Sky diving!

Just been sky diving – WOW!! What an awesome experience! 🙂 It was absolutely fantastic, I was pretty nervous on the 25 minute flight up to 9000ft but surprisingly chilled out when my legs were dangling over the side of the plane getting ready to plummet towards the Earth. It was an amazing rush during the 30 second freefall and the views of the surrounding mountainous scenery from up there was just spectacular. Then the parachute opened and we glided gently to earth for about 5 minutes watching the dots on the ground slowly turn into recognisable objects and taking in the fabulous scenery all around, I even got to control the parachute for a bit which was cool.

I must give a big shout out to the sky diving company that I went with as they’ve only been going a month and are a small scale operation with a much more personal service than the other large ‘conveyor belt’ operators in the area. All the guys there were dead friendly and made the whole experience incredibly enjoyable. If you’re thinking of going skydiving in Queenstown then be sure to book with Big Daddy. If you’re just thinking of going sky diving anywhere then just go ahead and do it – it’s a proper good rush!

As Viv has already mentioned I would like to thank my Ufi colleagues for the leaving present of that amazing adrenaline rush – cheers Ufiites!

Other than that I would like to second Viv on the sandflies – they are little bastards and extremely persistent bastards at that. Their name is also misleading – they don’t limit themselves to sand, you find them in forests, by rivers, on roads, in towns, halfway up mountains. Pretty much everywhere on the south island it seems.

And lastly thanks to George and Paul for the blog links!

Right, that’s all for now. Pip pip!

J-Hob

P.S. There’s about 100 new photos up on both our flickr sites – check them out!

Now for the other bits

Ay up!

Got a bit of time to kill before I go white water rafting so thought I’d add to John’s post. He’s gone off to do a sky dive. He’s using his leaving money from Ufi to do it, so thanks guys! What a nutter though, I’m really nervous for him. Can’t wait until he’s back safe and sound.

Anyway, just thought i’d mention another couple of things. We’ve been staying at free or low cost Department of Conservation camp sites. They’re in some pretty dramatic locations and never have lights so you get amazing views of the stars. The great thing about the silver bullet is that you can just stay in bed and see them through the sky lights. Ace! Another interesting thing about these sites is you end up getting ready in the morning at tremendous speed before you get bitten to death by evil sandflies. John seems to enjoy killing them more than I expected. It’s almost as if he’s dissapointed after he’s got the last one out of the van. Very funny though.

Another thing worth mentioning is that Mark and Martin took us caving last week. It was basicly an underground walk wading through a stream. It got up to my waist (or John’s ankles ;)) in places but it was so cool inside. The cave was really smooth and some amazing shapes. (Don’t worry mum and dad, this was a signposted walk and we checked the height of the water before we went in. Just in case you thought we’d been off into some random flooded death trap.) Anyway, think I could really get into caving. Look forward to doing more!

John mentioned all of the walks we’ve been on. We’re certainly much fitter. The walk to Avalance peak was really difficult. It was so steep on the way down that I fell over and ended up dangling from a metal post that I grabbed. I got my balance again and jumped down safely. Unfortunatly the post that saved me made a bit of a mess of my right hand so I ended up in the first aid when we got down. It’s healing really well though so i’m pleased. I have now learned to walk a little more slowly down hill. That walk was half scramble and half climb though! Really glad we did it, the views were amazing and we had a real sense of achievement afterwards.

Anyway, that’s enough from me for now. We hope to catch up with John’s aunt tomorrow as she’s in the area.

Sees ya all later and take care

Viv/Sev xx

P.S. John will not be going near a computer for the next day or so as we’re watching a delayed Man Utd v Liverpool match tomorrow afternoon. John/Dad no texts of the score this time please. 😉

Back in Sheffield!

Been a while since our last post so we’ve a fair bit to update you all on, I think we were heading to Akaroa on the Banks Penninsula when I last posted… well the drive was spectacular, Akaroa quaint but limited in attractions and the rest of penninsula that we saw beautiful if a little samey. To be fair to the place we were limited by the weather on the second day – high winds and very chilly doesn’t make pleasant conditions for doing a lot so we did a lot of moping in the campervan. Even the wildlife didn’t like the weather as the usually abundant birds were nowhere to be seen, the following day (that we left Banks penninsula) when the weather had perked up the birds were once again everywhere so it’s not just us that hides away when the elements turn. show_random($num=2, $tags=’akaroa’); ?>

We picked up Mark and Martin, friends of mine from Sheffield who we bumped into (literally!) in Auckland when I had no idea they were even in NZ, from Christchurch and headed out to Arthur’s Pass in the centre of the south island. We stopped off on the way in Sheffield for a famous pie, I must say it’s changed quite a lot. I know I’ve only been away for a 7 weeks but I don’t recall Sheffield being backed with snow capped mountains or being especially famous for pies, but there you go I guess time must distort memories… show_random($num=1, $tags=’famous pies’); ?>

Arthur’s pass was utterly spectacular and the drive up there was awesome; winding slowly upwards between huge mountains and along flat plains surrounded on all sides by huge and sometimes snow-capped peaks. For me, it is the most beautiful spot that we have yet visited in NZ: there’s plenty of photos up on flickr sites but none really do justice to the place.

