A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: sophie.lee

Girls On Tour!

Girly road trip to Abel Tasman

sunny 25 °C

We get up early to start our road trip. First stop, breakfast. Second stop, Kmart, where we have to buy each other compulsory Girls on Tour costumes. Catherine got Hollie a big red sparkly bow, Hollie got Catherine a turtle rubber ring and a pink sparkly top hat, Laura got me some geeky glasses and a ginger rat’s tail (there’s A LOT of rats tails going on in New Zealand!) and I got Laura a kids snorkelling set that look like a frog! All ready with the essentials, we crammed into Catherine’s car, aptly names Poo Brown and head off.

We stop off at Kaikoura for a quick lunch (okay, cider!) and see some sea lions. Laura got attacked by a swarm of flies whilst exploring some rocks (hehe). We see miles and miles of gorgeous New Zealand scenery and play car games for hours and hours. We finally reach Nelson just as it was getting dark, and have a bit of a panic as we hadn’t sorted out any accommodation. Laura was hungry as well, and a hungry Laura = a scary Laura! We find a holiday park and in the dark set up our tent. None of had a clue what to do apart from our local Kiwi guide Catherine. I stood there and handed out pegs. That’s how useful I was in the process!! After setting up, Catherine and Laura went to go get food and me and Hollie set up home for the night. We had to get up extra early in the morning so it was a (sort of) early night with fits and giggles. My first proper night of camping was in full flow and I loved every single minute of it.

Bright and early the next day, we packed up and headed to the Sea Kayak Company base where we were to get trained in kayaking! By this point I was getting a bit nervous. I’ve only kayaked a couple of time for an hour at a time. But this was sea kayaking; we didn’t have a guide so we had to navigate ourselves! First lesson of the day, how to get out of your kayak if it capsizes! GREAT! It was all straightforward enough, so then we pack our kayaked full of tent gear, clothes, food and ALCHOHOL! Ready to go, we get taken to the sea and after a few tests on manoeuvring our kayaks we are set free into the wild!

It was unbelievable. The sea was calm. The sky was clear. It took us about 3 hours to get to our campsite and that included a lunch stop on a deserted beach. The campsite was awesome, a sheltered kitchen area, proper toilets, a BBQ! All around the corner from the beach. LUSH! We set up camp, a lot more successfully than the night before, because we were all camping professionals by then. The only slight problem was that the bees and wasps seemed to take a liking to me and Hollie. We worked out after a while they must have been attracted to my bathing suit (bright flowers? Probably!) And it was then I instantly regretted having it! I got over it quite quickly! The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring. We walked to the Cleopatra Pools where the rocks have formed into a slide, but the water was absolutely freezing so I only managed to quickly dip in and out of the water. We got back to camp a couple of hours later, chaffed, sweaty and hungry (get Laura some food NOW!) so we had a couple of drinks whilst starting our dinner. Packet of carbonara pasta anyone? It took a lot longer than expected, and came out a lot more watery than we were expecting… one of the most funniest things ever trying to eat that food! Overall it was a fantastic evening, booze flowing and lots of laughter.

The next morning we woke a little sore headed and started to pack up our stuff. The bees and wasps returned to haunt me, so I spent part of the morning running away from them! We packed up our kayaks (we are professionals at this now!) and start our trip up the remaining of the reserve. We were expecting quite an easy time, as we believed we would have some tailwind helping us along. This could not be further from the truth! The wind was not on our side, and the sea was slightly rough. I was in charge of navigating (bad idea!) and we ended up doing 2 solid hours of kayaking right to the place where we were being picked up! We were very early of course but we didn’t mind as we chilled on a beach, made noodles for lunch (a lot more successful than the carbonara) and had a bit of a sunbathe.

