On 5th January 2016 I arrived by ferry at Picton. I tried to get a bed in the best BBH, but there was no vacancy. Anyway, the owners helped me to get a bed in a dorm in Picton and drove me there. I had to go and buy some groceries and was the rest of the evening busy by the Internet. Unfortunately that hostel was very basic. Furthermore did I only get an upper bed. I could not manage to come into the bed, because the ladder only was for one of the beds and there was no possibility to hold somewhere. Though I had to sleep on the floor. In the kitchen area, when I was eating breakfast, a guest made a lot of annoying comments about it.
I left the hostel around 9am and tried to hitchhike to Nelson. My first ride was for Spring Creek, because my driver had to continue to Blenheim. On the way I became aware of an area of dead trees and asked the driver, if he knows, why there are so many dead trees. He answered, that the trees are officially poisoned, because they are not native and there will be planted native trees soon.
I had to wait for three hours before another man picked me up. He was going back from work to his home. He was not very talk active, but nice. He explained to me, that the accidents on NZ-roads depend on the slow drivers. The faster drivers have to overtake… I have never understand, why someone feels, that he/she has to overtake, but I did not tell him that. I am really sorry for all my readers, who cannot see this amazing landscape I have seen during this trip. I hope all of you will get the opportunity to see New Zealand.
There are lots of backpacker hostels in Nelson, though I tried to get help of the professionals at iSite to find a bed, but some hostels did not have any vacancies and others did not have a contract with the iSite. I walked to the “Palace”, where I had to climb around 50 stairs, but they only had private rooms left. I told them, they should install an elevator and the assistant answered, that they usually do not have such guests, which I understand – for the lack of accessibility.
At the next place, the “InnBetween”, I did get a bed in a 4-bed-dorm for three nights and 35 NZD/night. The owner was friendly and the hostel refurbished and clean. Unfortunately they do not serve breakfast, but fresh bread every time of the day. I bought milk and yogurt as well as muesli and cheese in a supermarket. – Furthermore they offered unlimited wi-fi. The only problem for the update of my blog was the lack of time as well as the battery – even I charged it, it did not work long time enough for my emails as well as my blog. However that night I could not continue with my blog, because I fell asleep.
It was a new morning and the start of a new wonderful day. After breakfast I asked the owner how to go to the “Founders museum”. She asked me, if I have been to the Center of NZ. I have not, of course, but it was one of my goals, to see it. Though she drew lines on my map, how to go. To follow a map without a compass is not very easy and I am especially often walking in the wrong direction. So did I start already when I left the hostel, but I did take a look at the nearby church, which I anyway had planned. It is a historic place, because the stairway, which is build of NZ granite.
Afterwards I found the way to the “Center of NZ” easily. The trail was easy to walk, but steep. It was a safe trail, good for families. At the top there were lots of tourists, but not more than even I could enjoy the views. I made many photographs, but unfortunately they can never show the overwhelming views I have seen. Unhappily my battery ran out of power there.
I walked back all the way out of the Botanical Reserve before I saw, that I should have followed another trail halfway down for following the drawn line. I tried to find the right trail, but chose the wrong direction now again. Therefore I was walking on the Loop Track as well as to “Dennes Hole” in Brandford Park. These are places at the wrong end of the town. While I was looking for the Maitai Rd. a woman in a garden asked me if I need directions. First I did not see her, because the garden had a high wooden fence. At another place people tried to help me with their GPS (smart phone). Anyway I came wrong.
Following the road instead I found my destination “Founders Park” easily. There were two hours left before the museum would close for the day and I thought I will manage to see all the buildings without any problem, because that area was not especially big. Anyway the assistant at the entrance told me, that a door beside the entrance will still be open for leaving the park, when the entrance has been closed. I was in need of that door, I left half an hour late. Anyway I was a little disappointed, because many of the buildings could only be seen from the outside and just the entrance, too, because people were owing them and all was signed “private”. I could not take any photographs, because I had forgotten my tablet at the hostel.
Meanwhile it became very windy and there were lots of grey clouds, but it did not start raining. I ate a Hamburger meal for seven NZD at a Burger King restaurant in the city before going back to the hostel, where I made my laundry before answering emails and updating my blog.
This day was Friday, the 8th of January and it was raining cats and dogs, when I awoke around 7am. Though I tried to sleep a little longer, but without success. Around 9:30am I left the hostel. Fortunately it was not raining anymore, but soon it started to drizzle and continued off and on until the afternoon, when the sun was shining again and it was warm. For an hour or so around noon it was very windy as well. I was visiting Miyazu Gardens, but before I went to the “Founders Park” one more time and asked for the restroom in the hope, they will let me into the area without paying another entrance fee, but the assistant denied. She told me, that they do not have restrooms. Therefore I tried to get some nice pictures from the outside by the holes in the fence, even there were trees and bushes behind it.
I continued to the Miyazu gardens. It was nice with beautiful water lilies. I spend around an hour there and took a lot of photographs meanwhile I became interested in the Queen Elizabeth II Reserve, especially a sculpture I tried to find out more about.
I used a shared pathway back to the city and entered the Swedish bakery at Bridge Street. Unfortunately the variety was very low. Anyway I ordered a cinnamon bun, a chocolate ball and a cup of warm chocolate. The chocolate ball was for 2,50 NZD and I thought, while eating, I could have made a whole set of it for that price. I was happy anyway for the taste of the cakes.
The weather was still uncomfortable, though I went to the “Nelson Provincial Museum”. I started with the upper floor, because I did not find the entrance to the ground floor. At the upper floor an exhibition about WWI contained a room about brave women during these years, most of them nurses. This exhibition was very interesting. The former details about and items from WWI were similar to other countries’. Coming down the stairs I also found the history of the settlement and related subjects.
When I finally left the museum at 5pm the sun was shining and warming. I took some more photographs of the city and went back for a meal. Afterwards I updated my blog and made some corrections.
I am on the road again heading to Motueka. I was early up, because the other backpackers in my room had the alarm on 7am, therefore I already left the hostel at 9am. I had to walk almost half an hour for leaving the inner area, heading in the direction of Richmond. I met two other hitchhikers, said hello and went a little further than them. Unexpected a woman come against me, when I for the third time was on my way to walk a little further. She and her friend were on their way to Christchurch, but were happy to take me with them. They were both in my age or elder than me and had the godson of one of them also in the car. We hade a nice chat about hitchhiking. In addition to that, we were talking about Christchurch and all the earthquakes there. I asked them, why people still are living there and they answered me, that a lot have left, but people, who have to pay their mortgages do not have a choice. They left me after a while on the road to Motueka, my destination for the day. There I met one of the other hitchhikers again – a German guy on the way to Takaka, were I will go to in a couple of days.
There were a convenience shop at that place, one and another car stopped for that, so dit the one we got the next ride with. The German hitchhiker asked the driver for a ride, when he stopped for the shop and got told, that the driver will go into it. When the driver was back in his car, he signaled me and asked me, where I am heading. He told me, he will not really go so far, but it will be easier from the other place, to get a ride for the rest. When I was sitting in the car, the German asked if he was allowed to follow, too, and he was. When we were left by the driver, immediately another woman with her young son stopped. She took us both with us, actually she thought, that we were hitchhiking together.
I arrived at the Backpacker’s hostel for the following two nights too early, but was allowed to check in for the same price. I paid cash, because there was a 5% fee for credit cards. I left my bags and walked the town for a lunch (which I found for 5 NZD at the Acardia Cafe).
Afterwards I made the shopping for the breakfast, even I chose the backpackers, who offer breakfast, here was not. Maybe I read, what I wished or they changed their policy. Back at the backpackers I tried to find out how to come to the Abel Tasman National park, because Motueka is not so close to it as I expected. Though I went across the street to the iSite, but did not find any leaflet about it and the staff was not especially informative. I went back to the backpacker’s and asked there. Here I got to know some alternatives, anyway I had to go by bus and boat. Even I try to make excursions for free, this time I booked one of the tours provided – after asking the owner of the Backpacker’s very exact for the condition of the track, studying the leaflets word for word as well as asking myself if I really will spend around 70 NZD for such a trip. It seemed to me the best way to see and enter this National park, therefore I booked for Monday.
I am a lucky one, because I also have seen an advertisement for a free concert and have got to know, that it is a country music one. I found out, that it will be held at the camping ground, close to the airport. It seemed a good walking distance there, therefore I went there after have eaten my evening meal. I could hear the music early, though I could not miss the place. Finally there, I think I was the only one, who was not a camper. Fortunately I found a bench to sit on it, but it was in a very bad shape. There were an elderly couple singing. I think they did there best. Actually the woman had some problems with the cadence. When they sang a duo, it became worse. However another and younger singer was worth the walk. Unfortunately I did not have a repellent yet and there were a lot of small flies – they bite and it becomes like a sting of a bee or wasp – itching and nearly inflamed. Therefore I left already after an hour, using another way, than I was coming. I found the Motueka airport, an ugly industrial area with private houses in between, most of them as ugly as the whole area. Furthermore I saw some Old timers – mostly Austins and a couple of camping trailers, all in a very bad shape. The top of all was the clock tower, announced at the city map (see photograph). It was not higher than a three storey building! Back at the hotel I listened to my mp3-music and went to bed around 10pm.
It’s Sunday (10th Jan). I did not sleep really well that night, because the bed was shaking when the girl in the upper one turned around, though I did sleep a little longer as usual. Anyway I visited the Sunday market at 9am. I was more interested in, to see what people has to sell, than to buy anything, even I hoped to find insects repellent. So I did. It was a real local market with stalls selling fruit and berries, jewellery, clothing and art as well as a flea market. There were also a lot of cars selling food and even a charity one – selling painted “tattoos” to collect money for a library for Chinese children.
The sky became cloudy meanwhile I walked the market and it looked like it will start to rain. Therefore I went back to the hostel, bought 250 mb Internet access for two NZD and started working with my blog. When my tablet run out of battery, I was for a walk for a couple of hours, close to the river. The weather became better again and I bought an ice cream with real boysenberries. They make it here directly in front of one’s eyes. Nearly back at the hostel, but still on High Street outside the city center, I was asked of a driver if I want a ride. There were only a km left and I told him, that I prefer to walk. The evening I was a little more on the Internet, but I was quite early to bed, because I will go up early the following day for the hike at the Abel Tasman NP.
I was a little tired, when I wrote this. I awoke at 5:30 in the morning and ate breakfast at 6am. I packed my backpack and left the key as well as the used linen. The owner of the backpacker’s put it in the storage room for a later pick up. Then I was waiting for around an hour for the bus, which should bring me to a boat. The boat was from Kaiteriteri to Medland Beach and other destinations. I started my hike at Medland Beach and was hiking back to Anchorage Bay. The hike was estimated for 3:45 hours. I did it during that time even it was steep up and down several times. The trail was nearly as good as the one close to Katikati (see: North Island). Sometimes it became a little complicated when trees were growing onto the trail or were fallen over the trail. Other times it could be very steep down including a serpentine with a small edge and loose chippings. Anyway – and with a detour of 40 minutes to see the “Cleopatra pool” – I had to wait for the boat back at Anchorage Bay for an hour.
