Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Adventures With "Stray"

        We arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand after a long day of traveling all the way from Coonabarabran, Australia.  We were greeted by another Wake hockey fan (Lizzie Rae’s mum) in the airport.  It was so nice of her to come pick us up at 11:45 pm on a Friday night.  Jess and I were, once again, blessed with our own rooms and beds for our last night in a home before we headed out on the backpacker trail…
            We woke up after about 4 hours of sleep to embark on our bus trip to Graymouth.  We had to take the public bus from Christchurch to Graymouth where we were meeting the Stray Bus (Stray Travel is the company we used for our transportation around NZ).  We spent a while waiting for our bus, and in the mean time, we met a lovely South African lady named, Reene.  We soon discovered that she was going to be traveling with our same bus company for the next 10 days and all became fast friends.  We arrived in Graymouth with about 1.5 hours until we needed to board our Stray bus.  Jessica and I filled the time by going for a walk around the city, eating lunch, and shopping for some groceries.  Once we saw the orange bus rounding the corner we hustled over to the bus stop so we could get to the front of the line and reserve good seats.  Little did we know, our fast pace walk wasn’t going to help.  We approached the bus driver, Pinky, to check in and it appeared that somehow I was on the list but Jessica’s name was nowhere to be found.  Certain there was a mistake we made the bus driver check again, but as people from the bus passed us they told us this happens all the time. That’s when we started to worry.  We spent about half an hour on the phone with the bus company and talking to the bus driver before we finally talked our way onto the bus.  After all of our efforts to get good seats we ended up in the very back corner of the bus.  It turned out not to be such a bad thing because we made friends with a lot of the kids in the back of the bus.  2-hours later we ended up at our first destination, Franz Josef.  Franz Josef is a very small mountain town with extremely good-looking men.  Before we even made it to our hostel for the night, we stopped to book our reservation for our glacier hike the next day… this is where Jessica fell in love with the beautiful men.  After we all booked our reservations we headed to the hostel to check in. Reene, Jessica and I signed up to share a four-bedroom en-suite with free tea and coffee and our own bathroom.  For $4 more a night we could have all these amenities, and plus, we’re just a little more high maintenance than most of the other backpackers.   We couldn’t have been happier with our decision especially because our big sister (Reene) woke us up with a fresh cup of tea and coffee every morning. What a treat!
            After we unpacked and settled in we walked over to the restaurant for dinner.  Along the way we passed by the kitchen that was filled with fellow backpackers cooking their own dinner.  This is when we realized we were amateur backpackers.  With our tail between our legs we had no choice but to eat dinner at the restaurant, but this was the last time we were going to let that happen.  After a less than mediocre meal we hung around the bar meeting new friends for a little while, but called in an early night in preparation for our extreme glacier hike the following day. 

Jessica and Reene in Franz Josef
         We were scheduled to hike at 8 am, so were told to arrive a little early. We, well mainly myself (Jessica), thought it would be a good idea to arrive a little early (the guides were beautiful). On our walk over we realized that we weren’t quite sure where to go, so being a woman and not afraid to ask for directions, I stopped the next person I saw. Which turned to be my golden ticket, because it turned out that he was one of the guides, and he personally escorted us to the building. He took us the short-cut route, which happened to be through the back and conveniently passed by all the other guides, who all started to clap for our new friend, TJ. I had already started to succeed in my mission to befriend the glacier guides. We proceeded to check in when we were given the unfortunate news that our time had been pushed back to 10:30 due to the weather. I wasn’t too upset because this now meant that I could go get another cup of coffee. After killing some time at the coffee shop we headed back to the glacier shop. We got there and they told us that we had been pushed back again, to 12:45 this time! I mean I was irritated, but I just used this time to give them grief, in a flirtatious manner. We hung around at the shop for a while, meeting a lot of the different guides. We decided to go back to our hostel and pack lunch, because weren’t set to leave till almost 1 pm now, and it was a 3.5 hour hike. 
Top Gun...need I say more. 

         We got back to the hostel and this is where something beautiful happened. We discovered our theme song for our time in New Zealand, “Can’t Keep It In” by Cat Stevens. (I am now forcing each and everyone of you to go play this song—you won’t regret it). This song became my pump-up song throughout the trip and I am the first to admit that I repeated it an unhealthy/obnoxious amount. After that moment, I knew that nothing could go wrong. We made our way back down, and we were finally given the go, so we made our way to the heli-pad. Now, since you all obeyed me and listened to the song, I now want you to close your eyes and imagine the three of us walking in all our gear to the heli-pad, with this song playing. That is Hollywood material right their folks. If I am being honest I wouldn’t be surprised if we had a few offers to pick us up as a reality TV show and what not, just saying. Oh, I forgot to tell you the best part, we got stuck with a girl for our guide. Some may say karma, but I think it was just the good Lord protecting us from getting into no good. So we boarded our helicopter and made our way to the glacier. We spent a little over two hours hiking up the glacier, with our intense crampons, and exploring different ice caves. Hiking the glacier was one of the coolest things I have done and it is definitely a must if you are ever in New Zealand. I mean the men make it a must the scenery is just a plus (kidding). Don’t worry Kevin, this was solo mission, plus I get more attention that way haha.

Inside an ice cave
Crampons = weeding out the weak

Real smile. 
Fake smile. 
All Natural.

Franz Josef Glacier In The Background

Next Stop Milan

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