A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about water

soaking up the sun

View New Zealand - 2014 on Ils1976's travel map.

A good night’s sleep is actually the only thing a person really needs and I was happy to have just that. Due to the fact that our room wasn’t available anymore last night, we got a complimentary breakfast. Okay, I have to admit, we had to ask for it, but on the other hand, they could have declined it, luckily they didn’t, so this meant that this morning we were going to have a luxurious breakfast.


There were just so many choices of hot and cold dishes, that it was difficult to decide what to eat first but since we had a long day ahead of us, we made sure we had enough food into our system. It was already after 10 AM when we left our hotel and went to the waterfront to have a look at the famous bridge and of course that other major sight in Sydney, the infamous Opera house. It is not the first time of course that we have seen these buildings, but seeing them is believing and when we gazed upon them, we knew we were back in our beloved Sydney.

Since the weather was so nice, we just walked for a while into the botanical gardens and than it was time to really soak up the sun and what better way to do that than at the beach, Bondi here we come!

Getting there was a totally different story. There were some major track works so instead of taking the subway train all the way to Bondi Junction, we had to get off at an earlier station, where we had to catch a bus. Luckily the walk towards the bus wasn’t that far and we even had a bit of time to spare before we could jump on the express bus towards Bondi Junction. Not that we were complaining, this only meant that we could soak up some more sun. It really is amazing that after almost 3 weeks of mostly bad weather, a bit of sunshine made all the difference.

As we arrived in Bondi Junction, we had to transfer on to another bus and although we didn’t had to wait long, by the time it arrived, it was already fully packed. It seemed that we weren’t the only once wanting to go to the beach and who can blame us all, the weather was just simply put … amazing!


The ride from Junction to the beach wasn’t that far and as soon as we got off, we were a bit distracted by the many shops just like a couple of years ago when we visited this place, but as soon as we were finished shopping and had a bite to eat, we could go and find ourselves a nice spot on the beach, which knowing us, didn’t take that long. It was an absolute bliss lying there in the sand and since it was so hot, it was nice that there was a cool wind blowing as well. I quickly closed my eyes and enjoyed this little moment of pure bliss. I’ve said it already a couple of times, but life really can be beautiful sometimes, especially when you are on holiday and don’t need to worry about anything but yourself. Is this selfish I wonder, but on the other hand I don’t care that much coz in the back of my mind I am saying to myself that I deserve this after so many months of hard working.

It was almost 6 PM when we called it a „day” coz the wind was blowing more stronger now and since most of the people were leaving, it was as good as time ever to do the same. In a way it was the right moment as well because just next to us there was a group of young English guys who got hassled by 2 girls from I don’t know where.

Although they seemed to have a strong accent, I guess they were locals, but they were just so waisted and did just about anything to score a drink from these guys. And I literally mean evertything!!! At a certain point one of them was completely naked and some people around us started to get really offended and who can blame them, that’s just not normal behavior on a family beach. Sitting so close to them, I could even hear one of the girls telling that they would do anything and they wouldn’t have to pay, so I was starting to think that I got a clue what their actual job was. When one of the two actually showed the moves, I was sure of it, well, if you come to think about it, it is never boring when you are at Bondi beach!!


On our way back to the bus stop, we decided to go for a quick dinner as well. It was going to take a while to get back to the centre of Sydney with all the track works, so by the time that we were going to arrive, it was going to be pretty late.

Like most of all our dinners, we wanted something really quick and not to greasy so once again this meant one thing and one thing alone … noodles! It seemed that this dish besides the Indian cuisine is really our favorite on this trip coz we were eating it on a daily basis. Maybe we should think about going to Asia or India on our next adventure!

As we were almost back into the centre, we got off in the neighborhood of Martins place and although it was already late, we still wanted to check out Darling Harbour. On our previous trip, we never went there during the evening, so we didn’t really see it with all the lights, but when we arrived at the spot, we were surprised to see lots and lots of people. What the heck was going on here???

Walking further and further towards the Imax theatre, I just had to ask, it was just too crazy seeing all these people sitting on the ground and waiting for something to happen and only 5 minutes later we got our answer. There was going to be a christmas fireworks at 9 PM. How sweet was that! Once again we were in luck, we only had to wait less than half an hour and of course we waited to see what that was all about.


