April 19, 2013
The most anticipated day of my trip has finally come! Today was a very long and drawn out day because we were all anxious to finally get to the South Island! At 6:15pm we left for the Auckland International Airport, and at 10:15pm we touched down in Christchurch and were greeted by Dan and Meghan who had spent the entire day in Christchurch.
Prior to picking us up they got our rental car, a very fancy silver mini-van who we later named the Misty Witney, went food shopping and explored the city.
In 2011, Christchurch was very badly damaged by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake only six months after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit the city. The first earthquake did a number on the Christchurch infrastructure, the weaken state only made it that much easier for the second one to rip through the city. Houses, churches, stores, businesses and schools were all torn down and evidence of the quake is everywhere; the city is in ruins. In order to cope with the damage and prevent the economy from getting worse, a “container mall” has been set up. This is an outdoor mall made from shipping containers that business owners are running their stores out of. Although it is very unique, it is very sad for the people who live in Christchurch. The Container Mall was a temporary solution that was meant to last for a year until the mall could be restored; two years later and the permanent mall has not come any further. This was the first time I have been to a city where I have seen the wide-spread damage from a natural disaster. It was very eye-opening and sad; a part of me was happy that we would only be spending the night in Christchurch.
After driving around for about an hour we went back to our Backpackers, Kiwi Base Camp which was located in the heart of Christchurch. We put our bags down, bundled up because it was freezing out and headed out. We were all exhausted and have an early morning so we decided to just go out for an hour. We went to a place Smash Palace which was on the opposite corner of the intersection our hotel was located on. Smash Palace was a very trendy outdoor bar. It is a parking lot with covered outdoor seating, heat lamps and two buses. One bus was used for serving food and drinks and the other was to have an indoor space to escape the cold.
For the first time I tried hot cider and warm wine and both were delicious. At first I cringed when I heard of warm wine, but it was exactly what I needed on this chilly evening.
Arthur’s Pass/Fox Glacier
March 20, 2013
Up at 7am and on the road by 8 we were very proud of ourselves and prepared for the long day of driving ahead. Our first stop was the Warehouse to purchase an iPod cord because our car came with a broken GPS, instructions in Chinese and no AUX input plug. Over 50 hours of driving ahead of us for the next 9 days, having no music was not an option. I also found thermal socks and I picked these up so I could pull them over my pants to help me avoid the sandflies. I have had very bad experiences with Sandflies in Aniwhenua and Rotorua so I knew I needed to be more prepared. Sandflies are similar to mosquitoes but their bites are not felt immediately and become unbearably itchy days later. Needless to say, I knew I would need my thermal socks. After the Warehouse we went to the Countdown to pick up more food. By 9am we were on the highway en route to Fox Glacier. We would be traveling down State Highway 6 along the west coast of the island. I was going to bring my GPS from home; I can barely find signal in New York I should have figured that it would not pick up signal in Auckland and so I did not pack it with me. Luckily, even with no sense of direction it would be very difficult to get lost in the South Island because there is only one road to travel on in between places. To get to Fox Glacier, we drove through Arthur’s Pass which is a National Park filled with high mountains, rainforests and wide rocky rivers. Although the weather was not in our favor and the rain did not want to quit, the landscape all around us was breathtaking and we stopped on the road countless times to get pictures of the mountains in the background.
Our first big stop in Arthur’s Pass was at Devil’s Punchbowl. Still raining, we got out of our car and did the one hour hike to the waterfall. It was a fairly easy walk with a steady incline and a couple of dozen steps but the waterfall was spectacular.
I was able to step out on a rock in the middle of the falls and enjoy the sound of the water tumbling over the rocks.
By this point we had mastered the self-timered group pictures and we had a lot of fun taking photos of all of us in front of the falls in the pouring rain.
The rain made our tight schedule easier to stick too and we headed back down to get on our way. Before we began our drive we made quick chicken, ham and cheese sandwiches and topped them off with hummus and salt and vinegar chips.
