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  April 19th
Queenstown->Mt Cook

I had suggested before we began the trip that one thing we had to do was a bungee jump. I didn't however think that Connie would be game to go through with it. Well, before she even knew what she had done, she booked us on the Pipeline, which is the largest in NZ at 102m (now about the 4th largest in the world) at Skippers Canyon in Queenstown.

Neither of us had bungeed before - I have done static-line parachuting before which is similar in a number of ways in that if something goes horribly wrong, it is a long way down and you will most likely die (or even worse have some terrible paralysis). Bungee jumping is however fairly safe (particularly in NZ where it originated from) and they hardly ever have an accident...

Basically it was a blast - a bunch of hyped up loony staff rev you up while rock music blasts away, every expression is captured on video to later show your friends that you weren't quite as cool as you thought you looked, and then before you know it you have thrown yourself into space...

While the adrenalin is still flowing through the system you are then fleeced of additional dollars (if you succumb of course) for the video, the t-shirt, the underwear...

Cloud Our last treat in Queenstown was to go up the gondola and do the luge track there. Take my advice - don't ever bother with this one - it is far too tame and slow a track in comparison with Rotorua, I mean they have seatbelts for pete's sake! The views from the Skyline gondola deck were absolutely breathtaking, there was hardly a cloud in the sky, and I immediately regretted my decision to not bring my camera up, realising the futility of trying to luge with a camera and tripod.

Mt Cook After lunch which was amusing in itself for the act of watching some appalling Indian music video being recorded across the road, we drove to Mt Cook... sitting on 160km/hr most of the way with long straight roads and no traffic. After dropping our gear off at the hostel we then joined the other half of Japan outside the Hermitage hotel taking sunset photos of Mt Cook - there was more than a few dollars worth of gear on tripods that night!

Our final act of forgetfulness for the trip was to not buy any food before we left Queenstown. The Mt Cook township consists of a bunch of ski chalets and a hotel with an expensive restaurant, so it was soup, cheese and crackers for dinner again...

  April 20th
Mt Cook->Lake Tekapo->Christchurch

Lake Tekapo An overcast drizzly day at Mt Cook, so we abandoned any plans to go for a walk and instead headed to Lake Tekapo. A good choice - traveling only half an hour the weather was immediately hot and dry through the Canterbury plains.

Lake Tekapo would have to contain the most amazing coloured water I have ever seen in my life (and we saw some fantastic ranges on this trip alone!). I guess only the picture can really describe it, needless to say we decided to spend Lake Tekapo Church about four hours here doing various walks. We did spend about an hour waiting for the right moment to take a photo of the memorial church, which is assaulted every fifteen mins or so by another tour bus, and a continual stream of campervans, cars and motorcycles. In the end I gave up not even getting close to the photo I wanted but at least it was a reminder of the lengths that the professionals go to get the right shots - imagine Lake Tekapo Church waiting days for just the right combination of light and lack of people...

Finally we headed to Christchurch to the City Central hostel which like most we visited also has excellent facilities. Since it was Connie's last night in NZ we splashed out for dinner at a rather nice restaurant (well, I must be honest, she splashed out for that one which was very nice of her...)

  April 21st

Godley Head The countdown was on... just hours until Connie left the country. We drove to Port Lyttleton and then around to Godley Head reserve for a lazy lie in the sun. Driving back through Sumner we headed up Mt Pleasant and along the top of the Port Hills which offered impressive views (marred by an industrial fire in the distance by the look of things). Our last meal was an ice-cream at "Sign of the Kiwi" and then it was off to the airport to send her home. Connie was a great fun person to travel with and we had an absolute ball, although I was concerned that she may have not actually got on the plane and hence been declared AWOL from the air force...

Brighton Pier My next stop was to be up the East Coast to Kaikoura, however I wanted to head to the new Brighton Pier to see if I could get any sunset photos. I almost didn't make it in time but got a few shots that I was happy with.

Driving to Kaikoura was a bit of a mission - it had about 40km of the windiest road from the whole trip and driving at night stuck behind large trucks was not a recommended method of travel. Still, many of them were courteous enough to indicate when you should go past (as they know every corner in the road) although it did feel a bit hairy going around blind corners on faith sometimes...

The Kaikoura hostel was the only hostel on the trip that I was in a shared bunkroom with strangers - in this particular case they hold four people however there was only one other person in this room. You wouldn't believe it though - he snored, which was possibly appropriate given that it was the first night without Connie...

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  Last Updated June 22nd, 2002