In Belgium they don’t have such fireworks for Christmas, so this was a totally new experience for us, but seeing all the typical colors of christmas in the sky together with some christmas music, it really came to my mind to have a little chat with our mayor. Maybe they could do something like this as well. The fireworks were really nice and the atmosphere was amazing. With a big smile on our faces and singing the song of Rudolph the red nose reindeer, we slowly walked back to our hotel, where we still needed to get the key of our new room.

By the time we were back in our room and finally went for sleep it was already after midnight and it was as good as time ever coz tomorrow another adventurous activity awaited us.

Posted by Ils1976 02:53 Archived in Australia Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches bridges buildings skylines water walk city friends sightseeing oceania viewpoint Comments (2)

biking or zip lining, that’s the question?

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One day you get a bit depressed when you see rain, the next morning you wake up with a smile on your face when you see the sun shining. New Zealand is such a strange country and although I am here almost 3 weeks, I still can’t figure it out. Do I hate it or do I love it???

Like usual we had an early morning coz we needed to go on the road again and today we once again had a few hours of driving ahead of us, but luckily we were going to do something a bit more active as well and today we were going for a bike ride.

The trip from the small town of Te Anau to Arrowtown wasn’t that far, just about an hour and a half and as soon as we got there, we had some time to explore this old gold rush town a little bit more. Instead of trying to look for some lost gold flakes, me and Tania just relaxed on a terrace and enjoyed the sun on our face while having a marvelous cup of chai latte together with a yummy scone. I can’t describe how delicious the selfmade jam was without drooling, it was just that good!


Now that we had a bit of real food in our system (because how long can a person survive on cereals and a piece of toast), we were ready for our 13 km long bike ride from Arrowtown to the Kawarau bridge where me and Tania jumped off just a few days ago. Thinking about that day made me wanna relive it and I guess Tania was thinking the same thing coz as soon as we all got our bikes, she went off like a rabbit on cocaine. I tried to follow but my scone drug of this morning wasn’t helping, so instead I just made it a relaxing one and together with a few members of our group we made sure this trip was going to be unforgettable. During our ride we made a lot of jokes, had some speeding contests, made a few picture stops, but most of all we just laughed and enjoyed the scenery.


Upon our arrival at the bridge, we saw people jumping off it and although I knew that there wasn’t any time left for me to do this as well, I secretly hoped that Tania got her chance and could jump for a second time. When I met up with her, I was a bit sad to hear that she didn’t and as I wanted to ask Craig if it was possible to do the zip lining, he also declined. Apparently there wasn't enough time. On the other hand, maybe it wasn’t that bad after all coz there was so much wind, but still, instead I just resorted to looking at the jumpers but unlike a few days ago, the people were just hooked with a harness around their waist. The weather wasn’t really permitting a bungee jump, but a normal jump was allowed. We were so lucky that we could do the real one. It doesn’t happen that often, but sometimes luck is a bit on our side. A bit that is! :)


On the other hand, maybe I wrote this down too soon coz while almost our entire group waited for the last people to arrive at the bridge, we suddenly realized that we missed 3 persons. In the beginning we thought they were still coming because they were just slow riders, but when our driver Craig went on the track and tried to find time for about half an hour, they were no where to be found. What the heck???

During our bike ride, we always had to follow the stream, but it looked like those 3 had taking the wrong track which went all the way to Queenstown.


Not something we wanted of course, so we left Helen behind and the search went on for a tall German guy and 2 petit Australian girls. In the beginning it was kinda funny, but after driving more than half an hour it wasn’t. I even started to think we were never going to find them because once lost, there are more than one side tracks you can take. Where the heck are they??? 

Thankfully Helen called that they were finally at the bridge and as soon as we were back on the road again, we drove all the way back to Kawarau bridge where our 3 missing „sheep" were waiting for us. All in all I am just happy to see that nothing went wrong, but on the other hand I am a bit selfish as well as I was thinking that while all this drama was going on, I’d better had stayed at the bridge so that I had time for a zip line adventure. Am I bad or am I bad!?


With everyone back on the bus, we continued further along the road towards Lake Ohau, the place where we were going to spend the night. It was still quite a drive and while we passed once again some amazing sceneries, thanks to my great selection of music I fell asleep once more, only to wake up again when we stopped at a small shop alongside the road. This place was called Jones’s fruit stall where you could buy some delicious fruit as well as dried fruit, nougat and all kinds of nuts. If you are a fruit lover, you really would go „nuts" about it.