Our next stop was Hokitika Gorge which was another couple of hours away. Hokitika Gorge has most turquoise water I have ever seen and the reason for this is because it is made of melted glacier ice, river water and rock flour.
Between the rock formations is a very wobbly bridge that we dared to cross. On the other side we were able to walk down to the water and capture some more great photos. If we had the guts we would have been able to go for a swim, but keep in mind a key ingredient of this water is glacial ice, and we were not that brave.
The gorge was absolutely stunning and if the weather was nicer I could have stayed and enjoyed the view for much longer. When the rain started to pick up again we trekked back to the car, loaded in and were ready for the final leg of the day to Gillespie’s Beach Campsite near Fox Glacier.
By now Meghan had taken the wheel and none of us were aware that it would be another five hours before we reached our sleeping headquarters. When we finally got to Fox Glacier we had to go through a very scary, dark and windy road up to the campsite. Along the road were herds of wild sheep covering the path. We finally got to the site, made our own parking spot and reorganized the car to make for the optimal sleeping arrangement. Dan took the driver’s seat, Ryan in the passengers and the four girls got very cozy in the middle row. This allowed us to throw all of our luggage in the back row and recline our seats. From our prior camping experiences, we had prepared for the coldest sleeping conditions and we were completely wrong. Within minutes the car turned into a sauna and we began stripping extra pairs of socks, sweatpants and sleeping bags off. We were unable to open windows because we feared for our lives being attacked by sandflies.
We made ourselves dinner, which was the same as lunch and the night floated away. We laughed into the early morning hours and had so much fun getting to know more about each other and making jokes of our sleeping situation. We finally turned our headlamps off, put some country music on and drifted off into the night.
April 21, 2013
Without sleeping a wink because of the heat, my very limited space, and the fact that there were six people sleeping on top of each other; when it turned 6:30am, it felt like I had waited a lifetime. I was so excited for everyone else to wake up because I had spent the last five hours pressing the home button on my phone repeatedly checking the time. We got ready and then headed down to the glacier. Our half day Fox Trot on Fox Glacier was at 8:35am and we were very early. We enjoyed breakfast in the cafe before having to get suited up. At 8:40am they called us to fit us for hiking boots and a rain jacket. They also gifted us with crampons which we would later put on our boots to help us dig in and get our grip on the ice.
Once everyone was ready we loaded on the bus and headed for the glacier. When we unloaded we split into two groups of thirteen before making our way towards the ice. Before we could walk on the ice we had an hour hike to get to the starting point. The beginning of the hike was very easy and my excitement grew with each step I took.
Our guide pointed out where the glacier had been 70 years ago, 50 years ago and 8 years ago. It is crazy how fast the glacier has receded from where it was 8 years ago. It is actually very scary because even though there is a great amount of the glacier left, there is no way of knowing how much longer it will be here for.
Those who work at Fox Glacier do not believe that Global Warming is the cause for the glacier receding because the glacier still goes through periods of advancing as well. As nice as that sounds, I don’t know if I can give global warming a free ride on this one. Our guide also told us that this year it is the easiest it has ever been to get onto the glacier. When walking onto the glacier, you must walk above it and then descend down into it, because of its placement five years ago, the hike to get onto the glacier was much more tedious and hence longer, which allowed for us to have more ice time.
The final stretch of the pre-glacial hike was what is known as “cardiac hill” and it called that because its rapid incline had my heart beating out of my chest. From afar we heard parts of the glacier falling off and into a river in the valley; it was a little frightening. When we reached the top we grabbed a ski pole and put our crampons on our boots.
We then began our decent onto the glacier. There were workers already on the glacier carving a foot path for us and they had been there since 7am. Each day these workers need to repave the path because that is how rapidly the glacier is changing. Walking on the glacier was one of the most awesome feelings and I could not stop thinking that I was on a real life glacier.
