Archive for December, 2006

by Pat
on Dec 28th, 2006

Christmas 2006

G’day folks!

Hope you’re well, had a lovely Christmas and are currently enjoying the (hopefully) nice and chilled week up until New Year’s Eve.

Just thought I’d do a quick (compared to some of Squage’s “War And Peace” efforts) blog to fill you in on how Christmas in Melbourne was.

Christmas Eve
This mainly consisted of wandering around department stores during the day (just to see somewhere that actually had Christmas decorations up if nothing else), then going out drinking in the evening. We met up with Matt from earlier in the New Zealand trip, along with his girlfriend and her mate (both called Katie, which helped my lame memory), so including Chris and myself we were 6 strong, which was quite cool.

Matt, Katie and other Katie are all from Essex, which was cool – if a little odd, in that it almost felt like being back in Essex occasionally, what with chatting about such things as the Essex Chronicle, the Blackwater and pubs in Woodham and Maldon…

Most of the pubs were filled with British folk (most of the Aussies at their local pubs rather than expensive, pomme-filled city places I suspect), which was odd and it seemed that none of the pubs wanted to admit it was Christmas, playing generic dance/chart tunes all night.

We saw Christmas Day in with “Put Your Hands Up For Detroit”. How festive.

It wasn’t a crap night, it just didn’t feel like Christmas.

Christmas Day
After waking up too early (i.e. pre-12pm), Chris and I met up with Matt et al and headed to St Kilda for our Christmas meal at a local greasy spoon luxurious restaurant.

In the restaurant we met up with some of Matt’s travelling mates/mates from home, which was cool so there was a good crowd of us.

Christmas Lunch itself was, well, interesting. The serving staff were somewhat confused and the meal rather, er, odd. I guess they don’t normally need glasses with wine – or open wine bottles – or champagne of one colour – or christmas pudding portions bigger than one mouthful – or white wine that doesn’t taste like cream soda – or… I could go on.

To be honest, I’m not moaning as from the very beginning, on seeing that we were going to be having our Christmas Lunch in what was essentially a seaside cafe, we started laughing. Much of the meal was spent with tears in my eyes through finding it all a bit too amusing – and I wasn’t the only one.

So a great time had on the whole, even if it was a bit ridiculous. Ian (Matt’s Irish mate) even took to “welding” the crap cracker toys together to make weird looking sculptures that’d not look out of place in the Tate Modern. As I say: a bit ridiculous.

We didn’t make it to the beach, sadly. This was mainly due to it being a) cold, b) cloudy and c) frequently rainy. Apparently it’s been the coldest Christmas in Melbourne for a loooong time.

You can take the Englishman away from the weather…

In the evening we scuttered around some (non-festive) bars, then eventually onto a hostel lounge in the city centre, which had a huge telly and plenty of cosy chairs.

I spent the last part of the evening watching Only Fools and Horses, drinking Bud from a bottle and eating crisps and nuts.

Now that’s what Christmas is all about :-)

Oh and on Boxing Day?
Chris and I met up with Neil from work and his travelling mates Roy and Louis – and spent the afternoon and evening pubbing it up. Another good, if slightly tipsy, day.

Anyways, we’re about to go to the cinema to watch that Arag-Dara-irog-eargo-… That Dragon Film, so I’ll speak to you later. Check out the photos of Christmas if you’re bored!

Have an awesome New Year if I don’t speak to you before then!


P.S. Due to a plethora of spam comments, which continue to bombard the blog (even though if WordPress’s security is functioning correctly, they shouldn’t be able to), if you post a comment it won’t appear until I’ve approved it. Sorry peeps…

P.P.S. Due to net issues thanks to the nasty earthquake t’other day I couldn’t get through to to post this yesterday. So I’ve seen Eragon now. It’s a bit rubbish, I’m afraid. Great special effects, not bad acting but the script just felt rushed… no time to get to know characters, lots of rather quick learning, lots of convenient twists… boo. I’m at the Melbourne Museum at the mo and Chris and I are about to watch Night At The Museum (appropriate, non?) at the IMAX. Can’t wait :-)

by Squage
on Dec 23rd, 2006


Howdy again,

Just a quick one to let you know Pat and I have found our first almost-week in Melbourne:


  • A mixture of massively hot and sunny (i.e. over 35 Celcius during the day, too hot to sleep during the night), quite warm and cloudy and anything inbetween those two.
  • Pat’s found it a bit of a shell shock given New Zealand’s rather British climate (particuarly in the colder South Island), but certainly enjoys the sun so isn’t complaining (although he’s constantly a bit tired and does keep mentioning a lady called Betty).
  • It’s a bit smoggy on some days due to smoke from the raging bush fires elsewhere in Victoria…


  • A very diverse populus – although mainly Aussie, British, Japanese and Chinese it appears – most of whom seem pretty friendly.
  • Pat’s found people to be a bit less easy going than in New Zealand, but I think that’s a Melbourne thing rather than an Australian thing.
  • Also, shop assistant folk tend to be a lot more like in the UK – i.e. they really wish they were somewhere else. It’s nice to feel like a bit of home has travelled with you, you know?
  • Finally, you can really tell that the locals go to the gym. And eat heathily. And spend time enjoying the sun. And have lots of, er, hot weather clothing. In other words? There are a lot of hotties. :-)


  • It’s a nice city, not too big but with loads of shops and eateries crammed in, with a fair few awesome looking buildings and museums etc (although Pat’s not actually made it to any of them yet).
  • There are lots of well-kept, very pretty parks, which Pat’s made good use of during the particularly hot days – wandering around and reading books whilst admiring the scenery (and its hot weather clothing) (Shhh, you’re making me look like a dirty old man – Pat) Hey, I work with what you give me.
  • There are lots of pubs and bars, most of which charge tourist prices, which is a shame but that’s not stopped Pat from going out and getting tipsy two nights this week.

Public Transport

  • There are trains and trams to choose from, the latter of which are situated down the middle of all the major roads in the central city grid, and both reach out into the suburbs (such as Richmond to the east, where we’re staying).
  • It’s pretty reliable and even better: it’s air conditioned.
  • Ticket wise, there’s a zone-system akin to London’s tubes, and you can buy tickets that give you unlimited journeys in your purchased zone(s) for either 2 hours, 1 day, 1 week or 1 month.
  • The ticket machines are shite, not accepting credit cards, UK debit cards… and not providing more than $10 change.


  • Well… sadly Pat and Chris haven’t really done a great deal other than look for jobs (Chris), sit on the net (Chris and Pat), blog for 8 hours (Pa-er, me), drink (Chris and Pat), never leave the hostel before 12pm (Chris and Pat) and read a book for every spare moment (Pat)… so to be honest we’re not sure quite what stuff rates above others.
  • I’ll get back to you in a few days time, now that a) Pat’s finished his book and b) I’ve finished my blogging…

Christmas and New Year

  • After Pat and Chris met up with Matt – he of “smashing face in doing sandboarding in New Zealand” fame – and his girlfriend Katie yesterday and it was suggested Christmas on the beach at St Kilda should be done, that’s what the plan is looking like. Hopefully the weather won’t be raining, as the forecasts seem to be suggesting.
  • Christmas Eve is likely to be spent in an Irish Bar that we went to yesterday (which has been converted to the Barmy Army HQ for the Ashes period).
  • New Year’s Eve may also be there… but that’s not been decided yet. Neil from Pat’s ex-work is arriving in Melbourne today so he may have some funky plans!


