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The Hulk

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The Hulk goes Down Under!

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Queenstown: Extreme sports and extreme drinking!!

Queensbury, New Zealand

After a good nights sleep it was back on the bus for a little drive to the outskirts of Wanaka where we were to visit Puzzling World. It pretty much speaks for itself and is like a museum with loads of puzzles, brain teasers and funny mirrored rooms. After about an hour of fannying around and a bit of breakfast it was time to head out and make our way to the amazing Queenstown..

The journey between Wanaka and Queenstown takes you from the fruit picking and winery area through to some pretty baron and rugged terrain. After stopping off just outside Cromwell to stock up on some amazing fresh fruit and ice creams we made our way down the Kawarau Gorge. The gorge is home to all sorts of water based extreme sports from white water rafting to river boarding. However its most famous for one thing BUNGEE!!! Kawarau Bridge is home to the worlds first commercially operated bungee jump run by Kiwi loon AJ Hackett.

It is with great embarrassment that I have to tell you that I didn't actually do a jump and is the biggest regret of my whole trip! Having seen loads of others from our bus do it and really enjoy it I felt like I missed out. Oh well, just means i'll have to go back!!! With me wimping out I took on the role of designated photographer.

From The K Bridge we headed onto Queenstown where i would be spending the next few day before heading round the remote southern tip of the south island. As we arrived into Q'town Bodhi told us of an interesting challenge that all is bus loads take. With this being the last night when everyone on the bus would be together we were all up for a bit of a laugh. The task infront of us was the Jagerbomb Challenge,

permalink written by  The Hulk on April 17, 2007 from Queensbury, New Zealand
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Picture overload and the lovely Wanaka

Haast, New Zealand

After 2 days in Franz Josef it was an early start, not particularly easy after having only got to bed at about 3am!! Not one to sleep on the bus today was going to be hard work....It was time to head further inland and across the Southern Alps.
First stop of the day and the reason for the early rise was Lake Matheson. The morning was fairly misty but the mountains were clear and after being dropped off we headed off into the woods to find the lake. After to 15/20min walk we came to a little jetty on the banks of the water and beyond that one of the best views ive ever seen! Once everyone had got their fill of piccies they all headed back to the cafe to get some brekkie. Me on the other hand had the urge to walk round the lake as there was another viewpoint on the other bank which looked to be in a better position. It was only half way round the lake on the 1hr 15min walk that I realised I didnt have a watch and had no idea what time the bus was leaving!! Add to this, the fact that it was starting to get pretty warm and the track wasn't particulary put together for people jogging round with flip flops (jangles to the kiwi's). It has to be said I started to poo myself!! The sweat was starting to flow and my feet were hurting. I must have looked like a right peanut to all the Derby and Joan's that I was meeting going in either direction, some of them even making witty comments as I passed them!!
Much to my relief the view from the other viewpoint was absolutely amazing, considerably better than the first and fully justified me looking like a plum.... Dodging the amused OAP's I darted down to the front of the jetty and fired off about a hundred piccies then as quickly as I arrived buggered off back down the track.. With my camera fully loaded I upped the pace and made my way to the cafe and waiting bus stopping occaisionally to snap a couple more piccies as the landscape was as breathtaking as my jogging!!
Looking like a right sweaty mess I got back to the cafe and found everyone still sat round having breakfast. I sat down with the lads and asked them when the bus was leaving, after they stopped laughing at the state I was in they said it wasn't leaving for another 20mins! BUM!! Once the sweating had ceased I got a sausage roll and drink and got back on the bus..

