Saturday, May 28, 2011

Swan Dive Like a Flying Kiwi

Of all the adrenaline activities I have chosen to engage in since my arrival in this country filled with caffeinated daredevils, very few of them have actually made my stomach plummet to the ground ahead of my body. On the last day of my tour with Flying Kiwi, it was time to change that fact.

We woke nice and early, and I spent some time sorting through my belongings to pack them in a more transportable form (rather than small bags and piles of things in various spot on and under the bus). I was leaving Queenstown with the Flying Kiwi bus, but hopping off an hour or two into the day’s drive. We joked about how I’d have to have all my stuff together so they could just slow down and push me out. After I was a bit more organized, it was time to catch a shuttle bus out to the Kawarau Bridge.

Kawarau Bridge/Gorge/River, Queenstown

The Kawarau Bridge is a historic suspension bridge that attracts tourists on its own accord. It sits above the Kawarau River and has a nice old-fashioned-looking structure to it. It is also famous for being the home of the world’s very first commercial bungy jump.

I might have been a bit excited...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Flying Kiwi Solo Expedition: A Walk with My Camera

I have mentioned before how when you’re a backpacker, it seems like a luxury to spend two nights in the same place. So often you are moving from place to place, packing up each morning and scrounging to find what you need throughout the day without fully unloading your pack. It was not much different while on the Flying Kiwi tour. Although most of us had “our seats” on the bus and kept some belongings on board, we still needed to take down our tents and load up the bus each morning before we hit the road. There was always a daily task of figuring out what items and articles of clothing you might want to access throughout the day, depending on the weather and activities. Being the first passenger on the bus as it left Nelson, I managed to score the front seat to claim as my own, and even usually had the seat next to mine to use as well! It was nice to keep some shoes on board in case I wanted to hop off on a cycling adventure, and of course having a rain shell handy proved useful a time or two!

After we left Milford Sound, we dropped a few keen trampers off at the start of the Routeburn Track (one of NZ’s great walks – complete with expensive huts during peak season that I wasn’t eager to pay for) and continued back to Te Anau, where we were staying for the next two nights. Two nights! It was a welcomed rest for wary travelers. We had the option to do whatever we wanted with our day in between. There was talk of going four-wheeling, taking a ferry to a glowworm cave, walking part of the Keplar track and taking a shuttle bus back to town, and several other options that people were considering. I was intent on finding a free activity to occupy my time, and decided I would be quite happy if I wound up exploring by myself. It had been a solid week of riding the tour bus with the same people and though I had met some lovely fellow travelers, I have explained in previous posts how much I enjoy and cherish traveling solo!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Encountering Sunny Milford with Flying Kiwi

You may remember these pictures from my first trip to Milford Sound (technically a fiord) with my family back in December. We went right after Christmas in the middle of NZ’s summer, which is of course the high season for any tourism operation. Milford is on most any “must see” lists you will come across for NZ. It consists of stunning mountains that plunge dramatically into the water and countless streams flowing off those mountains and dropping into the waters below. The shape of the fiord was carved by a glacier and there is an interesting occurrence of freshwater sitting on top of the saltwater coming in from the Tasman Sea.