A ginormous piece of ice strong enough to carve mountains and big enough to melt and form a lake. I was surprised by how rocky the glacier was, they do not use the term “dirty,” but then again this was just an unreal expectation I had from watching Ice Age.
When we were on the glacier it started heavily raining again but that did not stop Dan, Lyssa, Ryan and I from getting creative with our pictures. We were on the ice for almost two hours and every minute was a blast.
When our hike was over we met back up with Caroline and Meghan and went to get pizza at Café Neve. When we were refueled we started our journey to Queenstown; we had lots of stops along the way. Our first was Lake Matheson which is known for having the most picturesque spot to see Mt. Cook. We had to walk about an hour to get to the “View of Views” and when we did every sand-fly bite we got along the way was, well semi worth it.
After Lake Matheson we continued on our journey and came across Knights Point Look out while driving through Haast Pass. This was a beautiful coastal view of the rocky beaches and steep cliff sides.
After driving through Haast Pass we began driving through Mount Aspiring National Park. It was still raining out so we were torn if we wanted to open our windows and risk being soaked or keep them closed and miss out on the views.
We drove through Mount Aspiring National Park for a couple of hours until we reached Wanaka where we stopped to stretch and to grab some more snacks. Two hours until we reached Queenstown, it was dark, late and we were all very tired. To keep the enthusiasm up we created a “Guilty Pleasures” playlist on my iPod of all songs we are a little embarrassed to sing, but absolutely love. This list contained Disney Songs, Whitney Houston, Jackson 5, Celine Dion, Van Morrison, Journey and so many more. Karaoke was in full blast and this is where we configured our car/band name, “The Misty Witneys.” Before this we did not realize we had a shared love for Whitney Houston and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and “The Greatest Love of All” were played a couple of times on this short ride. But our true signature song of the week was “Landslide” by The Dixie Chicks. We absolutely mastered this song, and it would play another dozen times, with everyone singing at the top of their lungs, before the trip ended. The two hours flew by and this was the most fun I have ever had on any car ride.
When we got to Queenstown we checked into XBase Backpackers and went to Fergburger for a bite. This was my first Fergburger experience and I was hooked. Fergburger has the best burgers, in the entire world. This is a very small shop that everyone in Queenstown is drawn too. After my first burger I knew I wanted to try every other burger on the menu, sadly in three days I knew this was not possible. After dinner we went back to our room and settled down for the night because we have a very excited day tomorrow.
April 22, 2013
Today is the big day, we are going Bungy Jumping! We woke up early and headed down to the Station Building to check in for our jump. Lyssa, Caroline, Meghan and I were doing the Karawau Bridge Bungy, which stands 43 meters over the Karawau River, while Dan and Ryan were doing the Nevis Bungy at 134 meters. Our emotions were a mix between excitement and nervousness. We had a 20 minute bus ride before we got to the bridge. When we got there we watched a 10 minute video on AJ Hackett who was the first man to bungy jump and who the bungy company is named after. The Karawau Bridge was the first commercial bungy location and the water and trees all around were beautiful. Once the video was over we were weighed twice, to avoid any errors, then we put our belongings in lockers and walked out onto the bridge. I was very surprised by how streamline and quick the process was. I was up first, against my own will. They first put a harness around my waist and legs. Next, they sat me down, wrapped my legs and attached me to the bungy by my legs and waist. Everyone says the safest place to bungy is in Queenstown, but that did not calm my nerves once I got to the edge. I couple of seconds of panic before they man started counting down from three.
Compared to the Auckland Skytower, this was very short. The fall was only for about three seconds and only the first second was absolutely terrifying.
The entire experience was very exhilarating and I am very happy I had the chance to bungy here. Once they pulled me down into the boat and unhooked me, they paddled to shore and I ran back up to the top to watch everyone else. Next was Caroline then Meg and lastly Lyssa. When we were all done we went inside to look at our pictures and video, they were awesome! As we were getting ready to leave a bride and groom came in in their tux and wedding dress and were going to do the bungy dressed up. If the bus wasn’t picking us up we all would have loved to stay and watch but sadly we had to go.