It was in Arthur’s pass that Viv and I hiked the toughest walk that either of us had ever done to the summit of Avalanche peak, 1km ascent to 1800m, no flat bits and lots of scrambling up rocks, but the views from the top in the company of Kea parrots (yes parrots, on a mountain – more about them later) were so worth it. Apparently there’s some nutters who’s idea of a good time is to RUN up there! show_random($num=4, $tags=’arthurspass’); ?>

Back at the campsite we were often amused by the ‘cheeky’ Kea’s antics in trying to pinch food and then lolloping away about 10 metres before trying again when your back is turned. On our second night camping there Mark was less amused when a Kea pecked through the side of their tent while they were asleep (!) and had a good munch on one of his books. The following night they got short shrift when coming anywhere close to our campsite, but they didn’t let this bother them – why not just wander round the back of the tent where we can’t see them and while we’re all distracted with playing cards in our campervan and peck another even bigger hole in the tent and have good feast on whatever food is inside! In this case the birds’ benificiary was Mark, kindly donating tomatos, cheese, crackers and bread to them. I’m not sure what they had against Martin’s food. I had thought that we had escaped Kea damage until I next had to drive through rain to find that a windscreen wiper had been pecked through! Despite their predilection for vandalism we still found them to be a very adorable bird, partly just for their bare faced cheekyness! It says in our lonely planet that all Kea’s seem born with a gene that makes them cheeky – they’re not wrong! show_random($num=4, $tags=’kea’); ?>

After an enjoyable few days in Arthurs pass we all headed off in the silver bullet through miserable driving rain down steep roads that made the silver bullet’s brakes smoke and to the very grey Greymouth. There’s little of interest in Greymouth other than the brewery of our favourite NZ tipple – Monteiths. We felt duty bound to pay the brewery a visit and even more duty bound to sample thier range of excellent beers – a most enjoyable experience! After this we parted company with Mark & Martin having had a genuinely great few days in their company. show_random($num=4, $tags=’monteiths’); ?>

Next stop we went to look at some ice. But not just any ice! This ice came in the form of bloody massive glaciers snaking their way down mountains. It was bizarre being able to walk right up to the terminal face of Franz Josef and Fox glaciers and see this huge mound of ice right in the middle of summer. We decided that Fox would beat Franz Josef in glacial fight to the death. Franz is the more popular local favourite boasting a wide terminal face while Fox is the less fancied up-start from down the road and claiming a greater length and being more unstable in character – big up the Foxy! show_random($num=4, $tags=’glacier’); ?>

Today we find ourselves in Queenstown and tomorrow I will be leaping out of plane from 9000 feet and Viv will be floating (hopefully!) down river rapids – an adrenaline packed day for the both us!

Lastly thanks everyone for the birthday greeting and e-mails. I will get round to responding to all of you (promise), just not getting that much internet time at the moment.

Peace out,

J-Hob & Sev

The untitled post

Easy everyone, hope you are all well after the Christmas break with renewed enthusiasm for work!

Thought I’d give you all a quick update on what we’ve been up to recently, which isn’t an awful lot, but here goes:

We passed through Kaikoura and saw lots of seals which was pretty exciting – they were just basking on the rocks barely lifting their heads as we walked past within a few metres of them. Some were playing in the sea too, the one that had just come out of the sea and were still wet looked like Josh the Dog! show_random($num=4, $tags=’josh’); ?>

There were some pretty cool limestone formations in the rocks too that looked like a landscape from star wars. Kaikoura itself is pretty shit though, at first we quite liked its seaside town charms but the more time we were there the less we liked it – it’s very geared towards tourists and is largely soulless. It’s also staffed by the vacuous elite of New Zealand – nowhere else have we seen so many shop staff with so few brain cells to rub together: wrong fish and chips order after twice explaining the order which wasn’t even hard – 1 fish and 2 chips, a ‘work-experience Kelly’ (for those that have seen monkey dust) receptionist at the Department of Conservation and seemingly blind staff at a cafe. The Kaikoura coast is pleasant, the town isn’t. show_random($num=4, $tags=’kaikoura’); ?>

After Kaikoura we chilled out for a day or so at Mt Thomas forest park and did pretty much nothing all day other than laze around and read which was great to recharge our batteries.

