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It was exactly a month ago that I met my fellow Contikians for our pre-tour meeting. Or rather I think we were pissing up for Robyn's birthday at this stage. I mean what better way to break the ice than to celebrate your fellow tourmate's birthday out on the piss?
Little did I know that within the next two weeks I would spend over a month's pay (totally worth it), gain a couple of kilos from all the food they kept feeding us (much to the disgust of my jeans) but most importantly make over 50 new friends from all over the world, who would all contribute to an amazing holiday I will never forget.
</sappyness>

I can't say I'm a big fan of Facebook notes, but I wanted a record on both here an FB so decided to make this public so that it'll automatically show up on my profile.
I have also decided that from now on that everything except my travel entries will be friends only from now on. That seems okay right? Comments will be screened anyway.

Okay. So Day-by-day account of my two and a bit weeks in New Zealand. Just a warning. This is going to be huge. So feel free to skim through or just check out the pretty pictures/videos.

Or better yet here is our official video which sums it all up better then I could. The only thing missing is Kellye's dancing. hahahah

Yeah that's me dancing. Created by Pumbaa. Uploaded by moi since Youtube muted the music.


Saturday 16th May: Sydney - Christchurch
Kimi being the awesome person that she is has decided to pick me up at about 5.30am after she had finished work to take me to the airport. Just as I'm about to leave I pick up my suitcase and everything falls out. Yeah I forgot to zip it up. Shut up. I'm blaming lack of sleep due to hanging out with Becky til late the night before. All my hard work from earlier on in the week, rolling up all my clothes is ruined. Everything quickly gets stuffed back in and finally we're on our way to the airport at which point I find out that Kimi could've come along as her uni exams didn't start til later then we thought. Damnit.
Goodbyes, hugs and jealousy from Kimi before I go inside to check in and who do I sit down next to? But a couple from Penrith who just so happen to have Contiki tags on their suitcases who are on the same trip as me! I got all shy so didn't say anything, and instead slyly put my own Contiki tag on my bag. We all laughed about it afterwards, but I honestly thought they might have been returning from a Contiki holiday so didn't want to say anything.
My flight wasn't until 8am, so bummed around for awhile exploring all the duty free stores and reading.
The plane trip was pretty uneventful, I scabbed a window seat but seeing water for over an hour gets boring.
Arrive in Christchurch. Holy shit, the airport is small. Still, it took me about two hours to get from the airport to my hotel due to the shuttle bus, but in the end it was all good.
Okay I have to say this now - the accomodation Contiki booked is fantastic. There was only one slightly dodgy place down at Franz Josef but we were staying at the hotel for 12 hours or so anyway so no one cared.
Napped and then had our pre-tour meeting. I don't remember much. I remember meeting Hetty and Jo, screwing up slapping Kellan some skin as she called it and shaking her hand instead (Hetty told me later that she sat there wondering if all Australians were as backward as me hahaha) and Robyn coming around to everyone inviting us all out as it was her birthday.
Well who was I to back down from group bonding via alcohol?
There was only about 10 of us I think that ended up going out on the piss that night. Everyone was too jet-lagged or too sensible to go out as the rest of the tour would be pretty full on.
I don't actually remember all that much from the first night, except that Robyn kept buying us all yagabombs. We all felt incredibly guilty and tried to pay her back via drinks but then she'd go and buy us all another round. Crazy girl!
Jacqui spent the first half of the night telling us how she intends to go hard this entire trip and I eventually realise she's the one from the contiki forum. We crack up and become instant buds.
Kellan and I become fast friends, ended up completely trashed, lost everyone so headed back to the hotel to find the guys at the bar there closing up. We ask for water and end up spending the next hour or so chatting with the staff there who were really cool. Passed out at about 3.30am. Found out later that Kellan didn't stumble in until after 5 or so which is nothing compared to the rest of the tour.

Photo of the day:

Scabbed from the amazing Vickyanne.