If you would like to watch myBungy Jump video it is just below. Warning: Not recommended for family viewing.
When we got back to the Station Building we were all felt so enthused so we decided to go out for a fancy lunch, sushi it was. After lunch we went back to our backpackers to drop our pictures, shirts and videos and Dan and Ryan loved their bungy so much that they decided to book another one for this afternoon. Their second jump was at “The Ledge” which was on Bob’s Peak. We took the Skyline Gondola up the mountain with them and from the top we were able to see all of Queenstown.
Ryan and Dan had to go check in for their jump and the girls decided to go down the Skyline Luge. The Skyline Luge is a downhill Scenic ride down a paved track. The track has bends, tunnels and dips and was a lot of fun. The first ride was on the Scenic Ride, which is intended for small children but on the second ride we got to go on the Advanced track- this was even a little to advanced for me. I did not realize how fast these little carts could go until I was going around steep hills and bends.
When our two rides were over we ran over to “The Ledge” to watch Dan and Ryan jump. We sadly just missed them but because they were the last of the day, it was only $35 for another jump. Making this their third jump in six hours, they did it.
The Ledge Bungy
We went back down on the gondola and went for dinner. Tonight was karaoke night at Altitude Bar, a bar attached to our backpackers. Taking advantage of our band name, “The Misty Witney’s” and all of the practice we got this week, we submitted a line up of songs and the crowd was cheering for us all night. It was awesome and we had agreed to go by “The Misty Witney’s” for the rest of the trip.
April 23, 2013
This morning Lyssa, Ryan, Dan and I were going on a Quad Bike Safari on Queenstown Hill. We were picked up at Base at 8:30am and were taken up to the starting point where we got suited up and hopped on a bike. I had never been on an ATV so I was very excited, and a little scared.
Before we hit the trail we practiced turning and shifting our body weight when we were uneven grounds. When we all felt comfortable on our bikes we rode through a field of sheep and hit the trail. The clouds were so low today that within 10 minutes we were trapped in them and then above them. It was so cool!
We made a quick stop for a photo opt, and when I hopped back on my bike it wouldn’t turn on. One of the guide was kind enough to take me back so I could get a new bike and then we would rejoin the group. On the ride down we were graced with the presence of two deer, the man said he had only seen one out here before in his entire life; it was pretty exciting.
We went very fast down the mountain and it was fun not being in control and just enjoying the scenery. When I got my new bike we headed back up and met the group for morning tea, coffee, hot chocolate, cake and cookies. It was very nice that they provided this morning snack for us.
When we were all done we continued on but this time through rockier terrain and mud baths. It was a great morning and I am looking forward to my next ATV excursion. On the ride back as we were talking to the guide, Chris, we found out that this is only a side job for him; he actually owns the #1 resort on Fiji, Blue Lagoon. He gave us a lot of great tips for when traveling to Fiji and I hope to get the chance to go there this semester.
Chris also recommended that we go to a underrated restaurant in Queenstown called Flame and that is exactly where we set off for. Flame has $15 lunch specials and the largest portions I have ever seen. It was a great choice after an intense morning. After lunch we met up with Joe, Caroline and Meghan and took a walk along the water.
After climbing a tree and enjoying the fresh air, exhaustion overtook me and I decided to take a nap before horseback riding.
At 4pm we made our way back to the Station Building to be picked up for our riding lesson. Not realizing we were supposed to be there at 3:30pm, we arrived and we were informed that our transport had left. In a panic we tried to get ahold of the ranch and after a couple of minutes we were successful. By the time the very kind women returned for us we had already cut into our lesson and lost 30 minutes. That was fine by us because we knew we were at fault, and well it had started pouring raining again. I mounted Rain, my horse, and forgetting that I was wearing my only pair of jeans, soon they were soaked. The ride was nice but we were forced to walk at a very slow pace the entire time.
