Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur

We flew from Tawau to KL where we were staying for our last two nights of this crazy trip!

KL is a huge place and we should really have had longer here to explore fully, we also wanted to see our friend Calyn who we met in NZ but sadly didn’t have time ūüė¶ sorry Cay! Hopefully you will come to London someday ūüôā

We did manage to do a few fun things though, like explore the butterfly house and the Petronas towers.

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Malaysian Borneo: Diving Mabul and Sipadan

From River Kinabatangan we had a pretty easy journey down to Semporna (where we were heading to Scubadive).

The driver who had collected us from Sepilok, took us from the river to a lay by on one of the main roads where ‘his friend’ one of the local coach drivers picked us up on the local bus which was going to Semporna. This took about 4-5 hours.

When we arrived in Semporna, our main mission was to go and try to find Sipadan diving passes. If you have researched anything about Sipadan you’ll probably know these are pretty difficult to find, and there are loads of rumours about certain dive shops and whether the passes are legitimate or not. Also most of the diving passes come with accommodation packages as well, so anyway it was all a bit of a nightmare trying to arrange.

So we set off from the bus, sticky, sweaty, tired….the usual! and now semporna is not exactly the most glamorous of places which surprised us considering its the gateway to one of the most highly regarded dive spots in the world. There is a lot of poverty and as soon as we started walking through the town young children were clawing at us for anything, even the water I was drinking.

We traipsed around a load of the dive shops and eventually decided what to do….I won’t go into every boring detail but in the couple hours of walking back and forth we had to go through a fish market and by the harbor, anyway I started to feel really rough and starting throwing up on the side of the street. Danielle was really good, and checked me into the closest hotel which had a private bathroom sent me upstairs and carried on sorting out booking the diving trip! I was pretty useless in all of this.

But the next day we headed off to the island of Mabul where we were staying in the ScubaJunkie resort for three nights. Luckily I was feeling a bit better, and it was my 26th Birthday woop! I was too ill to dive that day but we just chilled out which was nice.

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So the next day we started our PADI Advanced open water course. We wern’t really planning on doing this but as we really wanted to enjoy Sipadan it was recommended as its quite a deep dive (with the open water you can only go to 18m but with the advanced you can go to 40m).

Our instructor Phil was really great, and again we were lucky as it was just the two of us in the group. In this course you learn a lot more about buoyancy, getting your weight right, navigation and you get to pick a couple of specific dives. We picked the night dive and drift dive. The night dive was terrifying and I almost had a panic when we first went into the water, but I clung to Danielle the whole time and survived!

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After three nights, when the course was finished we went back to Semporna and stayed in a hostel for a couple of nights.

We had managed to find a Sipadan pass but not with accommodation which meant we had to stay in Semporna and get the boat from there. The company we used were a ‘local’ company, so run by Malaysians. A lot of the dive shops are run by Chinese, Brits, Americans. It was really good, a tad dis-organised but all the equipment was decent! and we had a great guide who spoke really good English.

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From one of the most beautiful (underwater) places in the world to Kuala Lumpur. Follow us on the last part of our amazing journey. 

Malaysian Borneo: Sepilok and River Kinabatangan

From Mt Kinabalu  we were going to make our way to Sepilok, the hostel told us that a coach passes just outside but after standing around for a while, and waving frantically at all the passing coaches we decided to go up to the bus stop outside Mt Kinabalu gates (only 500m up the road), we got a taxi as it was pissing it down and we had too much stuff to carry!

So we waited at the bus another couple of hours growing increasingly worried there was no such magical bus and trying to make other plans, a taxi was on stand by for us but at 100GBP compared to the 20GBP for the bus, so we were really hoping the bus would arrive, and finally it did just as darkness was coming. It was then another 5 hours to Sepilok so we were pretty dubious about making it in time to a hostel, we decided to stay right by the orangutan sanctuary to save any delays the next day as this was the whole reason for the journey to Sepilok! This meant splashing a bit more money but it was definitely worth it, we stayed at Sepilok Jungle Resort which included a big breakfast, there was a swimming pool and it was only a 5 minute walk to the orangutan and sun bear sanctuary ūüôā perfect!

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The next day we had the most amazing time exploring the two sanctuary’s.

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In Sepilok we planned the next bit of our journey, we knew we wanted to go to the river Kinabatangan but wern’t too sure how. Transport around this area wasn’t very good. Luckily the hotel; Sepilok Jungle Sanctuary, sold river packages which came with transport so we booked onto one of these and the next day someone picked us up and took us to Kinabatangan river where we would be staying for a night, this included x2 river cruises: an evening and a morning cruise. We drove about a couple of hours to get to the river. The driver dropped us off and then we got a boat (little speed boat) for about 5 mins to the accommodation.

The lodge we stayed in was really lovely, would definitely recommend! (Sepilok Jungle Resort Lodge) and we were super lucky with all the wildlife we saw ūüôā our aim in Borneo was to see as much wildlife as possible and after a lot of research the river cruises are the best way in limited time. I was unsure at first¬† but they were really fun. Pygmy elephants, Macaque monkeys, proboscis monkeys, horn bills, baby crocodile……

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NZ: South- Mt Cook, Rangitata and Christchurch

Day 26: Mount Cook

We had a new driver for this last couple of days. Her name was ‘motors’ try and guess the reason why.

On the drive to and away from Mt cook are the most beautiful lakes and rivers you can see; full of sulphuric and glacial water which makes them ultra blue.

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Here we went on a smaller hike (40 min return) where u can get  a viewpoint of the glacier. Would  recommend this one if your feeling a bit weary, all the others are min 2 hours.

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Day 27: Rangitata

On the  way to Christchurch we went to the rangitata white water rafting centre where we got into groups of 6(+1 guide) for each boat and had a two hour, grade 5 white water rafting session.