Back at Kaiteriteri we could not land at the same beach we started from, because the low tide. I did not find the way back to the bus, but a friendly family offered me a ride to Motueka, even I had not asked for it. In Motueka I picked up my luggage at the backpacker’s and walked some km in the direction out-of-town. I tried to hitchhike to Takaka. Only a few minutes later a French couple, who was on their way to a WWOOFing place offered me a ride for the whole way to Takaka. It was again throughout a beautiful landscape. They let me out at my destination and were going further.
By my late arrival at the “bare foot” backpacker’s in Takaka I only could get an upper bed, but I think I will make it, because it is different to the last one. Fortunately one of the other guests, a guy from Israel, did change bed with me. Though I had got a lower one. This hostel offers free breakfast between 7am and 10am as well as totally free wi-fi. I became tired early because I awoke very early and the hike, therefore I went to bed already around 9:39pm, but I listened to the music from my mp3-player for a while before I finally fell asleep.
A new day (Tuesday 12th), but the weather was grey when I awoke around 7:30am, though I turned around again and tried to sleep a little longer, but I could not. I had breakfast 8:30, made my laundry and asked afterwards, how to go to the beach. Even it looks like Takaka has a beach, there is not. That the town states with being part of Golden Bay depends on, that a quite big area including the mountains are called this. I had to go to Pohara and was asked if I tried with hitchhiking before, because I should do that for Pohara. I also asked how to go to the Waikoropupu Springs, for I have read, that these are the biggest and clearest sweat water springs in the world. It is not surprising, that they are holy for the Maori. Therefore even other people are asked not to touch the springs.
I packed my swimwear and my towel, filled my bottle with water and started my excursions. Meanwhile the sun had won over the clouds and the sky was blue with some long white clouds. I walked around a km for leaving the inner city, then I tried to hitchhike and it did not take long time before I have got a ride of a gentleman in my age. His route was throughout Pohara and he left me close to the beach. Anyway it was so close to a Holiday Park, that I preferred to be at another point, just a km back on the road. It was a tiny sandy bay. A family was already there and I asked them if swimming was possible. It was, but the water was cold and the waves high, though I was not in the water for a long while. I enjoyed the beach and the sun, but moved on after a while by walking in the water in front of the rocky beach. Here the waves were even higher, because the were stopped by the rocks. However I found stairs up to the grassland and was surprised to see, that I entered the Holiday Park. I walked through until the reception, because my backpack had become wet and I won’t risk, that my tablet will become wet. Fortunately the inner backpack was still dry. I asked the receptionist if I may use the toilet and she was very friendly and also explained, where I will find them. I changed my clothes and because I am short of cash – have to find an ATM – i bought potato chips with Barbecue flavour for 2,90 NZD. The chips were salty and very spicy, but I ate all the 150 g. I was happy, that I still had a lot of water in my bottle.
I walked back in the direction of Takaka and looked at another place for the beach. I found it being similar like the one I have been – even it was a sandy one, it was a small string only with a lot of sea wood at the shore. I went back to the main road and tried to get a ride, which I have got easily. The place, where I stood had a bench and a sign for hitchhiking :-). A lady in her 40’s picked me up and told me, that she will turn just before the town. During our conversation I told her, that I also will go to see the springs and she asked me if she should leave me close to them, because they are in her direction. I became happy about it and she left me 1 km from the springs, which I walked.
These springs were easy to find. I walked the route around them and hoped to come to a waterfall before I understood, that the spring has to come from the underground. The water there is so amazing clear like tap water. Meanwhile the temperature has become very hot, though I tried to get a ride already from the car park, but I did not and was walking for a while before a car stopped. The couple from the North Island on their holidays told me, that they had seen me walking and hoped I will get a ride. They could only take me to the hwy 60, which goes to Takaka, but that was already helpful. I had to walk over a bridge, which gave me lots of opportunities for photographs. Behind the bridge was a farm and in front of it a place to stay for hitchhiking. Unfortunately I decided to be in the middle of that place, because the driver, who stopped was angry about, that it was not really space enough for him to stop. Anyway he gave me a ride to the supermarket in the city.
I bought a six-pack yogurt, a “Wild English elderflower”-lemonade (which was delicious), a banana, 1 scone and 1 bun for the amount of 12.44 NZD paid by MasterCard. It still feels very expensive for me, even it is around 8 EUR (ca. 80 SEK). On my way back to the hostel I thought I will go out a little later, when it is not so hot anymore and take some photographs as well as go to an ATM for some cash.
I had a cup of coffee and ate my scone before I started with my blog again. Unfortunately it did not help to charge meanwhile I use my tablet, but I tried to upload some photos. Later on I had a simple evening meal and went out again at 8pm to take some photographs. That was a good time for it, because there were no longer a lot of traffic.
Back at the hostel I was quite early to bed, but listening for my music before I tried to sleep. Unfortunately I had such of the few nights I could not find any sleep. Maybe I should not have been drinking the coffee in the afternoon, maybe the tea with the evening meal made me keeping awake.
Still tired I was up 6:30am and left the hostel almost at 9am. I had a long ride to manage and was afraid I would not make it before dark, because I had to change direction and highways. My fear was surprisingly totally wrong, I only needed four hours for the trip from Takaka to St Arnaud. I chose this new place, because it seemed to be very nice situated. Furthermore I did not expect, that I have to go back to Richmond to come there. There actually is another possibility if one had an own car.
My first driver was a woman with two children. She was on her way to Richmond. At that time I still thought I could go another way, but Richmond and only asked for Motueka. From Motueka I “only” got a ride (of a man in his forties) to Richmond, though I took it. In Richmond a young woman in her thirties picked me up, but she lived just some kilometres away, but close to the highway 60. Actually it is easier to get a ride from the countryside, therefore I accepted happily. My next driver was a gentleman in his fifties, who should not go all the way to the Junction for St. Arnaud, but did it of his own will, that means, I was not asking for it. He had to drive back a couple of kilometres for his destination: His home. It took a while during which I met two other hitchhikers. A girl, who was heading for Greymouth and a guy from Israel, who had the same goal as me, but he took a rest and did not try to come further before or at the same time I have got my next and final ride for the day. This time it was a female driver again. She was on her way to farmers, delivering some items. We had a good time together and she explained to me, that she has been living in Christchurch before, but moved to Nelson because of the earthquakes. I also have got to know of her, that the cows on NZ are taken in-house during the nights, because of the milking, only calfs and meat animals stay outside 24/7. During the trip she had to go to a farm, but that did of course not bother me. It also took a short while only. Finally she did not only drive me to the hostel, she also drove a little longer, before she dropped me off for showing me the nearby “Nelson Lake”.
The sun was shining all the morning and also at high noon, but at arrival the sky had become grey, but I still could sit outside at the restaurant nearby the hostel, what I did, because I could not check in before an hour later. I ordered a “Beef Nachos” with Guacamole and sour cream. It was delicious even there were more beans than beef in it and I would have liked to get more Guacamole. The meal was a little expensive, because this is the only restaurant in this tiny village, far away from the nearest highway and towns. The good thing was, that there was no need to order something to drink, for the first the waitress did, was to bring half a liter of water.
I spent the afternoon by trying to upload pictures for my blog, but the Internet was so bad, though it was not possible. I tried to find a bed at my next destination, too – as well by couch surfing as in a hostel. I have to wait for the answers. Furthermore I was to the convenience shop across the road to buy cereals for the breakfast as well as some bread, cheese and milk, because breakfast neither is included at this place nor free coffee, tea and milk, but the Internet is for free. Anyway I first use my free wi-fi from my provider.
During the evening I did freeze and feel sick and was wondering if I had got a sunstroke or just a cold. I tried with a painkiller and that helped immediately, though I think I have just got a cold, what is not surprising me because at the “bare foot”-backpacker people opened the windows day and night and my bed was directly under one of them.
This other day in St Arnaud started with a grey sky, but the weather report did tell, that it will become better, though I updated the text on my blog and booked some hostel nights as well as I tried another time to find a host for couch surfing. When I finished the sky was mostly blue with white clouds and I was leaving the hostel for a walk to “Nelson Lake”, hoping that I can take some beautiful photographs. It was really a wonderful view, the lake surrounded by the mountains. I took some pictures before walking an 1-hour-trail. While I started from the Kerr Bay, it ended at the West Bay, though I was walking on the street back to the hostel. At that time it was really hot and I was thinking, that I would not mind, if one of the cars passing me would stop and I would be asked if I want a ride. I told myself, that I will not try to hitchhike. Some minutes later did a car stop and the nice couple in my age did actually ask me, if I want a ride! I was soon back at the center of the village, bought an ice cream and enjoyed the view.
Back to the room, I was surprised because there were two males sharing the room with me now. The night before, we only have been females in the room. I have had mixed rooms before, though it did not matter for me, but I did mind the smell from their socks and shoes, which I told them and they placed her shoes and socks outside. Anyway, they put these in the hall during the night, which also horrible as well. I could not use my tablet this evening, because it had not charged during the day, but I tried.
It was already a Friday again, the 15th. I left St Arnaud for Kaikoura. I was trying to hitchhike already at 9am, but needed an hour to get my first ride, because most of the people were on their way to Nelson. Though I finally decided to take a lift to the junction for Nelson / Blenheim. Well there I did get a lift with a French couple on their holidays. They left me in Blenheim, because they were on their way to Picton. Close to that place, where they had left me was a Railway Cafe & shop. I was already hungry again and ordered a sandwich for eating in.
Afterwards I had to walk around 20 min to find a good place for a pick up. I heard before, that Blenheim is not a good place for hitchhiking, because there are buses. Therefore I expected to be waiting for a long while, but already after 15 minutes a camper van stopped. An English couple on their holidays were this time my angels. We were talking a lot during the trip to Kaikoura, stopped when we saw seals and they drove me all the way to the hostel at the other end of the town, passing the holiday park, where they had booked.
After checking in I was going to the town center for buying milk and buns for the evening meal as well. I also booked a dolphin watching for the next day (for 90 NZD) and was at the iSite for more information. I was wondering if I also will make a whale watching, though I picked some leaflets and went back to the hostel, for eating my evening meal. In the room I meet a German in her late fifties, who also is travelling by her own, but not hitchhiking and only for her holidays. I still had problems to charge my tablet, even it is working from time to time as well as there are problems with the Internet. I was happy I could update the text of my blog.
On my second day in Kaikoura i awoke to a grey sky, drizzle and only 14°C. I tried the Internet after breakfast and it was excellent. I think it depended on, that few people were using it at that time. Though I could upload some photographs and did that for the “North Island” site. Half an hour before noon I went to the provider of the dolphin watch, trying to get my money back, but I have got explained, that the dolphin watching will take place. If we won’t see any dolphins we will get our money back, but the amount of 40 NZD. I also was asked if I have got sea-sick before. I have not! Fortunately I was dressed for the trip and ready to join it.
The event started with a video introduction, which was especially important for the participants, who paid for swimming with the dolphins. Afterwards we were brought by two buses to the two boats, which were waiting for us in the harbour. These boats were not big at all, but of the size I often was wondering about, how the can drive on an ocean. It was a fast ride until we saw a whale tail. The boat jumped on the water and up and down as well as it was rolling with the waves. It did not become too much for me, but for some passengers. The came to sit in the open area with a bucket in their hands. I was happy, that I had not to be there. During the trip we saw the one whale, different kinds of seabirds and lots of dolphins. It was amazing to see them and more amazing to see their jumps. Unfortunately it was hard to photograph them, because they changed their positions between every jump and also that they for a good photograph were not close enough. Anyway it was much better to see them in their natural environment than in a little basin in a zoo.
