Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Abel Tasman!

Hi!! So Emily and I just got back last night from Abel Tasman National Park. We tramped (hiked) for 4 days and stayed 3 nights in huts along the way. It was so beautiful!!!! The tramp was about 40km of lush forest, beautiful beaches, waterfalls, and rolling hills. We even saw seals! The weather was great. We had 3 days of gorgeous sunshine. I think we both kind of forgot it was winter. :-) The last day was great too, just a little rainy. And luckily I have a camera now so I've got some pretty good pictures to share with you.

The whole trip was just so peaceful, like a vacation from my vacation. I found myself in Christchurch getting really caught up in the logistics of things and thinking a little too much so it was super nice to have all our accomodation prepaid and food packed, where all we had to do for the day was hike the path to the next hut.

The tramp was rated "easy" by Lonely Planet, but Emily agrees it was a bit more uphill than we expected. And they don't mess around with traverses unless absolutely necessary so the uphills are pretty rigorous. But it wasn't too bad at all, especially considering we were carrying ~40lb. packs and I've really never done anything like this before. Not for this many days in a row, anyway. We hiked for about 4 hours each day. I guess a lot of tramps you hike a lot longer than that each day, but I thought it was perfect because we had enough time to take our time packing up our stuff in the morning, and make breakfast and then we could stop at beaches along the way. It was really relaxing and nice. Emily brought a hammock with her as well so we'd set that up when we got to the hut and just sit and read. I finished Pride and Prejudice, which I thought would last me a lot longer!!

I got horrible blisters from my hiking boots and bitten all over my legs by sandflies (way less annoying than mosquitos, but with the same results), and at one point when we were down on the beach looking for caves to explore I slipped off a deceptively muddy rock and scraped up my leg, but it was a small price to pay for the awesomeness of the trip. I think a few pictures could probably explain this trip better than I can.
So all in all it was a great trip!! I will post many more pictures on Facebook and will show them all to you when I get home!

The next Stray bus leaves on Saturday to go north and I'm thinking that's when I will leave. It stops in Kaikoura which we actually went through on the way to Nelson, where we booked our huts for the tramp. Kaikoura is a super small beach town. It's supposed to be a great place to swim with dolphins and seals and whale watch, but I'm not sure how great it is in winter. After that the bus heads up to Wellington, which I'm really excited for. Emily and Devin (her boyfriend) both loved Wellington. But wherever I go I will keep you updated!!

Love you all and miss you lots.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Heading to the west coast


Just want to let you all know that Emily and I are heading out tomorrow (on a 7:15 am bus) to go to the west coast and do a 5-day trek. We'll be gone for a week total and I probably won't have Internet so I will be out of touch. I will probably be in Christchurch for a few more days after we get back (on Tuesday evening) so I will have internet then and be able to update you on our adventures!!!

Wish me luck!!!

Love, Laura

Monday, August 17, 2009



So I left yesterday from Queenstown, hopped on the Stray bus at 7:30 in the morning and got to Christchurch yesterday afternoon. The bus was good. There were only nine of us on it. Everyone was really friendly. Most people were on the last legs of their journeys. I guess that's the downside of getting on in the South. Most people are heading back up to Auckland for their flights out. But oh well. I was only on it for the day anyway. But the driver kinda takes the backroutes and finds all the gorgeous, not completely touristy areas (hence the name Stray). It was beautiful. Lots of hills and lakes and the clouds here have this crazy phenomenon of being so low all the time. I thought it was just Queenstown in the valley, but it's like that all over. They just kind of lie across the hills. It's really pretty. The bus makes stops for lunch, whenever people feel like taking pictures, and of course to let the sheep get out of the way. Lol. The first place the driver stopped he even got out his camera it was so gorgeous. He made a comment about how he doesn't often do that! Unfortunately this is when I realized that my camera has decided not to turn on anymore. The light blinks like it thinks it's on, but the screen is black. :-( I found a camera shop in Christchurch which was closed yesterday, but I'll head over there again today. I'll most likely just get a new one.

We arrived yesterday about an hour ahead of schedule, so about 4:00. I dropped by stuff at a hostel and walked to Emily's work. She had to work till later so I walked around long enough to remember that it's Sunday and everything's closed so I went back to her apartment. Christchurch is the biggest city on the South Island and the second biggest in the country. It's pretty sprawled out, but Emily lives and works very close to downtown so it's easy enough.

