OK, so we found ourselves all set for our season in Queenstown with two weeks before we started work, and even I was getting bored with mooching about our new house with nothing to do. So we set off to complete the tour of the South Island that got stuck in Queenstown.
First off we headed to Bluff in the hope of getting some of their fine Oysters that are sold all across NZ cheap at the source. We were disappointed. The Rough Guide describes Bluff as a ‘tired’ town that never really recovered from a depression a few decades ago, and this is a distinctly accurate description. There appeared to be one high street nowhere on which seemed to take advantage of their famous oysters by actually selling them! Well, other than the chippys which deep fried them, but thats not how to eat good oysters is it! So we had our nasty deep fried oysters and chips and got out of there as fast as we could, heading into the Catlins coast.
The Catlins Coast is a scenic drive through some nice national parks and coastal roads, but being out of season and not too well signposted we didn’t have the best time here either. We either couldn’t find what were looking for or if we did it was closed. But we did find Curio bay and got to see an awesome sunrise:
I think it was on the way out of the Catlins coast and on the drive up to Dunedin that it became apparent that Jemima was making some rather unhealthy noises in all but 4th gear. We decided to plough on and see how she faired, so off to the Otago Peninsula we headed and here we had the opportunity to see New Zealands ONLY castle! Lanarch Castle, it was a bit more like a big stately home but shaped like a castle, still quite cool though:
From here we headed up to Christchurch, Jemima still sounding rough, we didn’t stop long, just long enough to visit a great Japanese restaurant we found, Mum’s I think it was called, anyone been here? Its nice anyway. From here we took the 2/3 hour drive to Kaikoura, by this point Jemima was sounding so rough we realised we couldn’t put off taking her to a garage any longer. So after a night just outside Kaikoura at a beachside camping ground with seals (or are they Sea Lions?) on the shore….
we headed to a garage. You know its bad when they get her up on the ramp and the guy just shakes his head and says stuff like ‘Theres some pretty major issues here!’ Turns out the gearbox wasn’t sealed right and all the oil had leaked out, so we’d been running her with no oil in the gearbox for 2000+ K’s! And it didn’t stop there! The joint holding the drive shaft to the gearbox was also shot and the guy casually said he didn’t want to worry us but if that went the drive shaft would jab into the road and flip the car forwards over on its roof! As if THAT isn’t going to worry us! Anyway, he didn’t have the parts and advised we drove, slowly, to Blenheim just 2 hours up the road where we’d be able to get her fixed. We did just that and after 3 days in Blenheim she was as good as new! Not surprising as most of her innards actually ARE new!
It was worth the $600 cause from here we drove to Marlborough Sounds which was amazingly beautiful and hilly, a new gearbox really helped! We simply drove to the end of the road and after 26k’s down a dirt track that wound along, round and over some extreme mountain terrain we arrived in a place called Titirangi. This is a camp site that exists solely because as far as I can tell the farm at the end of the road got sick of people like us just turning up so set aside a field and stuck some loos there to accommodate people. It was amazing. The best stop on our tour so far by a long shot, totally secluded, one other friendly Kiwi staying in the field with us, a completely deserted beach, great walks and all the rest:
That tiny white dot on the right is Jemima, how cool is this camp site!
Unfortunately we were so happy to have Jemima fixed we forgot to prepare properly and our gas ran out in the morning after the first night, we ran out of bread and I had no beer so we only stayed one night! Turned out for the best though cause this was our next stop:
This is the view from the path at the end of our camp site.
A similar story but in the Abel Tasman national park this time. We saw the road on the map and just headed right to the end. 1OK’s down a dirt road this time and we ended up in Totaranui. The beach here could have been in Thailand, it was stunning and eclipsed the last place we stayed. Plus I was surreptitiously collecting large ammounts of wood from a felled tree in the next field to burn in the large fireplace provided when the ranger pulled up in his car. I thought, bugger, rumbled, he’s gonna tell me we’re not allowed fires. But he hopped out of his ute and happily sayed, â€œgot it lit yet?â€ I was surprised but said nope, just about to, and he then says â€œright, well I’ve got some more wood for ya here if you want itâ€? Sweet! So we had a rip roaring fire that night and an even bigger one the next night. I loved that campsite, and would seriously recommend it to anyone visiting New Zealand, its accessable but isolated at the same time! Bring beer though!
When we left we were approaching our induction day at work so we drove hard down the West coast over the next 2 days and our final real stop was in Wanaka to visit Puzzling World. This place is awesome:
This is the same method they used in Lord Of to make Gandalf look so big next to Bilbo, cunning!
Someone asked me to hold it and just ran off! I got bored.
The most fun you can have for $10 I’d say, but I got cross and completely lost in the maze, stupid thing. So that was a week or so ago and we’ve now had our first week at work training and I love it! Working on the mountain is amazing and again I’d recommend it to anyone who hasn’t done it before, its class. Unfortunately we didn’t have the snow needed to open on the 10th so we are now opening this Thursday (the 15th I think) and this is looking good. We’ve had the first snow in June over the last 2 days and not just a drizzle either, the mountains are covered in the stuff!! And theres more predicted for the next few days too, PLUS, Elaine and me just happenned to have chosen Thursdays and Fridays as our days off so we get the first two days of the season free to board! SWEET AS!! As they say here in NZ.
So the town is buzzing with anticipation right now waiting to get up onto the mountains properly.
Thats where we are really, I’ll probably not be able to resist putting a post and some pics up after Fridays boarding to let you all know how it went and hopefully say I came out unscathed! So till then, later everyone.
Happy birthday Joe, it was the 11th wasn’t it? You never replied to my email?
COME ON ENGLAND!!!! Despite Queenstown police not wanting ANY bars to have licenses to show the games at 4 and 7am here 2 (yes ONLY 2!) got through on a loophole so I can and have been watching the games. England were unimpressive but the result is what matters so heres to Trinidad. And good old Sweden only drew, sweet as!
Theres just as many actual Kiwi’s (as in the birds) in New Zealand as there are Dingo’s on Fraser Island, ie, None! Its a myth I’m telling you, we’ve seen none whatsoever!
Kiwis are nocturnal + v rare. You can sometimes hear them at night if you’re camping somwhere isolated. They make a weird rasping sound.
Kiwis are nocturnal + v rare. You can sometimes hear them at night if you’re camping somewhere isolated. They make a weird rasping sound.
There are shed loads of Dingos on Fraser Island too Mike. And no, my birthday’s not for another month, but you can start the celebrations now if you want.
As it happens, me and Andy went to Mum’s. It was nice, except I discovered that warm sake makes me gag.
Sounds like you’re travelling with a lot of freedom though which is cool. The bus we went on was a good way to get round, but it seems like you’re exploring more than touring. Good work.
Try not to break anything.
Those campsites look fantastic, like Applecross only exotic! Glad to see all those early years of searching out castles paid off too. Keep up the good work!