The two of us bought a nice selection of everything, some freshly cut pineapple, a box of cherries and of course, how can we resist it, nougat with honey and kiwi. What is not to like about that. If the weather isn’t good, the food has to be! :)

Back on the road again, we had one more stop in a small town called Cromwell. It is not like there is much to see in this little town except for a giant display of fruit while entering the town, but I have to admit, the Pad Thai they served in the local Thai restaurant was more than fine to me. For dessert we still had some pineapple and as soon as we all had the lunch we wanted, we could jump back on the bus for another 2 hours of driving towards the lake.


During our ride, we saw the blue sky turn into some kind of thick pea soup of clouds and soon after even dark clouds where hovering around the Lake Ohau area. By the time we reached it, rain was pooring again. It seemed it was going to haunt us wherever we went. Instead of going for a run around the lake, I chose to relax in a hot bath and by the time I was totally zen again, it was time to have dinner as well. This was going to be our last meal together with the group and afterwards, a few of us met up at the bar. Not that we were such a big party group, but with a few drinks, some nice conversations and from time to time even funny dance moves, the evening wasn’t all that bad.

At 11 PM we all called it a night, after all, we all had to get out of bed early and in the end I think we made a wise decision coz as soon as I crawled into my bed, my Vodka Raspberry did his work and brought me straight to dreamland.

Posted by Ils1976 12:00 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes mountains bridges art people sky water flowers town river plants clouds friends house sports road tour bike group oceania viewpoint Comments (2)

beauty is all around us … so why can’t I see it ???

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Unlike a few days before, today we had yet again an early start and this meant that with sleepy eyes I got dressed and had breakfast just like the rest of our group so that we could leave for Milford Sound at about 7 AM. I was really looking forward to this day coz I read so much about it, the trouble however is that someone told me that it rains about 300 days at this particular place, so it was unlikely that with our luck we were going to see it with a bright blue sky.

The trip towards Milford Sound was going to take a few hours and as soon as we were gone, Helen told us that it wasn’t likely that we were going to see it without rain. I knew it, it was just our luck again, but hopefully it wouldn’t be that bad?

I still had a little bit of hope left, because after all, what else is there? Helen assured us however that not only the Sound, but also the road towards it was well worth, so at least we had something to look forward to.

About one hour into the trip, we suddenly stopped at a very big open field with mountains in the distance and suddenly it hit me why our driver Craig was playing the theme song of the musical „Sound of Music”. When "Maria" started to sing, Craig and Helen jumped out of the bus and started frolicking around. I have to admit it is kind of a weird experience but on the other hand, with the snowy mountains in the near distance, it sounded about right. The temperature on the other hand could be better, but hey, the music and sceneries made the stop well worth and as soon as we found our responsible „leaders” again, it was time to go back on the road again where we stopped about half an hour later.


This time we had a quick stop at the Mirror Lakes, which are well-known for their reflection onto the water and although we had yet again a cloudy day, I was amazed to see that you still could see it. The water is truly crystal clear and I was wondering if I could drink from it and I am sure we could.

Fortunately we couldn’t gaze at the mountains too much coz other tour groups were following us as well and the sad story is that this was going to be for the remainder of the day, definitely not a fun day if you have to run through everything just in order to see something, but that sometimes happens when you are on a tour trip I suppose.

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From the lakes we drove further on and had a quick toilet stop in Knobs Flat, where you had just a few toilets and I think I even saw a caravan park, but that’s about it. A very sad place indeed, so that is probably the reason we just went there to have a 5 minute break.

Once back on the bus, it was yet again a fairly long drive, but Craig made it up with a few photo stops along the way and I do agree with Helen on this one, the drive towards the Sound is amazingly beautiful, especially when you have some customized music playing through the boxes. It was like driving through a magical place and the waterfalls we drove by from time to time were nice to look at as well. To be honest, I was waiting for the moment some fairies were going to come out and play. But that's just me of course! :)


As we arrived at the Homer tunnel, which was cut out through the entire mountain, we had to wait a few minutes before we could go trough, but once we got the green light, we've got an amazing experience of driving through it on the theme song of Mission Impossible with a laser show and everything. That is something I really like about Topdeck, even at dull moments, they always try to lift up the spirit and it really works. I really love that!