It was crazy rainy and gross when I got here so I don't really feel like I've given the city a chance to prove it's greatness yet, but we'll see. Emily doesn't have to work this week after tomorrow so we were thinking we might head over to the West coast (Christchurch is on the East coast) and do a trek. It's basically a 5-day hike where you go and stay in huts and hike about 10km per day. And since it's the off-season it's pretty cheap to do right now. The two we're looking at go along the beach for some parts and are among the nine "Great Walks" in NZ. So depending on our transportation cabilities (Emily thinks she might be able to borrow a car) we will probably do that.

After that I will probably hop on the bus again and head up to Wellington. I'm not sure how far I will go before I start to look for work. Winter's a bad time to be looking. Tourism is low and people are trying to cut costs, but in a month or so it should pick up. And I do still want to WWOOF so I might just do that for a bit until the busier season.

But that's it for now!! Emily has Internet at her house which is SUPER nice so you should all get on skype or facebook or something and we'll chat!!

Love, Laura

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Queenstown (still but not for much longer)


Things have cooled down here a bit in Queenstown. Both activity wise and temperature wise. It's cold and super rainy here today!! It doesn't really snow in town, but the rain is intense and super cold when you only brought one pair of tennis shoes and they're soaked through... :-/ But I'm surviving.

We haven't done much in the last few days. Kind of been taking it easy, shopping around town, reading, and such. It's been nice, but I think I'm ready to move on.

Our roadtrip to Christchurch has been canceled because Mary has to work this weekend so I'm going to go up myself. I actually just booked a bus tour of all of New Zealand. It's the same company that Leslie did one with when she first got here and she loved it. It's extremely flexible. The pass is valid for a year and you can get off the bus wherever you want and stay however long, work for a few weeks or months or whatever and then get on the next bus when you're ready. I will most likely leave Queenstown on Sunday morning and the bus goes straight to Christchurch so I will still meet up with Emily and stay there for a bit. After that it continues up to Wellington. I'm really excited to see Wellington. It's supposed to be like Portland and Seattle combined.

So I'm pretty much just playing it by ear!! I suspect I will need to start working somewhat soon if I want to save any money for more traveling, but it shouldn't be too hard to find work. I'm still interesting in Woofing too.

Sorry there's not much to report this time! I have been taking a few pictures. Now I just have to remember to bring my camera with me so I can put them up.

Miss you all and the warmth of Colorado.

Love, Laura

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Queenstown (part deux)


I'm still in Queenstown with Leslie and just wanted to update you a bit on what I've been up to and what my plans are.

We did go bungy jumping the other day off the Kawarau bridge!! It was awesome. Leslie and I actually did a tandem (sp?) jump so she more jumped and pushed me off with her. ;-) It was awesome and the guy at the top who strapped the cord on had a good point. I told him I was from Colorado and he said that skiing was a lot more dangerous than bungy jumping. True. Anyway, it was quite thrill. They even ask if you want to be dunked in the river. Leslie wanted to go waist deep and I did not so we compromised and just got our heads wet. It was super awesome and now I really want to do the nevis jump. It's three times the height and apparently you fall for 8 seconds on that one. Yikes. But awesome. Anyway, I've got pictures from the jump but their just prints so I'll have to show you all when I get back!

Yesterday we went up and skiied Remarks. It's the ski area on "The Remarkables." A good name for what are the most impressive mountains I've ever seen this close to sea level. Leslie and I went with the head chef from the hotel she used to work at. Ski areas here are so different from Colorado. No trees for one, but also the layout is just different. We took a lift up and then hiked for about 1/2 an hour and skiied down the back side of the mountain. I definitely was moaning and groaning on the way up, but it was so beautiful when we got up there I totally forgot about my pain and the way down wasn't too trecherous at all. Lots of powder. On the other side of the area there were terrain parks and oh my god you would never believe how good people are here. And it's not just a few people either. Everyone is so hard core. It's kind of the spirit of Queenstown tho. Play hard. I think I'm getting old tho because I can't quite handle going up skiing every day and drinking every night. And people here work on top of that. It's nuts.