Back at the hostel I started my laundry (my trousers became wet on the boat and I also had some other clothes as well as my towel to wash), ate my evening meal – during which I had a nice chat with an Australian girl – and was on the Internet again.
Time to leave Kaikoura. The weather was the same as the day before, this did not give me the possibility to take some nice photographs of the surroundings. Interested readers may Google about Kaikoura instead. I had to walk all the “Esplanade” and around another km to find a place for hitchhiking that day. I have to go to Christchurch. Buses are there more than one, but the first one leaves Kaikoura not before 1pm. That is too late for me. Some of the drivers of the cars, who did not stop for me, made the one or other sign, but after half an hour, a driver of a Mobil home stopped. He was the only one in the car and happy to get some company, but he told me, he will not drive all the way to Christchurch. That did not matter for me, important was, to leave Kaikoura in the right direction. During the ride I was wondering by myself, why he was driving alone with a Mobil home. Later on he told me, that he has been in Auckland and bought the car, because it was much cheaper there including the costs for the flight and the diesel.
He had been driving for more than two hours, when he took a rest and made a phone call. He also bought fuel, because it was cheaper at that place. Finally he bought take away coffee for both of us and told me soon, that he will drive me all the way to Christchurch. It would only take 20 minutes extra for him, nobody was waiting for him and it was still drizzling. I was very surprised, but happy and also gave him the name of the hostel and the street, when he was asking. When we arrived at the suburbs of Christchurch, he told me, that they are new or have grown rapidly after the earthquakes in 2011. He also told me about the financial situation of the churches, which makes it impossible for them to repair their buildings. He drove me very close by the hostel and I told him, how thankful I was.
Directly after I had checked in, I was visiting the city and took a lot of photographs as well as a video from a building, which was partly destroyed. It was to long for taking a photograph only. What I saw was depressing. It looked like 5 or 10 years after WWII in Berlin or Hamburg, Germany. There were a lot of damaged buildings, some of the streets showed still cracks or were repaired, so you still could imagine the cracks. There were lots of construction sites as well and only a few buildings in use. The hostel was one of them, another one was a restaurant, where I ate a big, grilled sandwich with chips (sandwiches are always served warm here).
Later I walked to the South City with the shopping mall. It seemed, that all shops were situated there since the earthquake. Maybe they were already there earlier. On my way back to the hostel I also found an area with designer shops in shipping containers. The new look! Furthermore I saw a memorial and a bridge, which were construction sites as well. However the park behind seemed to be OK.
The meal at the restaurant had made me so full, that I did not need more to eat this evening. I uploaded some photographs, unfortunately my tablet run out of charge, though I could not add them to my blog. I was quite early to bed, because I had to be outside the hostel at 6:50 for the shuttle to the railway station.
Monday, 18th January was grey and rainy most of the day. I was thinking about the Swedish song “Sommaren är kort – de mesta regnar bort” (the summer is short – the most of it is rainy) and the German song “Wann wird’s mal wieder richtig Sommer?” (when will it become a real summer again?). When I was told in December, that January and February will be very hot and water will be restricted I was looking forward to the sunny days. OK, it has been some, but I like to get more and more and more, even I do not need the humid heat from Malta.
I have been early up this day, because I booked a scenic journey by train, the Alpine route. The start was 8:15am and I had to be there almost 7:55am. For coming there I could book a shuttle service by the hostel – so I did. It was for only 5 NZD, not expensive at all compared with the prices in Auckland. Me and another female backpacker were therefore waiting in front of the hostel at 6:50am, the shuttle was 10 minutes late, but in good time at the railway station. It was already drizzling, when we were waiting in front of the hostel and became worse during the journey. From time to time it seemed, that the rain stopped, but continued soon again. While arriving at the destination, Greymouth, the sun had won anyway, but only for a couple of hours, the rest of the day it was raining again.
I found the “Duke hostel” easily, because this town is very small. Once it has been a gold mining city. Jade is also found here. The hostel has very unusual colours outside as well as inside. The outside is violet and orange. Inside nearly all colours from the sixties are used. The hostel looks like it was not refurbished since then. Anyway it is very clean. Wi-fi is free and unlimited, even every guest gets an own password. In addition to that there is unlimited free coffee, tea, sugar as well as bread and jam for breakfast and every evening at 7 free soup.
I walked the town and took some photographs as long as the sun was shining. Furthermore I was to the only supermarket for this town and bought some bread, yoghurt etc. I tried to find alternative to milk products, because I am sure now, that I do not feel well after eating or drinking milk products. On my way back to the hostel I already had use for my rain coat again. After the evening meal, including the soup of the house (hostel), I updated my blog again and even uploaded some photographs as you can see. Unfortunately my tablet always runs out of charge before I can finish. This hostel has a book shelf and there I found a book in Danish, which looked interesting and would be possible to read during three evenings. I started reading it. I read around 1/3 of the book before I was going to bed in the shared 4-bed-room, where I was the only female.
I awoke early, but left the hostel around 10am after asking the owner, in which direction I have to go for hitchhiking to Punakaiki, my destination for this day. Still in the room I was aware of, when the owner were lifting up the mattress of a traveller, who left this morning and checked with the help of a flash light for bed bugs. We came to talk about it and he told me, that he checks every bed every time someone left, because it is possible someone bring them in with a sleeping bag and that this is the reason why he provides linen. It is the first time I have seen this check in a hostel and I am impressed and happy about it, what I also told the owner.
I tried to start hitchhiking “at the best place”, but unfortunately there were road works. Though I was standing some meter in front of it. I was still thinking about, if that place is possible, when a man in his fifties with a little truck stopped and offered me a ride to the next village. Nearby his destination, there was an auction held, therefore I was walking further, close to the end of the village. It took a while before a car stopped and two or three were pointing out, that there will be a bus, but after a while a young French couple with a camper van stopped. Fortunately they had the same goal as me and I was allowed to sit in the “camping-department”. I did not have a seat belt, but only soft items around me. We talked all the time with each other and they told me, that their parents are younger than me, but would regrettably not do that.
We walked separate ways once we arrived at the Punakaiki “Pancake rocks”. It was a very easy walkway to see them, accessible by wheelchairs. The view was amazing and one could read, that so far none had found out, who the mountain could have layers and layers like pancakes on each other. The walk was very short and did not take long time, therefore I was looking at the iSite what I could do more in the surroundings and found out, that there is a cave only 5 minutes walk away. I had a rest with a cappuccino and a piece of carrot-cake before I continued.
While I reached the cave a couple, younger as me, entered the cave. I was happy not being alone in the cave, but when I saw, how difficult it was for the younger woman to go down into it, I decided not to try and walked down the road until I came to tracks for hiking the area. I decided to take the shortest and easiest one. Unfortunately there were a part, which was not very easy with limestone stairs and a little cave to force. This track was quite busy, at the cave was a young hiker exactly behind me and I asked him for going first, though I could see the shape of the cave and the way through. There were some more challenges, but all went well as well the way back included the cave.
Coming out to the car park, I could not find a restroom. I remembered a restaurant 5 minutes away and was going there to ask, if I may use their’s. It was not a problem at all for the owner. They seemed to be used to it. I was also thinking about, to eat a snack there, but I changed my mind when I saw the cake in the plastic wrap. I walked towards the iSite again for trying to catch a bus this time, but well there I heard, there is no more bus in the evening. Hitchhiking was the only possibility to come back to Greymouth. I bought an ice cream and tried to stop a car as soon as I had eaten it. It took no long time a girl from Malaysia – as I understood it – stopped, but she actually told me, that she was from “Middle Asia”. We had the usual chat and also she called me famous for travelling like I do. She added that her mother and grandmother only speak Mandarin and therefore should have to go by a usual bus tour with a guide, what they cannot afford. When we came to Greymouth and she had stopped to let me leave, she asked me for a selfie of us both, what I did not refuse.
Entering the hostel, the owner told me, that there still might be soup in the kitchen. I took a bowl of the soup and two of my buns for my evening meal. Afterwards I used my tablet until it run out of charge. Than I continued with the Danish book and did not stop before I had read it all at 3am. Noiseless I entered the room and fell asleep very quickly.
I missed my bracelet from Barcelona. I’m sorry about it, even I only paid two EUR for it. It was a nice souvenir from Spain. I have to buy a new, similar one, the day I will visit Barcelona again. – I am not sure if I lost it in the car on the way to Punakaiki, when I took of my jacket or if I forgot it when washing my hands somewhere.
For this Wednesday I planned to go to Shantytown, which is an open-air museum from the gold digging area. I left the hostel at 10am and looked for a good place for getting a ride. I found one, but anyway I had to wait for around an hour before a Maori (I think, he was) gave me a ride to Paroa, exactly to the junction for the Shantytown. I started walking and tried to find another ride. I have got it, when I have been close to halfway. I was driven directly to the entrance of the site.
Even I was told of the iSite staff in Punakaiki, that there is no entrance fee for the place, there was. Anyway I was lucky, because I only had to pay the fee for seniors. The seven NZD I saved here, I paid later for a healthy Mango smoothie, which I had together with a vegetarian pasta. However I had already spent three hours at the place before I ate something. After a first orientation I was going by the museum train and left during the way back at the sawmill. It took much longer time for me than for all the others to read the information at this stop, even I did not read all about the engines. The walkway to the gold mining area and further to the buildings had a lot of information boards, too, which I read all. I became late, but at the end I have seen all of the attractions, because some things I knew from all the museums I was visiting during my entire life. The museum were locked directly after I had left. I tried to get a ride with one of the cars leaving the car park. The fifth of them, a couple from Arizona, USA, gave me a ride close to the Duke backpackers.
I had my evening meal (even this evening including the soup of the hostel) and wrote then my blog. Unfortunately did the battery collapse before I was able to upload pictures. I was quite early to bed by two reasons: For the first I did not get much sleep the night before and on the other hand, I had to leave the hostel the upcoming day before 10am – as it is usual when not booked the following night.
I am ready to go further at 9am (Thursday 21st Jan). I have got back the deposit for the key, haft one more chat with the owner of the hostel and also got a piece of cardboard for my hitchhiking. It is not only easier to hitchhike when drivers see where one will go, I also had difficulties to remember the name right of my next destination: Hokitika. By the way, the Duke backpacker hostel was also a hostel I can recommend. The owner, Dory, was really working for to keep the hostel clean, the kitchen included. Furthermore did he always greet me with my name and I could ask him about the surroundings as well as he told me, where the best places for hitchhiking are in the different directions.
Around half an hour later I was with my stuff and the sign for Hokitika at the right place for getting a ride. Maybe I was waiting 15 minutes, maybe 30 when a New Zealand couple with a camping bus stopped. The told me “to make myself comfortable” in the living area. It was really comfortable there! They were on their way home at the South of the South Island. This day they only would drive to Haast (my next goal). Hokitika is only 40 km from Greymouth, therefore I arrived absolutely too early at the hostel “Birdsong”, three km outside the little city. The owners welcomed me anyway and I was already allowed to put my bags into the bedroom, gave me a code for the wi-fi as well as a leaflet about Hokitika including a map. He offered me also a push bike. Unfortunately all these backpacker’s, which offers push bikes has only mountain bikes or “mixed” bikes. I cannot use them anymore. I am not sure I can handle a quick break with them. Therefore I have got explained that the best way to town is by the beach. Meanwhile I walked the road on my way into town, I walked the beach on my way back to the hostel.