We are currently in Christchurch which we both like a lot – it’s certainly the best New Zealand city that we have been to, the place actually has a bit of life to it AND some architecture that could reasonably be claimed as being historic (‘Historic’ Russell, take note). There’s some really nice green spaces too and the streets have a very spacious air to them. It was my birthday yesterday and for the night we treated ourselves to an en-suite hotel room – such opulent luxury! My birthday itself was great, a lot of thanks to Viv for making it so! It started off pretty damp as it was pissing it down with rain seemingly incessantly but I was cheered by the little presents that Viv gave me – a book about oil and a very nice t-shirt that I had my eye on, thanks Viv! We visited the Christchurch art gallery, set in an impressive modern glass building, in the morning and saw an exhibition of stunning landscape photography from Ansel Adams and a suberb exhibition of Korean art made from everyday objects called ‘Alchemy of Daily Life’ – well worth checking it out if you get the chance.

We treated ourselves to lunch and dinner out, both of which were supreme, as well as a number of beers throughout the day. It even stopped raining and the sun came out for the afternoon which was an unexpected treat too in this country of incessant rain and schizophrenic weather. In the evening we actually talked to some locals at a bar playing dub – the first evidence we have seen that Kiwis actually like going out for a drink! Anyway – thanks to Viv for a really special day, it was great! Thanks everyone else for birthday e-mails/e-cards/cards and texts – nice to know you all still remember me, if only just!

We met up with Mark and Martin for a coffee/beer this morning and will be heading to Akaroa later today and then back to Christchurch on Sunday to pick M&M up to travel together a little down south.

All for now, ta ra!

John & Viv

Enough free wine I tell you. Enough!!

I have been like the living dead today so i’m suprised John is happy enough to let me loose on the blooog…..ar bugger. Anyway, he’s distracted by amusingly dubious pictures containing the adventures of Speake in Thailand. He he. We are having much fun, we must share: Have a click on this little baby!

Anyway, are you all interested in free booze? I should certainly hope so. We are! Yesterday we hired bikes to trawl around winerys all day. We did free courses of wine tasting at 6 vinyards. We also managed to get free cocktails and free gin. One of the best days of my life! It was a little difficult not to veer of the road by the end. We were absolutely shattered by the time we got back to our temporary place of residence. With the ruler on my new swiss army card (ta Kat! 😉 we worked out that we’d cycled 29km while drinking all that wine. We still managed to have one of the worst games of Tennis known to man afterwards, nothing to do with us it was the wind. He he!

Anyway, we’ve been looking at seals today. The wonder of it all!

Hope all is well back in blighty!

Much love and catch you all soon!

Viv/Sev & John/J-Hob

An update on our future travel plans

Easy all,

Thought I’d update you all on our future travel plans as we now have a better idea where we’re going to be if any of you would like to come and meet up with us somewhere around the world.

Towards the end of this month we will be flying out to Brisbane and heading up the coast to Cairns. We reckon we’ll be in Australia for about 2 months (Feb – March).

From Cairns we’ll fly to Japan where we’ll be for a few weeks and then through China and then to the rest of Asia in an undecided order.

After Asia we will head to Africa and then the final continent on our travels – South America.

John

Well, New year was certainly ‘eventful’

New years eve wasn’t quite the long-promised blow-out that we had anticipated, not unless you count having an increasingly heated discussion with a racist white supremacist bigot who was also an anglophile. A few of his choice views were that all muslims were fundamentalists, that people with white skin are superior and more prosperous to those with darker skin. Viv was a star and had some excellent responses that left him stumped and his arguments failing on a number of occasions. After that conversation had gone on for an hour or so and we were clearly not going to change his views we made our excuses and left. It wasn’t really what we had envisaged as a nw year ‘celebration’ either. After another couple of drinks in half-empty bars (the only ones that were full were ultra-cheesy and given a wide berth) we saw in the New Year at the main celebration on the beach front. There was a bad rock version of Auld Lang Syne BEFORE the clock struck 12, then a bit of cheering and celebration when the new year arrived and then a superb fireworks display accompanied by more bad rock music. Bit of a damp squib really.

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We decided to have a proper celebration at 1pm the next day when the UK saw in the new year but this was rather spoiled by the speeding ticket that I got at 12.45pm. After that we weren’t really in the mood for festivities. After an afternoon kip we felt in a much better frame of mind and eventually saw the new year in properly at 6pm with a glass of wine and continued through to bed time – definitely the best celebration of the last 24 hours and we finally felt that it was properly 2006! 🙂

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Since then we have walked the Manuwatu gorge which was not half as impressive as claimed by the lonely planet, but a pleasant enough walk none the less. The last 48 hours have seen gale force winds hit the country making driving a high-sided van difficult and sleeping in it more akin to floating in a boat in rough seas such was strengh of the gusts.

We’re in Wellington today and off to the south island tonight, hoping that the 3.5 hour sea crossing isn’t too rough!

There’s new pics up on both of our flirkr sites.

TTFN

John & Viv