Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Zealand at last!

Hey everybody! Sorry again for the long delay in updates...we have spent a lot of time recently in transit or seeing the sights!

So we flew into Christchurch, New Zealand on the South Island on Sunday January 3rd, caught a local bus from the airport, and finally checked into our hostel well after midnight. The next day we checked out some of the nearby sights including Cathedral Square and other parts of downtown. Christchurch is a relatively small city of 350,000 and has a nice small city feel to it.

We decided we would have enough time to see a good portion of the South Island before we fly home on the 14th, and caught a bus out of Christchurch early morning on January 5th bound for Nelson at the north end of the island.

Nelson is a very cool small city of around 40,000 and is the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. Nelson also has the distinction of claiming to be "the centre of New Zealand", marked by a summit not far from the centre of town. We hiked 45 minutes up to the summit and were treated with some excellent views of the surrounding area, and the novelty of seeing them from the "centre of New Zealand"! I celebrated my birthday in Nelson on the 6th by doing an awesome 4 hour hike on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, and going out for pizza and a movie in the evening.

The next morning Jan 7th we got on a bus and made it to Greymouth further down the West Coast.

Although Greymouth doesn't have quite the charm Nelson has, it has the Monteith's Brewery. We went on a tour of the brewery and had the opportunity to taste the 7 beers Monteith's currently has in production. We were in fact a bit tipsy by the end of the tasting! We got to pour a beer of our choice off the tap as well. I really like beer.

The afternoon of the 8th we hopped on a bus for a 4 hour journey to Franz Josef, home of the Franz Josef glacier. So far all we have done is eat pizza and drink beer (Monteith's, of course! I have found my favorite - "Black", and Teri has hers "Summer Ale") We are staying in a 4-share room with a couple German girls (ze Germans are everywhere!) at "Glow Worm Cottages" in the heart of F.J. -- there are actually only 2 streets in town! You can tell that the town really only exists because of the proximity to the glacier, but such is the case with so many towns on the tourist circuit anywhere (i.e. Banff).

So that catches you up to this moment on Saturday January 9th 2010 where we are in Franz Josef, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand soon to do a half-day glacier walk and do some ice climbing!

We will continue to update as we go and try to add some pictures when we can...bye for now!

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