I do not know where time was gone. I did not make a lot of different things and each of them did not take a long time, but it became 7pm before I was back at the hostel. I had spent a lot of money in the town and I had to carry some kg, especially because I collected some stones at the beach – some green, which I hope are jade and a white one with yellow stripes, which could be granite with a little gold in it, but the last one I took for the shiny white colour.
This day I bought a pair of socks (should have bought two pairs, because they are great), made of merino wool and possum fur, a necklace of jade – which I had bought after attending a free tour of the Jade factory, new headphones and some groceries. I also ate a pie with sausage and had an ice coffee, but that were only for ten NZD, even the groceries I bought were only for 10,70 NZD. Furthermore I had been at the library to write two official letters. I was happy that it was possible, even I had to use “MS Words”. I did print them there, too as well as I saved the files on the desktop and mailed a copy to myself. I deleted them directly afterwards from the desktop, of course. The socks and the necklace was a gift for my own. The only two I will allow me during my stay on the South Island of New Zealand. I am really happy, that it works so well with hitchhiking, though I could afford these items.
Back at the hostel the owner welcomed me again. I put my groceries in the kitchen, the other items on my bed respectively in my bag, charged my camera and prepared my evening buns. When I had finished my evening meal, the owner of the hostel came in for a chat with me. By the way he did not believe me, that I already am 65 years old before he had seen my passport. He thought, I only am 55 years old 😊. How I spent the rest of the evening you can imagine, I think.
This Friday is as grey as the day before and it drizzled as well, though I decided to visit the museum. On my way into town I got an unexpected ride by the female assistant of the hotel. I enjoy the museum, telling about the gold and jade history of Hokitika, that means of course also about shipping and trading. It has been dry, while I was enjoying the exhibitions and is still dry, when I am looking for a cafe or restaurant. The first two or three I pass ar closed between 2pm and 5pm and it is already 3pm. I felt very hungry and took the first one, which is open. It is Sallie’s Cafe. I ordered “waffle chips with cheese and bacon”. There is not much cheese on it and less bacon, but too much salt. Fortunately water is for free.
Afterwards I would have liked to take the Heritage trail, but it started raining again. Even I have a good rain coat, it is no fun walking in the rain as long as one is not in love – and I am not. Nearly back at the hostel it stopped raining, but I was tired by walking the street and soon I relaxed at the hostel. I took a seat on a sofa, where a man in my age already was sitting. We had a really good chat and at the end he offered a big portion of ice cream. That was special, because just this day I found and bought a card, telling that ice cream is the best anti age cream, because one feels seven years old, eating ice cream. This evening I was already in bed at 10pm.
I was very lucky this Saturday (23rd Jan). I had to hitchhike to Haast for around 300 km. It is the first time, that I had to hitchhike such a long distance during a day. I started at the hostel, because it is some km outside the town. I knew, it was not a good place, because the allowed speed is 100km/h at this place. After a while an elderly male driver stopped and offered me to take me into town. I was grateful for that and even he was living not so far in town, he drove me to the other side of the city. It was a good place, where he left me. Other hitchhikers did know that as well. When I arrived there, a guy already tried to get a ride from this place. After 20 or 30 minutes, none of us had got a ride, but a girl was coming from the city center and joining the young man, which made it more difficult to him to find a ride. After a while, another girl were left by a car. She gave the guy a hug. They were talking with each other when a car stopped for me. It was a couple with the same destination for the day like me. They made space for me and told me, that they will stop a couple of times to see some special places and take photographs. That did not matter for me, of course. I was happy to get the ride and that I was not in need to look for another one on the way.
It became better than I ever could imagine, because there were great places, this American couple from Vancouver, Washington, USA was stopping at, places I had read about and thought I never will see them. One of them were that river with turquoise blue water. The other place was the Franz Josef Glacier. Meanwhile this couple did follow a one and a half hour track to the glacier, I was only taking three shorter tracks, but with wonderful views.
We arrived at the backpackers in Haast at 6pm and I was checking in immediately. What a surprise, when I later met this couple there again. The accommodation is a combined motel and backpacker’s and the only accommodation in Haast. In addition to that was this day her birthday. The couple offered all in the dining room a piece of ginger cake with a lemon curd topping as well as a glass of wine. I will never forget this great ride – the best I have had so far – as well as the love between this couple. I am very happy about hitchhiking.
The backpacker’s is basic, only four showers and toilets for all the backpacker’s dorm rooms, but they are not signed. Therefore it took time for me to see, that there was more than one. By the way: All is unisex, not a dream! There are no electrical contacts in the rooms. The one in the chill out area is broken – only the one in the dining room area works, which I occupied most of the time. Neither coffee nor tea is offered, there is a machine, where you can buy it for three NZD. At the info board in the dining room is a big model of a sandfly. There are also signs, that one have to pay ten NZD, if one is in the room between 10am and 2pm because the cleaning. I never have had that before. There is no free Internet at all, if one want wi-fi, one has to buy online. So I did – 1 Gb for 24 hours for 5 NZD. I am uploading pictures as long as the Gb last!
What a weekend! It was raining cats and dogs all the day. I only was out to the combined supermarket / cafe and had a warm meal as well as I bought some milk and cheese. During the day were very wet people arriving, some of them by push bikes. I continued to upload pictures and hoped the Gb will last for the site about my adventures on the South Island. Unfortunately time was out before I could use the whole 1 Gb. Anyway I checked my bags accurately for my bracelet, but I could not find it. Though I have to accept, that it is gone.
Monday, the 25th I was going further. It was still raining cats and dogs, though I dressed in my rain clothes, the trousers as well as the big cape. I walked to hwy 6 and took a place in the direction of Wanaka. There were no many cars going in that direction, but the first one gave me a ride. The driver was a guy with dread curls and beard. His father was on the other front seat. He looked like a business man, but was wearing shorts. They were from the USA. I was thinking about, that all these people from the USA, who gave me a ride, probably won’t have given someone a ride in their home country. Both were not very talk active, but during a stop the father asked me the usual questions like, where I come from etc. He also answered my questions, though I could find out, that they are father and son. The son stopped from time to time to take photographs, therefore I also have been able to take some, what I appreciated.
In Wanaka they stopped at a petrol station. Fortunately my backpacker’s was very close to it. I am impressed of this hostel, too, but the lower bunk bed is not high enough for sitting up. It is not even possible to sit upright att the edge. There are no many toilets and showers either. There is a combined shower / toilet for disabled people, but all people are using it, that means there is a long waiting time. The reason might be, that the other showers are unisex without space enough to dress. Otherwise I can recommend this place, too. The owner is a nice guy, who tries to help one. This day I only were shopping (twice, because I forgot to buy tissues and instant coffee) groceries and other necessary things and enjoying the sunshine and warmth at this place. Back from the second shopping I saw a rainbow in the sky and took some photographs of it. The best one I saved.
My second day in Wanaka I was hiking for seven hours. I had asked the owner of the hostel if he can recommend me a trail and he did, describing it very well. I also asked him, were I could go horse riding and he gave me information about it. I chose the one, which also has a riding school. I could have called them for an appointment, but preferred to go there and talk with the owner in person, because my voice is still like it became by the surgery of my thyroid gland and hard to understand by phone. I had to walk for more than an hour in one direction. The hiking trail was in the other direction, though I already have had a hike of more than two hours before I started the recommended four to five hours walk. The recommended trail had lots of scenic views, that means lots of opportunities for taking photographs, which I used most of them. Finally coming out to the road, my feet were so tired, I did not continue my route, but took a hitch hike. A nice French guy on his way to Cardrona gave me the 5-minutes-ride into Wanaka.
Back at the hostel I cooked my evening meal. Actually the meals were cheaper as at a restaurant and different. I did neither have salt nor pepper – at this hostel is no “community shelf”. Fortunately I did need it either. The day before I had a half grilled chicken with bread and a salad. This day I had two small sausages with crumbs around, bread and mushrooms and had the same left for the other day.
In the evening I was on the Internet again, because I could not get anyone involved in a conversation. Here are young people staying in a group as well as in pairs and a German Family. The mother was not interested in to speak to others but her children. Maybe she was not able to speak English and did not expect of me, speaking her language. When the battery of my tablet had to be charged again, I was listening to my music on the mp3-player. I was quite early to bed.
Today is my extended stay day and I was horse riding. The owner of the riding school picked me up at the hostel. The riding was great! I had my own instructor and she allowed me to have the horse without a lead. Though the horse had to follow my commands. I also came up quite easily on the horse, because they had a step, they even are using themselves. I had a farm ride only, but up and down hills and with wonderful views. Unfortunately I forget to ask the instructor to take a photograph of me on the horse. I had to pay 75 NZD, but it was a whole hours ride and worth the money. The instructor told me at the end, that I am a good rider. I only needed more practice for riding faster. By the way we were riding trot for a short while for giving me the feeling. It was so different to my first horse riding (on Malta).
I had to walk back to the city center and I enjoyed that walk. I was thinking about kayaking, but the weather was not warm enough. Therefore I went to the iSite, trying to find something else to do, but what I would like to do (a helicopter flight) was to expensive and others were to far away. I did a little cheaper alternative, I went shopping. I bought another pair of socks, this time Merino wool only. These socks are thinner than the one I bought in Sweden and fit better in my hiking boots. I also bought another towel – a smaller one as I bought before (just for my face). By the way the cashier told me, that I speak a good English ☺. Furthermore I was looking for a t-shirt with long sleeves, but I did not find any, which suits me. I need it just for chilly nights. I also entered a charity second-hand shop and found singles as well as LPs, but none of Freddy Quinn. These records were not taken care of either.
I had a late lunch at 3pm, updated my blog and was then walking to the look out close by. It was an amazing view from there, too. I took some photographs and walked back to the hostel, ate something and was early to bed, but found two electrical contacts, though I could charge my tablet. I was listening to my music again for a while, before I fell asleep.
Fri unlimited wi-fi, but a very expensive town! OK, I have to start the day in Wanaka. I left the hostel around 9pm for going further to Queenstown. I had to walk 20 minutes for coming to the road for Queenstown. I did not have a cardboard, because this road was signed for my destination. I tried for half an hour or maybe a little longer to get a ride, but nobody stopped. One driver did show me a Kiwi (bird). I know, there are such drivers, but very few of them. A lot did show, that they unfortunately could not give me a ride, the rest did not show, that they care. Only a minute or two after I was thinking, there might come American or French tourists and pick me up, a car stopped and the driver was an American guy on his holidays. He had rent the car for one week only, just for going there, where no buses are going. He told me, that he is happy to pick up hitchhikers, because he is travelling alone. Answering my question, if he even in the USA is picking up hitchhikers, he told me, that he occasionally has done it, but that one has to be more careful in his home country. Not only the surroundings of lake Wanaka are very beautiful, but also the landscape between Wanaka and Queenstown as well as the surroundings of Queenstown.
