insightful!
This night was the event that I thought I would miss seeing as I wasn’t at home. Myself and a bunch of other Contiki fangirls went to see the new Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 movie. It was nice just relaxing and feeling like I was at home for a little bit of time.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of #RacAndHolsDoNZ | Taupo, Rotorua, Waitomo and Auckland Madness