I think Leslie and Mary (her roommate) and I are going to make a bit of a roadtrip to Christchurch on Friday. Turns out Mary has some friends there she wants to see and the timing works out well since Leslie leaves the following Tuesday. So we'll be heading up there and I will just stay with Emily for a bit while I decide what to do next. Christchurch is supposed to be apallingly boring so I'm not sure how long I'll stay, but I might try to find some work there for a bit to try and save some money for more traveling. Also, I've been thinking more about doing the WWOOF thing. Willing Workers On Organic Farms. It's where you go and live with a host family and basically learn organic farming practices and help out. You get free accomodation and food in exchange for your help so it's a good way to save money and also sounds pretty interesting. I also definitely want to check out Wellington sometime soon.

So we'll see where this crazy road takes me!! I miss you all like crazy.

Love, Laura

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Hello everyone! Sorry I'm super slow with the updating!! Leslie doesn't have Internet at her house so it's more a project to post on here. Also, I'm feeling pretty disconnected with the world!! But the Internet cafe is only $NZ 4 here so that's not so bad.

I arrived in Queenstown!!! (Clearly.) I've been here for three days now and it's definitely the most beautiful place I've ever seen in my life. Think of the most beautiful hike you've ever been on in CO and basically place a lake and a small mountain town at the top, surrounded by the most majestic, snow-covered mountain peaks imaginable and you have it. It's incredible. The town itself is kind of a European Breckenridge. Lots of little shops and restaurants and stuff.

We went skiing yesterday!! Definitely different than skiing in CO, but pretty awesome as well. A Swedish friend of Leslie's is leaving today so I bought her skiis off her which makes the whole process a little cheaper than renting gear every day.

Leslie had a dinner party thing at her house the other night where I got to meet a bunch of her friends. We cooked and ate and drank and I provided the music which of course I'm a bit proud of. Lol. It was nice. It definitely seems like the way to meet people here is through work so I'll have to try that at some point. For now my money is holding out pretty well. Adventure sports are expensive, but well worth it.

(Look away for this following part mom. ) We attempted to go bungy jumping the other day but they were all booked up so I think we are going to try again today. Should be fun!! The one I want to to do is called the Kawarau Bridge and it was the first bungy jump location in the world.

I actually haven't taken any pictures yet. I need to get on this whole acting like a tourist thing so you guys can see what I see!

It sounds like Leslie and Mary (her roommate) and I are going to drive to Christchurch next weekend before Leslie leaves and I will most likely stay there for a bit with Emily Zinn (my other friend from back home.) Other than that not much in the way of plans!!

Definitely missing everyone at home quite a bit. Love you all and hopefully will post again soon!! And I promise I'll work on this pictures thing.

Love, Laura

Monday, August 3, 2009

I'm in Auckland!!

Hello everyone!! Or Kia Ora as they say. I'm not sure if I've got that right. It might mean 'welcome.' But I'll figure it out. I am writing this from the Auckland airport! After going through security three times, customs twice, checking my bag twice, 14 hours of flights, and about 7 hours of sleep later I am waiting at the gate for my flight to Queenstown!!! I had to pay $10 NZ dollars (like $6.50) to use the internet for an hour so this may be short, but I wanted to say hello and let you all know that I arrived safely!! Well, in the country anyway. But I think the worst of the traveling is over. Definitley wishing I didn't have to carry so much stuff. I packed everything into my backpacking backpack and a smaller backpack, but it's still ton of stuff to lug around! If I was a kiwi I wouldn't definitley be looking at me going throught the terminal thinking 'what an idiot American.' But oh well.

Haven't seen much of the landscape yet as it was still dark when we landed this morning at 6:15, but I walked the 10 minutes to the domestic terminal and it smells like the ocean outside. The first thing I thought of when I walked outside and smelled the cold, salty air was that it smelled like Croatia. Funny how we remember smells like that.

So far the Auckland airport is the best organized airport I've ever seen. Signage EVERYWHERE. A nice change from LAX which was horrible, confusing, gross and loud. The long flight was okay tho. Got two full meals, free wine, and no one else was sitting in my row so I could stretch out a bit. Everyone here is very nice. The accent is prettier than I thought it would be and I think it is a little different than Austrailian accents. They use the word 'rubbish' here instead of 'trash.' I like it.

Sorry if that's all boring! I'm sure I'll have much more exciting things to say next time I update. Wish me luck with my last flight and I'll talk to you all soon!

Love, Laura