happnin' South Island, New Zealand - beautiful rainbows

Yolanda’s bit
Back on the road, NZ was the minibus version. We spent the night in a funny place in Greymouth: Noah's Arch. Each room had an animal theme. The tiger room, lion, elephant, penguin,... we were in the cow's room and everything was covered in cow's skin, there were cows eating grass on the walls, and two fluffy cows on the bed: one big, one small.

Next day we got to Fox Glacier and that started to be really cold. We got a ride with some brit kids up to the entrance to the Glazier and there started an interesting and a bit difficult short trek to the immense huge ice block formation between two mountains. We got there and touched it. It was grandiose and millenarian. White and blue with lots of caves and levels. Back at the parking lot, these strange big birds had eaten the rubber bits off most cars around.

There were a few beautiful walks around. We took a small one through the green tupid wet jungle. That's one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.

Then we wanted to get to the lake for sunset and we were told it was a half hour walk there. I was catching a flu and was already exhausted from the day but we set off. The straight road never seemed to end and there was a black storm coming. We had been walking two hours and those trees on the horizon were still on the horizon. We were not going to make it for sunset and I didn't think I could walk back. I stuck out my thumb and a caravan with three Brits stopped.
They were heading to some viewing point also for the sunset. We seemed to have been driving for ages and I started to get paranoid thinking this might be a bit of a dodgy situation here but they were just lost and not too bright either. We ended up in some beach just on time to see the pinks and reds bathing the clouds and mountains and sea and sand.

The 3 Brits got crazy and started to play the "move the big stone a bit further into the sea and run back getting as little wet as possible" game in turns and screaming and laughing like kids (they were about my age). There was a spaced out Dutch couple filming them with amusement and we chatted for a bit. He had a handycam similar to ours and was like a kid with new shoes. He was a painter of alienscapes and wanted to use the footage for his paintings. He was also trying to capture a piece of the sea for his girlfriend and was having some trouble.

When the Brits got tired of running around they gave us a lift back to town. We were ready for Wanaka now! The outdoors activities paradise. The first Bungey-jumping place ever, where they give you a ten secs. video of yourself falling into the void looking like a frenzied cockroach on speed having a heart-attack and a t-shirt. Best alternative to psychoanalysis and it's only $50 NZ. (t-shirt and video inc.). And all the other manic "sports".

It was FREEEZING. The whole place was fully booked and finally, we got a cabin with heater in the last place of all: the motor car park thing. It was fine. I had a flu and just wanted to be warm in bed. Miles wanted to sky so after a couple of days we got a lift with a Japanese funny couple (how are the Japanese!) who took us to the sky station, just half hour easy car drive.
It was full of snow and snowing! I tried to watch Miles descending majestically in dangerous jumps and turns but I was becoming the ice man with flu out there so I went back in the cafe and watched the tiny colorful shapes slide down from all directions. It must have been fun.

Christchurch. Nice town. There was a snow-skating show-competition on. Some good jumps. We managed to meet up with my friend Shell who took us out one night to "the only bar worth going in Christchurch", in her opinion. It was by the port which was nice and the bar was interesting. At the back there was a small stage and we watched some massive guy, wearing two huge rubber ears and skirts, playing a strange monotone kind of xylophone at the same time as he recited/sang his poetry-jokes. Quite funny.

I couldn't stand the cold anymore and we went back to Wellington to wait for our flight.

I have good memories of New Zealand minibuses. Super-extra friendly drivers who would chat with you and tell you stories about the places, would stop to have lunch at nice spots without rush, would stop at nice places for a bit just because they were nice and he wanted you to enjoy them. So we went to feed the salmons, we watched the sea lions jumping in the sea, we stopped in beautiful (though freezing) beaches, we saw some impossible stone poetic writings in the middle of mud lakes.
I've never seen so many rainbows in my life and such natural beauty.

We had time to know Wellington a bit better and it turned out to be quite an interesting city with a few things to offer. The botanical gardens and the view from the top were, once more, very pretty.

We sold the tent and flew to Honolulu, Hawaii.

Miles’s bit
We had an uneventful flight from Perth to Wellington and took an airport shuttle into the city center to a hostel called the City Lodge. It had loads of space in the lounge areas and a big kitchen and the rooms were fine. There were a couple of pool tables in the bar and even a convenient Internet place next door. We spent a few days here, visiting a large city museum that was very informative about New Zealand and generally ahead a bit of a mooch around the city (it was more the size of a town really but the NZ population is so small it counts as a city).

We had messed up our ticketing schedule for our next flight (Wellington - Sydney - Honolulu) because of the upcoming Olympics and and therefore were going to be in New Zealand longer than we had anticipated. Oh Well. Sunny beaches would have to wait, it was fast aproaching mid-winter in the southern hemisphere and New Zealand was bitterly cold at the time.

We crossed over to the South Island by ferry, the crossing was pretty calm, it can be a bit rough sometimes and stayed in the rather un-happening town of Picton. The best thing about Picton (in fact the only thing about Picton) was the small lodge we were recomended called thye Jugglers Rest - run by a few professional performing jugglers. There were only half a dozen people staying but everyone congregated in the main common room (which was warm) and basically juggled. All manner of juggling props were available and everyone was friendly and wanted you to juggle, and learn and have fun. I instantly picked out a diablo as set about learning new tricks with it (I can't juggle too well but I'm pretty good with a diablo). One of the highlights was when we were taught how to eat fire, check it out...