It felt good to finally leave Queenstown. Although it started to grow on me, Queenstown still gives a bit of a bitter feeling when I think about it. It’s tough living with people who make you feel uncomfortable in you own home, which is something we had to deal with day in and day out. I don’t want to think that the bad outweighed the good, such as the amazing people I met, but there’s still a bit of sourness when I think of the overall time spent in Queenstown.
On to better things!!!
Last week we did the raddest 5-day road trip I have ever been on – we saw so much shit!
We headed South from Queenstown to Invercargill, a city with a name that rolls off the tongue even less smooth than “Calgary” does. We stayed just outside the city at a quaint little holiday park.
We didn’t take any pictures of it because all we did was blaze in the BBQ gazebo whilst listening to Bob Marley. This seems to be one of our new favourite pastimes when there ain’t much to do. These are the only pictures I got:
The next day we were off to Bluff, the southernmost point of the South Island, or so we thought.
I picked Jess up and sat her down on a ledge with bird poopy. She no likey poopy.
From Bluff, we could have either taken the inland route, or the coastal route, through the Catlins. After hearing great things about the Catlins and all the waterfalls, we decided it was a no brainer.
We stopped by Waipapa Point because my friend Angela said it was pretty spectacular. I thought this lighthouse was pretty awesome, until we walked down to the beach…
We found sea lions! I got quite close and that fellow right there ^ started barking and chasing me so I decided to GTFO of there. Good guy though.
It turns out, Bluff is only the Southernmost city, Slope Point is the Southernmost point, except for Stewart Island but nobody goes there. I heard it sucks.
After Slope Point we finally found some waterfalls. First up, McLean Falls:
Next up, Purakaunui Falls:
We had to run down and check out Purakaunui really quick then get back on the road. We had to get to Dunedin for 3 p.m. to get the car serviced. Car problems suck, but they suck even more when it’s your own fault for not taking care of your wheels, yo!
We still have no idea why they are called “the Catlins.” I guess waterfalls, dopey trees, sea lions, cliffs, and green pastures = Catlins. Blah blah blah.
Next stop was Dunedin, and being T-minus one days until Jess’ 24th birthday, I thought we would buy some sauce and get drunk. We stayed at The Kiwi’s Nest, the same hostel we stayed at when we came to Dunedin to see Flume in concert. Jess and I like trying out new places to try and figure out what sort of settings are best for us, but in this case it was suitable to “stick to what you know.” Also, it’s nice to support smaller, private hostels instead of the franchised ones that are found in every city around the country.
We went to the liquor store, bought some vodka, went back to the room and… passed out. Hey, road trippin’ is tough stuff. It gets pretty exhausting driving around and lookin’ at shit, going on short hikes and all.
We did, however, make sure to visit the steepest street in the world before leaving Dunedin. It was exactly what you’d imagine it to be, a steep street.
That’s about all we did in Dunedin. Not quite as good as seeing a world renowned DJ like last time, but pretty close.
We can get drunk tomorrow on Jess’ REAL birthday day, in Lake Tekapo!
On the way out of Dunedin we found an scenic site called Moeraki Boulders, so we stopped for a looksie. Turns out, it was pretty cool, plus they had deer and alpacas!
On the way to Lake Tekapo was a town called Oamaru, a place I was made aware of by Alysa. She posted a video recently about it being the “Steampunk Capital of the World” so we thought it was worth a look. Steampunk is basically the style of the Mad Max movies – skulls, machinery, and all that jazz.
We went straight to a museum-type place called “Steampunk HQ”. Here’s what we saw:
This was in the top four things I’ve done in NZ, along with skydiving, Milford Sound, and something illegal. Go do it! The town itself was partially stuck in the old industrial revolution style, with old steel mills and such, but Steampunk HQ was sooooo cool.
I asked the guy working there if people actually dress Steampunk, he said, “some people dress normal, some people think they’re steampunk, and some are just crazy.”
