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Published: February 13th 2011
North of Wanaka
A waterfall at the end of a path by the side of the road
Hello again everyone! This will by my last journal update from New Zealand!
Since I last updated I went from Te Anau to Wanaka via Queenstown. I wish I had slated a little more time to explore the hiking tracks around Wanaka, but I arrived around 5 PM and had to leave early the next morning. The hostel I stayed at wasn’t very exciting, but there was a peculiar thing about it, it had a dishwasher! I had my dinner, ate, and then started doing the dishes in the sink as I have done almost every night for the past 10 months, but someone told me just to put it in the dishwasher. I had naturally assumed that if it had a door with a hinge on the bottom and was in the kitchen, than it was an oven. Those dishwashers sure are a lazy convenience, maybe I’ll get one when I get home.
From Wanaka I went on to Fox Glacier, which (if the name of the town is any hint) is famous for nothing but the Fox Glacier. On the way there, the bus stopped of at a bar/café and gas stop on the middle of nowhere.
North of Wanaka 2
The mountain behind the falls
It was a strange little place that I am sure is only still operational because 4 busses pass through daily. There were American licence plates all over the bar and I was surprised to see Canadian ones (most were very old but they even had one from PEI!) all over the rafters. When we eventually did get to Fox Glacier I hopped on a shuttle that whips you there from town for $10. It was either that or an hour and a half walk one way.
Because I didn’t sign up for one of those $200+ glacier walks, I was only able to walk along a path that gets you to 1 KM away, but the sight was still amazing. The valley that the glacier once occupied stretches right out to the highway and since 1935 it has receded over 2.5 KM! The entire time I was there I could hear these really loud bangs that were actually the ice cracking, I had been looking at the mouth of the ice cave where the river flows out at the time when a particularly loud one happened and saw a sizable portion of the ceiling collapse into the water. There
were a lot of people there and I met a nice older couple from Vancouver.
The following morning I caught a bus up to Greymouth. There was an interesting little portion of road we went by that has the geological claim to fame that it goes over the fault line between the Australasia/Pacific plate fault line. I think I go a picture of it, but as it was one of those narrow windy mountain roads with no place to pull over, it had to be done on the quick. The town itself is rather depressing, like the name says, everything seems grey here. The weather was perpetually drizzly, overcast skies, and the area that the hostel was located in was especially devoid of colour.
The one thing there is to do in Greymouth that caught my eye was the Monteith’s brewery tour. Now, as I have only been on 2 brewery tours (one being the Monteith’s tour) in all my life, I can definitively say that the Speight’s tour in Dunedin was far superior to the Monteith’s tour in Greymouth even though they both cost $20. The one thing the Monteith’s tour had on the Speight’s tour was
that we had a little more than half an hour to take our fill of the beer selection as opposed to the 15 minutes at Speight’s. Being the social butterfly I am, I got talking to a family from Australia and told them my plans to fly to Sydney in the middle of February with the intention of looking for work. They informed me that they lived in a place called Hunter Valley and it was big time wine country along with a few other fruits, and there were a lot of jobs to be had in that field of seasonal work. They invited me to stay on their couch for a few days while I looked for work. I’m not just beer tasting, I’m networking!
After Greymouth I went on to Nelson (through a couple of towns that reminded me of the lower mainland if only because of their names ) with the plan to see some street performances by some entertainers from around the world. There were some interesting acts and a couple that were quite good, but the heat outside was almost intolerable for me, it was getting close to 40 degrees out and
Plains near an inland salmon farm
there wasn’t a breath of wind. I took a couple days in Nelson just to relax a little because packing up every day and traveling to a new place to sleep in another bed can be rather tiring. I continued on to good old Blenheim again where I would stay for a few days before heading back to Christchurch.