Sunday 17th May: Christchurch - Lake Ohau
I don't really remember much about today. I was too hungover.
It was somebody's birthday. Jenny? Alice? Blarg. I can't remember.
And then we were all introduced to our Tour Song. For the rest of the tour, our manager Pumbaa took great delight in playing this first thing every morning on the bus and every single bar we went to. I think he just liked us all attacking him screaming "Whhhyyy?!?!". Our song was Kelly Clarkson's 'My life would suck without you'. At first it was amusing as we partied on the bus and I taught a fair few people the actions I learnt from friends just before I left, but it very quickly grew old. We were also introduced to Bud Light's 'Real Men of Genius' which we all loved and sang along to for the rest of the trip.
I do remember Jess bursting through the door at breakfast all worried that she's somehow missed us, there was something to do with a statue of a dog by a lake and Kellan wet her seat (ok so it was with her waterbottle) but still it was hilarious. Hell, anything is hilarious on a few hours sleep considering we had to be up and ready to leave by 8am. Oh god. If that's one thing I don't miss it's the early starts. Still, once you figured out a comfy enough position to pass out in on the bus you were fine.
We explored Christchurch for an hour or so. And by explore I mean we went to the nearest coffee place to get to know each other, stocked up on vitamins and anti-cold drugs and rugged up. We missed out on taking photos of churches. Oh noes!
I vaguely remember spending most of the day laughing at the Americans who were amazed by so much sheep and cattle just wondering about.
Lake Ohau was so freaking cold! And yet we still ended up in the outside jacuzzi haha! Yes, we are insane. The sensible people inside watched us by the fireplace and just shook their heads. They don't know what they were missing out on.
Nothing will ever compare to the warm of that hot tub in contrast to seeing snow covered mountains opposite the lake just outside. I just... yeah. It was amazing.
Oh oh oh! I have to add that our floors were heated! How cool is that? I wish I'd slept there instead of the bed.
After dinner we spent a little while at the bar, playing pool and darts at which I failed at spectacularly.

Photo of the day:

Scabbed from the wonderful Emma.
It may not look like it but if you look to the top right you'll see that there is no roof. And yes it was freezing outside as you can see from the beanie! How awesome is the view?!

Monday 18th May: Lake Ohau - Milford Sound
God this place is beautiful. Everywhere I looked, I was just more and more amazed. New Zealand is underated.
Kellan and I slept in and yet were only second to last to the bus. Hells yeah. Our tour manager was slightly worried that we might not be able to make it to Milford Sound as more often then not the roads get closed due to the crazy snow they get there. That's right. I got to see snow. *does crazy snow dance* The Englishfolk and a few Americans then spent the day laughing at those of us who had never (or rarely) seen snow. Hetty (my new crazy partner in crime) and I went a little crazy bouncing about as the snow fell. No one was game enough to drink water from the stream especially once someone pointed out the huge patch of blood next to it.
On the way we picked up the last of our fellow South Islanders from Queenstown airport and the introductions began. As part of the official 'Backseat Bandits' there was a lot of screaming, whistles and cat calls coming from our end of the bus each time someone got up on the micrphone to introduce themselves. It was hella fun.
Driving to Milford Sound was the first of many scary acts. Once you get through the tunnel (Pumbaa decided Indianna Jones theme song was the most suitable piece of music for this part) you look out and down and pretty much everyone's reaction was "Oh HELL NO!". The roads are wet, steep and surrounded by snow. Pumbaa also decides to tell us that avalanches happen here all the time. Gee thanks. 
How we made it through the valley I'll never know, but a lot of us were cheering Richie (our driver) afterwards.
There was many rainforest stops on our way and it got to the point whereby the end of the trip we'd just snap photos out of our window. We're lazy and hungover. Shut up.
Milford Sound was amazing. We cruised around out to sea just as sunset rolled in. Our rooms were on the bottom deck, so seeing the waves smash up against the porthole wasn't exactly comforting. So most of us headed up to the bar. I made everyone else cold because they were all rugged up as I danced around outside in t-shirt and jeans before someone yelled at me to get inside. It may have been Jo. Apparently one of the waterfalls was FOUR times the height of Niagara Falls. Awesome much?
We got our first taste of Kiwi humour that night when the crew gave us a presentation of the Milford Mariner (our ship), and a brief history of Kiwiland and in particular Milford Sound. Duh. Almost immmediately came the jokes paying out us Aussies, but you couldn't help but laugh.
Oh and did I mention there were seals? They were playing around the back of the ship after dinner. We're told they sleep on deck some nights because it's warm. Aww.
Our captain said we were lucky as this was a 'one in a million' day, as it had been snowing/raining for weeks. Go us!

Photo of the day:

Sure, I could've shown you a pretty picture once we were on that boat but who wants that when you can have a crazy bouncing picture AND Milford Sound all in one?