In the last village before Queenstown he picked up two more hitchhikers. He drove me to the backpacker’s hostel, I had booked a bed in a dorm. The name of the hostel is “Deco backpackers”. I arrived too early (as usual), could not check in and my big backpack was stored in the luggage room. I went to see the town and saw the sign for the Gondola, which I had read about earlier and would like to use. So I did! The price was 32 NZD (19 EUR, 21 USD or 176 SEK). It sounded a little much for me, because I still often think 1 NZD = 1 EUR), but I decided to make this ride anyway. On the way up I was together with a couple from the USA, on the way down a Kiwi woman was my company, both were very nice and talk active. In between I was enjoying the views, walking the skyline loop, eating a big ice cream because one scoop was for 3,50 NZD and two scopes for 4 NZD. These scopes were, like found at other places on New Zealand, like two, in this case four scopes, which I am used to. I took lots of photographs and a couple of movies. Anyway one has to see these most beautiful views to understand the beauty of this country.
Back from the “Skyline” I was checking in at the hostel. Unfortunately in that room only an upper bed was available. I told the assistant, that I might have difficulties to climb the ladder and she was so helpful, that she changed rooms for people, who have not arrived, for offering me a lower bed. This I call service minded. I was also happy about, that this hostel has separate toilets and showers for ladies and gentlemen. In the kitchen there are lots of electrical cookers and fridges as well as there is a big store-room for food, without need for cooling. Anyway there is not really space enough. Last but not least, the hostel has unlimited free wi-fi!
After the checking in I went to the city centre because I was very hungry. I found a pizzeria, managed by Asiatic looking people, who sold pizza slices as well as pizzas in different sizes. I ordered a 9″ pizza and I became full. The price was less than ten NZD, even it was with chicken, bacon and more. On another place I bought a Mango smoothie for getting some vitamins. Looking for an iSite I found different info points and booked a helicopter flight as well as a cruise in the lake Wakatipu. The cruise will be tomorrow (Friday) and the helicopter flight will be on Saturday. The cruise was for 57 NZD (34 EUR, 37 USD, 315 SEK), the flight for 155 NZD (98 EUR, 100 USD, 855 SEK) – and that was the cheapest one, but if the weather is bad and the flight will not be made, I will get all my money back – the shop assistant was checking the weather report and recommended then the Saturday – on Sunday I will leave Queenstown. Back at the hostel I was connecting to the Internet. Unfortunately I did not feel well, because the groups of young backpackers look at me, if I did not have the right to be here. Most of them have for sure a working visa. In the evening they play cards or similar, read, use the Internet or are partying. I do not mind that, but they could be more friendly.
During the night I awake because one of my roommates and a friend of her, were chatting in the room. It did not help asking them to be quiet. It seemed they were a little drunk. Before I felt asleep again, I heard something about “Is this her’s?” When I awake in the morning around seven, I could not find my key for the room even I looked for it extensively and had to go to the toilet. I put one of my shoes in the door for coming in again. I made it the same way when I was showering. I met my roommate in the rest- and shower room respectively on my way there. She looked like the “day after”. I did not greet her. At 8 o’clock I was at the reception, explained the situation and ask for another key. I have got one without losing my deposit. After my breakfast the owner of the hostel told me, that all is OK, my roommate had left my key – she was not brave enough to give it to me and I have not got any excuse. Those details are not good for a hostel, of course. I really cannot recommend this hostel, because in addition to, what I already have written, the kitchen is always dirty, the fridge more than full (even there are some) as well as the shelves for the food, which has no need to be chilled. One can be happy, when one find his food.
After breakfast I went to the Queenstown Gardens. It was closer as I expected. I walked first around at the lakeside and afterwards on the upper side, where the flowers are. I still had time enough, before my cruise boat will depart that I made two short visits at art galleries. I also read a text on a public low wall, talking about the history of Queenstown. I anyway was in good time to the cruise. Many people were waiting for it at different places. At least we could understand, where we had to be for entering the steamer. I was surprised to see the loading of the coal. It is really an old-timer. The cruise was crossways over the lake to a farm and resort. It took one and a half hour to come back to the start point again. Though we have seen the mountains around the lake from more than one side and they are different, but really beautiful from every side.
From the harbour I was soon back in town again, walked to an Mexican restaurant and had a burrito with beef, vegetables and Guacamole as a dip as well as a glass of pineapple juice for the price of 16 NZD all together. It was time enough to go to the birds life permanent exhibition, where one can see real Kiwi. By the way, did you know, that Kiwi cannot fly, because they are in lack of wings? The entrance fee was not cheap (45 NZD), but it is for the environment. Even a relatively high amount from the tax is used to keep the NZ nature alive, but that is not enough. You have to think about, that NZ only has 4 million inhabitants.
Coming back to the hostel, I put my camera and my mp3-player on charge. After my evening meal I took the mp3-player already with me again and went to the lounge for the Internet. I have got some new pictures added on my blog and updated my text. I have to switch my SDD-card again for adding the photographs from Wanaka and Queenstown. I hope, there will soon come the day, when I can add the reminding photos from the North Island.
The flight with the helicopter was a great experience, even it started unusually. The pick up at the hostel should had been at 10:30am. I was already outside 10 minutes before that time, but no car came to pick me up until 10:45am, though I called the company and the told me, that I had not called for the weather check, but a car will come in 5 minutes. It was a taxi, which arrived soon. It was paid by the company even they have an own mini bus. I was in time for the security check, but afterwards I was told, that the helicopter only has space for 5 people and I have to wait for the next one. My booking was for the first one. Around 20 minutes later I had one more security check – together with the new group of passengers. I would have been happy to sit in the front, on the left hand side of the pilot, but another woman was faster than me and had got the seat. Fortunately I had a window seat. It was fantastic to come so close to the mountains! I had the feeling, I nearly could touch them. Soon we reached the mountains “The Remarkables” and landed on a plateau. We left the helicopter, so did the pilot. We were going close to the edge of the mountain and photos were taken. The pilot became a photographer, using our cameras. Before he flew us back to the airport of Queenstown, he asked if someone else would like to sit in the front of the helicopter. A man said yes and I said “I would like to” and I was the lucky one. I was not thinking about, that I might be afraid, because the helicopter is closed. The take off was anyway a little scaring, but as soon the whole helicopter was in the air, all was OK again. It was wonderful to have this sight, especially for the cloudless sky. Down again, I have got a picture of me in front of the helicopter. For the way back, I asked for to be dropped off in Queenstown at a good place for hitchhiking to Arrowtown, because I would like to visit that city. They told me, that they only have service for Queenstown, but they will drive me to Arrowtown. So they did and they did not ask for extra payment.
In Arrowtown I walked the main shopping street with original buildings from the foundation of the town, bought fudge, a (rugby)football (pirog) and an ice cream. After ha walked the historic trail (the extended shopping area, I walked to the memorial look out and further to the start of the Anniversary trail. On the way I saw a Catholic church and tried to make a photograph of it, when a lady asked me if I would like to see the church from the inside. She had to check if anything is OK, because there will be a wedding the following day. Of course, I was interested in it. I was surprised that the church was so simple. Plain white walls with framed paintings. She also showed me the model with the new building, they hope, they can build this year – if they have money enough. Back at the hostel I thought about, she may have wished I will make a donation.
I continued then to the river, where the track “Anniversary trail” can be found. The simple city map did not show, if it is possible to come directly from the road to the trail, though I asked a man working in his garden. Soon I enjoyed walking along the river watching children and adults swimming and playing in the water at different places. I walked on the right hand side of the river, crossed a bridge and went back on the left hand side of it. At the end I had to cross another bridge. I did not walk back to the town center, but to a good place for hitchhiking. It was not easy to decide, where to be, because there were two possible roads to Queenstown. I chose the one, I was not coming by before. I think it was a good decision, I have got a ride after a while, but there was little traffic. The first driver seemed to be a farmer. He was on the way to Frankton, halfway to Queenstown and apologised for his dirty car. The other one was a guy on his way to the city center of Queenstown for shopping. He was laughing out loud when I told him, that I earlier had taken the train on the scenic route between Christchurch and Greymouth. He knew the mess with the tunnel and told me, that this route should not be advertised like it is done. He also mentioned, that the buses in the area are horrible and one never know, if the scheduled bus really will come.
This evening I had a chat with a German girl. She was in New Zealand with a working visa and stayed at the hostel for a longer while. She talked about her experiences. She seemed had made a lot of negative of them, but that was hers, seen with her eyes, though I do not write about them here. Unfortunately I did not get any time to update my blog. The night was more calm, than that one before.
I left Queenstown the following morning (31st Jan) with destination Te Anau, which is situated south of Queenstown. It is told, that it is hard to get a ride from Queenstown, because a lot of buses ar driving through the town with many destinations. Actually there are not many and it is not so easy to get a seat on one of them, when not booking online almost a week ahead. I was lucky I had got a piece of cardboard from the hostel and wrote my destination on it. While standing beside the road cars where not stopping for a while, some drivers made signs meaning “sorry” e.g. when the car was full, on did show me, that I am mad, but after a while a young woman stopped and offered me to take me to Frankton. I was happy about it and entered her car. In Frankton it was easier to go further. An Australian man in his best age offered me to take me further. He planned to go to Invercargill and then back to Queenstown during the day. He took me to the “Five rivers cafe”, where the highway for Te Anau starts. We had a lot to talk about during the trip as well as he were stopping at scenic views. He took also photos with me (with my camera) and told me to make funny things (see photos), though they will not be so boring. He also invited me for a cup of tea.
The cafe was very close to the junction and it was not the best place for getting a ride, but after a while a couple from the Netherlands stopped with a VW-bus. They had camping gear in the back and no seat, though I was sitting on my backpack this time. Anyway we had a great chat and they left me very close to my hostel. This was the first hostel there was an en-suite bathroom. It was a 4-bed dorm. Two of my roommates where from Germany and the third from Switzerland. All of them were calm and friendly. By the way the hostel had different buildings. In the main house were the kitchen and the lounge. Our room was in an other building. It was a nice hostel, but the receptionist. She was snooty and unfriendly.
Soon I visited the iSite and booked a trip for the Milford sound after I have chosen the cheapest of all alternatives. I also tried to book a sightseeing tour for Te Anau. There were an interesting offer to get insider information with lots of fun of a local guide including walks. The amount for this sightseeing was just 20 NZD. I walked further to another iSite and there the booking was managed. I had time to spend before this sightseeing started, ate in the “Sandfly”-cafe and bought afterwards an ice cream, which I ate in the park.
The sightseeing trip was great and lasted around two hours. The guide was knowledgeable, funny and caring. For the first time in my life, I have seen as well as fed Alpacas. He was quite new in the business and I was his only customer at that time. It was my first opportunity to go in sandals in the forest. It was an easy walk and he told me, that there are no snakes in New Zealand. I really enjoyed that trip. It was a very good possibility to see and learn a lot about Te Anau and surroundings in a short time.
Afterwards I bought yogurt and bread at the supermarket. Even that evening I chatted with other travellers. I tried to update my blog, but the Internet connection was very poor and I also had difficulties to charge my tablet.
A new month showed up. The 1st Feb I had to awake early, because I was picked up by a coach for the journey to Milford sound at 8:15am. I was ready and waiting from 8:05am. The coach was for 15 people, but we were only 10. The driver stopped several times during the trip for special views etc. It was time enough for photographs. Until the first stop I was sitting at a side window. Coming back from the photo tour ;-), I asked the driver, if I was allowed to sit in the front and it was, but there was no door at that side, though I had to climb over a barrier. It was a little tiring after a while, but I had a great and the best view of all of us, but the driver.