  • Pat’s not listened to much (he’s been listening to MP3s on his iRiver) but found that it’s not massively different to UK Commercial Radio. Just without Dave Kelly jingles.
  • I’m sure he’ll have found lots of nerdy things to tell you about soon enough, though…

Rightly, that’ll do for now… my fingers are still bleeding from that last mammoth entry so I’d best stop for all our sakes.



by Squage
on Dec 23rd, 2006

The Last Week In New Zealand


Well as usual I’ve managed to find plenty of other things to do than sit and stare at a computer screen for a week – I tell you, I don’t know how Pat used to do it back at work. I guess he must just love computers.


Anyway, I’ve dragged Pat along to a net cafe here in Melbourne and have chained him to his seat so he can typ-er… watch me type without being able to leave to do something more interesting.

This is the blog for what happened in the last week of New Zealand. Are you ready? Then I’ll begin:

Saturday 9th December: Queenstown

  • After a mammoth blogging session, Pat and I met up with the gang (Kate, Jen, Jersey and Mette) to go and play Mini Golf – as the weather was still pretty nice
  • Mini Golf was great fun – and at a lovely location, at the base of the gondola:

    Sun Over The Mountain at the Mini Golf Course

  • After a good first three holes, Pat and Jen were in the lead so spent the rest of the first 10 holes trying to beat eachother…

    Jen momentarily forgets which type of golf she's playing

    …sadly, Pat then decided to bugger it all up in true Pat Scullion style, getting a 7, 5, and 4 to match Jen’s 3, 4 and 3.

  • Pat ended up coming 4th out of 5. Jersey won, one point in front of Jen, followed by Mette. Kate asked not to be mentioned here so we won’t say which position she came in (Er, Squage… – Pat) What? Oh, oops.
  • Needless to say, all had fun!
  • That evening we ventured to a pub Pat and Kate had stumbled across earlier in the week, called The Cow. It was rather reminiscent of a lovely English country pub, complete with wooden roof timbers and an open log fire.
  • For a change, Pat allowed me out to sample some alcoholic delights…

    Evening Meal At The Cow In Queenstown

    …and Mette and I realised we had a strange love between us… so went on an impromptue date:

    Romantic Meal For Two

    After a few bottles of wine, everyone was pretty Squage-faced:

    (As you can see, there were a few bottles consumed between us… ;-) – Pat)

  • Pat later on phoned Orange and all was sorted regarding the 200 quid… although for some reason Pat can’t remember the *exact* details. How very odd. (Yeah, shut it you boozy hypocrite – Pat) (Looks like Pat’s still a bit hungover and tetchy…)
  • Finally, some sleep was had… and Pat wished he’d gone to bed at about 10pm, rather than gone 12am… as he had a bus to catch at 8:15am.

Sunday 10th December: Queenstown -> Dunedin

  • After a FAR too early rise, Pat and the gang checked out of the hostel in a half-zombie-like state and trudged down the road to pick up the Bottom Bus* – saying goodbye to Flea (who was just about to take a Kiwi Experience group up to Christchurch) before falling onto the smaller of the two Bottom Buses that were there to pick us up.

    * Pat informs me that Stu Clark may be interested to know that the independant Bottom Bus company (affiliated to but not owned by Tourism Holdings) has recently bought out East As…

  • We had a good bus driver called Bloke, who was in his 50s and had the sort of good sense of humour you expect from someone who’s seen a fair bit of stuff in his time.
  • After a few stops off at little towns (nothing particuarly exciting – wide roads, small little shops and not a person in sight) we made our way into Dunedin.
  • First stop was Baldwin Street – officially the Steepest Street In The World:

    Baldwin Street

    At its steepest it’s a 35% gradient. Pat managed to walk from the base right to the top at a reasonable pace, without stopping, but was *exhausted* at the top:

    Comedy 'Help!' Pose

    Kate and Jersey attempted to run it. They got 1/3 of the way and gave up. Insane? Nope. What’s insane is that every year there’s a big race to the top and people do it in frighteningly fast times. Nutjobs.

  • After a trundling back down the street, the Bottom Bus picked us up and took us to a viewpoint of Mount Cargill for a panoramic view of Dunedin:

    Pat, Squage And The View Of Dunedin

  • Dunedin is Gaelic for Edinburgh – no coincidence as Dunedin was set up by Scottish settlers and is twinned with it’s English-language namesake. It’s a really nice city, quite studenty, with loads of places to eat and drink and quite a chilled vibe about it. Sadly we only had one night there so didn’t get to check it all out…
  • …but Pat did manage to get on a brewery tour. What are the chances?
  • Pat really enjoyed the Speights Brewery Tour, as:
    1. The tour guide was very amusing (knowing everyone on the tour’s nationality and being able to relate various parts of the tour to each person’s home country (apart from the Aussie family’s, whose country was joking slagged off at every opportunity))
    2. Pat got to see the brewing vats in action
    3. There was a good bit of interesting history
    4. There was free beer tasting.

    Personally, I think Pat might’ve been adding the first three points in just to seem like less of an alchy… (Honest, guv, it was interesting! – Pat) Yeah, yeah.

  • Most of the evening was spent chilling at the lovely hostel (complete with free Internet access and a nice warm, cosy lounge area), but later on Pat went for some food at an Indian Restaurant (nothing like sampling a bit of local cuisine, eh?) with Caroline (who we’d met in Queenstown) before they met up with Kate for some watching of Old School at Caroline’s hostel (Pat, Jersey, Jen and Kate’s place didn’t actually have TV)
  • FACT: Old School is still hilarious.
  • After watching that Pat and Kate made their way back to the hostel and Pat had a well needed sleep.

Monday 11th December: Dunedin -> Invercargill

  • This morning was a bit sad as despite meeting up again with Chris and Welshy, Jersey and Pat had to say toodles to Kate and Jen who were staying in Dunedin for another couple of nights. Still, they were all gonna catch up again in Christchurch, so that was good.
  • After saying tarrah and getting on an even smaller Bottom Bus than the day before (this time only with 7 people on it – Pat, Jersey, Welshy, Chris, Caroline, Molly and another lady who we’ll call Jane for the purposes of the blog – not that I’ve forgotten or anything), we made our way out of Dunedin:

    The Big Bottom Bus
    The awesomely huge Bottom Bus.

  • Lots of stops today, to see lots of wildlife and cool scenery – and the weather was perfect! Pat hoped that the same weather would follow him into Milford Sound on Wednesday. Would he be happy? Find out… Next. (n.b. below, in the entry for Wednesday)
  • The first stop was at Nugget Point: a lighthouse with plenty of cool looking rocks around it in the sea:

    Nugget Point!

    Nugget Pat!

  • After that we made our way to a beach called “Cannibal Bay” (named by Captain Cook or someone similar on docking at the beach and finding human skeletons on the sand. Turns out it was a burial ground, rather than a dustbin for eaten stuff)… and saw a real life Sea Lion! Wooh:

    Sea Lion at Cannibal Bay!

    He’s a male, apparently. You can tell because he’s a darker colour and… some other things. Pat can’t quite remember the details other than “Wow, it was a Sea Lion!”. He should really narrate Planet Earth…

  • After that the Bottom Bus stopped off at a nice beach for a beach walk… which Pat enjoyed, including the “through the jungle” trek back to where the bus was moved to – a very Jurassic Park feel to it, Pat said. Apart from all the violent dinosaur related death, I assume.
  • Penultimate stop was a walk through the woods to the lovely McLean Falls, which is owned by GlaxoSmithKline and is made of toothpaste:

    Minty Fresh!