From Lake Matheson we headed away from the coast through the town of Haast and over the Haast Pass, one of only 3 roads that cross the Southern Alps. Yet again the scenery is amazing and we stopped a number of times to get a look at some of the waterfalls and other stuff. Once over the top we headed down into the province of Otago and Mt Aspiring National Park where Wanaka is to be found.
Wanaka is a cool little town and is fairly busy all year round. In the summer there are loads of water based activities to do on the lake and in the winter it is a major skiing and snow boarding resort. Due again to my tight schedule i only had time for one nights stay. After a free BBQ and a few beers we headed back to our room and watched Lord of the Rings which was on the hostels movie channel (when in Rome!)....

permalink written by  The Hulk on April 16, 2007 from Haast, New Zealand
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Wild Boars and Helicopters

Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

With some very sore heads in the group it was time to thank Les for his hospitality and head off into the mountains to our next destination Franz Josef. First port of call was Pukekura and the Bushman Centre. The centre itself is run by some bloke who used to catch wild deer on the surrounding mountains and hills by jumping out of a helicopter! He was also a bit of a knob!! After watching a film of people shooting and jumping on deer to the Top Gun theme tune I drew the short straw and had to get in and feed a massive Wild Boar by hand. Not something I particularly enjoyed after seeing Hannibal the film where they are trained to eat human flesh!!

Once we had finished our feeding the possums and stuffing ourselves with brekkie we headed off in the now really warm sunny day and left the wierd kiwi bushmen to themselves. Next on the agenda was a walk up to a viewpoint at Okarito through rainforest. Yet again Bodhi did his usual of telling us it was a 30/40 minute walk. What he didnt say was it was 30/40 mins each way!! He even covered up the signs with his t-shirt! It was a really nice walk despite the suprising heat and the views from the top were quality and you could get a full 360 degree view which included Mt.Cook and the Franz Josef Glacier our destination for today. What wasnt too good was the fact that I was sweating so much it looked like i'd jumped in a swimming pool! Thankfully I wasnt the only one. The walk down was alot easier and I managed to cool off before we got back down to the bottom where we had lunch and fannied around on the beach for an hour or so catching a few welcome rays. Not something I expected to do in NZ!

It was now off to Franz Josef village to book our trips for tomorrow. The choices being, a half or full day hike up the glacier or a HeliHike. Despite the expense I didnt think there was a decision to be made and went for the HeliHike, sod it you only live once! Once we had booked in and got all the arrangements sorted it was off to the hostel to for dinner, a few drinks, a couple of games of pool then to bed praying for the weather to be clear the next day.....

After a bit of cloudy morning the weather started to break just as we were heading to the meeting point. Because I'd chosen to do the HeliHike I got a nice lie-in in the morning and didnt have to get out of bed till 10.30! Everyone else in my dorm were doing the full day hike and had to meet up at about 7.30! Ha ha ha... You could now see all the way up the valley to the glacier and mountains behind! Once we were all kitted out with our jackets, socks, boots and crampons it was time to head to the helipad. Being afraid of heights and never having been in a helicopter I have to admit I was on the verge of wetting my shorts. Once in the chopper I all my nerves disappeared and the ride up the glacier was one of the best experiences of my travels. Despite the pilot throwing it around like a mad man the views were absolutely amazing and I had a stupidly big smile on my face. Being worried about weeing myself with fright was quickly replaced by the fear of weeing myself with excitement!!!

The 15/20 minute ride took us up to the top of the glacier and around then we were dropped off about half way up to start our trek. Our guide for the couple of hours we were to spend up there was only 18yrs old!! There are no paths or tracks to follow, the routes you take are cut out of the fresh ice by the guide with an ice axe. Dozy arse me was the first person to take a tumble as I was carefully making my way up away from the landing area. I soon learnt that the more confident and quicker you got, the safer and easier it
was as the crampons got more of a grip and you maintained your balance. By the end I was like Stallone in "Cliffhanger" jumping across crevasses and running about like a loon.. Some of the others in the group didn't cope as well and were scared shitless for most of the trek pottering around sliding and slipping all over the shop!! It is really hard to get perspective while on the glacier as everything is so huge. Something that looks like a little overhang of ice is in fact a 100ft cliff face!