I would have liked to get a short trot or cantor in but we weren’t able to. Prior to the lesson I had informed the stable that I was an experience rider so Rain was a real bullet. The entire time she was ready to take off and was not happy with our draining pace.
The ride took place in between a bunch of mountains and we crossed over streams and walked up rocky paths. We returned to the stable at 5:30pm and it was already dark. We were transported back into town and met up with Lyssa for dinner at Devil Burger.
After dinner we went back to our hotel to get ready and we were all very excited about the boat cruise we were going on!
April 24, 2013
Sadly today we needed to leave Queenstown. Queenstown has been my favorite city I have visited in all of New Zealand. It is a small, beautiful ski town with a lot of action. But before we left I needed to get my last Fergburger fix. The drive to Te Anu was four hours from Queenstown and then we would have another three to Milford. If there was a tunnel through the mountains, it would take 30 minutes to get from Queenstown to Milford.
What blocks this from happening is Fiordland National Park which is filled with huge mountains and fiords carved by glaciers. Our first stop was the Mirror Lakes. This reminded me a lot of the Lake Matheson View of Views.The mountains reflected in the lake and it was a very peaceful area.
We next stopped at the Chasm to do a short walk. In the parking lot was a Kea, the parrot I talked about in one of my first posts. There were people feeding the Kea and I was about to get very close. These birds are very violent and strong so I did not want to spend too much time near her.
The Chasm was a great walk because we were able to cross over bridges, looking down and seeing the water 30 feet below us and huge, smooth, black rocks from the water up to the bridge. When we returned the Kea was still waiting for us and we quickly ran to our car.
We stopped at a couple more roadside attractions like waterfalls and mountains with visable snow-caps. When it began getting dark we continued our journey to the Sound. At one point we had to go through a one lane bridge through a mountain. On either side of the bridge was a 15 minute timer that was directing traffic. It was pretty bizarre; this was not a short tunnel. We finally got to Milford Sound and agreed to do the short hike, the Lookout Track, to see a better view of the Fiords and see Donald Sutherland’s grave. Donald Sutherland was the first European resident of Milford Sound and he discovered the Sutherland Falls in 1880. Sutherland began building tracks to help visitors see the falls and when tourists flocked to the Sound it gained its reputation as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
After our short hike we went to Blue Dock for dinner. Blue Dock is the only restaurant/food stop since Te Anu. When we finished dinner we headed back to our car to prepare our very familiar sleeping quarters.
April 25, 2013
Today I was woken up by the crisp morning Milford Sound air. We slept in the car park right near the Sound so it got very chilly overnight. At 9:15am we went on a Jucy Cruise of Milford Sound. We bought this voucher on GrabOne, the Groupon for New Zealand, and it was beyond worth it.
Milford Sound has two permanent waterfalls, Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls but because it is one of the wettest places in the world, many temporary waterfalls are made. As we traveled through the Sound we saw hundreds of falls all starting at different heights with different amounts of power and vigor.
A fiord is a steep mountain carved from glacial activity. The mountains emerging from the Sound are very tall but we were informed that they go down 1,000 feet more. At one point in the cruise the driver took us under a huge waterfall, Dan, Joe and Ryan were the only ones who dared to stay outside and get soaked. Looking back on it, I wish I had the guts to stay under too but it was too cold!
The cruise took us as far out to the Tasman Sea before turning around and taking us back to the dock.
When the cruise was over we said goodbye to the rest of our Auckland friends and jumped in the car to get moving on our hike. Today was my turn to drive and I was a little nervous but excited. For the first 10 minutes I had to keep saying to myself “Keep Left” but then it started feeling very natural. The strangest part about it all is that the speed is in KM/H and I wasn’t all that sure of the conversion. Good thing about being on the South Island is that unless you are in a city, there are no enforced speed limits, just “recommended” speeds, so that made me feel a little more at ease. I drove out of Milford, through the tunnel and another 30 minutes through Fiordland to the Lake Marian Trail starting point.
