This entry will be a bit staggered timeline-wise. In reality we went Queenstown to Fiordland to Dunedin but it's easier to explain if Fiordland is in its own category. Anyway, on to Queenstown. This smallish town is known for its tourist industry, extreme sports, night life, and good food. It certainly did not disappoint! On our first day we did the gondola ride above the city, something I would definitely suggest despite its price. There's a great view of the town from the viewing area but I'd urge you to do at least some of the walks above it as well! We made our way to a viewpoint at the top of the hill and the extra work was definitely worth it. It was another beautiful day, so you could see all the way down Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding Remarkables mountains (yes, that's their real name). We hung out there for a bit, then headed down for a breather before exploring Queenstown at night. We didn't really go out ($9 for a beer!!) but we did walk around the town. And get Fergburger. Never forget the Fergburger. They are cheap (by NZ standards), delicious, and huge! It's all New Zealand cattle/deer/sheep/chicken and it's all delicious. Definitely one of the highlights in my opinion. And don't worry, if you want to try it you will have no problem finding the restaurant. Every time we went by it was filled with people, many of them pouring onto the surrounding side walk.
The next day the boys headed off for the Kepler track, a Great Walk near Te Anau, and Kylie and I stayed in Queenstown. I needed some serious sleep (travelling is exhausting!) so I slept in a bit and then met up with Kylie in the afternoon. We found a nice little track near town that led to a beach and enjoyed some more of the sunshine. The next day we headed to the Glenorchy side of the Routeburn, another Great Walk, and it was absolutely spectacular! The forest had a very 'fairy tale' feel to it and the views from Falls Hut were amazing! Another great highlight. Also, if you ever do a Great Walk, get excited because the trails are pretty much like highways, which is nice. The next day we headed to Fiordland, which I'll save till the next entry.
But after Fiordland we headed to Dunedin. Unfortunately, due to time/money we cut out Irvancargill and the catlins and cut straight across to Dunedin, where we met up with Emily (another girl from Linfield). She graciously let us stay in her flat, which was a nice break from hostels. The day we got there was apparently the day of Otago's annual kegger, so Kylie and I got to see some great costumes on the way to Emily's flat! You had to buy tickets, so we didn't go, but Emily and I went downtown that night, which was really fun! By the way, Dunedin is also famous for its student nightlife. The next day we went on a tour of the Otago Peninsula, which was definitely worth it. We got to see royal albatross, yellow eyed penguins, blue penguins, sea lions, and fur seals. We were so close to the sea lions that one of them actually started following the group! I found it money well spent. The next day we toured the Cadbury factory. It was definitely chocolate overload but so good at the same time. That afternoon Emily, Kylie, and I went to Tunnel Beach. It's a cool beach about 20 minutes outside of Dunedin (by car) where a dad had literally dug a tunnel through limestone to this beach for his daughter. It had some really cool limestone formations and --despite getting lost on the way there-- well worth the trip. The next day we headed back to Christchurch, since we were exhausted from travelling so much. I did make a pit stop at the Moarki Boulders, though, which I would definitely check out. They look like rock marbles thrown onto the beach.
Last night in Christchurch a big group and I went to our first rugby match! Despite the fact that I rarely knew what was going on, it was still loads of fun and I would totally suggest it. Besides, it's New Zealand--you HAVE to go to a rugby match. It's hard to imagine that this awesome three-week break is coming to an end, but tomorrow begins term 2. I'll let you know how it goes. Till next time!