The 2 and a half hrs seemed to fly by in no time and it was time to catch the chopper back down to Franz Josef township. I had the window seat on the way up so I decided to let Jimmy have my place on the way back down. Having initially been thankful of my kind jesture he wasnt too keen when we hit a bit of turbulence and the door was wobbling so much it looked like it was going to fall off!!

Thankfully the helicopter stayed in one piece and we headed out for a bite to eat then back to the hostel for a bit of a power nap to prepare ourselves for a bit of a session on the beers to crown a very, very enjoyable day!!

permalink written by  The Hulk on April 12, 2007 from Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand
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Lake Mahinapua and the legendary Poo Party!

Hokitika, New Zealand

Early rise this morning as we had a walk along the coast on the cards. It was a short drive down the coast to Cape Foulwind where we were to begin the stroll. The cape is a beautiful spot and is the furthest western part of New Zealand, it also has a large colony of Fur Seals and it is their pleasant odour that gives the place its name!!

The walk took us along the cliff tops of the cape and round to Tauranga Bay. After Bodhi our driver telling us that it was about a 30min walk, 2hrs later we arrived at the bay to find him surfing his ass off and having a good time in the sea.. Despite the length of the walk it was really enjoyable, the views were really nice and it was good to get out of the bus and have some fresh air, despite the seals!!
Once everyone had made their way round the bay to the bus we headed off on the amazing State Highway 6 again. The landscape contantly changes along this brilliant stretch of road and from the Scottish looking scenery of Cape Foulwind and Tauranga Bay into the Hawaiian looking coastline of the Paparoa National Park and Punakaiki (Poo-na-kai-key).
It was in Punakaiki where we stopped off for a bit of lunch and a walk down to the Pancake rocks. Some of the rock formations are really cool and along with the beautiful coastline I couldnt help myself but fire off yet more piccies!! Beacause of my tight schedule I was a bit disappointed I didnt have time to stop off but it is definately somewhere I'd want to come back to.

Upon getting back on the bus Bodhi advised us that tonight, along with the BBQ, there was going to be a fancy dress party.... mmmm, that should be interesting. We would have 1hr in Greymouth our next stop to get anything we needed. Thinking caps were on!!
After much thought and upon seeing a Bob the Builder helmet in the kiddies section of the local Target Store my mind was made up..

Tonight we were staying at what can only be described as the legendary Lake Mahinapua Hotel, owned by the even more legendary Les. The place isnt very much to look at but it is one of the funniest nights off my entire travels if not the wierdest!! Les is the landlord and owner of the hotel and i reckon he has been around since biblical times!! As you can see from the picture he has certainly got character. The meal was really, really good and due to me being a big lad Les kept piling my plate with more and more venison. I wasnt complaning coz it was some of the best food I'd had in 6mnths..
After the food was done and dusted I took a walk down to the lake on my own to walk off some of the food and make way for the copious amounts of beer and other alcoholic beverages that were to be consumed later. The lake itself has great views was really quiet and it was nice to have a bit of "me" time. It was then back to the hotel to get ready with the fancy dress and party time.

Some of the fancy dress ideas were strange to say the least, there were 6 gimps, numerous prostitutes, drug dealers, policewomen and some I have no idea what they were!! Make up your own mind by looking at the piccies!! After all the drinking was over and the gimp off (dont ask!) was finished a few of us headed down to the lake, all be it a little worse for wear to check out the glow worms. Amazing little things if not a real bugger to find..

permalink written by  The Hulk on April 11, 2007 from Hokitika, New Zealand
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Jet Boating

Westport, New Zealand

After leaving sunny Nelson we headed inland across to the west coast and the town of Westport. On the way we passed through the Nelson Lakes National Park and stopped off for a bit of lunch at the beautiful Lake Rotoiti. The only thing to spoil the whole experience was the first meeting with the lovely NZ sandflies. They are like a mix of fruit flies with mosquitoes! Nasty little b'stards...
From the lake we headed through some amazing countryside and on to Buller Gorge. Not suprising when this stretch of road is ranked in the top ten best drives in the world!!
Once in the gorge its time for some jet boating again. After being kitted out with all the gear, waterproofs, goggles, buoyancy aids etc we headed out for the boat with our driver Kane. It has to be said, it was really good fun but not as enjoyable as it was in Sydney for my B'day. The driver in Sydney was a little bit more mental, there were bigger waves, we got soaked and it was much longer. When both groups had gone out in the boats it was time to head into Westport our destination for the night.