We have a water taxi ride back to the base. The skipper was taking the mick out of us because of the amount of stuff we had! We didn’t think it was that much! A lot of the laughs were about the empty wine/vodka/gin bottles! Girls gotta have fun eh? There was 8 people on the water taxi, plenty of space to enjoy the ride back… until they started putting the kayaks on! It took 4 very strong guys about 20mins to put 8 kayaks onto the back of the water taxi (we got some great close ups of one of the guys bums… hehe). The ride itself took about 20mins and covered all the distance we made over the past few days, and I must say was very impressed with how far we kayaked. Abel Tasman is so beautiful… it reminds me of a Thai beach.

After being dropped off, we headed back to Nelson and found ourselves some beds so we could sleep off the floor for a change! After we cleaned ourselves up we headed out for a celebratory meal… celebrating the fact we survived! We had such a fun night… a proper girly night :)

The next day we made our way to Picton, where the girls would drop me off and head back home. We drove the Queen Charlotte drive, which was a windy road that had gorgeous views of Marlborough Sounds. We found my hostel, checked me in and then had fish and chips in Poo Brown overlooking a harbour. And then it was the time where the girls had to go and I carry on with the rest of my travels. I got a little emotional when saying goodbye, I had such an amazing time with such amazing people. I enjoyed every second of the Girls on Tour road trip, and have made memories that I will never forget!

Posted by sophie.lee 21:54 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Fox Glacier, Punakaiki and Christchurch

all seasons in one day

Hello my lovelies,

So to start off my trip, I got myself a free car relocation from Queenstown to Christchurch. It turned out I got a REALLY nice car (it had buttons for EVERYTHING!) and I had 2 days to drop it off in Christchurch, where I was also going to meet Laura and Catherine to start our road trip. I drove to Fox Glacier first and stayed on Ricole’s sofa. Ricole is a friend who I met through Marie. She’s a kiwi and works in Fox and was kind enough to put me up AND get me a free helihike onto the glacier in the morning! Such a star.

The helihike was awesome. I’ve only ever been on a helicopter once, in New York with my mum and sister. With a group and a guide, we flew to the glacier and landed on it. Then it was time to get geared up. We were given these claw things that tie to the bottom of your boots. It was pretty small and I wasn’t too sure whether it would stop me from slipping. Very important when you are walking on ice! The trick is to trust the grips and you can just walk normally on the ice. We were shown around the glacier, going through tunnels, over streams. It was pretty epic! We then got picked back up in the helicopter and dropped back to town.

After saying my goodbyes to Ricole, I started driving up the west coast to Punakaiki. Massive cliffs and amazing beaches, rainforest inland… it as completely different to the bare mountains around Queenstown. I stayed at the cutest retreat, tucked away in the rainforest, a 10 minute walk to the Beach. I had my own room in a tiny lodge; there was no internet or reception for my phone. So relaxing! The next morning I went to go see the Pancake Rocks which are rocks that look like pancakes (duh!). I wasn’t really expecting much, but they were pretty cool! It’s weird how these things happen and no one knows how it happened! Bit like the Moeraki Boulders on the east coast.

I then started the long journey to Christchurch through Arthurs Pass. I cannot go on enough about the landscape of this country. I’m so glad I decided to drive instead of get the bus. I drove down never ending straight roads through the plains, steep winding roads of the valleys, saw unbelievable sights. Every new turn a new horizon amazed me. I was literally driving around going “WOW!””WOW!” I stopped for a photo opportunity and when the car stopped, a massive BANG hit the roof. Then scratching noises and something that sound like someone was hammering the top of the car! I slowly get out and see a massive bird (later finding out it was a Kea) trying to eat the car! Cheeky! After about 10 minutes of trying to get it off, it finally flew away and I took this chance to drive off. Apparently, Kea’s are known for doing a lot of damage to cars.

When I started off in Punakaiki, the weather was miserable. Then went inland and it was a glorious day. Started going through the mountains and it grey and raining. Turn the corner and then there are blue skies! Another thing I can’t get over is how quickly the climate and the weather changes here! You have to be prepared for all occasions.

