Monday, May 7, 2012

from christchurch to queenstown

You know it's bad when writing an opening paragraph for something on your own blog feels like the strangest thing to do. Anyway, I figured I'd at least try to blog about my NZ trip, instead of hoping my memories don't give out 25 years later or something.

So yes! New Zealand. Denise and I headed for a 6-day trip to the South Island almost a month ago, and we went on a "self-guided tour", which basically means that your accommodation and transportation are arranged, but there's no one tour guide to shepherd you around. It's not necessarily a bad thing to travel this way as opposed to the DIY self-discovery long drives that NZ seems to be built for, because if you only have a short time there, getting someplace fast is a good thing - there's a looooot of ground to cover if you wanna see everything. Plus, you learn things from the bus drivers who take you around that you wouldn't probably have known if you travel yourself.

We landed in Christchurch but our time there was short; it was almost sunset by the time we checked in and stopped groaning about the 10-hour flight.

Dorset House, Christchurch

Dorset House was our home for the night, and yes, it's a really pretty place :) The only thing about it is that it is a bit of distance from the city centre (which we never got to see wtf). Otherwise, they pretty much have everything you need and D loved it because of the 100MB complimentary wifi that they provided -.-

First impressions of New Zealand:

Lake Pukaki

It's a really lonely place.

Well okay fine this was taken along one of the highways, but still. I'd expected Christchurch to be bigger and more populated, but any building higher than 2 storeys there kinda stuck out. And the suburbs looked something like this:

Geraldine, NZ

This is actually Geraldine, one of the towns where we stopped for a while but most of the small towns there looked somewhat like this. And I couldn't comprehend it when we passed by the TINY town of Tarras, which would probably fit comfortably into one floor in Pavilion, because I'd never understood what a "small town" meant until then.

One of the most popular routes to take if you're heading south from Christchurch is to pass by Lake Tekapo and Aoraki Mount Cook, both of which are great for photos (yes, I'm a nerd). One of the most photographed things at Lake Tekapo is the Church of the Good Shepherd...

Church of the Good Shepherd

... and it is hands down, the church with the best view in the world :)

View from altar in Church of the Good Shepherd

Seriously. I've had my fair share of chapels and cathedrals during my '09 summer in Europe, and lavish splendour à la Rome's St. Peter's is one thing, but never have I seen a church with a view at the altar overlooking a lake.

Speaking of lakes, another thing I noticed was the insane colouring of some of the many lakes we saw during the trip:

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

This is Lake Pukaki, another lake we stopped at shortly after Lake Tekapo, and the water in both lakes are a solid turquoise shade. WHY. WHAT SORCERY IS THIS. It's only much later that I realised that it was probably due to minerals, but I sure was stressing for a bit trying to figure out why the water looked like it was coloured with some kindergartener's crayon.

After about half a day's driving we arrived at Mount Cook, where lunch came with a view at the Edmund Hilary Alpine Centre:

Edmund Hilary Alpine Centre

There's a Hermitage Hotel there too, which is cleverly built right at the bottom of these massive mountains:

Hermitage Hotel

I think there are trails for people who wanna take walks/hikes around that area, but sadly we only had enough time to make manic squirrel runs to take a few photos before we had to get on the bus again. Still wasn't too bad though, because with landscapes like Mount Cook's, even a 10 minute walk will give you pretty awesome photos...

Mount Cook National Park

Mount Cook National Park

Mount Cook

(I'm using the last one as my wallpaper now :P)

And that's it for the first part of the trip; next up, my favourite place - Queenstown!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

hello, world

Yup, it's that time again where I fuss about blog layouts and whatnot.

AJ Hackett The Ledge Queenstown bungy jump

So I'm trying this because Blogger's dynamic views are weird and stuff and I just want a wiiiiiide space for photos. Testing, testing.