  • Last stop of the day was at Curio Bay, where we went on a guided tour to the Petrified Forest, which looks like this:


    From what Pat could gather, it’s called Petrified Forest in honour of what was thought by the trees at the time:

    “Oh shit, there’s hundreds of tonnes of lava about to smash into us, drown us and turn us into a fossilised rocky mass on the coast. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-“*splat* *burn* *fossilify*

    Anyway, we waited there for a while and finally got the pay-off – seeing a cute little pengiun waddle in from the sea! I would show you the picture but, well, you can hardly see it so here’s an “artist’s” impression instead:

    I'm so, so sorry.

    After the tour Pat and Caroline went for a walk along the main beach of Curio bay:

    Curio Bay

    And saw ANOTHER sea lion – this one was female. You can tell because she’s lighter than a male and, er, some other telling signs. Probably:

    Not Dead.

  • In the evening we stayed in Invercargill. Not much going on there, but the hostel was quite nice (even if the dorm had no windows so waking up in the morning was a little difficult) and directly next to a Speights Ale House… where our driver managed to get us a deal where we got 20% off drink AND food… ALL NIGHT!
  • Lots of beer later, Pat fell into bed…

There we go! That was New Zealand.

What? There’s another 6 DAYS to cover? Oh, jeez… Pat, you could’ve told me before I wasted 3.5 minutes on that stupid penguin picture! (Hey, I didn’t want to stop an artist at work – Pat) You call that art? (No, but you do – Pat) Damn, he’s got me there.

Anyway, yes, let’s stop making this enormous blog entry even longer and just get on with it (Yes, please – Pat) Oi, just because you ca-(JUST GET ON WITH IT! – Pat)


Tuesday 12th December: Invercargill -> Te Anau

  • After a difficult wake up (and some moaning to/from various people about other’s snoring ) everyone managed to check out and get on the bus, just in time to see a rather ominous looking black cloud heading towards Invercargill
  • The small bus was a bit emptier today as Caroline and Mollie had gone to Stewart Island… meaning Pat had two seats to himself – a luxury. Jersey almost did but an extra person got on (a rather odd, mid 50s, skinhead German lady) and sat next to him. D’oh!
  • First stop was… a… place, which had a cool shop that allowed you to make your own designs for pendants made out of… some… blue… stuff. Pat made a rather unexpected design:

    Squage Blue... Shell... Stuff

    What are the chances? Pat was quite pleased as to do bone carving in the north island cost $40, whereas carving your own one of these cost $4. Sweet As!

  • After the carving, it started fully weeing it down so Pat and the gang ran back to the bus for the next leg of the journey
  • We made it to the far south coast of New Zealand, to a place called McCrackens Rest. It was a *tad* rainy, as you might be able to gather:

    McCracken's Rest 'Sit Your Ass On The Sign' Photo

  • After that we trundled to a farm to watch/participate in Sheep Shearing. On the way, we past some trees that were, ahem, rather windswept:

    Windy?  Methinks So.

  • Watching sheep shearing was an interesting experience for Pat.
  • After putting on a big anorak and boots, Pat and the Bottom Bus gang watched the farmer’s sheep dogs do some awesome work herding sheep around and about… and into the sheering shed:

    Sheep Being Squashed In
    Seems a bit cramped…

    Sheep Shearing.  Probably.

    Luckily Shearing Sheep Isn't Traumatic For Sheep
    Now, I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t look like the face of someone having a good time.

    There’s no point me banging on about animal rights and such like because, well, you’ll either agree with me already or be deeply offended by my saying anything (that seems to be the experience Pat’s had)… either way, your opinion isn’t likely to be changed by a blue blob on a soap box, so I’ll leave it there.

    But regardless, Pat didn’t really enjoy the experience and thought it all seemed a bit cruel. And no, he didn’t take part in the sheering, in case you’re wondering :-)

  • After that we had a quick lunch and made our way to Te Anau, our stop for the night
  • Te Anau’s a lovely little lakeside town – quite quiet, but the view across the lake to the mountains definitely makes it somewhere Pat and myself could stay for a good few days.
  • Only one evening was had of course, so Pat and Jersey took the opportunity to get some ace sunset photos by the lake, prior to heading to the pub (called The Ranch):

    Sunset At Te Anau

    Sunset Swing Shot

  • After the pub closed at 10pm (!!!) Pat and Jersey stopped off by the lake again for some cool long-exposure night shots (to be unveiled at some point)
  • Finally, Pat fell asleep on his non-bunk bed dorm bed at about 11pm and had a lovely sleep (following a frustrating experience on the hostel’s SHITE internet (1bps or thereabouts))…

Wednesday 13th December: Te Anau -> Milford Sound -> Queenstown

  • Pat awoke refreshed and ready for the long drive to and from Milford Sound, checking out of the hostel and hulking all his bags down the road to the Milford Explorer pick up point, by a cafe
  • Once on the coach, the coach driver kept us all entertained with his amusing anecdotes and mucking about on the mic, such that the 2 hour journey didn’t seem too long.
  • It was helped by the cool scenery on the way:

    Earl Mountains
    Earl Mountains – as seen in The Two Towers in one of the flyover shots (not sure which one)

    Pat With The Huge Mountain Range
    Pat about to fill his water bottle up in a mountain stream, complete with huuuuge mountains behind him

  • On the way into Milford Sound, we passed through the Homer Tunnel, which takes us under a mountain and down from 920m to a “mere” 850m above sea level – and into the huuuuuuge valley towards Milford Sound:

    These Photos Don't Do It Justice...
    It’s so hard to feel the sheer scale of these mountains with a photo… but trust me, you feel like you’re the tiniest little speck of dust looking up at giants when you’re in the valley. Just amazing.

  • Despite the slightly crappy weather, Pat was very glad to not be there in winter… whereupon you have to tackle roads with flowing water streaming down them, watch out for icy roads… oh and occasionally have to avoid enormous, house crushing avalanches coming from the mountains high above.
  • Once at Milford Sound we all made our way onto the cruise ship and were taken along the length of Milford Sound, right to the edge of the Tazman Sea. Here are a couple of photos of it, but again they just don’t do justice to the sheer size of the place:

    That Waterfall's Massive...

    Pat, Squage and Milford Sound
    (There’s more in the usual photos area…)

    To be honest, even when there we were looking at waterfalls thinking “yeah, it’s about 50m” only to find that they were 200m high… as with Franz Josef glacier, you get a real warped perspective with such huge places.

  • We saw some Dolphins too:
    Dolphins At Milford Sound!

