7. New Zealand

I’ve been in New Zealand since yesterday! The flight with Emirates was excellent (first class!). I’m staying at the Christchurch Central YHA—a charming small town (you’d never guess it has 500,000 inhabitants!) It’s autumn, and the leaves are multicolored 🙂 The weather is excellent, around 25°C in the afternoon! The climate here is similar to that of the Lémanic Arc 🙂 Today, I climbed a hill, and tomorrow I’ll go shopping (everything’s really cheap with the New Zealand dollar!!)

What a radical climate change for the first day of my tour! The Foehn wind stopped, so it’s cold and raining! We drove through the plains and started climbing into the mountains! We passed through Arthur’s Pass, where it was very cold, and then continued upward—it started snowing at 900 meters! The scenery is absolutely magnificent! Finally, we reached the famous West Coast known for Jade (the stone, yes… xD) and arrived in Franz Josef in the evening—a small village at the foot of a « warm » glacier (the base of the glacier is 200 meters above sea level!)

A beautiful day begins, and it’s time to put on my crampons! Yes, yes—a new thing I’ve never done (I should make a list^^) Climbing the glacier! This glacier is unique—it’s at 200 meters, it’s the only one plunging into a rainforest (temperate jungle), and it has the largest advancement (most are receding!) 6 hours of walking on the ice 🙂

A lovely frozen morning! The first time I’ve seen frost since leaving Switzerland 😀 The valley is extraordinary—it looks like the Valais, except the river is completely wild, no houses, no city—it’s unbelievable! We’re hitting the road to Queenstown through the Southern Alps! Extraordinary landscapes! We crossed a pass and arrived in the valley of the city—plains, lakes, fabulous mountains! Queenstown—the world capital of adventure and extreme sports! We stopped where bungee jumping starts; I didn’t jump—it wasn’t deep enough 😀 lol

It was 2°C this morning when I left my room to do something absolutely extraordinary—skydiving!! So, I jumped from a plane traveling at 100 km/h at 4000 meters altitude into the void! It was simply incredible from start to finish! The first jump when you leave the plane, the 45 seconds of freefall that seem like 4 seconds, falling at 200 km/h, and then the parachute opens and you fly in the sky like a bird, seeing nothing between your feet and the ground! Incredible!!

This afternoon, I’ll take a walk in this wonderful city! Many scenes from « The Lord of the Rings, » « X-Men, » and others were filmed in this area!

Tomorrow, with the group, we’re going summer luging, and tonight, we’ll party because the city looks just like a ski resort in Switzerland (it actually is a ski resort in winter here^^)

Today we left the adventure capital to reach a lake where we caught a boat and then a bus to the base of Doubtful Sound Fjord. A nice boat is waiting for us for a 24-hour fjord crossing! Incredible scenery between sea and snow-capped mountains with rainforest! Unbelievable! We did kayaking while the boat was stopped 😀

Early wake-up this morning on the boat in the fjord, back to the port! After crossing the valley and the lake, we joined our bus and drove through gorgeous plains—yellow wheat, dark, snowy mountains—an incredible, breathtaking scene! Really gorgeous! We stopped at the curling rink of the area, a highly popular and professional place, where we played some curling 😀 And now we’re in a small village near Alexandra, and it’s snowing! Tomorrow morning, it will probably be all white! The weather forecasts predict snow for the entire week in this valley!

A nice, frosty wake-up this morning—well, more frozen than snowy! Disappointing!! lol We left around 9 o’clock to hire mountain bikes and took a nice 1-hour ride across the morning hills—very pretty! That was the last activity we did before leaving for Christchurch! In the evening, it was raining and cold, so we didn’t go to watch the rugby match; we stayed warm in a bar, had a party, and watched the match for our last day together 😀

Last day on the South Island (Te Wai Pounamu in Māori)! I took the Air New Zealand plane to the capital, Auckland! It’s a beautiful small city between the sea and hills, very green! I climbed the observation tower—it has beautiful architecture! I’m staying in a brand-new Formule1 hotel—a double room with a kitchen, bathroom, and view of the city (including the observation tower)—so refreshing! All of this for only 45 NZD!