The next day, I rose from my bed early as I was catching the bus at 8.40am and I didn’t want to miss it. After showing and eating breakfast, I took my stuff down the stairs to the common area to link to the Wifi and wait for the bus.
A little late, the stray bus arrived with a new driver heading to a new destination: Mount Cook. Saying goodbye to Queenstown, probably one of my favourite places in New Zealand, we speedily headed back on the same road in to Cromwell, where we had a twenty minute stop for a coffee and toilet break, where there was a statue of huge fruit to symbolise the city. Then we went on the road pass a tiny village called Tarras, which is famous for a sheep with the biggest coat. The school children in the village created and published a book about Shrek the sheep and the story behind him, which was an interesting read.
We had quick photo opportunities along the way including a mountain range and the gorgeous, baby blue Lake Pukaki. It was such an incredible sight. Eventually, we arrived in Mount Cook, where the weather started stirring with grey clouds and fog so we couldn’t see the top of Mount Cook. In the hostel, we checked in, dumped our bag and layered up for the walk.
About a dozen of us jumped on the bus to be taken to the carpark for the Hooker Valley hike. The walk was through the valleys with mountain towering over us on both side and a river flowing parallel to the path. I had never done a walk like this before with the stunning views. Majority of the track was flat but stony so it wasn’t a hard walk. The only downer was that about half way to the end of the one-way path, it started to rain: just constant, miserable rain. With my Thai rain plastic bag on, we trundled to the end of the path, over wobbly, safe bridge to Hooker Glacier Lake. The lake was a picture with sporadic pieces of ice floating on the lake. I kind of wanted to see penguin on them but unfortunately there aren’t any there.
Facing the rain and the cold, we strolled speedily along the same path to the car park, keeping our focus on getting back rather than the scenery. I was walking mainly with a French girl who hadn’t put many clothes on so she was freezing. While warming ourselves up in a little room, dreading the walk back to the hostel, a guy offered us a lift back to our accommodation. We were so happy and grateful. Success! As we were driving out, we picked up a couple of more travellers from the Stray bus too.
Back at the hostel, I striped my wet clothes and hung them up around the room, and then lavished myself with hot water from the shower. It was bliss, warming one bone at a time.
In the evening, we just cooked dinner, put up our feet in the common area, eating snacks before heading to bed to rest the body for the night.
The next day, once we had consumed breakfast and placed our bags on the bus, we set off towards Christchurch. We were meant to be having an overnight stay in Rangitata but due to the lake of power because of the earthquake, the bus were advice to have a night in Christchurch instead. I wasn’t overly disappointed as I had heard that it didn’t have much to do except the white water rafting, which got cancelled owing to the terrible weather. It also meant not waking up super early the next day.
Our first coffee break was in Tekapo, where I went to the toilet and purchased a soy latte to wake me up. We bused it around the corner to ‘The Church of the Good Shepherd’ viewpoint, which overlooked the tranquil Lake Tekapo with these beautiful, purple flowers swishing gently in the wind. Inside the quaint, little church was the most perfect window with an amazing sight (unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take photos).
Back on the bus, we travelled to a town called Geraldine for lunch. First we walked to the cheese shop on the other side of town, where we could get free samples of about 15 different type of cheeses. They were so tasty with so many different flavours. I ended up buying one called Mt Peel, which was a strong-flavoured, blue, soft variety. I would have to eat it all within a few day as I was flying out but that wasn’t going to be a problem.
Then I wandered around town, observing the largest jumper in NZ, picking up some sweets from the superstore, buying a hat and sunglasses for the next part of my trip and taking advantage of the free wifi. After, we packed back on the bus to Christchurch. It didn’t take too long but by the time we reached the hostel, it was around 4pm. We lodged at the hostel I originally stayed at when I first got to New Zealand. Once we had checked in, we took our bags to our room and chilled.
In the evening, I made some food then sat on the balcony with the 2 Austrians and a French girl, where we slurped on some wine. When we finished the bottle, we headed to the pub next to our accommodation for a beer. We only stayed for one as it was extremely quiet so we went back to the hostel, where we joined a group of travellers outside chatting, all from various countries. One of the guys drove us in his van to the shop but it wasn’t open so we just hung out in the freezing cold until we decided to go to bed.
The following day, I actually had a bit of a lie-in but I still had to get up as check-out was at 10am. Once I had sorted myself out, I waited in the reception area for a friend to pick me up. This friend is someone I was close to at college but we kind of lost contact so the last time I saw her was about 6 years ago. Her mum works with my mum so we found out we would be in Christchurch at the same time as she is currently living there.
Soon enough she collected me from the hostel and took me back to her house. The weather was awful with gushes of rain constantly throughout the day. Therefore, we just caught up all morning, ordering some fish and chips before she had to go to work. It was so lovely finding out about her live. Some point in the afternoon her boyfriend came in, where we talked for a bit before he disappeared.
For the rest of the day, I just sorted out photos, researched some things and wrote more of my blog. I had a shower before going to bed quite early as I was feeling exhausted.
With my alarm waking me up at 4.00am, I grudgingly got out from under the covers to brush my teeth, shove some clothes on and pack the rest of my bag. I was leaving New Zealand. My friend kindly took me, travelling about 10 minutes to the airport. I simply and tiresomely waited in the queue to check in then go through security. I spent the last of the New Zealand cash and sat reflecting on my time in New Zealand.
I have to say New Zealand is probably one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to with different picturesque view every corner you turn. I have absolutely loved catching up with my friends from Thailand and home. The stray bus has made my experience here wanting me to come back to explore more as well as making some incredible friends and unforgettable memories. I have encountered many new experiences including bungy jumping, hand gliding, mountain hikes and river cruises. I have even considered staying just a bit longer but it is time to leave for now. Until next time New Zealand! Back to Australia, I go!