Despite the beautiful surroundings Westport could only be described as a "hole!". It is pretty small and consisted of one street, large playing fields and a supermarket. Despite my previous comments it took us 15/20 mins to find the said supermarket as we turned left on the one street instead of right!! Ooops.. After a fairly average pasta meal washed down with a few stubbies it was time for bed. Not much else to do!! Lake Mahinapua here we come...

permalink written by  The Hulk on April 11, 2007 from Westport, New Zealand
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Home of the Ring

Nelson, New Zealand

We left Kaikoura at a fairly pleasant hour and headed further north up the coast to Nelson. The weather upon leaving was pretty much the same as the day before and I was begining to feel a little depressed as I had visions it was gonna be like this for the whole of my trip. I need'nt have been so downbeat as by lunchtime the weather was starting to look up and there were even patches of blue sky. Then when we arrived in Nelson it was beautiful, warm and sunny. Not really suprising when I was told later that it has both the most sunshine and warm temperatures for the whole of NZ

Nelson is known as the geographical "Centre of New Zealand" and we took a little walk up a stupidly steep hill on the outskirts where there is a monument to celebrate the fact. The view from the top was really good and you could get a full 360' view of the surrounding countryside plus the citys of Nelson and Richmond and out over the bay to the Abel Tasman National Park. At the foot of the hill is a large playing Field where the first ever rugby match in New Zealand was played. With rugby being THE sport in NZ it is a pretty special place so I thought i'd get a piccie. This proved tricky because there was a group of small children playing cricket and i didn't want to appear to be taking an unhealthy interest in them!
With a full roast dinner included in our lodgings we headed back to make the most of some good food! You have to take advantage of these perks when travelling, supernoodles just dont seem to cover it!! After the meal and a few local beers, me and a some of the girls headed into town to see the jewellers that made THE ring from the "Lord of the Rings" film then onto a cool bar with a load of pool tables where I proceded to give a masterclass with the cue..

permalink written by  The Hulk on April 10, 2007 from Nelson, New Zealand
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Whale watching

Kaikoura, New Zealand

After leaving Christchurch early doors we headed north up the coast to a small town called Kaikoura. The weather had changed from the warm clear blue skies from the previous day to low cloud and rubbish drizzle. Looks like the waterproof I bought yesterday will come in handy after all!!

Kaikoura is famous for its marine life and I decided to go for a little boat ride for some whale watching.. When we arrived at the centre I decided it would probably be a good idea to purchase a couple of sea sickness pills, didnt want to make a plum of myself on the first day by yacking everywhere!!

After a couple of minutes out of the harbour I realised the pills were a very sound investment! The boat was all over the place and was quite funny initially but when you realise your going to be on the boat for nearly 4hrs the fun goes quite quickly. Waves and buffering aside the trip was really good. We got good views of 2 huge Sperm Whales, a pod of 500/600 Dusky Dolphins playing around the boats, loads of Fur Seals and a couple of massive Wandering Albatrosses. With half my memory card full of rubbish pictures of water, and me feeling very sick we headed back to Kaikoura.

With the weather still pretty shitty we decided to just head back to the hostel (Aptly named the Lazy Shag, after the sea bird obviously!!), watch a couple of DVD's and get ourselves some quality fish and chips, or fush and cheps as they like to pronounce it here!

permalink written by  The Hulk on February 27, 2007 from Kaikoura, New Zealand
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Kia ora from New Zealand

Christchurch, New Zealand

Having spent nearly 5 months in Oz I thought I might as well head over the Tasman and come to see the sheep loving kiwis for a couple of weeks before I make my long journey home!!
After having a such a good time doing the east coast with Oz Experience I thought it was only right that I should do NZ with Kiwi Experience.. As I'd only left myself a couple of weeks to tour NZ I decided I would just do the south island. I left a very wet and rainy Sydney early morning and flew into Christchurch just after lunchtime and to my surprise 30+ degree heat!!! This isnt the New Zealand i was expecting, those extra jumpers and waterproofs I bought before I came out could be a waste of money!!