The trail to Lake Marian is a three hour hike up very uneven gravel and through trees. It was not a tedious hike but one that required caution with each and every step. During our hike the weather decided to change on us and get quite warm.
By the time I got to the Lake I had every intention of going swimming. With one toe in the water, a chill was sent through my spine and I change my mind. Ryan had the courage to jump in so the rest of us relaxed on the large rocks, soaked in the sun and enjoyed the view of the beautiful lake and snow-cap mountains all around it.
When we were getting ready to leave our friends Joe, Joe, Pierce, Anthony and Pat reached the top and we decided to hang out a little longer. Joe and Joe also wanted to go for a swim and we weren’t in that much of a rush.
But when Joe jumped in the shock of the cold water and his warm tense muscles were not at match and his shoulder came out of its socket. The ten of us were all in shock, had no medical training, and were at a loss of what to do. We tried to comfort him and wait it out but once 4pm hit, a couple of us chose to walk down to get medical help. We found a nice man who runs a lodge at the base of the mountain and he radioed for a helicopter. We believed the boys stayed at the top and were waiting for help but fearing they would get hypothermia they were forced to make their walk down. Finally, at 9:30pm we were rejoined with our friends and the terrifying waiting game was over. Luckily everyone was ok but this was a lesson for all of us that we need to attend a basic medical training session before our next outdoor excursion.
We left our friends, they were spending another night in Milford and we had the six hour drive to Dunedin to make. We were hours from cell phone signal so we feared we would not have a room to stay in but we decided to carry on. It was a long day and all everyone wanted was to be in a warm bed. At 2:30am we reached Dunedin and by 2:45 everyone was sound asleep.
April 26, 2013
After the long night we had last night, this morning we all slept in and relaxed. After all the six of us burned through the hot water heater at the Elm Lodge, we were ready for a hardy breakfast. We asked the Inn Keeper where he would recommend and he sent us to a fancy restaurant, Ironic, across from the Railway Station.
We all thoroughly enjoyed brunch, and stuffed to the bone we walked out like zombies to Cadbury World. Cadbury World is the factory for the delicious Cadbury chocolates. We spent a lot of time in the gift shop and took advantage of their chocolate bar deals to bring home as presents.
We each bought a different bars and tried one another’s. After Cadbury we continued walking around the city and exploring. We visited a number of clothing shops but the best stop was at Granny Annie’s Sweet Store. The small store was stocked from floor to ceiling with different candies that I have not seen in years. Kinds such as Big League Chew, Peach Rings, Chocolate Oranges, Mary Jane’s, Pop Tarts and more. It made me think back to when I was younger and would go into the candy store in the Boca Raton mall (Florida, USA); a smile stretched on my face from ear to ear.
I left empty handed but Dan was very excited about his Big League Chew. We were at a loss of things to do so we stopped in iSite, an information center, and looked at some brochures. We decided on a Penguin Tour through Natures Wonders on the Otago Peninsula. We were already running late so we ran out, up a couple very steep hills and made it to Misty Whitney. Dan took the wheel and we had to move like we had a mission. We made it just in time for the tour and for the rain. We went inside and were given very large and unattractive green raincoats and then hopped on our Argo.
The Otago Peninsula is absolutely stunning, despite the rain, and I was very excited to see more Seals and Penguins. We first went down to get up close to the New Zealand Fur Seal. Natures Wonders has one of the largest breeding colonies of the NZ Fur Seal.
They live on a rocky area of the coast but come up 50 feet from the water into the sandy area of the road. The area was filled with seal pups and they were so cute and small but had no fear for humans. Some are known to come up and untie visitors shoe laces.
We learned about the lifetime of a seal and how they only see in black and white, so flash photography is very damaging to their eyes. After we got our fill of seals, we went down to a lookout of Penguin Beach. Penguin beach has over 60 breeding pairs of the Yellow Eyed Penguin and Little Blue Penguins. On our short visit we saw about 20 Yellow Eyed Penguin’s, our tour guide said this is a day that Discovery Channel prays to get when they visit their beach. We also saw one Little Blue Penguin; they are so small standing at an average height of 25 cm and weighing approximately 1kg.