Passing the Homer tunnel, it amazed me, that after driving about half an hour we arrived in some kind of forest that could easily be the shooting location for the movie Jurassic Park. It is strange, but being here in New Zealand wants me to compare everything with movies, I guess the recent relaeses of the Hobbit movies as well as the Lord of the Rings movies don’t help this of course. But I have to admit, this country is made for making some of the world’s greatest movies and who knows how many will follow coz when we were in Wellington almost a week ago, they were telling us something of a sequel for the Avatar movie. Not my favorite one, but now seeing all this, I can imagine why they wanna film it here. When the sun is coming out, it must be mind-blowing, because it is beautiful with dark clouds as well.


Dark clouds usually meant trouble and this time it was no different, coz as soon as we drove a few minutes through a forest, it started to rain, but it in way that's not the right word, it were more downpours. It literally came falling out of the sky with buckets. Unbelievable!

Sadly enough we had to go and see the Chasm, which is sort of a water fall, but with the heavy rainfall, no one is really enthusiastic and nor am I, but I am here and I don’t think I am coming back soon, so as soon as I put on my rain jacket I walk into the rainforest (hence why we have it of course) and I loved it. The spooky looking trees were amazing, the many ferns looked the same, I could wonder of here if it wasn’t for the rain of course and secondly of all, the hundreds of asian people walking besides me with their umbrellas trying to do their best to poke my eyes out … jeezzz, that is not what I particularly call magical. Now I know why it is only us humans out here! :)

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Needless to say, we walked through the forest if our ass was on fire and as soon as we were on the road again, it was only an one hour drive towards the Milford Sound, which we reached … in the rain!

I have to admit, I was a bit disappointment when we arrived and as soon as we were on the boat, it started to rain even harder. I have to admit that a depression was starting to kick in and besides a few waterfalls and lots of fog, there was nothing else to see here at the sound. It didn’t help when the crew of the boat told us how beautiful it was here at the Sound because at that moment we couldn’t see much. Needless to say, the mood was gone to almost freezing temperatures for some of us, including yours truly. Although I have to admit that there were still some people on board who saw the fun in it coz they were even crazy enough to go and stand under a freezing cold waterfall. I on the other hand can verify how pure the water was by drinking it, that is how far my sense of adventure goes when I am on depression mode!


During our 3 hour cruise, we tried to spot a few penguins, but in the end we never saw one single one. I have my hopes up at meeting a few in Torango Zoo but we will see when we get there, for now it was just one lonely seal and that is about everything you can see here when we are talking about wildlife. When I come to think about it, it is a bit disappointing as well coz since my last trip to Australia, I saw so much wildlife that for some crazy reason, I expected the same here in New Zealand. Not a jumping kangaroo or even a cute koala, but somehow I expected to see lots of birds, but the only one showing up was a Kea at the parking lot of the waterfall we visited earlier. Maybe we have chosen the wrong season???

Nothing to do about that of course, but I was so glad to be of the boat again because not only didn't I see something worthwhile, I also began to get a bit seasick, so during the ride back to Te Anau where we were going to spend the night, I did nothing else but sleep in the bus. It seemed I was really exhausted.

Upon our arrival at the hotel, we quickly dropped of our luggage and went for a run. After a whole day of riding and sleeping in a bus it was time for a bit of action and a half an hour run around the lake was just the perfect medicine. It made me feel all energized again.

It was already fairly late when we had dinner, so needless to say, by the time that I packed my stuff and got organized it was already time to close my eyes and dream about an other day on the road.

Posted by Ils1976 11:26 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes mountains lakes trees snow boats rain water walk road tour forest group fern oceania viewpoint grey_weather Comments (5)

escape from the horror that is rain!

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Strangely enough I slept quite alright, but in the middle of the night everything became so quite that I suddenly woke up. It seemed that the rain had finally stopped and with a smile on my face I went back to sleep. Little did I know of course what was going to happen in the next few hours and believe it or not, a little bit after 6 AM, it started to rain again, my god, does it ever stop ????