In the afternoon we headed to Mount Cook, or Aoraki as the Maori people say. The day was a little drizzly and cloudy, but we hoped as we drove on towards the tallest mountain in New Zealand, the sky would open up for us to see this beautiful sight. Well, it sure as hell DID NOT. We drove about an extra 40 minutes before we decided to turn back and try again the next day.
We pressed onward to Lake Tekapo for Jess’ birthday gift from me. We went on the Night Observatory Tour at the International Dark Sky Reserve through Mount John University. Students of the University took us on a very detailed tour of the Milky Way Galaxy, allowing us to use high powered telescopes they use to study stars, planets, and whatever else is out there. The tour was moderately interrupted by cloud cover, and we were cold to the bone being on a windy mountain in the middle of the night, but we still saw some really cool shit. Jess has a fixation on the stars every time we are able to see the stars at night, so I thought it the perfect gift for her in the midst of a cross-island road trip.
After the tour, we got back to our room at the “Godly Hotel” which in fact should have been called “Shitty Hotel” and decided to get our drank on, chicka chicka yeah. Birthday night here we go! We each had a drink and then… passed out.
The next day, we awoke to a much clearer sky, and headed out to Mount Cook once again. Part of me didn’t really want to go, because we had driven the length of the road and back yesterday, but we still wanted to see this legendary mountain.
We finally were able to see it, but with our shitty cameras, this is the best we could get:
I mean, it’s pretty alright, but the photos just don’t do justice. We didn’t have time to drive all the way there since we had the All Blacks game to get to in Christchurch later in the day.
When we got to Christchurch we had three objectives:
- Find our hostel
- Find liquor
- Find facepaints
We found our hostel. It was dope. It’s called Jailhouse Accommodation and it was an old jail they turned into a hostel. All the rooms were old cells, just slightly updated. The solitary confinement room was still the same:
Then we found some liquor.
Everyone knows you gotta paint your face for the All Blacks. So we found some facepaints.
Aiken came over for a drink…
And then we went to the game…
We made some Canadian friends too… Ferg and Courtney… who we will never see again.
Things are a little blurry, but we know that the All Blacks won the game, and that we somehow made it back to our hostel…
…we may have been over served. At least Jessica finally got her birthday drunk after three times trying.
The next day we drove to Kaikoura for our dolphin swimming extravaganza in the South Pacific Ocean. On the way there, we switched our tour to the next day. We were hungover and I didn’t think freezing water and sea sickness would sit well with my already shaky body.
The next day we went out on the early 8:30 a.m. tour. We got fitted in our wetsuits and headed out 45 minutes into the open sea. Instantly, a lady on the boat was puking into multiple buckets. The morning was dark and full of terrors, as the boat felt like a rollercoaster on the bumpy ocean. After an hour, we finally saw some dolphins, and swam out with our snorkels. We were encouraged to make dolphin-like sounds to get them to play with us and it worked amazingly. They would toy with you and make you swim in circles with them. Even with the wetsuits, we were intensely cold, and after about 30 minutes we decided we were pooped and got back on the boat. Right after Jess got her wetsuit off, she puked too. In fact, half of the people on the boat got sick, so it was good that puke buckets were in abundance. They even had a variety of colours, such as Crimson Red. Just in case you wanted mom’s spaghetti from last night to blend in with your bucket. Oh yeah, and there were tons of Albatross flying around the boat. I finally saw the mighty Albatross I have been longing for since I arrived in New Zealand.
We were too lazy to bring the Go-Pro into the water with us. Sometimes it’s better to experience things without feeling like you HAVE to take pictures of everything cool.
We got a free postcard though!
We did get a picture of some little lammies next to our hostel though.
That was our five-day road trip. Tons of cool shit. Around 24 hours on the road and a good amount of dollars spent. One unreal adventure.
Now we are woofing/au pairing in Mapua for a family of five + dog. We arrived to this:
Our new home. The garage isn’t part of it:
Summer is here, and it’s brought good times with it. Things are looking up.
– Kusz, out!