The tour was very enjoyable and the family who runs Natures Wonders and owns the land was very endearing. On the way home from the Peninsula there was a beautiful sunset so we pulled over and took a walk onto a dock to enjoy the remarkable view.
When we returned to Elm Lodge we were all very hungry and we decided to go out for a nice meal because it would be our last night on this unforgettable trip. We decided on Etrusca, which is the best Italian restaurant in Dunedin and located in the Octagon. We ordered pastas and pizzas and talked for hours. The tables around us flipped three times before we realized we should go. Before we left Ryan sealed the night by saying “You know you’ve had a good meal when the food is the last thing that you recall.” It was truly the perfect end to an extraordinary road trip. On our walk back to the Lodge as we looked up in the sky we realized there was a Lunar Halo which just added to the special night.
April 27, 2013
Our last day. Before we had to leave for the airport we wanted to make as much out of today as we could. We started by visiting Baldwin Street, the steepest street in the world. After trying to create pictures to show how steep the street was, and failing we decided to just go down and take a picture of the sign.
As we were walking down the street Ryan and Dan hopped in the car, stepped on it and tried to get MW to the top after we told them countless numbers of times that it was a bad idea. For the first half of the street she was chugging along, but then slowed down and we had to turn around because we were very afraid. Surprisingly, she made it to the top and the boys were very proud of themselves. After Baldwin we went to the Farmer’s Market near the Railway Station. This farmer’s market was the largest and best I have ever been too. We were all ready for breakfast so our first stop was to the crepe stand. After we finished eating we walked around to all of the local vendors and sampled their products. We tried cheeses, pretzel bread, lemonade, hummus, dumplings and more. There were musicians playing the guitar and saxophone and the place was packed with people. After an hour we decided to check out the Railways Station. The Railway Station is a beautiful building but there was not much too it. The Station also housed an Art Exhibit and the Sports Hall of Fame.
At 11:30am we had a scheduled touring of Speight’s Brewery. Speight’s is the original Ale House that opened in New Zealand in 1876. All of the beer and cider is brewed on site but recently packaging and distribution occurs at their warehouse on the North Island. Speight’s is one of the few gravity-fed breweries left in the world and this is made possible because it is located on the very steep Rattray Street; raw materials enter in the top of the brewery and exit on the bottom. One of the key ingredients for brewing is clean, fresh water and Speight’s is fed by a natural spring underneath the site. Speight’s even provides a free water tap open to the public on Rattray Street, I even got to drink from it!
This tour was especially interesting because it is not in any way made into a museum; it is truly a production facility, unlike the Heineken and Guinness tours I have been on. But in effort to reconstruct the factory to make it “earthquake-proof” they will be making the brewery into a museum while continuing to produce beers and ciders. After learning the history of Speight’s and touring the factory, we headed down to the tasting room where I got to pour a beer from the tap. This tour concluded our Dunedin adventures and we had to be on our way to drop Ryan off at the Larnach Castle on the Otago Peninsula before heading to the airport. The castle was situated on a hill of the Peninsula and the grounds were beautiful. We said our goodbyes and in a couple of hours we would be on our way back to Auckland.
In these nine days I have seen more natural beauty than I have seen in my entire life, I have gotten extremely close with six good friends and I have learned a lot about myself. I have hiked a glacier, mountains, and waterfalls. I spent all week sleeping in a sleeping bag. I have bungy jumped in Queenstown, rode a wild horse, saw penguins and seals and drove an ATV up and down a mountain. I went on a cruise through the Eighth World Wonder, and I learned that I have the potential to be a singer (that’s a joke). I have laughed for hours on end, and I have hidden my fear when I was completely terrified for my friends. I learned a lot this week, I saw a lot this week and it will be a week I remember for the rest of my life.