After a long day of flying from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur to Auckland, we were so happy to be under the clouds in cool, rainy weather. Our two month Asia trip was stellar, but we were exhausted, and excited to get some routine back in our lives.
Firstly, we had to hit up all the medical facilities possible. Jessica was enduring tooth pain as we traveled, so we needed to yank those puppies out ASAP.
Jessica really tapped her leg to Green Day as she drooled blood onto her white shirt all the way home from the dentist.
I had to get a $700 all around body exam to extend my Working Holiday visa a while longer. After getting everything checked the results came in, and doc said, “Colin, you are a very healthy specimen.” What a relief that was after eating street food, drinking street liquor, and playing with street animals for two months.
Jessica has long had a dream to live and work in Queenstown, “The Adventure Capital of the World.” The first place in New Zealand that captivated my thoughts about travel was Queenstown – it was even the background on my laptop back home in Calgary. We decided it was only right to follow through with these aspirations and drive on South.
We drove from Auckland to Masterton in a day, then slept the night at the Mossman’s place on their beef and lamb farm. Mossy told me next time we are there he will show me how to harvest some animals. I don’t know if that’ll be a good experience or an eye opening one. The next morning, we headed to Wellington and hopped the ferry to the South Island.
We arrived in Picton and headed West to Westport – clever name for a town isn’t it? New Zealand’s West Coast is the road less traveled when compared to the East Coast, which is why I chose it for our road trip. I really don’t understand why though…
I chose for us to stay in Westport because I like shitty little towns with nothing to do, like Whitecourt, Alberta. Those kinds of towns are fun to get drunk and wander the streets around. I also chose Westport because it’s near the Cape Foulwind lighthouse and the seal colonies. I had never seen a lighthouse in person, and when we got there, I realised it wasn’t all it’s chalked up to be.
I was really excited to see some seals, “the dogs of the sea” they say. I had this idea in my head that we would be able to play with them, but instead, we got this:
The seals were still cool, but I guess I’ll have to go into the water one day to see if they are dog-like.
The next place on our list was Punakaiki where they have pancake rocks and blowholes. The pancake rocks were pretty neat. Centuries of materials piled up and compressed together formed these pleasant structures:
The blowholes were not so amazing. Once again, I forgot to check what time “high tide” is at and the water wasn’t high enough to “blow” from between the rocks. You may remember this happened to us in Nusa Dua, Bali when I forgot to check high tide and we had to go back again the next day. Stupid Colin. Typical Colin.
The next place on our road trip was Greymouth. I’m not sure what people do in Greymouth, but it was chosen because they have a Monteith’s brewery there. Jess let me plan our road trip down South since she planned most of Asia on her own. That my friends, is why certain places revolve around boozin’.
I was really hoping to a do a brewery tour since I’ve never had one before, but we were on a tight schedule and our timing was off. So I settled with the six sleeve sampler, and made Jessica drive for the next couple hours.
We wanted to make it to Hokitika to go see the Gorge and Sunset Point before sundown. If you’re going through Hokitika you gotta take the one hour detour inland to Hokitika Gorge. It was the coolest place so far on the roadtrip.
We finished at the Gorge and got to Sunset Point just before sunset, so we ate some Subway and waited it out. I wanted to check this spot out because some blog or something described Sunset Point as, “This, is New Zealand.” Well, it was just another sunset, mediocre at best though. We didn’t even take pictures of it. We did get this picture though!
After Hokitika we settled down in the town of Franz Josef Glacier at a backpackers and hit the hot tub. The next morning we woke up and went to see my first kiwi birds!!!
Since kiwis are nocturnal, and the wildlife kiwi sanctuary is only open during the day, they have the lights on at night and the lights off during the day to confuse the shit out of the kiwis. That way, us spectators get to pester them at our leisure. They were adorable and plump. It’s no wonder why they are endangered, they have no defensive adaptations, unless maybe poking other animals in the eyeballs with that long beak.
We went on a short hike into the mountains to get to the viewpoint of the Franz Josef Glacier. It was preeeeeettty!
The glacier is quite dangerous with falling rocks and sliding ice and stuff, so this is as close as you can get. For some reason I thought we would be able to walk on it. I think that’s only with expensive guided tours that you’re allowed to go up there.
I did end up getting stuck inside a couple glaciers though, it was scary. Good thing I was wearing my skinny jeans so I could squeeze myself outta there.
Just kidding! Those are fake ices at the kiwi bird sanctuary. I scared you didn’t I? Don’t worry I’m okay, just a little hypothermia.
After you pass the Franz Josef Glacier, there’s Fox Glacier shortly after. We decided to skip it. Here a glacier, there a glacier, everywhere a glacier-glacier. Naw mean?
We drove through Haast hoping to see the fur seal and penguin colonies. The lady at the i-site basically said, “better luck next time.” They are very seasonal and we were out of season.
We paid for a hostel in Wanaka, but our friends Sam and Emily said we could sleep at their house in Arrowtown for the night. Even though we spent $60 on the shitty hostel bunk beds, we thought it would be nice to get a good sleep in a house with our mates instead of listening to strangers in our dorm snore, fart, have sex, etc.
We couldn’t pass through Wanaka without visiting #thatwanakatree
There were a hand full of other people with fancy cameras capturing this beauty. Some people were just sitting in the rocks drinking wine and watching the sun go down.
When we got to Arrowtown, we felt some comfortable with Sam and Emily that we decided to live with them for a little while. We worked with Emily back at Raetihi Lodge so we knew we were comparable flatmates already. It was an easy choice. We stayed for 10 days or so until we found a place closer to Queenstown. Sam and Emily were awesome to hang with.
Arrowtown was pretty cool too. There was always dogs running around the neighbourhood – it was great! The parks were really nice too.
We left Arrowtown for a place in Arthur’s Point, about seven minutes from the heart of Queenstown. These are the views from our new home:
Finding a home was a uniquely frustrating situation for us. Queenstown is where everyone wants to be, especially with the ski hills just about to open up. Every time we went to view a room, there was another 10-20 people looking at the same room with us. People would do their best to woo the homeowners into believing they were the best candidate. Jess and I weren’t about that. We wanted to find someone who like us for us, and eventually our patience paid off.
We now sit in a $2 mil home, just outside of Queenstown with a wonderful father and son who treat us like family. As a bonus, we acquired this little fellow with the home:
Denzel, or Wags as some people call him, always wants to hang out. He likes pooping on sidewalks, and hiding from the smoke alarm. Denzel and I are besties.
We finally found some jobs too, so I’m set. I can buy all the dumb ass fruits I want like Kiwano and Tomatillo.
For the foreseeable future, we will be blowing our money on fun attractions and getting the most out of this adventure haven. So far we’ve done the Skyline Luge, the Dark Ride, and the Odyssey Sensory Maze.
We had skydiving booked for today, but it was cloudy and unsafe. We rebooked for July 1 – I’ll celebrate Canada Day by jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, 15,000 feet up. I cannot wait.
This is home now. I think I can get used to it.