  • After the cruise and a visit to the Underwater Observatory (a somewhat lame little underwater viewing platform with murky windows and next-to-no visability) we all got back on the coach (Jersey and Pat informed that the helicopter ride to a mountain peak they’d asked to go on was cancelled due to bad weather… Pat was partly glad as despite jumping from planes and bridges, he’s still scared of heights…) and started towards Queenstown
  • The journey back was 4 hours long, made less dull by a showing of Jackass 1 on the coach… which was much less consistently funny than the sequel. They really did improve things for Jackass 2. Can’t wait to see what happens with 3…
  • Eventually we made it into Queenstown, checking into Downtown Backpackers hostel (where we’d stayed previously) and Jersey and Pat wandered to a net cafe, which ACTUALLY FUNCTIONED for photo uploading and credit card bill sorting… then going for a Fergburger, a quick pint and sleep.
  • Twas another early rise for Pat tomorrow…

Thursday 14th December: Queenstown -> Christchurch

  • Pat woke up at 7am and checked out of the hostel, saying tarrah to Welshy, Jersey and Chris on the way (as they weren’t going to be going to Christchurch until Sunday)… and made his way to the coach pick up point for 8:15.
  • Once on the coach, Pat managed to blag two seats to himself, allowing some serious dozing for the first part of the 6.5 hour trip – well, inbetween laughing at the coach driver, Amon, who was easily the most amusing Kiwi Experience driver he’d encountered. Silly little things such as whispering over the mic (knowing most people were knackered/hungover/asleep) “You are all feeling sleepy… you will by your lovely coach driver a coffee at the next stop… white with two sugars…” oh and listing about 100 different words to describe going to the toilet at our first stop.
  • Anyway, at the second stop (the rather fairytale sounding Twizel) we picked up one extra person – who happened to be Mette!
  • Soon after Twizel we stopped off at The Bluest Lake In The World ™:

    Pat Smiling In Disbelief - It's Just SO Blue!
    ^^ VERY BLUE

  • The rest of the journey was spent catching up on the past few days – oh and watching Top Gun, which Amon decided should be enjoyed by all. Awesome, cheesy, awesome, badly acted, awesome, terrible, awesome stuff.
  • Once at Christchurch, Pat and Mette checked into a place called Oasis Backpackers, dumped their stuff off and went to search for cheaper accomodation for the next few nights.
  • Two hours of walking around from hostel to hostel experiencing a large “no room at the inn” issue, they stumbled across a hostel not listed in the Lonely Bible called Drifters. This was a good place as:
    1. It was cheap
    2. It was really nice
    3. They had twin rooms available
    4. The couple who ran it were lovely
    5. The couple who ran it were from Bicknacre (5 minutes down the road from Pat’s home town)

    Needless to say, this was the place chosen for the next few nights, despite being a bit out of town.

  • In the evening, Pat and Mette grabbed the free shuttle bus to go to the supermarket (complete with a bus driver who was playing christmas music at full volume and causing most of the passengers (you probably don’t have to ask if it included Pat) to sing along… awesome).
  • Following spending far too much money, they trundled back to Oasis, had a quick meal (mmm noodles) and fell fast asleep, knackered.

Friday 15th December: Christchurch

  • Pat had a long sleep but felt knackered (must be all the early mornings (and beer) catching up on him).
  • Pete (from Drifters) kindly picked Mette and Pat up from Oasis and drove them to Drifters, where they checked in and wandered along the seemingly neverending straight road into town
  • Quite a lazy afternoon followed, just wandering about near the botantical gardens:

    Aliens Have Landed!

    Taking the tram:


    Climbing the Cathedral tower:

    Mette Warding Off Attackers

    Pat Enjoying The View

    …and booking the TransAlpine train to go walking at Arthur’s Pass on Saturday.

  • After the cruisy afternoon, some chilling at the hostel was done and a well needed quiet evening (complete with watching the terrible What A Girl Wants – well, Pat spent most of the film berating it with a German guy, to the annoyance of all the girls in the room) and early night was had.

*cracks knuckles* Ok, just two more days to go…

Saturday 16th December: Christchurch -> Arthur’s Pass -> Christchurch

  • Woke up faaar too early in order to get on the 6:55am shuttle bus pickup to get to the TransAlpine station in time
  • Once on the train ready to leave at about 8am, and with the intial feeling of wanting to die through it being so damned early, Pat started looking forward to the scenic journey and to the nice walk during the day – frankly, he needed it, the big unfit beer loving pl(Hey! Melbourne Possums would be more than happy to “look after” you if I leave you in the park… – Pat)– I mean, it was good for Pat to have a chance to continue building his Beefcake physique.
  • Mette and Pat took various photos on the way to Arthur’s Pass as we travelled through the mountains, by gorges and over viaducts:

    View From The TransAlpine Train


  • Once at Arthur’s Pass it was a bit cloudy, but Mette, Pat and myself (who was of course along for the ride) were hoping it’d not turn into rain.
  • We went on a great walk through the woods and up along a river towards the base of a glacier (not a patch on Franz Josef)… part of the walk was on a proper path, but a reasonable chunk of the latter stages just turned into traversing over wet rocks – which Pat enjoyed, however his rather damp jeans did not.
  • Pat managed to get some nice photos of the area:

    Waterfally Fun

    Squage Chilling Out On The Rocks

    He turned around after this point:

    Uh oh!

  • On the way back, it decided to start chucking it down… and did for the 1.5 hour journey back to Arthur’s Pass… both Mette and Pat were SOAKED – fortunately Mette had brought some quick-drying trousers, rather than Pat’s excellent “Stay Wet” jeans, so she warmed up in the coffee shop soon after getting there. Pat was shaking for a fair while, though… amazingly he didn’t get a cold.
  • Anyway, the train soon arrived and we made our way back to Christchurch, through the same lovely scenery and noted that the weather had got rather nice again as soon as leaving Arthur’s Pass – by the time we were at Christchurch it was a lovely evening! Typical.
  • Another lazy evening was had and Pat went to sleep nice and early…

Almost there… I’ll make this one quick…

Sunday 17th December: Christchurch

  • After a nice lazy wake up, Pat and Mette wandered into town to see some cool street entertainment (a mental guy juggling knives whilst standing on the shoulders of two other guys…), check out the town market and for some souvenir buying
  • Sadly after Pat bought a shed load of bits and pieces, he found that, actually, Post Offices aren’t open on Sunday in New Zealand. Clearly he would expect them to be, after all they are in England, right? Oh, wait, no… (Shut up and get on with it – Pat)… so he had to take an extra bag of stuff with him to Melbourne. Oops.
  • Back in the hostel Pat packed his bags fully in order to make his 4am wakeup-and-get-to-the-airport challenge a little easier
  • Later in the afternoon Chris, Jenny, Jersey, Kate and Welshy arrived on the Kiwi Experience bus and so in evening a reunion was had, along with lots of beers and Pat said farewell to everyone (except Chris, who he would be seeing, feeling like death, at the airport in the morning) … twas quite sad, but Pat felt better in that he’d be bumping into everyone at various stages and places within Australia over the coming months.
  • Pat got to bed at just after midnight, rather tipsy and wishing that he’d spent a bit more money on flights in order to get a 6:15PM flight…

Monday 18th December: Christchurch -> Melbourne!

  • Pat I think has told you about this day already, but if you’ve forgotten it went along the lines of: woke up at 4am, tipsy and tired… went on plane to Melbourne… checked into hostel… went to sleep for 4 hours… did not much… had early night.

That marks the end of the New Zealand leg of the Big Adventure.

It also marks the end of me writing long blogs like this (you’ll be pleased to know). Things are going to be on a much less “Day By Day” basis from now on so expect more comment on particular events etc, rather and an itinery of Pat and my time here in Oz.

Thanks for your patience and well done for getting down to here. Both Pat and myself really appreciate you reading, it makes all this blooming typing seem worth it! :-)


Squage (and Pat)

Otherwise I’d NEVER have jumped from a plane.

(Not George) Bush saves skydiver as parachute fails

And where did it happen? Bloody Taupo of all places! The place I did a Sky Dive.

Hooray for bushes, eh?


P.S. Squage is writing a big blog entry to fill you in on the last week in New Zealand, but today nothing’s getting written as I’m hungover and tired and… er… that’s affecting Squage for some reason. Yes.

by Pat
on Dec 18th, 2006


Strewth, ya flaming galores, I’ve pulled me hammie, throw a shrimp on the barbie, Bruce, Sheila, Rolf Harris, Didgeridoo and other such Australian stereotypes.

