Saturday, January 2, 2010

Waiting out the rain

It is pouring down buckets of rain right now so we're waiting it out at our hostel in Fox Glacier along the West Coast of the South Island. After escaping from Jack's we rented a car in Westport for a tour of the South Island. It's been really fun and we've seen a ton. We won't recount every step of the way, but you can browse through the pictures here:

South Island Roadtrip Part I

One of the highlights for sure was our visit to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. As we mentioned briefly in our New Year's post, we spent two nights at the New Zealand Alpine Club lodge over New Year's. It was windy and cloudy over the mountains for most of our visit, but on the morning we left, Mount Cook was visible:

It's an amazing sight, and then as we were driving away we stopped for more pictures at a viewpoint:

We went to Queenstown for a night, and wow was it packed with tourists. All the hostels were full so we ended up renting a tent for the night and camping at a campground in town. We can't believe how they pack people into the campgrounds here. It's pretty standard to put caravans and tents right next to one another. And it's not cheap! It would have been nice to get out in the backcountry here but we don't really have the right equipment (i.e., no stove, tent) and to stay in a hut costs about 50% more than staying in a hostel.

We're enjoying the West Coast as it's less touristy and when it's not raining (about half the time) the views and walks are great. We also had fun picking up hitchhikers yesterday. We gave a Swiss kid a ride (he was a former UN soldier in Africa) and then we drove these two teenagers across the island. They were doing what they called the "amusing race" where two teams of two were racing around the island only by hitchhiking. Ah, what crazy stuff the NZ youth do! We thought it was funny that they even stopped with us and walked down to a waterfall along the way:

We'll be back in Westport by Tuesday to return the car, then we're taking the TranzAlpine train across the island to Christchurch. It's supposed to be super scenic, and although we've already driven the road across, the train follows a different route.

And, in other news, we've booked our tickets out of New Zealand. We have been watching fares from New Zealand to Southeast Asia and the tickets we bought seem like a good deal. We're flying out of Christchurch on the South Island so we don't have to travel back to Auckland which is good. We fly to Singapore for five nights on January 25, then on to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia on the 30th. You can check our finance and calendar pages for more details. We've already sent out some couchsurfing requests for both Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. It actually looks like there are some cool hosts in both places.

Given that we have three more weeks in New Zealand we're going to try and WWOOF one more time before we leave. We have some leads on farms in the south. But if that doesn't work out, we're enjoying being tourists.

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