After a very long drive, I finally arrived in Christchurch, dropped off the car and immediately met up with Laura at a pub with her friend Hollie who is also coming on the road trip with us! A couple of wines later, Catherine shows up and takes us to her house where we get ready for the start of GIRLS ON TOUR!!

To be continued…

Posted by sophie.lee 12:06 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

The End Of Queenstown


Hey Everyone!

The Blog is back! After nearly 10 months of living in Queenstown, it is now my time to leave on a brand new adventure. Happy Days! I’m really excited for what’s to come, but the feeling was bittersweet when I had to say goodbye to all my friends. I have met so many wonderful people in Queenstown and it is always sad to say goodbye.

I spent my Queenstown days mostly working! I ended up with 3 jobs at the end – Reception for my accommodation at a great hostel called Bumbles, housekeeping in the day at come 5 star holiday apartments, and waitressing in the evening at Ballarat. I transferred there from Winnies, the pizza bar I first worked at. The team at Ballarat were amazing and I had an amazing time working with them and sometimes having one to many staffs with them!

Christmas and New Year was amazing. I wasn’t really looking forward to it as I know I would miss all my family and friends back home (especially Mum’s Christmas Dinner!) The people I spent Christmas with really made it. I spent the morning with the girls at the hostel; we had Christmas dinner outside in the 30degree heat and then ended up jumping in the lake because we were so hot! I then pottered round to Ruby & Jens and had a 2nd Christmas dinner with them and the nicest group of people I have met. We ended the day on the lakefront, getting a tad tipsy with nearly everyone else in Queenstown! Great day! New Year I had to working both evening and morning, but that didn’t stop me! I left Ballarat at 2am partied with everyone till 7am and then had to get up at 8am for a 14 hour work day! It wasn’t too bad because everyone was in the same boat and it was actually one of my favourite shifts ever in restaurants on New Year’s Day :)

At the beginning of December my friend Abby came to visit from Sydney. I ended up getting her to jump off a cliff (or be pushed!), showed her the nightlife of Queenstown (so many jagerbombs!) and went to the races for a day! We close when on a mini road trip to Wanaka. I had such a great time with such a good friend, and I can’t wait to see her in Sydney!

A few weeks before leaving Queenstown, me and another friend Marie went on a road trip. We drove to Oamaru on the East coast and up to Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook. Driving around New Zealand is fantastic. Every turn you see something new and beautiful. We saw sea lions messing around on the beach and in the sea, and got really close to a couple of them too! We saw some penguins too (they stink!). It really geared me up for my 3 weeks road trip around the remainder of New Zealand.

My last week in Queenstown was one of the best. I moved out of Bumbles into Ruby & Jens flash new pad. I hardly worked which is always good! I spent Waitangi Day with the Ballarat crew, listening to reggae in the park and getting up to mischief  I went to Shotover Sunshine festival which had so many good Kiwi bands and loads of people I knew were there. Such a good day! The sun was shining and everyone was happy. I went to the reception of my bosses wedding and had plenty of time to get myself ready and say my goodbyes to everyone.
I’m currently one week into my road trip and loving every single minute of it. The next few days I’m going to try and get up to date with this blog!

Much love xx

Posted by sophie.lee 17:45 Archived in New Zealand Comments (2)

Living in Queenstown

This is the Queenstown Life!


Hey guys and girls,

First a big apology for not updating this blog sooner. The winter in Queenstown has been busy busy busy! I'l try and update you all now :)

So first off I ended up getting a job at a Pizza Bar in town called Winnies. Makes the most amazing pizza ever (honestly, its true) but Im waitressing which isn't really what I want to do with my life but heyho, Its a job! Got to meet some pretty cool people there aswell. Ive been there ever since and at the moment its pretty quiet so not really getting alot of hours but that okay, because I ended up getting promoted at the Hostel where I am living. So instead of cleaning toilets everyday I get to be on reception. I'm so lucky to of landed this job because it means I get to try out all the activities around here FOR FREE! All part of job ;) Working on reception means I have to stay living in the hostel for at least another 6 months (5 now... Im counting it down!) As much as I like the job, and the people I live with are lovelies, I miss having my own space and it can get a bit much having 6 people in the same room. No privacy whatsoever. That is maybe the only downside, because there is always company here :) Which is good because being on the otherside of the world can get hard and can get lonely. I didnt realise how difficult it would be being away from you all, but do not fear, I've got some pretty special people looking after me :)