Tuesday 19th May: Milford Sound - Queenstown
We woke up the next morning to find that more snow had fallen overnight and it looked amazing! Instead of say, staying inside keeping warm at least half of us either went kayaking, jetboating or in some cases jumped straight in for a swim! I chose kayaking and worried about getting my clothes damp so donned myself with a garbage bag. What can I say? I'm a trend-setter as a few others decided follow my lead.
Another day which seemed to just fly by. I spent most of it freaking out and trying to gather the courage for my bungee jump at Kawarau Bridge.
It was raining when we finally arrived and I freaked when all they did was wrap a towel around my legs and a rope around that. I told the guy that it felt loose and to do it again. I was shaking and honestly about to cry whilst I was lining up. It got to the point where I was just like 'you know what? Just take my money I'll go back inside.' But everyone was watching and I had promised myself I'd do this so just went for it.
And the hike back uphill sucked. Thank god for that adrenaline rush.
Queenstown Lodge was to be our home for the next three days or so and I think I had the best roommates ever. We had so much fun. That night we all went out, whether to celebrate our survival of the bungee jump, or just because we wanted to go out. Either way, we all had an awesome time. Laura and I had a 'crazy off' and I'm pretty sure she won, considering she was sober and all. Plenty of drinks were consumed at various pubs, which ended up quite a few of us hurting ourselves as we all noticed the pole (oh god those photos are bad) or up dancing on tables. At least I think it was a table. Stumbled in at 5am.

Rather then a photo, I think I'll just include my video:
And I am NEVER doing that again. It was terrifying! Holy shit. If you look close you can see me starting to edge back just before I jump.


Wednesday 20th May: Queenstown
By stumble in, I don't actually mean I made it to my room. Now before you all get the wrong idea I didn't have a key and the girls I shared a room with are heavy sleepers. Eventually Tara being the nice person she is told me to take the spare bed in their room so that I would stop kicking my door and keeping her up.
Unfortunately I'd forgotten that we were due to skydive that day. It was cancelled due to crappy weather, but not until after I was up out of bed. So with only two hours sleep I went whitewater rafting. I thought it was just as scary as the bungee jump and fark it was cold! Jess, Kellan, Chai and I were with some guys from another tour and the Chief. Despite his warnings me and Jess decided to jump out overboard anyway in the calmer waters seeing as everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves. How wrong we were. It was freezing, and I spent the rest of the trip shivering as we struggled through the rapids. Chief didn't do much to help matters as he was informed by our safety kayakers ahead that the end was too rough so they had to cut it short. Still, our last part of the trip is something I'll never forget. He shouted at us all to get down during the particularly rough bits and we struggled to get to shore. I almost fell out at one point and held onto the rope for dear life. It was not fun. Everyone else was so pumped afterwards, I however was still shivering from being so scared for at least half of our bus ride back to base. The other half I spent passed out, at which point someone came up with the genius idea to scare the living daylights out of me by getting the entire bus to start yelling and carrying on. I woke up screaming and jumped out of my seat much to the amusement of everyone else.
That night after a quick nap most of us headed to the Minus 5 Ice Bar. When I first heard that we were only allowed in there for 1/2 an hour I instantly though it was a ripoff but it was more then enough time. As you may or may not know, everything is made of ice. You only get one glass which you get to smash into the bin afterwards. Cocktails were only $5 so again, people went a little crazy. The sculptures were amazing and Robyn has this thing about groping the Ice Lady's boobs in so many pictures. hahaha
After Minus 5 I crashed. Got back to the hotel and found my passport and visa were missing. Instantly freaked out and started to cry. So back to Minus 5 to frantically go look for my stuff. Thank god, someone handed it all in to Pumbaa. I took it as a sign I needed sleep and passed out. I later found out that was one of the biggest nights of the tour, but I don't regret it. I was so out of it by then who knows what else might have happened?

Photo of the day:

This is towards the end. I'm at the back next to the chief freaking out.

