When you're part of a team
It’s New Year’s Eve. I’ve just arrived at a holiday park in the middle of nowhere to meet up with Maddy and Kat, friends from exciting days out such as ‘getting lost on the way to some caves’, ‘cycling and drinking lots of wine’ and of course 'epic adventure on Mt Fyffe'. Then it rains.
Still, everything is awesome, and as some of you may be puzzling over the song title for this one I’ll let you listen to this one to find out more (although I recommend watching the movie as well!)
The rest of the evening was spent helping out with the quiz. Turns out I quite like standing in front of a large group of people and getting them to listen to me... Come midnight it was raining still but we still managed to have some Auld Lang Syne and fireworks. However someone then put Maddy in charge of the playlist and who knew that Let’s Get Ready to Rumble would clear a tent so fast? Turns out that’s only song for people born in the 80’s, and from Britain, and that wasn’t really the demographic of the tent. WIth sparklers and gin we somehow stayed up til 4 which meant it was 2015 in Australia by this time as well.
The next couple of days were very relaxing just helping out with some of the cleaning around the camp and planning out where we were heading on our road trip. The main question is would everything fit in the car? Last time there wasn’t much room and now there was four of us as Julie had joined us for #epicadventure2.
With some vague plans for walking around and camping, we headed off and started by eating lots of food (cheese, chips and ice cream) in Oamaru. We were headed to Queenstown for a couple of nights with the plan of not spending too much money (for those that have been to Queenstown, you’ll know that is quite difficult!) However with exception of a few beers to drink by Lake Wakatipu, and some Queenstown classics of a Fergburger and an ice cream from Patagonia we did pretty well. We warmed up for our trip further south by heading to Glenorchy for some walking. It’s a beautiful drive along the lake to get there, and several places in the area were locations for LOTR filming (an excitement to the four geeks in the car).
On leaving Queenstown we headed to Te Anau. With an obligatory stop for lunch at the pie shop, mmmm pie, we got some information on camping and tramping at the DOC office and then headed to the closest campsite for the night. It was a beautiful position, right on the shores of Lake Te Anau, which is where we sat to cook dinner, drink wine and the classic....play chocolate Guess Who? whilst watching the sun go down over the mountains.
The next day we set out on a two day hike next to Lake Manapouri which involved getting a boat across to the start of the walk. Most of the walking was fairly straightforward although there was some good mud to dodge through careful balancing on trees, something we all failed to do at some point. In the evening we stayed in a 4 person hut where we had the longest game of ‘what person is stuck on my forehead’ that I have ever been part of. Who’d have thought that Leonardo DiCaprio, Thorin Oakenshield, Sylvester Stallone and Smurfs would be so hard to guess! (Yes, Smurfs - blame Kat for that one!)
The next few days involved more walking, mountains, swimming in lakes, singing ‘Everything is awesome’, LOTR quotes and sleeping in cars and slightly too small tents in amazing campsites. On our final day we drove to the Milford Sound to go for a cruise where we were lucky enough to see a large group of dolphins playing around the boat. Slightly in need of a shower, we stayed at a holiday park that night and had our final bottles of wine together as well as swapping photos. Or in my case stealing photos as with these keen photographers around I didn’t need to take any. (So all photos here belong to Kat or Maddy.) This explains why I am in them all - posing as usual!
An epic coach ride later I was back in Christchurch for the 4th time! I have to get back to Auckland for my flight and it was cheaper to bus/ferry/bus than flying. However, being in the area meant that I could 1) go to Dimitri’s souvlaki food truck again and 2) go and stay with the Parkers - my wwoofing hosts from November. It was great to catch up with them and see them before I leave.
Since then I have been in Picton, which is right on the top of the south island, and is where the ferry leaves from. But it is also a nice little town and a base for walking the Queen Charlotte track which I did two days out of the three. You get the boat out to the Ship cove in the Queen Charlotte Sound, which is where Captain Cook anchored several times. Then you walk back towards Picton. Two days of relatively easy walking, but long distances - over 25km each day.
Since I’ve been in New Zealand I have found hiking quite meditative. Your feet are occupied so your brain thinks about all sorts of things. In the last two weeks I have noticed I have a lot less to contemplate, as earlier in the trip I kept going through questions like ‘what country do I want to live’, ‘shall I try and get a job in NZ’ etc. This time I’ve been mostly thinking about how I’m looking forward to living in the UK again. (Or at least living close to friends and family - maybe not so much the UK.) So the hiking has been a bit more restful!
Today I get the ferry back across to the North Island, and my time in NZ is almost done. I am heading back to Raglan Backpackers, where I was at the beginning of my trip, as it is such a great place. Then a week from now I will be in Santiago getting ready for a month in and around Patagonia. New Zealand has definitely been awesome, I have met lots of fun people who hopefully I will get to see again as lots of them are based in Europe. It’s strange to think in two and a half months I will be living and working in the UK....