Most of my time I'm trying to make money so I can go see this beautiful country. I have had 2 days off in the last 2 months (no joke!) but it means I have been able to save, save, save so I'll actually have some interesting things to tell u :)

I have to admit, its not all been work! I've had some amazing adventures whilst being here. One of the best days of my life was when me and a couple of girls from work went to Cadrona Ski Resort for a day of snow fun! Now, I haven't skiied in over 10 years, so I was pretty nervous. One of the girls, Bridget, its practically a professional skiier and the other two Jenny and Chloe are the cool snowboarders! Chloe was doing all sorts of tricks and jumping off stuff. That was pretty awesome. Anyhow, they looked after me and to my suprise I wasn't half bad! It was a gorgeous clear day, the views were unreal and I even survived tumbling down a Black Run (blame Bridget!) Amazing day, one I will not forget :)

I also got to go to Milford and Doughtful Sound in Fiordland. Beautiful places, mountains coming out of the sea. Got to Kayak in Doubtful Sound which was so remote and beautiful and stayed overnight on Doubtful Sound. The weather was pretty miserable but it made the waterfalls even more impressive. And we all know how I love waterfalls :)

Im starting to get into all the activities in Queenstown. I did the Canyon Swing which was so scray but so much fun! I can wait to do it again :) I did some paragliding the other day and nearly threw up midair... nearly! Thats was awesome, the views, the fact I was flying! Ah brilliant times! Im going to be doing some whitewater frafting soon, some rock climbing maybe a skydive! haha I'l keep you posted.

I know this is short but sweet but Im supposed to be working :) best get back to it!

Love to you all :) xxxx

Posted by sophie.lee 23:01 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

An Update of Boredom!

sunny 8 °C

Hello folks,

I’m really enjoying Queenstown. This place is so beautiful! I didn’t hear back from Luciano’s about the job – their loss I say! But I have had a trial shift at another restaurant called Flame, which is apparently one of the most popular restaurants in Queenstown! And I think it went really well, so fingers crossed I get the job and then I’m sorted for the winter. Coronet Peak (one of the mountains) opens next week for skiing so the season is about to start and I am so ready for it. It’s really boring not having any money, all I’ve been doing in baking cakes and watching films! I’m still enjoying working at Bumbles, I’m meeting new people and having a chilled out time before the craziness of the ski season starts. It has been difficult at times, missing just being able to pop round my friend’s house and see you all.

I’ve played a few rounds of Frisbee golf the past week. Frisbee golf is like golf but with a Frisbee believe it or not! It’s really fun, but I’m really bad at it. Still working on the technique of just throwing the Frisbee! I may buy myself my own Frisbee so I can go play it loads and get better at it! Honest I can only throw it about 6 feet away! Lots of fun though.

Jenny and Sara, the two girls I had met in Asia and then again in Sydney and Auckland arrived in Queenstown for a couple of days last week. It was really good to see familiar faces and we played some Frisbee gold then went to the ice bar and got very cold while sipping cocktails out of ice glasses! We then had a good night out and they left the next day to go to America to carry on with their travels. I’m very jealous; it is very difficult going from moving around all the time and seeing loads of great things to doing nothing and staying in one place for weeks on end!

And then things got bad, because I started having toothache! NO!!!! Been to the dentist today and a root canal is in order :( bad times! Hehe its okay gives me something to do for the day.

Sorry this blog is by no means interesting; I haven’t been doing anything interesting! Give me time and I will have loads of good stories to tell you.

Until then,

Soph xx

Posted by sophie.lee 21:50 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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