Lots of us wanted to do the heli-hike excursion to Fox Glacier and secretly I already knew that it was going to be cancelled, but there was still a chance that we could walk up to the glacier, sadly enough not in this weather though. If it kept on raining in the morning, even the walk up was going to be cancelled and now that it started to rain again, all hope was gone. The one thing that went through my mind at that moment was the fact that I hated rain!


I don’t mind so much that it rains on other days, but one of the reasons I really wanted to come to NZ was for the Tongariro crossing (cancelled), Fox glacier (cancelled) and now my only hope is set on Milfourd Sound. Knowing my luck, this is going to be in the rain as well, I am sure of it. I really don’t know what I have done to deserve this but hey, that’s destiny for you I guess?

As we meet up with the rest of the group for breakfast, it is soon enough clear to everyone that we aren’t going to the glacier, after all, it is really raining cats and dogs and the conclusion of everyone is to get the hell out of this miserable place. Nope, it doesn’t look like I am going to have happy memories of Fox Glacier, it really is a pity.

When everything is loaded into the bus, it is time for us to leave and we all wanted to get out of here as soon as possible but because we left earlier than planned, Helen and Craig had to come up with alternatives. Not that this is easy with such weather, but hey, at least they tried to cheer us all up.

About one hour into the drive and a few floods later (I am not exaggerating, we quite literally had to drive on the other side of the road), we arrived at the information centre of Haast. This was the ideal stop for a toilet break and it also had a small interactive museum about the fauna and flora of the region we were in. Of course we couldn’t stay there for days, so after about half an hour, we were back on the road again only to stop again at one of the many road cafe's we came across.


With a delicious chai latte in the hand, we were on the move again, only to have another stop about half an hour later. We were near the Thunder Creek falls, which is supposed to be a very beautiful place and the home of a fairy. According to Helen, she is called abcde (spoken abcidee). This fairy rewards only the good people at the fall. If you look closely at the waterfall for about 12 seconds at a fixed point, something magical is going to happen. And although it rained so hard that it was difficult to concentrate, I finally got rewarded,, so it seems that I was a good person after all. For the more sober people amongst us, the optical illusion is the fact that the mountains seemed to move. Am I now a bad person by telling this ???

Suddenly it started to rain even harder and we had to make a run for it, I am so glad that we were leaving for Queenstown today, coz they promised us better weather on the other side of the mountain and in a way that was true coz once we left them behind, we were sort of rid of the pooring rain.

I guess it must haven been about 2 hours later when we arrived at the little town of Wanaka, which is also known for its lake. At the moment we arrived, the sun was shining so bright that we all got so excited and happy at the same time. It had been a few days since we saw this round yellow thing and some of us were even wondering how it looked like.

This stop was also going to be our place to have some lunch and what is not to like when you can eat with such nice weather. Me and Tania tried to find a spot on a terrace to enjoy the sunrays but as soon as we got our food, dark clouds were hovering over the city, please go away!!!!!


Sadly enough they wouldn’t go away, but luckily we had eaten already and as soon as we left the terrace, it started drizzling again. This is always a bad omen and by the time we left an ice-cream parlor (what is a person without a dessert), it was raining cats and dogs again. It clearly was written in stone that today was going to be a shitty day!!

Back on the road again, we only had a few hours of driving left and we arrived at Queenstown with the sun in our backs. That yellow thing that is sometimes hovering high in the sky was finally back and as soon as we checked in to our room, me and Tania went into town to have a look around.

Tonight we had a free dinner and since tomorrow we were going to do some adrenaline activities (especially Tania), we wanted to have one last good meal. Since we both like Mexican food so much, we decided to go with it and tried out a cute restaurant which looked very good. We even ordered a margarita as an aperitif, because after all, if we were going to die tomorrow, we at least had one last good meal together.

A little tipsy, we went back to our room again, but not before we had one last stop at the Ferg bakery for a dessert. The choice of the day was lemon Meringue and one thing is for sure, it was delicious.

The perfect ending for a dinner, after all, it could be our last!

It is already way after 9 PM when we started to organize our stuff we needed for tomorrow and after a long hot shower it was time for me to hit the sack. It was going to be an early night coz tomorrow morning Tania had to jump out of an airplane. I on the other hand could sleep in and that was just what I needed because it was going to be a stressful afternoon all together.