At Milford sound we changed to a cruise boat. It was a little smaller one. If you are wondering what there is special with the Milford sound: It is a fiord. There are a lot of waterfalls. At the biggest and greatest one, the cruise ship was very close, though all of us on deck became wet. Fortunately the captain did tell us before, that we should take down our cameras. I think he had fun. By the way was a lunch (wrap) included in the price as well as free tea. If you are interested in the costs. This one was for 99 NZD – the cruise was for 1h 40min. We were back around 5pm, because we had photo stops on the way back, too.
In the evening I managed to post some photos on twitter and I booked the rest of the beds for NZ. At one place – Gore, the home of the country music – is no backpacker’s hostel. Luckily I found a couch.
I had not finished the sightseeing of Te Anau, therefore I left my big backpack at the hostel and walked to the cinema where I watched a movie about the Fiordland (the region). It was recommended to me from more than one, but for me it was just a movie. All the records were taken by helicopter. A big part of the area is not possible to access even by hiking. A little disappointed did I afterwards pick up my backpack at the hostel and walked to a good place for hitchhiking to my next destination Manapouri. This place is just 20 km from Te Anau beside a lake with the same name. However the Freestone backpackers, the only hostel around, is situated three km out-of-town.
Meanwhile I was waiting for a ride, a girl came for the same reason to the same place. He was going a little further on the road and tried her luck. Actually he was earlier than me at the backpackers. I was first picked up of a mother and her grown up son from Auckland, who was driving. They were only going halfway, though for the continuing ride I was waiting in nowhere. That helped me to be picked up of an elder couple from Auckland as well, who did feel sorry about me, asking for a ride from nowhere. I told them, that it usually is easier to get a ride out-of-town. This couple was just driving around from Te Anau and enjoyed to drive me to the hostel. None of us knew about the long driveway, though I had to bring my backpack over the gravel to the house. There were some buildings and an info-hut. I left my heavy backpack at the hut and walked further up to the office, because I found out, that my bed would be in the house close to the info-hut.
I was the first and only for the room and could choose bed. It was in a family room, named KEA. All the rooms had names of birds. There was only one toilet and one shower in the house as well as a family sized kitchen. There were nor keys to lock the rooms neither the house. There were even no lockers. Unfortunately there were no Internet either. The owner thought, I would choose the double-bed, but I did not. I packed up my necessary items and enjoyed the silence. Later that day I walked to the town center for making some shopping and eat something. Directly on the side of the shop there were a cafe offering Hamburger. I went there and ordered one, but the owner told me, that he cannot sell a Hamburger to me, because – he had no buns 😆. He asked me to go to the restaurant next door, what I did and ate a “Hamburger without buns” there. Afterwards I went back to the shop, because I had to see if they sell washing powder in small quantities. They did, but I had to pay 2 NZD for so much, I have paid between 0,20 and 1 NZD for at the hostels. This hostel did not supply washing powder and I really had to do a washing. On the other hand the ice cream was less expensive, though I bought a scoop as a dessert.
I have been around a while, before I was shopping and eating, looking for the diary shop. I did not find it, before I asked a female Kiwi and got the direction as well as I have seen a village or town, called “Pearl Harbour”. Therefore my feet were tired and I tried to get a ride. After half an hour I gave up and walked back. Suddenly, 100m before the gate to the hostel, a car stopped I not even had tried to do. The female driver asked me, if she can give me a ride. I thanked her and told her, that it is not necessary, because I was on the way to the nearby hostel. She insisted to drive me up the driveway. I was really happy about this totally unexpected offer. She told me, that she is a neighbor to the hostel and often helps backpackers.
During the evening I booked the rest of the hostels for New Zealand.
The second day at this hostel I stayed there the whole day, made my laundry, filled my private records for my economy, checked the answers from the backpacker hostels and also had a conversation with other backpackers. One of them was from Israel and the other one from Texas, USA. The last one is a professional photographer and had got 600 USD for pictures for a magazine, though he was looking for a job, he could combine with the photographing to make his living in NZ.
Another sunny day came up (4th Feb) and I left the hostel around 9am with a cardboard sign for Invercargill. I decided to try on the road for Lumsden and not go back to Manapouri. It was a really good decision, because even there were fewer cars in that direction a woman between 50 and 60 picked me up by her van. She was on holidays for two days – between two jobs. Her car missed the door panel on my side and had spider webs in the front, but it was a nice ride, because she drove the scenic road to Invercargill and stopped at the Gemstone Beach. She also picked some small gemstones for me, because I did not find any.
She also stopped in Riverton, where she bought some books and I therefore was allowed to see the exhibition for free. Anyway I made a small donation for I liked the museum. When we came out it had started raining. I asked her half an hour later to drop me off at the iSite, because I found out, that the “Southern Comfort” hostel, I booked, was very close to it. Entering the iSite I asked as well for the direction to the hostel as for a free city map. 10 minutes later I entered the hostel.
Wow, I think I have never seen such a nice hostel. It was not only like a home, it was pretty furnished with very good-looking wall papers. The hostel was clean as well. In the dorm were five beds, four bunk beds and the one I chose. The bathroom was en suite and there were only females in this room. It was a little paradise. Unfortunately I forgot to ask for the code for the wi-fi, so I used H+ from my NZ phone and Internet prepaid account.
I was out very soon again and it also stopped raining. I walked the town by following a part of the Heritage trail. Invercargill has a famous water tower (for NZ’s conditions). Therefore my first goal was this tower. On my way to the next point of interest I found two supermarkets and a shoe repair and key service. I was looking for one for a week for the repair of my watch strap. I asked him, if he can do it, what he promised, but I had to come back the following day.
In Don Street were lots of photo motives. When I tried to take the last photograph for this street I suddenly fell slap-bang. I could not explain how it happened, there was no chain, nothing but a little border maybe 10, maybe 15 cm from the border of the sidewalk. I cannot imagine how that border could be the reason for my accident. I was lucky again, not to be hurt, but my new camera was damaged. I could have cried. Anyway I decided to try to get some money from my travel insurance for buying a new one – hopefully the same make and model.
I went back to the hostel and had my evening meal. I also had a chat with a 60-year-old woman from Vienna, who was traveling alone as well, but only for her 5-weeks-holiday. Furthermore we had a conversation with a French guy.
On the 5th Feb I was going further to Bluff, where the highway 1 begin, but before I was leaving Invercargill I was visiting the museum, went then one more time to the town center. I had to pick up my watch and I bought a new camera – I actually got exactly the same as my last one. In addition to that I tried to find the old wharf, but without success. Though I went back to the hostel and fetched my backpack. It was around 2:30pm. I had to walk for half an hour to find a good place for hitchhiking on hwy 1. I had to wait for around one hour before a woman in her 40-ies picked me up. She told me, that she have seen me, when she came into town and that she lives in Bluff, comes from the USA, but lives in New Zealand for 10 years and has got her NZ citizenship some days ago. Furthermore she told me, that I should go to the look out on the hill, see the Maori marae and the Stirling point. She dropt me of in front of the hostel, which is situated in the beginning of the village and close to the ferry terminal. The few shops one can find a little further as well as a restaurant and a cafe.
I entered the hostel and left my backpack downstairs, because the main dorm was downstairs. I went up to the office and “only” found an assistant, who told me, that the owner will be back at 7pm and that I have to pay to him. He will then also give me the ferry ticket. Though I went out for the Stirling point and the signpost. I made some photographs on the way there, e.g. of a lighthouse. At Stirling point I tried to make a good selfie with the monument. I tried several times and continued then to the signpost. Unfortunately the battery of my camera was exhausted and I could not take a photo of the signpost even I tried, because sometimes it helps to have the camera off for a short while for taking one more photo. I decided to try another time when back from Stewart Island. I also decided to go to the marae and the look out at the hilltop, when coming back to Bluff and went back to the hostel. There I answered emails and made a notice for my blog, because I did not have any Internet connection.
Next morning I went to the ferry for Stewart Island, when I had checked out. I was very early – actually I could have caught the earlier ferry, but I had booked the later one. Fortunately there was a waiting area, where I could sit.
About my travel to and from Stewart Island and the view days there, you can read at the site Stewart Island.
9th Feb I was back in Bluff, but it was raining. I dressed in my rain cape and went to the hostel, I have been before. I left my backpack there and started to go to the marae. Even it was still raining I took some photographs, however I was standing under a roof, because I was afraid, my camera would become wet and damaged by that. Afterwards I went further to the signpost at the beginning of hwy 1. Meanwhile I was walking the rain stopped and I could take brilliant photographs of the signpost. Happily I went back to the hostel, picked up my luggage and bought a bottle of water at the nearby supermarket. Then I took a sit on a low wall and ate my egg.
I was on the road again and tried to come to Gore, the NZ hometown of the country music. I had made a sign of cardboard, though people could see, where I want to go. I had to wait for a while, I think it was around half on hour, before I have got my first ride for that day. It was with a couple from Scotland on their holidays. They have been very nice to talk with and even their hotel was not in the direction I should continue, have I been driven of them to a good place for coming further. After I have been waiting for around 15 minutes I have got a ride with a woman, who lives at the countryside ca. 20 km north of Invercargill. It had become very windy and she told me, that I was welcome to come into her house if I have not got a ride after half an hour. I had no chance to see the house from the inside, because it took only some minutes when a woman from Gore stopped. She drove me all the way to the iSite in Gore. With both of the women I had good conversations as well and I have been told almost of one of them, that she usually do not help hitchhikers, but because I was female, a little older and do not look dangerous, I have got the ride.
I went with my backpack to my host, who was volunteering at the “Hospice Shop” nearby the iSite and put my luggage in her car. I looked for a cafe or restaurant and found both in one, named the “Howl At The Moon”. The opening hours told me, the restaurant should be closed, but a sign told me, that the restaurant is open. Therefore I entered it and asked, how it is. I was allowed to order a snack and chose “wedges with sour cream”. I have got such a big portion, I could not eat it all! I continued to take a look at the town center, bought new sunglasses, because the other ones had got scratches and bought yogurt at “New World”. At 4:30pm I met my host again and she took me to her home. At her home, she showed me the guest room with the Queen size bed, gave me her wi-fi-password, invited me for her home cooked dinner and had a good chat with me before she had to go to a meeting for the “Gore Repertory Society” and I was allowed to follow and attend the meeting. Actually they have the same problem like other groups have in Germany and Sweden.
I awoke early the following day, because I was freezing. I actually left the bed after my host had left for volunteering at the “Field Days”. I thought this event would be in the town center of Gore, but it was 15 km outside the town I have got to know at the iSite after ha walked all the way to town. In addition to that, I asked if they are playing country music somewhere in town the upcoming or following evening, but they told me, that will be none. I first sent my host a message, that I am in town, but she did not answer for a while, though I called her. Meanwhile she had arrived at home again, but agreed to come to town again – she told me, she should anyway volunteer at the “Hospice Shop” again. I invited her for lunch, which he became very happy about. Afterwards was she going to volunteer and I to the Art Gallery.