I’m here!

After a few chilled out days in Christchurch (including a trip on the TranzAlpine train to Arthur’s Pass – photos to follow) I thought it’d be a great idea to have a few beers last night – after all, twas the last time I was going to be seeing Mette, Kate, Jen, Jersey, Welshy, Cat, Anne and Ian for some time so it’d be rude not to.

Sadly it meant that I got in a bit drunk at 12:15am.

Then got up at 4:00am to get into Christchurch airport for my 6:15am flight.

This morning was quite, er, delicate. Still, both myself and Chris (who’d decided going to bed was a crap idea and just stayed up all night) made it onto the plane… and after lots of dozing on the plane – and a 4 hour sleep in the lovely hostel (Freeman Lodge) over in the Richmond part of Melbourne – we’re now alive again!

At first glance Melbourne seems ace. Big, bustling, diverse city with loads of things to see / do / eat / drink (although there might not be much of that going on today)… a good place to stay for a couple of weeks, methinks.

Which is lucky, as that’s what I’m going to do.

Hopefully tomorrow or the day after Squage’ll get his ass in gear and fill you in on the last week in New Zealand…

Till then, no worries.


by Squage
on Dec 13th, 2006

More Photos!

Lots more photos are available in the usual place – will get round to doing some blogging soon too, but to summarise:

  • Saturday night was fun – mini golf followed by a lovely meal in a pub with an open log fire
  • We’ve just done 4 days of the Bottom Bus, which was ace – lots of amazing scenery (especially today at Milford Sound), lots of animal spotting (check out the seal photos in the usual place) and a relatively dry time drink wise (which I think Pat needed).

Tomorrow Pat and I are off to Christchurch, where we’ll stay until Monday morning at Stupid O’Clock – when we catch the shuttle bus for the plane to Melbourne, Australia. Looks like Chris is also coming over to Melbourne on Monday and will hopefully be sharing the twin room Pat’s got.

Actually, that’s just reminded Pat that he needs to check it’s not a double, so I’d best be off :-)

Take care peeps,


by Pat
on Dec 12th, 2006

Butterfly fairy tatoos

I love spammers.

I deleted a grand total of 153 new emails letting me know that there were some comments, which linked to other web sites waiting for me to read.

The comment titles included some of the delights below:

  • Butterfly fairy tatoos
  • Jesse misty pokemon
  • Free frat boys gay
  • Fantasy movie thumb xxx
  • Sonic the hedgehog yaoi

…and those are the ones I don’t mind repeating.

The long of the short of it is if you want to leave a comment from now on, you’ll need to sign up for an account on the Big Adventure Blog.

Easy to do:

  1. Click “Register” on the menu to the right-hand side of the this (the main) page
  2. Enter the username you’d like
  3. Enter your email address
  4. Click “Register”
    Your password will be emailed to you. Make a note of it!

Once you’ve got your password and for all future commenting, do the following:

  1. Click “Log In” on the menu to the right-hand side of the this (the main) page
  2. Enter your username
  3. Enter your password
  4. Click “Log In”
    You’ll now be logged in and can navigate to the blog entry you want to comment on – and then comment on it!

If you have any trouble with this, try turning your computer off and on again.

It’s a shame to have to do this, but it should prevent this free-for-all spam fest that’s been going on for the past few days.

Ta muchly!


by Squage
on Dec 9th, 2006

From Franz Josef to Queenstown…

How ya going?

Right, hopefully this will bring things *actually* up to date… shall we give it a go? Yes? Good:

Sunday 3rd December: Franz Josef -> Wanaka

  • Woke up FAR too early, as bus had to leave at 7am to see Lake Matherson… all were cheesed off as it was poor weather and hence probably a waste of time
  • Royal our bus driver in a quite quiet state, either because he knew all on the bus were annoyed or because he’d been up since 3am
  • Once at the lake (following a brief “under the hat” nap) most people decided to wait in the coffee shop but Pat and Kate decided to make the most of it and went for a long ol’ walk around the lake circuit. Some lovely photos, despite the slightly crappy weather, were taken:

    Lake Matherson

    Lake Matherson

    Oh and me sitting on a log:

    Squage on a Log!

  • Pat, in his very tired state, got pretty cheesed off (for no real reason other than tiredness) in the next and final part of the bus journey on the way to Wanaka, but the views made him feel a little better:

    Knight’s Point – beautiful views of the west coast from a nice high vantage point:

    View from Knight's Point

    Haast River – awesome river rapids underneath a rather scary bridge:

    The Gates of Haast

    Rapids under the Gates of Haast Bridge

    Arrived at Wanaka and checked into the hostel – which was more like a hotel, complete with:
    – Free towel
    – TV in dorm room
    – Ensuites in dorm room
    – Fridge in dorm room
    – Balcony!

  • Fully awesome. It made Pat feel a lot better, as did a nice walk around Wanaka enjoying the gorgeous lakeside views and pretty high street:

    Lake Wanaka

    Pat at Lake Wanaka

    He decided in this afternoon that:

    1. He needs to get rich
    2. He needs to buy a place in Wanaka
    3. He needs to move to Wanaka

    He suggested something along the lines of marketing some cartoon character he’d designed… Squeege or something like that? No idea what he’s on about.

  • After a nice afternoon chilling out on the lawn outside the hostel in the sun (drinking some rather rancid 8.2% cider called “Scrumpy”, which was clearly White Lightning in disguise) Pat had a nice early night to catch up on the many hours sleep he so desperately needed.

Monday 4th December: Wanaka -> Queenstown

  • A lovely sleep was what was needed for Pat and that’s what he got.
    Pat woke up refreshed and after a nice breakfast sitting in the sun in front of the hostel, he made his way onto the coach with everyone else.

  • Twas quite a quick day, journey-wise, which was very nice!
  • First stop was at Puzzling World on the way out of Wanaka, which was hilarious:
    A huge maze (which Pat managed in 20 minutes bang on (usual time is 30 – 60 minutes) – hooray for the “always follow the left hand wall” technique):

    View of the Puzzle World Maze

    Some cool illusions:

    The faces follow you around the room…

    All the lines are parallel…

    A confusing “angled floor” room:

    Crazy Leaning Room!

    And a forced perspective room:

    I Love This Photo

    Twas great fun!

  • Stopped off at the AJ Hackett Kawarau Bridge bungy site, whereupon Pat and the other peeps on the bus were shown a 10 minute DVD all about how cool bungying was… which lead to Pat deciding he was NEVER doing it in A MILLION YEARS. I don’t think that was the DVD’s purpose…
  • Watching people (including Welshy and John) plummet off the bridge was, in Pat’s words, “F***ing scary in itself, let alone going up there and doing it”. He kept uttering “Why would you want to do that? Why?”
  • Still, on the coach journey from the bungy site into Queenstown, Pat started getting the nagging feeling that he’d missed an opportunity… and started considering the possibility of doing a Birthday Bungy on Wednesday…
  • In Queenstown, we stopped first for a nice group photo by Lake Wakatipu (sadly taken by one of the Kiwi Experience folks and not seen since) along with some other shots of the scenery:

    Pat and Squage at Lake Wakatipu

    Lake Wakatipu

  • We then stopped at Info & Track to book some activities. What did Pat book? Firstly, the Shotover Jet. Secondly, a Birthday Bungy. What a nutter.
  • Following checking in to the Discovery Backpackers hostel (owned by one of the big NZ hostel chains) we went for a prearranged Kiwi Experience meal at The World Bar.
  • Some things about The World Bar:
    • The food takes ages to be served
    • The staff are moody and unfriendly
    • It’s a bit dingy
    • The staff are moody and unfriendly
    • …The staff are moody and unfriendly
  • Anyway, after that fun experience Pat and the gang made their way down to the hostel bar; Altitude.
  • It was Karaoke night
  • Lots of alcohol was consumed
  • Lots of singing was performed
  • Pat and Kate got two free drink vouchers each for performing The B52s’ “Love Shack” (which those who were at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2002 will know is something of a favourite of Pat’s)
  • Lots more alcohol was consumed
  • Lots of really bad singing was performed
  • The World Bar was visited again
  • The World Bar closed too early
  • Sleep was had.