Our boat worked pretty well together and we all managed to stay in the whole time with no tipping!  A few of the other boats had people fall out and one tipped entirely. This trip was great, such a fun time on the water and they also give you a decent lunch before you head out and a small BBQ when you get back.  Sadly the photos are extra but if you get together with the people in your boat you can buy them together and save some monies. The trip was $199 so definitely worth it.  Again, look on bookme!

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Day 28: Christchurch

Our last day in NZ :(. We had a good walk into town to explore the sights;  the free museum, free botanical gardens, shops in shipping containers. A small quiet place that is obviously still overcoming the devastating earthquake in 2011.

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In the evening we caught our flight, next stop Melbourne!

NZ: South- Milford sound and invercargil

Day 19: Milford Sound

We would say this is ¬†one of the main must do’s in NZ. The scenic drive to the sound makes it so much more worthwhile too. Again check out the pics but you need to see it with your own eyes to appreciate the scale of it.

That night we stayed in a very remote location called gunns camp, ¬†quite cool but don’t bother with the journey if you’re not already on the Stray bus going there.

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Day 20: Invercargil

There Isn’t a whole lot to do in invercargill but it’s close to bluff where you get the ferry to Stuart island and it’s also close to the catlins. We decided not to do Stuart island as we only had one night and you really need more time here to make it worth it.

The catlins are some really nice beaches. They’re normally meant to be a good ¬†place to spot dolphins, ¬†unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be in our case. Also there has been known to be penguin sightings! ¬†Although we didn’t see either of these but we ¬†did see a massive sea lion :).

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NZ: South-Queenstown

Day 16/17/18: Queenstown

It’s hard to know where to start when talking about Queenstown there’s just so much to do!

On the drive in just before you get to the centre, we stopped at the Kawarau bridge where you can do the first ever comercial bungy. This is the bungy I chose to do, it’s 43m and had the option of a water dip. I chose this over the nevis which is more expensive, ¬†134m with no water option. Have a think about what you’d prefer…If either!

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After doing the jump we headed into the town centre and went straight for a Ferg burger. We were a bit sceptical as there is so much hype about these burgers and there is a constant que. HOWEVER you need to go! Honestly one of the best burgers we’ve ever had and the que moves so quick you don’t notice it.

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We also went to the cookie shop and indulged in a huuuge milkshake!

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The next day we did the Queenstown hill hike. This was around 2.5 hour return and well worth the views. Also a great work out to burn off all that food!

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Queenstown reminded us of being back at Uni its full of tonnes of young people and loads of fun bars and little places to eat. We said goodbye to lots of people we’d met on the Stray bus here as s lot of people get off the bus here to find jobs etc.

We had a nice little party on the ‘beach’ by the lake and then did a little bar crawl.

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There was also a little surprise firework display! such a fun place always something going on.

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After a couple nights here we carried on the Stray bus to Milford Sound and Invercargill, but came back just in time for Christmas and to see Abbie!

Day 21/22/23/24/25: Back in Queenstown for Christmas!

Here we met up with our good friend Abbie who had been travelling on the kiwi bus and we all hired an airbnb in fernhill (just up the hill from Queenstown centre) to stay in over Christmas.  *

*Tip

If you’re In queenstown over Christmas/New years try and get your accommodation sorted because it all gets really booked up in this very popular place.

During these few days we booked to do the Nevis swing. Highly recommend!!! Danielle enjoyed it the most (just look at the photos).

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Other than that we mainly just enjoyed the views and various walks. It’s a great town just to ¬†hang out, especially by the lake. There’s a good buzz in town and you don’t always have to spend loads to have fun, if your on a budget; tell people your a local and try not to get roped in to all the activities *

Clear Cider!

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*Tip

When getting taxi’s say your a local and they’ll instantly give you a much cheaper rate with no questions asked.

Queenstowns version of uber is an app called ‘Take me’ definitely worth a look.

Generally, saying you’re a local is a way to get cheaper stuff; ¬†mainly drinks in bars. Surreal a cool pub with good roof terrace will give you a loyalty card and $5 drinks if you say you’re a local. And then some places will give you cheaper drinks if you say you’re with Stray or kiwi bus, for example, ¬†vinyl bar.

On Christmas day we cooked dinner in the flat, joined by Natalie who Abbie had met on the Kiwi Bus , then we went down to the lake where everyone goes with a tonne of alcohol and jumps in the icy water! Such a crazy Christmas, we were really lucky with the weather, so weird sunbathing on Christmas day!!

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NZ: South; Franz Joseph and Wanaka

Day 13/14: Franz Josef

The drive to Franz Josef was really nice, we stopped somewhere called ‘pancake rock’ so we had a good walk and then went to the cafe where they serve awesome pancakes :).

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It really is the wet west! It didn’t stop raining the whole 2 nights we were there, but it was cool rainforest rain with big fun droplets.

This was a quiet couple of days for us as the weather was too bad to do any of the glacial activities.

However, we did go to the Hot pools which were really fun especially in the rain; being in the (covered) hot water watching the rain pour down. Very relaxing!

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The place we stayed was pretty fun and had a bar attached, that night we had a fancy dress party where our outfits were chosen and bought by someone else (like secret santa style).

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Day 15: Wanaka

Wanaka is a stunning little place. ¬†It’s centred around a beautiful lake and has a great atmosphere. Again we chose to stay away from the group as we got a slightly better deal and a much better view at a hostel overlooking the lake, we would 100% recommend this hostel called BBC. ¬†We didn’t have the time but we would suggest hiring some bikes and having a good explore around the lake, there looked to be some nice trails.

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We did have time for a hike up Mt iron though which was a pretty good climb; got a sweat on! It took about an hour and a half return: beautiful views.

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