On our way back to her home she told me, that her daughter had invited her to visit Invercargill and attend “Shakespeare in the Park” and asked me, if I would like to follow them. We left at 4:30pm for Invercargill, got the best seats and enjoyed the comedy “Twelfth Night“. I learned as well about such kind of events, that meant the “Burger and sausage and coffee and wine culture”. The lawn seating in front of the chairs etc. I was highly impressed of the amateur actors (mime and enunciation – I could hear and understand every word) and also of the setting och scenery. It has been a wonderful evening, sponsored of the daughter of my host, but my Hamburger I paid for.
This day was warmer as the day before already in the morning. I had to go further, but followed my host to the “Field Days” for learning about rural culture. We started 8:20am from her home. Meanwhile she volunteered again, was I walking the area and have seen the newest technology for diary and fields. In addition to that were items offered, which could enjoy the farmer’s wife like jewellery and clothes, but also work clothes for the farmer and his helper. Even rural journeys outside New Zealand were offered, unfortunately not till Sweden. I had promised to bring my host a “flat white” (coffee) when she finished her job. When I was waiting for my turn, farmers wifes offered free sausage on toast-bread with mustard, tomato sauce and fried onion. I asked for one with everything for my host, because I learned the evening before, that she likes it this way. I took just an ordinary one (just a sausage on a bread – without anything else), because I was interested in knowing the real taste of the sausage.
Afterwards my host drove me to a good point for hitchhiking (actually at the back door of a school). I did not believe it, but a truck with a trailer stopped and offered me a ride! When I asked the driver, how to get my luggage into the truck, he explained, that I have to enter the truck first and he will then lift my luggage up to me – and so we did. He was a really nice guy even he had lots of tattoos. He told me, that he has seven children and all with his wife ;-). He told me, that he drives from Gore to Christchurch twice a week, because it takes 8 to 10 hours one way and he is from home for two days each. He also told me, that he earns much more money on the South Island than he would do on the North Island and that he has 3,500 NZD a fortnight plus extra amounts for meals and overnight stays. In Balclutha I had to leave the truck because my destination was “The Catlins” and Owaka. While I was looking for a good place for my next hitchhike I thought, there is only a ride on a tractor left, so many different vehicles I have used.
I found a good place, but thought, there might be a better one. Meanwhile I was moving towards the direction to Owaka a guy stopped with his car and asked me, if I will head to Owaka. He had seen me on the other road before. He was on his way for work. He had to repair a machine and got further than Owaka. He left me at the Road for Surat Bay, where my next hostel is situated. I was not sure, that it was the right road, even there were a sign for Surat Bay. Therefore I asked an elderly couple – around 70 years old – in their car about the way. The told me, they will bring me there and that they have done that a week before with another backpacker. They really drove me all the way into the yard of the hostel, even they had nothing to do there!
There were no supermarket, but in Owaka. When I arrived an English couple had just arrived. They were very pleasant and helpful. We went together to the beach for looking at sea lions and their baby and afterwards by car to town for shopping food. We had an interesting conversation and also stayed at the tea-pot collection. This evening it was raining.
The hostel had only two showers and two toilets, but I did only found one of them each. They also had prohibited to wash our clothes, because the rainwater reserve was not good enough. I was thinking, when they will have enough with rain water again, thy will no longer have guests.
12th Feb was my first whole day close to Owaka and I followed with the receptionist, who drove another backpacker to town. I started hitchhiking again, this time only for two destinations not very far from the town. Actually the backpacker and me were going into the same direction, but he went to the supermarket giving me a choice to get the first ride. I was still there, when he came back, anyway I have got a ride first of us after a while. That hitchhiking sometimes takes time, depends often on that the cars are full already or that they will stay in town. My drivers this time was a couple in my age from NZ. Also they told me, that they usually not take hitchhikers. They took me to the junction for the Purakaunui Falls. From there a very kind Israeli couple, coming from the other direction, picked me up. They had a camper van and I was sitting on the middle seat between them.
We did not have company at the falls and I did come to the car park later than them, but they just started and stopped again, when they saw me and asked me if I will continue with them. I became very happy about that, especially later during the day, because they were going to more attractions around Owaka – such I would like to see, too. Though we were to Jack`s Bay and the Blowholes
as well as to the Nugget Point and Roaring Bay.
At “Roaring Bay” was a hide, from which we could watch penguins. The mass was awaited around 7pm, therefore were my drivers leaving soon. I had got a place in the first row and was waiting all the time. Fortunately around every half an hour a penguin was coming up on land. It really was a cute view. They often had to try more than once, because the surf. I have seen five or six penguins, but could only take one photograph. I also took a video.
Unfortunately I could not stay awaiting the mass, because I had to find a toilet. I was not going back to the hide, because when I left, it was crowded and I had no chance to get a good place again. I hitchhiked from the car park for the “Roaring Bay”, but with a car coming from the “Nugget Point”. It was a Chinese family, living in NZ for some years, on their way to Invercargill – the grown up daughter was very good in English, her parents not as good as her. They were very kind and asked me if I feel comfortable and that I could help myself, if I want to open the window. I left their car in Owaka at the junction for Surat Bay. I started walking the five km to the hostel and had a short talk with a woman living close by. A km later I anyway tried to hitchhike. Meanwhile a few cars did not stop, this woman I talked with stopped and drove me to the hostel, even she would walk her and other dogs in another direction. This is the sunny side of the Kiwi-people! They are really helpful.
At 13th Feb I took a walk for the “False Island”. I had asked at the hostel, how to go and they tried to explain it for me. Anyway I did not find the way after the description, but I met a mother and her grown up son from the Netherlands, looking for the same track as me. They were staying at the “Holiday Park”, next door from the hostel and they have got the same description as me. The son did find a track and we walked over private land to the top of a hill. We had a good view, but did not see the “False Island”. Maybe we has been on the top oft it. Anyway we have seen the “Cannibal Bay”. We could not see any track to that bay and we would have to go back by road. At this bay sea lions as well as penguins has been seen, but late in the evenings. We decided to went back to our accommodations. Down from the hill we had a rest before walking the beach again. We could see tracks of the sea lions in the sand, but no sea lions and I was thinking about the stupid tourists earlier that day, when they were following swimming sea lions very close with their cameras. Even sea lions can become dangerous for people, because they are usually not sky, I think they were leaving for a more lonely beach to protect their baby.
At the hostel I ate a little more, checked my photographs from the day, made notices and tried to update my blog, but the later I could not do, because the Internet was not working good and I only had 50 mb for a day for free. There were neither phone contact in that area nor my H+ or 4G was working.
The next day (14th Feb) I had a “hop on hop of” hitchhiking to my destination Dunedin. From the backpackers to Owaka I have got a ride with a couple in their 50-ies from the USA, then I was going with a little younger couple from Denmark in their mobile home to the junction for Nugget point. After a while I get a ride of a mother with her daughter for Balclutha. She actually drove further, but went back to pick me up on their way to church. In Balclutha I had to walk a quite long bit before I found a good place for hitchhiking.
Well there I have got a ride with a young woman from Taiwan at her holidays. She left me in the city center, not far away, where I had to go. The “Central Backpackers” were easily found and I liked it for the female dorm, the free breakfast and the unlimited wi-fi.
Dunedin is a real and beautiful city. I was walking around the inner city, especially to the famous train station and looking for a place, where I could eat. I found a Chinese restaurant with an “All you can eat buffet” for 15 NZD and I ate more than usual, because there were some interesting salads as well as desserts. I chose apple crumble with ice cream and took twice. Meanwhile I did my laundry at the backpackers I checked my emails as well as twitter and made my notices for the day.
The other day in Dunedin (15th Feb) I was looking for New Zealand`s only castle, named Larnach Castle. I asked at the reception of the backpacker`s for a cardboard, but got just a thick paper. The owner told me, that it will not be possible to hitchhike there. It was difficult indeed by the impossibility for cars to stop without breaking the law, but halfway there were a bay for slow vehicles, where I could try to get a ride and I was lucky. This time a young Chinese couple from China picked me up and even they already have been at the castle the day before, they did drive me all the way up to the entrance. Also they asked me if I was comfortable or if they should open a window. Some cultures seems to be great.
Well at the castle I walked from the entrance through the garden to the castle and started my sightseeing. Even the building looks like a castle, inside it is a palace! It is amazing that the actually owners were able to collect so many of the original items. When finished with the castle I had dinner in the cafe in the former ballroom. I have got the feeling, that the ballroom was more a function room, but less attractive. At the end of the visit of this manor I walked in the garden before I finally left around 5pm.
Outside the area on the public road again was soon an opportunity for my thumb. Surprisingly the maintenance man of the castle, on his way home from work, did give me a ride into South Dunedin. He told me, that he was driving 60 km a day for coming to his work and back home.
I started walking and were passing a Pak`n Save supermarket, when I changed my mind and made a grocery shopping. Outside the shop was a bus stop. I read the timetable of all the routes, when a car stopped and offered me a ride telling me, that there will not come a bus. He left me very close to the backpackers, though I hade time enough to update my blog. I was able to finish the site about “Stewart Island” by the good quality of the wi-fi.
Before I continued the following day (16th Feb) to Oamaru, I went to the Otago Museum, where I spent around 3 hours. Before I left the building I had a meal in the cafe.
I hitchhiked from outside the museum and was lucky to get a ride with a nurse, who also showed me the steepest street in the world. She asked me if she should drive on that street, but I told her thankful, that it was not necessary. Furthermore she told me, that people, who walk that street can get a diploma about it in the cafe down the street. She could not take me with her all the way, because she had another destination as me. My first sign was for “Moeraki Boulders“. Where I had to change the driver and car, a hen was killed by a car and the nurse first had tried to save it, but when it died, she took care about it. The nurse also told me, that I should visit the town of Moeraki, because it would be such a nice and peaceful place. I did not care about the town, because I have seen enough peaceful places. I continued with a ranger going to check traps for possums. He had the music with a very high volume and did tell me, that he cannot understand me. He drove me to the junction to the boulders and a young female tourist from Europe, as she told me, was taking me all the way to the car park for the attraction.
I left my bags in the cafe and made a donation of 2 NZD for using the private way to the beach. I was really impressed of the boulders, because I have been told before, that they are holy for the Maori, I did not stand on them even lots of other people did and there was no sign about it either.
Back at the cafe area I bought “Wild Ferns” skin care in the tourist shop, because it cannot be found everywhere and I already used one bottle of it I purchased in Kaikoura and like very much. Finally I bought a big TipTop ice cream and took my bags.
When I had eaten the ice cream I stood with another sign, this time for Oamaru, on the road again. It took a while to get a ride, even here were a lot of tourists driving around. A man in his 50-ies from the UK (London) helped me to come to Oamaru. We had a very nice conversation meanwhile he was driving and left me quite close to the hostel. The first night I have got a bed in a room with twin beds, because the owner of the hostel had overbooked and I already had paid. I shared the room with a woman in my age from Switzerland, who actually had rent the room as a single one. Even she was travelling alone, she did it not my way. In addition to that, I met a German woman here, who was in her 30s or 40s and also travelling alone, but even she was using the buses. I had a nice chat with the women as well as with a German guy. I soon started walking the town and took photographs of the side of the road, where I had the sun behind me. Oamaru has beautiful Victorian buildings I have to show you. I bought something to eat at a local supermarket and went back to the hostel to eat. There were Internet provided, but it was so bad, I could not update my blog. Furthermore we were not allowed to use Skype and it was turned of, when the owner was going to bed.