Posted by Ils1976 03:53 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes waterfalls mountains people rain water lake road tour sights group oceania viewpoint grey_weather Comments (4)

in search for some fishies

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Like most of the days, sleeping in was out of the question, so today we started just like all the other days with an early rise and shine and after a quick breakfast we were on our way again. Today we yet again had a whole day of bus sitting in front of us, but luckily we could do some activities as well coz we weren’t that far away from Kaikoura and this little fishermen’s town is known for everything that involves water and the sea life that lives in it.

We must have been driving for a little more than 2 hours when we had our first break to stretch our legs, go to the toilet or for the ones who needed it, a caffeine shot and than it was back on the bus again in the direction of Kaikoura.


Before we entered the town, we first had a quick glance on a small colony of New Zealand fur seals who were settled here. According to our guide Helen, most of them were still youngsters and although we stayed but a few minutes, it was fun watching them.

To be honest, they were just so cute and the little ones, OMG, I could just go over there and hug them to death, but I guess that wouldn’t be a good thing would it!?

As we arrived into town, we had an hour of free time to do some souvenir shopping or have lunch coz this afternoon, me and Tania were going on a boat to do some whale watching. I always wanted to do that and apparently Kaikoura is the best place to spot the infamous sperm whale, talking about an ideal situation!


We first wandered a bit through town and than we ate some fish and chips, after all, we wanted to stay into the fish theme now that we were here. The place where we had lunch was proclaimed to have the best fish and chips on the South Island and the second best of the whole of NZ, so I don’t think that we made such a bad choice and after finishing it, I must say that it was more than yummy.

Time is really flying and an hour goes by so very fast, but that doesn’t necessarily means that it is a bad thing. I was so prepared to see a whale that I just couldn’t wait and as soon as we paid for our ticket, we only had to wait for about 15 minutes. At 12.45 PM we got some safety briefing and suddenly the woman tells us that there might be a change that we can’t see a whale because of the bad weather conditions.

Come on, it seemed that everything we wanted to do and see got cancelled, this is just not happening!?

Not that I am really into it, but I quickly said a Hail Mary and hoped that the weather would change for the better so that we could sail out and see some whales.

It was already a good sign that they came and picked us up, it was even a better sign that we could get into the boat and that it actually left the harbor. Yes baby, we were on our way to see some whales!!!!


Our catamaran was very fast and after sailing for about 15 minutes, we had a first stop to see if anyone on board could spot a whale, but after floating about a few minutes, not one person saw one, so we went on and luckily they could track the mammals because on our second stop we were in luck.

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There he or she was. I have to admit, it seemed to be a youngster and not all that big (compared to a grown up that is), but it was really amazing seeing it swim like that. After a few minutes of following it, it suddenly went down again and it is funny to see the tail and than nothing. A gigantic mammal is underneath us at that moment. Since a whale can go under water for about 40 to 60 minutes, we just went to another place to spot another whale, but instead of seeing whales, we came across some Dusky Dolphins. Cheeky little things coz they always followed the boat and although it was just too difficult to get a picture of them, we just had fun trying to take them.


After about 40 minutes into the boat trip they tried to track the whale again and we hoped to see it coming out of the water again, but sadly enough it was time to go back ashore as well, so instead of seeing 2 whales, we had to satisfy with one youngster of a whale. Oh well, I was just glad that it went through and that we actually saw one even if it wasn’t a big one.

Back ashore again, we met up with the rest of the group coz some of us also went swimming with the Dusky Dolphins, others went swimming with fur seals and there were even a few who just went on a hike in the neighborhood of Kaikoura. Now that we were one big group again, it was time for us to say goodbye to sea life and for the remainder of the bus trip we were going to drive all the way to Christchurch where we arrived a little before 7 PM.

Not very hungry yet, me and Tania decided to do some more „start to run” and although we weren’t really based in the centre of the city, more or less in the suburbs, it was difficult to choose a real direction, so we just went from one block to another and more than half an our later we were back at our hotel again. A nice hot shower and a bit of a snack later and we were totally knackered. I updated a bit of my blog but by the time it was 11 PM, I could’n even open my eyes anymore so I just called it a day.

Posted by Ils1976 07:56 Archived in New Zealand Tagged landscapes mountains boats water tour group mammals oceania Comments (4)

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