When you are on a round the world trip, you tend to pack light, so let me warn you all – New Zealand gets colder than London does! It is also a nerve wracking arriving in Christchurch, as mud on your shoes or a catastrophic piece of fruit could get you heavily. I had organized a hop on – hop off bus ticket to get around, and organized my own itinerary deciding where and where I wanted to go. From Christchurch I headed to backpacker haven of the beautiful Queenstown. One thing that struck me about the South Island was how mesmorising the landscape was – huge mirror lakes reflecting the snow capped mountain peaks are commonplace – as are they many herds of sheep. It’s a very quite countryside, and you really feel at relaxed as you stare over the hundreds of kilometres of untouched landscape. From Queenstown I took a tour of the incredible Milford Sound, where we sailed around and had the chance to see the hundreds of waterfalls all coming down the cliff sides into the water – a sight that I had never seen nor seen since.
From Queenstown, I caught the very comfortable luxury buses up to Fox Glacier, where I went on my very first walk on a glacier, clampons on my boots and the whole works!! You get a chance to crawl through ice caves an see how the glacier is slowly moving. Back at my hostel, a few beers in the hot tub before going to bed was calling me, and the next day I headed up the coast and visited many little villages over the following couple of days, before heading out across on the ferry to the North Island, where it was a few hours in Wellington before catching the bus up to Taupo where my cousins lived. Seeing family was a welcome change to backpacking for nearly a month on my own by then, so a comfortable bed and familiar faces were most welcome. Lake Taupo is a great place to visit, and where I tried my first hand at wake boarding – a video that not too many people have seen! Spending a week with the family was great, and I then headed from Auckland to Fiji for a four day chill out before the hectic second part of my trip. I loved Fiji, where I splashed out and got my own private room overlooking the sea for fours days of fun in the sun. One of the things you will notice about Fiji is the friendliness of the people, hearing ‘Bula’ everywhere you do. It is still the best sunset I have ever seen – I had invited some new found friends onto my terrace for some whiskey sundowners and the whole sky was golden and light purple for ages before it got dark. There are many day trips to choose from to spend the day lying under a palm tree and having lunch cooked for you and eating and drinking on the beach! I went to Robinson Crusoe, but you can also base yourself on the mainland and get a small ship cruise around the islands or get the tailor made packages for a few nights on the islands instead of day tripping. A really laid back place to go, and I have since qualified as a Fiji expert with their tourist board.