Late that evening (around 10pm) I went out to see little blue penguins and I did, even they were hard to see in the dark. I could hear many more than see, anyway I saw a male penguin feeding his chick. By darkness and for I won`t scare the penguins I could not take photographs, therefore I linked above to Wikipedia.
The following day I went after breakfast to the city center with the Victorian houses again and took photographs of the buildings on the other side of the street than the day before. When I had taken a photograph of the opera house, I went in and asked if there will be a play that night. Unfortunately there was not, but I was offered a look inside, which I happily took.
I also visited the iSite, because I wanted to see more. I found some interesting places to go to, but did not find all of them, but I found instead an unusual exhibition called STEAMPUNK HQ. The entrance fee was 10 NZD and I decided to take a look. I have not decided yet, if the exhibition was worth it. I took some photographs, so you may decide by your own.
I continued to the WOOLSHED with cafe and car exhibition as well as a shop. On the upper floor were stalls of craft people, but most of them were unattended. I looked around in the shop for gifts for my grandchildren, but did not find anything I liked. Skipping the car museum I entered the cafe for a meal. By leaving the cafe, my name was called and I saw the owner of the hostel together with my roommate in a car. They invited me to follow them to a surprise. I had preferred to go to a gallery in the city, but they were so besetting, that I took a seat in the car. Actually I had to share the rear with the dog of the owner in a very dirty car.
We were going to Riverton, where a lady had built a house looking like a castle somewhere in Italy. She also had a big garden, used in different ways. The hostel owner told us, that the lady cared about all by her own.
My roommate and me had to follow when the dog was walked and to Glenavy for fuel. Well there the hostel owner did decide not to fill petrol in her car, but we went to a café, selling ice cream. There I have got the biggest ice cream ever for 2,50 NZD. When we were back in town it was too late for the gallery, though I followed my roommate back to the hostel. On the way back I asked the hostel owner for a cardboard, but she told me, that would become to expensive because the pen as well as everyone would know, that I am on my way to Christchurch. She added, that she would drive me to a good point for hitchhiking next morning. She also told me, that she used to bring hitchhikers there and that it would cost her 100 NZD each month. I answered her, that I have my own pen and that I would make my way by my own. After a meal I watched a movie, called “Into the Wild”, together with others. Unfortunately I had heartburn this evening again. For not disturbing the others in my dorm, I was sitting up in the lounge for hours.
Next morning (18th Feb) I was up early because I planned to try going to the gallery and also having a cheese tasting. However I never did, because the gallery opened as late as 10:30am and the cheese tasting was not, what I expected. One could buy a cheese platter or taste a few cheeses if buying almost one cheese afterwards. I expected, that I have to pay for it, but also a guidance in the world of cheese. Disappointed I went to a good place for hitchhiking. WIth other words: I was early on the road again. It was my last day of hitchhiking in New Zealand. My destination was Christchurch.
I have heard that it is difficult to hitchhike to Christchurch, though I was happy when I got a ride, after have been waiting for around one hour. The first driver was a Kiwi from Dunedin at the start of his holidays. He was only driving to Timaru, but every km counts. He was a nice guy and we had a good chat. He left me, where he had to go in another direction. Soon I found a good place, but nobody stopped for a while, then a men in his forties stopped his car, came out holding his Dick with the hand outside his trousers. He asked me if I want a ride and where I will head. Fortunately he was not driving in the direction of Christchurch, but I would not have gone with him anyway. The next driver, who stopped, was in his sixties and a nice one, telling me, that he cannot go so far as Christchurch, but will take me out of town, because it would be much easier than to get a ride. I was happy for this chance – as I told you: every km counts!
I was waiting more than half an hour when a guy in his twenties from Sri Lanka stopped and gave me a ride. He had actually turned around after first had passed. He was on his way home to a village close to Ashburton from a couple of days with a friend. He told me, that he is working on a farm with a working visa and already has his other one. He hopes, that he will be allowed to stay forever. He drove me into Ashburton. I asked him to stop at a café, because he told me earlier, where he should turn for coming home. I wished not to delay him. In addition to that I had to pee and won’t wait longer.
After a late lunch I walked into town, but on hwy 1, that means not into the city center. I had to walk for almost half an hour before I found a good place for hitchhiking. Here I also had to wait a while before a guy in his thirties picked me up. He told me, that he is working in a new business and had to drive all over NZ, both the North and the South Islands, though he was happy for company. At the beginning of the community of Christchurch he dropped me off. I understood, that it still was too far for walking to the hostel, therefore I tried one more time and did not even have to wait for a long while. The guy, who picked me up this time was living in Christchurch and on his way home. He asked me, where I exactly had to go and drove me to the door of the hostel, telling me, that Christchurch is a complicated place to find ones way and he won’t me get lost. He also told me that he often check Facebook and offer trips into the surroundings for free, because he likes to show visitors the area.
The “Round the World” backpacker’s hostel is great. It is refurbished, clean and has friendly staff. The dorms have only 4 beds, there are enough with hooks and space for the backpacks, clothing and towels. The hostel also offers free unlimited wi-fi of good quality as well as an electrical contact for each bed. In addition to that there are not only unisex showers, but also one for ladies only and one for disabled travellers. I like that place and I am happy I have got an under-bed.
I have to find a supermarket for the last time in NZ and I have got the directions at the hostel. It is a quite long walk, because there still is none in the inner city. When I left the hostel I observed that the houses close to the building have butterflies (see photo) beside the doors as well as painted ones on the letter boxes. On my way back I am happy I remember that, though I knew, I was in the right street. I have got tired of the long hitchhike and the walk to the supermarket, therefore I did not went out again after my evening meal, but took off to the computer room and started to update my blog. The use of a real computer made this easier for me, because I did not need to switch between different apps on my tablet as well as the typing was easier. Unfortunately I started late and could not get all done.
Friday (19th) I had a night out, but I will start to tell you about that day beginning at 10am. I met a Kiwi in his fifties, who showed me parts of the city I have not seen before. A friend of mine, I have got by couchsurfing (she visited me in Hamburg), know this man and helped us to establish a contact. He was very interested in to show me around and cared very well for me. He was a gentleman paying the most of the expenses. We went first to the Botanic Gardens and continued to the Canterbury Museum, which is next door to the garden. I liked that museum, too, because the kind of showcasing the items. I became hungry and we had a light meal at the museum’s café.
Afterwards we were going to Lyttelton, the harbour town for Christchurch. We had to take the bus and my new friend told me about the changes by the earthquake and even the present politics. He told me, that the many car parks raised after houses sank into the ground as well as the writings of early settlers, that no houses should be build in this area. Furthermore he told me in which areas the most tragedies have been. The buildings on the hills usually remained (like in Napier 1931). He also answered my question about the art objects vs. apartment houses. Actually that is a political thing. All other buildings as well as art, a skatepark and similar had priority of different reasons, where most of them do not fit the people’s need. Though on 21st Feb there will be a memorial for the offers of the earthquake, but also a demonstration against the politics.
In Lyttelton we visited a pub for a beer after walking to the harbour and around the city center. I became a little dizzy and asked for a meal, therefore we took a bus back to Christchurch, where we found a lot of food trailers with different kinds of food as well as open air music entertainment. After reading all the offers we chose an Asian meal each.
We enjoyed the atmosphere, but went to an Irish pub, when it became chilly. We ordered a Guinness each and had a seat, but became disappointment by the emptiness of the pub. We have been told, that there will be many more people from around 10pm, but even we were there until 11pm, there were only a few more than we. While we left the pub, we could see the queue for another pub on the other side of the street. We went home to my new friend and spent some more hours together. That was a unique chance to see a home, strong enough to stand up in earthquakes, but anyway with some cracks. Also the day before I came to Christchurch, there was an earthquake in the area – with a magnitude of 5.8 (Richter scale). I was happy there were none, when I was there.
The 20th Feb had come – the last day in NZ. After breakfast I walked to the city center for a post office. I had to send a little parcel home to Sweden, because I had picked some shells at different beaches and I would have difficulties to bring them into Australia. The first I picked close to Katikati and a lot I picked at Surat Bay. I also had some cords, batteries and adapters from my broken cameras. They were just too much to carry with me all the time. I had to declare the items and first only wrote souvenirs, but that was not enough. When I told the post man, that there are shells in it, she asked me to show them for her. I understood, that I was not allowed to send away Paua shells. Fortunately I had none. I also had to write a value on the declaration. I wrote 1 NZD for the shells and 5 NZD for the electrical things. The stamp for the parcel was 20 NZD, a high price for these items. I walked the way back to the hostel, too and took some more photos.
Back at the hostel I used the computer again, but it was not possible to finish all the text for NZ, because I had another appointment with my local guide at 4pm and had to made my laundry as well as having a meal. We met this time at the bus terminal for taking a bus to New Brighton. Out there I was so impressed. From the pier I have not only seen the sea, but also the mountains in one direction and the hills in another one. It was a perfect scenery and I could not leave it for a long while.
On the way back to Christchurch I learned the real meaning of the word pub. I had to find a toilet and the one which was signed was closed. My guide told me to go to the pub. At that moment I did not understand why and when I saw, that the Subway restaurant has a toilet I asked there for using it, which I was allowed. Afterwards he explained to me, that I anyway could have been at the pub and that it was quite close. I answered, that I could not be sure, that they allowed me, to use their toilet and he told me, that pubs always have been in public houses and therefore everyone is allowed to use the toilets there – even today. I told him, that I did not have known that. In the meantime we had arrived at the bus stop and when I saw a bus with a bicycle at the front, I wished to make a photo, but could not find me camera. Though I hurried back to the restaurant, but the toilet was occupied. After a short while a woman came out with my camera in her hand. I told her, it is mine and she gave it to me. I think he was on her way to leave it to the staff. Happily I went back to the bus stop. Some minutes later the bus arrived, we were waiting for. It was around 8pm when we were back at the bus terminal in Christchurch again.
My guide invited me to his home one more time and made an omelette with mushrooms, tomatoes, onion and pineapple for us. It was delicious! We started talking about which kind of music we like and he used YouTube to let me hear his favourite songs, e.g “An der schönen blauen Donau”. This and a lot of other songs both of us liked. I also told him, that my favourite singer is Freddy Quinn and because he did not know that name, I looked for songs of the artist in English, but my guide never had heard about him. I was surprised, when he told me, that he not longer is interested in travelling. He was living in Japan for seven years and has been in Australia before and that has been enough for him.
Around midnight he tried to call a taxi for me, but all had a long phone queue, therefore he walked me home. I told him, that I could go by my own, but he insisted that he had to bring me back to the hostel.
Early the 21st Feb I left Christchurch by plane. I awoke at 5:30am as I had planned. I was also ready and outside the hostel 6:55am and waiting for the shuttle, but I did not remember that the shuttle will pick me up half an hour earlier, though I called the organisation for the shuttle 7:15am, asking, why the shuttle is not coming. Unfortunately the operator could not understand my voice, but a guy, who was waiting for another shuttle helped me with the phone call. I was happy, when they sent a taxi, even I had to pay one more time for the shuttle. I think an ordinary taxi would have been more expensive.
The check in and the whole procedure went smoothly and I arrived some hours later in Melbourne, Australia.