On the way to Blenheim from Nelson the bus stopped of at an interesting geological site known as the pancake rocks. The sight is quite unusual and is supposedly the result of a phenomenon called upheaval, where the sediments that formed the ocean floor millions of years ago have been forced upwards by an underground pressure, exposing it to weathering and erosion. You can see from the pictures how they got their names.
As I arrived in Blenheim and made my way to the backpackers on foot from the middle of town (roughly a 2 KM walk) loaded down with all my bags, I met the older couple from Vancouver again. They had taken the advice I had given them back in Fox Glacier about the jazz festival (Blues, Brews, and BBQs) that was going on in Blenheim and
Close to Fox Glacier
went there a couple of days ahead of time while it was still on. They offered me a ride to wherever I was off to, laden as I was, but my hostel was only 2 blocks away so I walked the rest of it myself.
It was nice getting back to the hostel in Blenheim, some of the people who were there before were still there, so it was a little bit of a homecoming I guess. My mother had sent a Christmas gift in the mail a little late so it arrived about a week after I left the hostel, though the managers put it aside for me. It was kind of funny, I had suspected what the contents might have been and my suspicions were confirmed when I saw that the package had tape all over it saying that it was “Officially opened by MAF Biosecurity”. In any case, it was a large chunk of smoked salmon (I think it was Coho) which was a nice taste of home. I bought some crackers and cream cheese to go along with it and finished the whole thing in 2 days. Tania, one of the girls who I knew
from Tauranga as well as Blenheim, was not the least bit surprised at the rate at which I devoured the fish as it was something I’d been talking about since I got to New Zealand! They do have smoked salmon here, but the way they do their’s makes it taste like it’s basically just plain raw fish, there’s no flavour to it (that coupled with the fact that it’s sliced super thin and costs an arm and a leg).
I am in Christchurch again and now I’m sorting out the last of my tax and banking stuff (not to mention getting rid of the rest of the heavy crap I don’t want to pay for at the airport) before going off to Australia.
At the end of these 10 months I’ve been traveling in New Zealand I feel very fortunate for my experiences. I’ve done some crazy stuff like throwing myself down a 100 metre sand dune on a boogie board (several times), rolled down a hill in a giant inflatable ball filled with water in temperatures that can turn you blue, jumped out of an airplane at 12,000 feet to free fall for 42 seconds before controlling
the direction the parachute went for several minutes, and I’ve thrown myself off of New Zealand’s highest bungy jump. I’ve also done some of the more sane things like going on some fantastic hikes through environments that seem completely at odds with one another (some on the same hiking tracks), seen wildlife that is both strange and beautiful, and experienced a country’s culture that at times almost reflects that of Canada’s, but at other times seems so completely different.
I feel that I have grown myself from all the things I have seen and done here, partly in my behaviour and outlook on things, as well as my interests. I enjoy cooking now, and I realize that it is something that takes time, making dinner is usually an hour long event which I am ok with. I now find that I don’t have to have everything planned out or guided for me, and by that I mean when I first came to New Zealand I signed up with a program through Base Backpackers that was all set to help you find work and get you set up in NZ. Now having seen what that’s like, I am much more
inclined to simply go with the flow and search out my own opportunities for myself. What’s the point of simply doing the same thing everyone else is? When I was back in Canada, heating a couple burritos in the microwave seemed like a bit of an effort because I couldn’t be bothered. My sink would be full of dirty dishes despite the fact that I had a dishwasher, and dirty clothes would pile up because I simply had so many clean ones that I didn’t need to wash them. That is something I look back on and find simply unbelievable. Am I saying that I will never create a mess again in my life? No, I am a bit of a messy guy, but I will certainly be cleaner than I once was when I return.
I have had the pleasure of meeting some fantastic people and made some very great friends here whom I was able to share some truly exceptional experiences with. I will never forget them and with any luck, I will meet some of them again some day.
So that has been a small part of what I took from New Zealand, if my
experiences in Australia can even match up to half of that, then I will consider it a fantastic trip.
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