Tuesday 5th December: Queenstown

  • Pat spent a lot of today sitting watching me blog… and he loved every second of it (Yeah, cos I clearly wouldn’t’ve preferred sitting in the sun or going for a nice walk – Pat) – ok, so would you have preferred to do the Nevis Bungy? (…ok, sitting in the net cafe was fine – Pat) Good.
  • Aside from that, not really much to report. Went out again in the evening and Pat saw in his birthday with a nice pint of Bulmers

Wednesday 6th December: Queenstown

  • Pat’s Birthday!
  • Pat woke up somewhat scared and spent the morning trying not to think about the bungy
  • We checked out of Discovery and into Downtown Backpackers (much more of an independant outfit with slightly old dorms (carpetted walls? tasty!) but friendly staff, free internet, free breakfast and some nice (if rather hot) showers. And it’s $4 a night cheaper than Discovery. Winner!
  • Pat then went and threw himself off a bridge – I think he’s already banged on about that but all I’ll say is that I sat safely in Pat’s bag inside a locker throughout the whole insane experience.
  • To celebrate his jump, Pat:
    • Ordered a custom T-Shirt… the design of which will be revealed in the next few days…
    • Had a beer
    • Had a whole load more beers
  • A good evening was had all round:

    Pat Blows Out His Candles

    Group Sober Photo

    There Was No Alcohol Consumed

    It ended up in World Bar again before Pat finally fell back to the hostel and into bed, rather worse for wear…

Pat sends his thanks to Kate and Jenny for the lovely birthday cake they bought, which was presented to him in Altitude accompanied by “Happy Birthday To You” played on the bar playout system – class! Also, thanks to Welshy and Chris for the rather revolting drinks… it made Pat feel like he was a student again :-)

Thursday 7th December: Queenstown

  • Following the excitement of the bungy in the afternoon and the reasonable quantity of birthday-based beverages in the evening, Pat spent most of the morning in bed, rising at about 11:30
  • Today was quite a chilled day. Pat and Kate wandered around Queenstown for a bit, taking it easy and looking around in shops for a bit – taking a couple of cool photos of the lake:

    Cap'n Seagull Looks Out to the Lake

    And some attempted arty flower shots in between some rather posh looking lakeside apartments:

    Attempted Arty Flower Shot - Spoiled

  • I then dragged pat to this here Internet Cafe to finish off a mammoth blogging session (I think Pat’s getting sick of these PCs but I don’t know for sure (yes, yes I am – Pat))
  • In the evening we trundled to a bar called -5C, which is entirely made of ice and pretty damned cool:

    Pat Chills Out

    Pat, Jenny, Jersey, Kate and Mette really chilled out:

    N-ice Group Photo

    There were some n-ice sculptures:

    A Frosty Customer

    …er… everyone (f)roze to the occasion? (Get out! – Pat):

    You Nose It


  • After that we joined Sarah in Altitude and spent much of the evening in there, before Sarah, Caroline and Pat trundled to the Always Friendly World Bar ™, sampled some of their rather potent (and expensive) “tea pots” (actual tea pots full of various alcoholic concoctions) and eventually fell back to the hostel for a well needed kip at about 3am…

Friday 8th December: Queenstown

  • Pat woke up late again and spent the first few hours of the day wandering around town, checking emails and generally wasting time before his trip on the Shotover Jet at 1:20pm.
  • He quite enjoyed the Shotover Jet, as it was quite fast, did some funky 360degree spins in the water and was driven almost into loads of rocks in the canyon it passed along over the 30 minute ride… but for him it just didn’t quite stand up to some of the other experiences. Probably because he wasn’t bricking himself for 48 hours prior to doing it :-)
  • After the Shotover Jet, Pat met up with the usual kru and after a bite to eat they wandered up towards the Skyline Gondola, which takes you a full 450m above the streets of Queenstown for some amazing views – and also some crazy Luging and even more crazy bungy jumps
    Sadly it was raining but the views from the Gondola – and from the top – were still rather spectacular:

    Queenstown 450m Below

    View near to The Ledge

    We were a little confused regarding the fire risk, given the weather:

    Are You QUITE Sure?

  • Jersey needed to complete his “Thrillogy” (all three main Queenstown bungies) so we stood looking over the quite steep 450m drop as he wandered into the overhanging “Ledge Bungy” jump spot:

    The Ledge Bungy Jump

    Jersey Prepares to Jump... For Jersey!

    Pat could hardly watch, as standing by the drop was bad enough for him:

    Pat Enjoying the View

  • After Jersey successfully lived to tell the tale, we trundled for a quick pint in the Skyline restaurant, enjoying the views of Queenstown way below and listening to some beautifully sung relaxing tunes by a lady and her guitar in the restaurant.
  • At 7:55pm, Pat picked up something he was very excited about. I’ll show you in the photos for Saturday.
  • That evening, a few of us trundled to Hell’s Pizza and got some rather tasty pizza-based delights, then some beers and sat watching Shrek and some random New Zealand telly in the hostel lounge, before Pat bailed out early to get some sleep…

Saturday 9th December: Queenstown

  • Despite some nobbers wandering around the hostel corridors at about 3am chatting and shouting drunkenly, Pat had a really good kip (yet again falling out of bed at gone 11am)
  • So far today we’ve gone for a wander around town with Mette – checking out the cool grass market on the waterfront (including this cool display of colourful bowls):


  • We also stopped at The Best Ice Cream Shop In The World (can’t remember its name sadly but it’s on the waterfront and also sells chocolate if you’re around Queenstown) for some rather large ice creams – and a chance to have Pat get a picture taken of himself with yesterday’s exciting purchase:

    Sweet as!

  • After that (and some attempting to phone up Orange to ask why the hell they’d decided to charge Pat 200 quid for nothing, giving up after not being able to be understood by “Steve”, “Brad”, “Brody” or whatever the guy who’s clearly never left Dubai claims to be called this time) we trundled up here and I convinced Pat to spend time staring-er, I mean, watching me stare at this computer screen and blog.
  • This afternoon we’re going Mini Golfing. Should be fun!
  • Tomorrow morning we leave Queenstown and start our trek to the south of the south island – starting with Dunedin.
  • Pat’s not looking forward to having to get up 4 hours earlier than he’d like…

“…I’m Squage, Now You’re Up To Date”

by Pat
on Dec 8th, 2006

First Southend Beat Man U…

…and now there’s a TORNADO in LONDON?

What the hell is going on in the UK since I’ve left?

Next thing you know, Essex is going to have a reputation of being a calm, quiet, peaceful county full of innocent catholic girls and boys.

Actually, there’ll probably be a volcanic eruption in Coventry before that happens… ;-)



by Squage
on Dec 7th, 2006

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

Then I’ll begin.

