Friday, 26 December 2014

Kia Ora: NZ 2014

Been looking forward to this trip so badly ever since my parents told us that we were going to New Zealand, and now that we're back and as I'm looking through the photos we took on the trip, it seems pretty surreal that I was ever breathing the fresh air a midst the most startlingly beautiful landscape I've seen in my life.

The first term I learnt in the airport was, 'Kia Ora' which is a general greeting for "Hi, good day!" and I thought to myself, "oh my even their native language is beautiful ;_;" Frankly I felt like I really haven't stepped out into the world for so long but on retrospect I probably just wasn't used to seeing Caucasians (good looking ones you bet) all around. Before we landed, we got a pretty good view of the mountains near Queenstown and I was quite stunned - yellow flowers blooming in random nooks in the mountains, blue lakes, could it get better than this? And yes, it did.

The weather was pretty good, while it got really cold after the rain and at night, the temperature fluctuated between 15-20 degrees, which in contrast to the heat here was like cruising with an air conditioner everywhere. We rented a car and travelled free and easy so we had the liberty of time to stop by small towns for food or lookout points as and when we wanted to, something we all loved doing. In short, we travelled from Queenstown all the way up to Christchurch and back down to Queenstown again via a different route, stopping at a different town everyday. It's really enjoyable sitting in the back seat because all I did most of the time was admire the scenery and fall asleep but it was tiring for my mom and dad who were constantly navigating their way through. I slept so much even though I had more than enough sleep I suppose it's the weather... and food. It'll take me forever to do a complete recount so i'll just let the pictures work their magic. There were times where I felt like no picture I took could completely do the scenery I witnessed before me any justice and I wished that I could take pictures with my eyes.

Queenstown has this legendary burger place called 'Fergburger' which is amazing though I encountered great difficulty trying to stuff my face into it. We had it twice (on our first and last night) and each time the queue was insane. 

 Fiordland National Park en route to Milford Sound

 The water from the stream was so clear and clean we filled up all our empty bottles with it. As good if not better than manufactured mineral water - the real deal!

 So Fish 'n' Chips practically became part of our daily diet (hahaha right diet). Oh and those mussels... *salivates*

 Our trusty four wheel drive!

Bungy-jumping was a highlight of the trip for sure! Honestly I don't know where all that courage came from but watching people jump off from that platform just emboldened me and we had to make a snap decision as they were closing soon. My brother and I literally went "let's just YOLO la" and before we knew it we were on the Kawarau Bridge, all strapped up and ready to go. I was strangely calm, until I reached the edge and my heart went "uh oh..." which was momentarily gone when the crew made me wave to my parents and the camera by the sides. But then the countdown came... and I took a leap of faith. It was the SCARIEST few seconds ever because there was nothing holding you back and there was just this sensation of crashing into the water below, until my feet were caught by the cord. I screamed (again) on the rebound. And though after being lowered into the raft I was a little shaky, I couldn't stop smiling and it was the best feeling ever. Like there was nothing else you couldn't conquer hahaha and I would have regretted not doing this.

Maze Runners  ^^

We got to see an actual glacier! We went for a tour for this and I was quite amused that the 13 odd people on the tour were all Singaporeans haha we even saw one group of them the next day in a different town. Got to learn some pretty interesting stuff about the glacial waters and all it was like a geography field trip! But it's a pity the weather conditions forbade us to explore further otherwise we could actually have touched the glacier.

Pancake Rocks (no for real they are really called Pancake Rocks for the way they're formed)

After a few days of bad weather... the sun came up again! 

 And my favourite of all the places,

 The beautiful Lake Tekapo.

I'm seriously still in awe of this place. It's so serene, the waters are of shades of azure blue and turquoise, shimmering under the sun, with the absolutely gorgeous backdrop of snow-capped mountains.

Later we went up to the Mount John Observatory, which houses some really large telescopes but unfortunately they can only be used on the night tours which we didn't sign up for. The view was nonetheless rewarding - this was the place I really desired a 360 deg lens or something, something to capture a 360 deg view.

Taken by my dad from our self-contained unit at sunset, when the mountains glow. Lake Tekapo is actually dubbed as one of the best places in NZ for star-gazing because of its completely unobstructed views. That night, we saw a sky that was literally full of stars, like those galaxy photos on tumblr, save for the nebulae and the other stuff. I wanted to lie down on the front porch and just gaze the stars but it was freezing cold. We spent a few hours trying to capture the stars using our cameras but well I had absolutely no luck with it because a couple of pitch black photos remain in my media today. But what a sight it was, it was like someone sprinkled an excess of glitter onto the sky.

 Trekked for around 3 hours on this trail in the Mount Cook National Park and missed our lunch that day because we thought the estimated 1.5 hours was a trip back and forth but turns out it was 1.5 hours there and another 1.5 back again.

After days of not exercising... it was admittedly hard but it was worth it. 

Wild lupins which grow all over and bring colour to the landscape. Can you believe that these lupins are actually considered weeds?! I think they're the prettiest weeds I've ever seen. Anyway, I removed quite a few weeds for them and brought them home hehehe

On board the Christchurch city tram. My brother had really terrible dried lips which explains his pose. 

"MEEHHHH" They actually replied us when we meh-ed at them.

One of my favourite things was that because it was summer, the days were long and nights were short. This picture was taken at around 8+pm! We never had to travel in the dark and it also meant that we could still have a good view of the attractions even at 9pm, when the sun starts to set. 

Last sunset returning from Glenorchy, the place where Lord of the Rings was filmed. 

Skyline of Queenstown. 

Because we didn't want to be late for our flight on the last day, we couldn't take the luge, which i had no idea originated from there! My brother wanted to try it so badly we actually went to Sentosa when we returned to take it. 

It's not everyday you get to be completely rid of worries and experience a freedom like this, or have your mom spontaneously ask for a family selfie. I felt like what I saw before me was so breathtakingly amazing, it would be selfish not to share it. I needed to share it. So thanks for reading this anyway :) Though it's a really lengthy post, it made me really happy to write this and relive those memories. Memories fade for sure, which is why this has to go somewhere. 

Merry Christmas everyone! 

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