Having dropped all my bags off at the hostel on Cathedral Square I went for a little walk around the city..... After a good 15mins I decided there wasnt much to it and went back to my room. The Cathedral and a few other buildings are pretty nice, also the river through the middle of the city is really picturesque but all in all it is a fairly dull place. Shopping wise I would put it on a par with Wrexham!!

After a couple of beers in the bar at the hostel I decided it was time for an early night, my bus left at 7.30 the next morning and couldnt afford to oversleep!!!

permalink written by  The Hulk on February 26, 2007 from Christchurch, New Zealand
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Put that in your pipe and smoke it Ricky!!

Sydney, Australia

Today we were heading to the 2nd final of the One Day Tri-Nation Series between Australia and amazingly England. We'd had tickets for this game for a while and seeing how the poms have played all summer I thought I'd be watching the Aussies v kiwis!! As I'd already been to watch us get beaten in the test match and the 20/20 I didn't think I could manage another gloatfest from the "convicts"!! Hopefully today's game would make up for it.. 3 wins on the bounce and 1-nil up in the final was pretty good reading..

Having still been in the pub at 5am the previous night watching the absolute rubbish that was the Wales v Scotland 6 nations game, didn't make for a good nights sleep. Alcohol and the fact we got beat by the "sweaties" made it a night to forget!!
Me and the weeman made our way to the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) a bit later than the others who went for a drink before the game, in need of no more drink we caught a few extra Z's. When we got there the weather was absolutely boiling and our seats, although were really good for the game, were in the worst possible place for the sun!! Luckily, unlike the ashes game I actually remembered to bring the sun block.
Lee, Martin, Flaz and Lauren were already seated when we arrived, Martin dressed in his ridiculous Barmy Army get up as usual. After 10 overs we were all struggling with the heat, me and weeman especially due to the previous night and we had to go and get some cold drinks and some shelter from the sun, unlike the England boys who after a shaky start looked to be doing pretty well.. The weather from then on got worse but the cricket just kept getting better and better!!!
After a couple of rain delays, one of which we got particularly soaked engalnd wrapped up their innings with a pretty good score thanks to another quality knock from the ginger maestro that is Collingwood. Having seen Glenn McGrath's last ever test match in the new years test, we now had the honour of seeing his last ever bowl in international cricket on Australian soil.. He got a couple of minutes standing ovation before he bowled it, then much to my dissappointment the bugger took a wicket and the crowd went mental..
The Aussies came out whacking us all over the ground for the first 5 overs then it all changed with a couple of quick wickets. A couple more big thunderstorms delayed the game a few more times, but didn't stop the English boys from showing those arrogant Aussies how to play! Having been out here for the entire tour and taking a bit of ribbing from all the locals about how poo England were, it was good to make them all eat a bit of humble pie!!!!

permalink written by  The Hulk on February 11, 2007 from Sydney, Australia
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Big Day Out 2007

Sydney, Australia

Big Day Out Sydney 2007.. Awesome!! BDO for those that dont know is a huge music festival a bit like Glastonbury or the V Festival. Loads of quality bands on about 7 or 8 different stages.. Due to the amount of stages and different bands playing most of us Split up, I spent the entire day with Flaz and Big Dave and had a really good day. We managed to get to see My Chemical Romance, The Killers, Tool, Crystal Method, Muse, Jet, The Vines, The Streets, Evermore and highlight of the whole day was Kasabian who absolutely kicked ass!!!

permalink written by  The Hulk on January 25, 2007 from Sydney, Australia
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