Once upon a time there was a bloke called Pat. He used to enjoy writing a blog every day in preparation for his Big Adventure. Then he went on his Big Adventure and became a slacker.

Yep, once again due to loads of other activities, Pat and myself haven’t had the time or inclanation to sit in front of a computer and blog for several days.

What does that mean? It means I’m now going to be blogging about the past 11 days of our Big Adventure.

It’ll be something of a trip down memory lane for me. For you it’ll probably be tedious.

(Thanks by the way to Chris and Mette for taking some photos for Pat during the period of camera-knackeredness, twas much appreciated! And yep, it’s now alive again… will explain how later)

Sunday 26th November: River Valley -> Wellington
After a somewhat iffy sleep on the slightly uncomfortable Orgy Dorm bed, Pat fell out of bed at 9and made his way downstairs for a “continental breakfast” (i.e. toast and cereal), which combined with coffee actually allowed him to open his eyes fully and begin functioning for the day.

With a pick up time of 1pm, we had plenty of time to have a wander around the gorgeous landscape surrounding River Valley hostel, so Pat, Mette, Hardy and myself made our way to the walk up the side of the valley for a big of exercise.

The first step was to cross the river via the bridge Pat’d been told about by the hostel owner. He’d mentioned something about watching out for the mechanism, which sounded a bit odd until we got to the “bridge” and realised what he’d meant:

Pat being pulleyed over the river

After pulleying each other across the river, a tough walk up the steep path ensued – but the view from the top of the path was certainly worth it:

Lovely view

Pat and Squage enjoying the view

(Thanks Mette for the photos :-) )

After a failed attempt to sketch the valley (he’s a bit out of practice) Pat and the gang wandered back down the valley, had some more pulley-based entertainment and chilled out in the hostel for a while (Pat unable to resist the temptation to be a nerd and help out Flea with her laptop (just a bit of space saving / file relocation… I think he misses Technical Services. Possibly)).

After what seemed like a neverending trek up a steep road to the coach, a seemingly neverending (well, about 4 hour) coach journey ensued, the highlight of which being going to a town whose every wall appeared to be covered in some cow/bull related drawings. This was probably the best:


Pat didn’t realise the cow had love hearts coming out of it until after this, in case you’re wondering.

Once in Wellington we got to Base Backpackers hostel and settled into our rooms (following the usual half an hour check in as the hostel staff barely cope with the mass of people arriving (give them their due, I mean it’s not as though they get bus-loads of people coming to the hostel EVERY DAY, is it? It is? Oh yes, so it is)).

After a freshen up Pat and the gang took a long walk to a bar called the Basement (can you guess which hostel this sat beneath) and drank the night away – culminating in a drunk doubles game of pool, which Pat thinks Chris and he won but can’t quite remember.

I swear Pat thinks he’s a student again.

Monday 27th November: Wellington
Quite a chilled out day today. After a late wake up to the sound of rain on the window, Pat had a wander around town to see if anyone would be able to fix his camera but to no avail (the best offered was a 3 to 4 week turnaround time, which wasn’t *entirely* ideal), then met up with Chris, Jen, Kate, Jersey and Mette for a wander around the Te Papa museum.

It was actually quite an interesting place to go… but I think you need to be a bit less hungover to fully appreciate it.

There were all sorts of interesting things to see – loads of Maori building mock-ups and historical info, plenty of impressive paintings, lots of info on volcanos and earthquakes and the occasional disturbing human creation (such as the “condom helmet”, which does what it says on the tin and was designed to catch the sperm of a certain type of bird in New Zealand that likes to hump people’s heads… how normal).

As it was, Jersey, Jen and Pat found that their hungover/tired minds enjoyed the kids’ areas a bit more:

Hungover Entertainment

Shocking new drawing from Pat

Hungover Entertainment
(Some day she might be your lawyer)

After a walk back to the hostel in the pouring rain, we all dried off and prepared for yet another walk in the rain – this time to go and see Borat. Pat’d seen it already, but it was a choice between seeing that or The Devil Wears Prada so he decided familiarity would be preferable to f***ing dire.

Twas very funny yet again, but again Pat felt that there were a few too many areas that looked fully staged… also his face keeps turning white whenever something to do with a naked fight is mentioned.

How odd.

Tuesday 28th November: Wellington -> Nelson
Despite a fairly early night, Pat woke up very tired today. Possibily this had something to do with waking up at 6:30am in order to catch the ferry over to Picton on the South Island. More likely it was due to having burned the candle at both ends for over two weeks…

Anyway, after a short coach journey to the ferry port, Pat and the rest of the Kiwi bus trundled onto the ferry (quite a large beast, complete with a (not actually finished) cinema, a couple of restaurants and a bar).

Through feeling tired, Pat spent most of the time resting in one of the many comfy recliners on the 8th deck (whilst listening to Dirty Si’s amazing “End of Uni 2001” dance set, which brought back so many great memories of dancing like a fool – sorry Pat, I mean like a professional (…idiot)) but made it on deck to take some photos of Marlborough Sounds as we entered the long channel into Picton on the South Island:

It was quite a lovely day for it as you can see. Not sure the mobile phone pictures quite do the views justice (who’d’ve thought? A shit mobile phone camera!).

Once off the ferry at the other side, Flea noticed that there’d been a mix up meaning that there were too many people to get on the coach to Nelson… so Pat and some of the gang kindly volunteered to wait around and get in a minibus for the trip to Nelson instead. Little did they know that this’d be the last time they’d be on the bus with Flea (and miss out on a couple of activities in the following days because of being on a “smaller” bus)… still, mustn’t grumble.

The minibus driver was a guy called Royal, who’s one of those people you can happily label a “character”. He’s got a slightly odd sense of humour and… er… likes cross dressing.


On the way to Nelson, the buses stopped at at little wine shop in the middle of a mass of vinyards (unsurprisingly) and were treated to some wine tasting and then the great opportunity to spend lots of money buying wine! They were, um, “interesting” wines, which might’ve been nice to send back home were they a bit less, er, “interesting”.

We got into Nelson and our smaller bus went into the Accent on the Park hostel, which was a really nice little place – although away from the main group of folk who we’d finally started to get to know a bit better (not that this is a point of bitterness, of course) – it certainly made a change from the large Backpacker Factory that was Base in Wellington.

A lovely hostel meal in the evening (served by the guy who was on reception a few hours beforehand) was accompanied by a bit of telly watching in the cosy hostel lounge, before Pat decided he was knackered and went to bed.