Thursday 21st May: Queenstown aka my favourite day of the entire tour!
I'm woken up at around 5am by Kellan and Michelle drunk and giggling in the bathroom. Laura and I crack up as the other two keep telling each other to shut up otherwise they'll wake us. The morning was spent at the Canyon Swing which was easily my favourite activity from the entire tour. 109 metre drop, 60 metre freefall and smart arse safety guides. Awesome fun! Want to know my secret? I went backwards on the first jump. Now on a scale of 1-5 this jump is considered a 5, shitting your pants style. I decided to do it this way so I wouldn't know what I was jumping into. I refused to look down before I jumped and I have to say it was way better then I imagined.
I ended up going twice.
The people there are so crazy. There's all these random signs that say "Watch out for the gnomes!", "Caution: Rocks Mating!  Watch for gravel." and that being Canadian is a medical condition that they must be told about before you jump. There's three different toilet stalls that are covered in all sorts of pictures and posters, named Lavhofftory, The Chuck Norrisinal and P with Mr T. Heaps of famous people have jumped there as well including the awesome Jack Black which made my day. They also have a rule that you can not jump the same style twice, but also invite you to make up your own. I just checked out the facebook fanpage and the funniest one I found is some guy standing on the edge whilst the guide yells out "THIS. IS. QUEENSTOOOOOWN!" and kicks him off.
I must say though, Kellan's second jump was hilarious. She looked like a starfish going down.
Michelle and I shopped for the rest of the day, and I got to try one of the Fergburgers. If any of you ever make it to Queenstown you have to check out this place. The food there is enormous, one burger easily fills up two people. It's insane.
I honestly can't remember if I did anything else that day. Whoops.
Later that night we ended up seeing the guides out at one of the pubs. This was our convo:
Dude: Hey Mel! Remember me?
Me: *thinking oh god its some freak from the other night* Umm no?
Dude: I should probably just walk away now huh?
Me: Yeah probably.
Dude: Come on! I threw you off a cliff today!
Me: ...OH! I'm so sorry! *jumps for a hug*
Everyone else: Its you guys! *hugs go all around*

Oh wait. I did just remember a highlight. Today we found out that Laura laughs like a guinea pig. We all collapsed crying and rolling around with laughter. Michelle has it on video which I must scab.

Another video instead of a photo. This is my second jump as my first one looks horrible!


Excuse my grossness. It's cold and I hadn't washed my hair. EWW. Sorry.
If you look close, there's a grotty little bear dressed as a gimp that's attached to me. It sits on my arse just before they pull the rope.
I'm hopefully going back to Queenstown this year for the snow and to do this again.

Friday 22nd May: Queenstown - Franz Josef Glacier
Today we said goodbye to Queenstown and hellllloo glacier! Another early start and a long busride if I remember correctly. We watched a couple of NZ comedies in between precious sleep.
I selected the Helihike, and despite the cost (easily the most expensive optional of the tour) it was totally worth it. We arrived late afternoon, filled out more forms before making our way to the helipad. I got to ride in a helicopter and you didn't. IT WAS SO COOL! (aha geddit?) I got a front row seat next to the pilot. Woo!
When we arrived it was actually quite warm up there. Our guide was pretty cool and lead us around the glacier for the next hour and a half.
I'm running out of ways to describe the beauty of NZ. We crawled through ice caves, up and around just taking in the scenery and drank the water from the streams until Pete pissed in it.
That night was spent at the local pub. Laura and I made fools of ourselves dancing along to all the great classics, including Blues Brothers and the Time Warp and the thing is we were sober! I made a royal arse out of myself and went to bed early.

Photo of the day:

Finding just one photo to represent the beauty of this place is hard so I had to go with a landscape one.

Saturday 23rd May: Franz Josef Glacier - Christchurch
Today was our last day with the South Islanders.
I do not remember much of this day at all. Most of it was spent on the bus me thinks, where you'd look outside on the left and see a beach and on the right  you'd see a snow covered mountain. It was so trippy.
There was some excitement about seeing some bird that's known to destroy cars or really anything mechanical. Oh and we saw fur seals! At least I'm pretty sure it was this day. The baby seals were so adorable playing in the rock pools. We visited some Jade museum and for some reason there is a giant Simpson's doughnut in the middle of nowhere.
That night, we had our final supper with our South Islanders before going out and getting royally smashed. The first stop was this karaoke bar, so I may have gone a little crazy. Outside the karaoke bar they were playing Shake a Tailfeater. I started rambling on about how this was MY song and the security guards challenged me so I did the dance. They were so impressed that they told me I could get a free ride on the mechanical bull ahahahaha.  Go me!
Everyone went a little crazy there, and quite a few people lined up for the bull. Jess managed to beat the pub's record and scored a free t-shirt!
Many a song destroyed later, we stumbled next door to some country pub where we danced around to an Irish band. Erin's awesome bouncing skins came into effect here. A few people continued onto the the 80's bar but alas I was not one of them. I think the crazy days were finally getting a hold over me.
I'm also quite proud to say I didn't cry when I said goodbye to Laura who wasn't continuing on with the tour.

Photo of the day:

Because every single time I see this photo I crack up.

And I'm spent.
I'll do part two later.


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