Yet again I’ve written too much detail and am knackered. Tell you what, from now on I’m just going to do a bullet point thing for “what happened on this or that day” and just do some more detail on asides here and there. I’m also going to stop writing my thoughts out in the blog for others to read. :-)

Wednesday 29th November: Nelson -> Westport

  • Went for a walk around Nelson Lakes – a bit foggy so couldn’t see mountain tops, but a nice wander none the less (Kate and Pat wandered further than the others and were pleased they did, as there was a cool looking wardrobe, which they had a look in onto to find that it didn’t have a back but rather some snow-covered trees. Anyway, to cut a long story short they became King and Queen of Narnia and lived there for (say) 20 years, before deciding to come back to New Zealand having not aged a day and with no time passed. Strangely the other guys didn’t believe us either)
  • Had lunch at a little town called Murchison – some “tasty” Vegemite sarnies, the Vegemite spread with Pat’s fingers as he didn’t have any cutlery on him (and felt a touch stupid when Jen went into the cafe they were eating by and grabbed some)
  • Went horse riding – Pat found it ok but a little frustrating, as his horse (Locky) wanted to eat all the time and whenever he’d started eating, Pat had a lot of trouble getting him to move again. Pat was annoyed as he felt that Locky knew he was a learner and hence could just get away with being a pain in the ass. The phrase “You know, for all the damage they do to the environment, cars are SUCH a great invention” was uttered at least 10 times throughout the 2 hour trip around the country paths
  • Got into Westport – a tiny little place, where you’d imagine some kind of horror film could be made. Really nice character though, but it may aswell have had tumbleweed rolling across the empty, wide streets for all the people who were around.
  • Hostel – Can’t remember the name but Pat changed from a dorm (which was unheated in a separate block in the back yard) to sharing a double room (which was heated, in the house, with lovely comfy beds and free towels (trust me, that’s awesome for a hostel)) for $3 extra.
  • During the Evening – Pat and Jersey went to a pizza bar (as recommended by a local) and had some LOVELY pizza, enjoyed a couple of pints of the local brew (Miners) and chatted with a couple of friendly locals. After that they came back to the hostel, shared some vodka & coke with Chris whilst watching the first Lord of the Rings film on a crap 4:3 TV (doesn’t really do the film justice) and then headed out with others back to the same pizza bar to continue chatting, drinking and playing pool until the early hours (Dex – the bar owner – kept the pub open just because he was enjoying chatting with us – and bought Katie (a canadian lass from Flea’s bus) a free beer because he was amazed she’d had 5 pints and not fallen over… nice)

Hmm, that wasn’t much less detailed than before. All that’s happened is that there’s a load of bullet points surrounding the endless blurb. Let’s try again with Thursday the 30th of November – the trip to the Poo Pub:

Thursday 30th November: Westport -> Mahinapua

  • Pat woke up nice and refreshed
  • Went for a walk along Cape Foulwind – mentally windy place and possibly the wrong time for Pat to test drive his hat (which amazingly stayed on – just). Walked along the cliff tops looking out to the sea and the huge impressive waves battering the shore. Certainly a good way to wake up if you’re tired!
  • Visited the Punakaiki Pancake rocks – very impressive scenery, with lots of splashing waves. They’re called the Pancake rocks because they’re made of egg, flour and milk. We also had some pancakes in a nice little restaurant, which are limestone formations that began forming 30 million years ago, when lime-rich fragments of dead marine creatures were deposited on the seabed, then overlaid by weaker layers of soft mud and clay. The seabed was raised above sealevel by earthquakes to form the coastal cliffs and coastline. The sea, wind and rain have since etched out the soft layers to form the unusual rock formations we see today.
  • Told we had a fancy dress party in the evening – A “P” Party. Pat was told he couldn’t get away with just being “Pat”
  • Stopped in Graymouth – a small town with about 1 street – to get some fancy dress gear. Pat tore his hair out trying to find something good before coming across an amazing discovery:

    Pat The Puppet Master

    Frankly I think the idea of wandering around with stupid soft toys rather pathetic, but there we go.

  • Hostel – a THL-owned pub called the “Poo Pub” in the middle of nowhere (well, by Mahinapua Lake) with some little dorm chalet things behind it. Lovely location:

    Fancy Dress!

    Fancy Dress!

    Shit dorm beds though. Still, that didn’t matter too much as Pat slept rather well after umpteen pints at the fancy dress party that evening. Some rather amusing photos were taken of some ace costumes:

    Fancy Dress!
    Plant and potato sack!

    Fancy Dress!
    Playboy Bunny!

    Fancy Dress!

    Fancy Dress!

    There’s more in the usual place. As you can guess, Pat managed to fix his camera. It was a rather technical job (sticking some duct tape to the front of the camera to wedge the lens cap open) but Pat managed it in the end…

  • Lots of beer, lots of playing about with puppets (still lovin’ them puppet dance moves, Sarah!), not quite enough sleep.

Friday 1st December: Mahinapua -> Franz Josef

  • Pat woke up less refreshed than yesterday and more tired and hungover
  • After a walk to the beach and back Pat felt a little better
  • Lots of banter with Royal on the coach to do with puppets and drinking
  • Stopped at the Bushman’s Centre (hunting lodge-type place) for breakfast, stopping for a mo to feed the deer:

    No doubt needing to be fattened up so they can’t run away too fast from the hunting folk…

  • Visited a LOVELY beach on the way to Franz Josef – took the opportunity to grab some photos:

    Lovely beach

    Waterfall by the beach

    Hard to believe it’s about 20k from a massive mountain range…

  • Got some photos of a massive mountain range (Westland National Park):

    Pat and the mountains

    Pat and the mountains

  • Got to Franz Josef – amoungst the awesome Westland National Park mountains and at the base of the Franz Josef Glacier (well, ok, about 10k away from it):

  • Booked in for Glacier Exploring on Saturday and grabbed some supplies (sadly no Kendal Mint Cake could be found, which Pat was disappointed in – kept moaning about this clearly not being a proper mountain town. What, Pat, aside from the MOUNTAINS all around it? (Shut up and get on with it, Squage, I’m starving – Pat))
  • Hostel – Nice place, good bunks, nice bar – all with a gorgeous mountain back drop (which Pat probably didn’t bother to notice (Shut it, ya bastad! – Pat) Sorry…)

Saturday 2nd December: Franz Josef

  • Pat had a great night’s sleep – despite waking up at 3am thinking, in a half-asleep state that a distant rumbling might just be a huge avalanche (well, it’s good to see that Pat recognised there were mountains in Franz Josef after all (Someone’s about to get left in an Internet Cafe – Pat) ok, ok, I’ll stop)
  • Pat and I put on our extra layers and made our way to the Glacier Walk Building – via a shop to get some sunglasses that Pat only just realised he might need whilst walking up a bright white glacier (…. – Pat) – which, er, is sensible. Yes.
  • After getting into some soggy regulatory hiking shoes, some thick socks, a large jacket and some gloves + hat, Pat and the gang made their way to the glacier on the shuttle bus thing
  • The glacier looked deceptively small from the other end of the valley, where we started our trek:

    You see that cave bit? That’s over 5 stories high. I KNOW!

  • Pat was rather nervous at this point, as he was concerned that the glacier trek would involve walks up near-vertical slopes, with humongous drops to his side at many points and lots of horribly small bits to try and walk through…
  • …and there were. Sort of. But it wasn’t bad enough to cause any fear. In fact, Pat really enjoyed trekking around, clambering up little steps and squeezing through tight ice caverns. Plenty of photos were taken:

  • It’s SUCH an odd feeling being on the glacier. The views were stunning and it wasn’t really as cold in the air as expected (Pat didn’t have gloves or a hat on for any of it) – but the ice was FREEZING (No shit, sherlock – Pat)
  • Twas very good exercise and flew by much faster than expected (the 4 hours on the ice went past in what felt like less than an hour) – I definitely recommend doing the Franz Josef Glacier Exploration if you get a chance – and do the 8 hour one, not the 6 hour one as Pat did, just because it’s not much more dosh and gives you a full 2 hours extra on the ice!
  • That evening, after eating pizza with Jersey in a bar with the cricket on (and Pat having no idea what to add to the conversation that was being had about the sport, through being fairly clueless about either Oz or England’s teams (Oi! – Pat) Well? (Ok, actually, you’ve got me there – Pat) Uhuh), Pat had an early night…

Right, that brings you up to the last night in Franz Josef. What happened after that? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see, as Pat’s in need of some food and then we’re going out to the Ice Bar in Queenstown… so we’d better dash.

Tarrah for now!

(A very tired) Squage

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