WOW! Sorry for not updating ages ago! My laptop is currently broken and I haven’t made it into an internet cafe until now! Here’s a quick updat on what has happened in the past few months.
I arrived at Guy’s place in Eltham and spent the evening chatting with him and becoming familliar with my surroundings. Guy has a dog, cat, bird (I can’t remember the type. One of the big white ones), two turtles, and a rooster. He also has a five year old son who came over on the weekend. Cutest kid! Guy was really awesome. We spent hours every night with the stereo on, just chatting and exchanging stories. During the day I would go for hikes through the trails on Mount Taranaki, exploring the town, and hanging around the house. It was a super chill week and I had a great time.
I left Guy’s house after a week and drove to New Plymouth where I spent another week wokring for accomodation. New Plymoputh was a neat little town and I met a lot of super nice people at the hostel. It rained most of my time there so I slept a lot. On one of the few sunny days one of the guys I had gotten to know quite well took me out on his jetski. He took me out around a couple little islands where seals spent their day basking in the sun. It was a lot of fun to go skooting over the turquoise water on that little machine.
I headed back up to Auckland after my time in New Plymouth. I had been planning to stay longer but I came down with a bad case of strep throat and just wanted to be somewhere a bit more familliar. Plus Andy’s birthday was coming up! I spend a week in a half back in Auckland, recovering and hanging out with Andy again. I didn’t have much money so I just baked him cookies for his birthday. Then I ate most of them. It’s the thought that counts, right? We went to a comedy show in a little local bar on the night of his birthday. The comedians were pretty funny, one of them picked on me quite a bit for ending up in sucha a random little suburb of Auckland. Mostly everyone else who was there had grown up in the area. It was definitely a fun night.
The day I left Auckland was a long one. I left first thing in the morning and drove all the way down to Wellington. It was a seven hour drive. I stopped in a few different spots to take photos and enjoy my surroundings. I arrived in Wellington that night and found a spot to park for the night. It was at a little marine reserve, I lucked out, there were even free showers there! I was sitting by the water when all of a sudden I noticed a pod of dolphins swimming by. I grabbed my camera and went down to take some photos. It was starting to get dark by that point so I made some dinner in my car and went to bed.
The next morning I drove back into Wellington where I met up with Audrey and her friend from back home, Evan. I told them of my plans to head to the South Island where I would start to look for work. The grape picking season was supposed to be starting so I was hoping to find some work doing that. Audrey and Evan decided to join me so they both walked into their jobs and quit. We caught the ferry that night.
It took three hours to cross over to the South Island. We arrived at midnight and decided to drive until we could find somewhere to pull over and set up the tent Andy had lent me. We checked out a few different spots but considering it was pitch black out, it was hard to tell what our surroundings were. After another three hours we finally pulled over to the side of the road and just slept in the car. It was cramped in Little Red, but it was all we had.
We spent then next two weeks driving to different towns and vineyards hunting for work. We camped out every night at free campsites. We boiled water that we drew from nearby streams. When we wanted to drink the water we would pour some into our little frying pan to let it cool down enough to drink. the rest we stored in a water jug. We ate directly from the pots we cooked our food in as we had no other dishes. Luckily for us, Evan is a chef so we had delicious meals, It was awesome!!
One night while camping just out of Blenhiem we were hit with a storm. It rained so much there were puddles inches deep in the tent, everythign was absolutely drenched. The whole tent collapsed. We all moved to the car where we spent the night shivering and waiting for the rain to stop and the sun to come up. When the sun finally did come up we were able to check out the damage. Apart from everything being absolutely drenched, one of the tent poles had just snapped. We packed up our stuff and moved on. Nobody was hiring in that area anyway.
Our next camp site was at the Cobb River Dam. We had a little booklet with breif directions on how to get there. It sounded like a quick and easy drive so we went to check it out. We drove two hours from the town of Motueka, up one mountain, back down, through a valley and back up another mountain. The second mountain was all narrow, dirt road. It was a pretty nerve rackign drive. We weren’t even sure if we were going the right way. We were nearly to the top of the mountain and the gas light has been on for quite a while. We met a truck on our way down. They said the site was over the top and back down the other side. Since we had gone that far we figured we may as well go check it out.
The view from the top of the mountain was like none I had seen before. We could see the campsite at the bottom. It would probably be another 20 minutes or so. We didnt think we would have enough gas to make it back. There was a little information hut at the top of the mountain. It was open so we went in and camped there for the night. The plywood walls and ceiling gave us more protection than out tent would have anyway. It was an awesome night at the top of the mountain. I wish we could have camped there longer.
The next morning we had to face the fact that we may not have enough gas to make it back to town. Just to save as much as we could we put the car in nutral and turned it off and just let it roll us down the mountain. It was a little frightening as the road was so narrown and the steering was a little on the resistant side, but we made it down without a hitch. We had just enough gas to make it into this little town. We filled the tank up, explored some, then headed back into Motueka to hunt for work and a campsite that wasn’t so far away.
We applied all through the town, but no one was doing any hiring. We had no luck there. We did however have luck finding a campsite a bit closer to town. It was on a DoC (Department of Conservation) site. We couldn’t find exactly where we were supposed to set up camp, so we just picked a spot that looked like someone had camped before. Just as we had finished setting up a van pulled up. A group of Scraggley looking men rolled down their windows telling us we were on private land and that we could camp there but they would like a donation of canned food or cash. They said if we drove a bit farther down the road we would see where to put it. They drove away and we decided we would check it out in the morning. Afterall we were right beside a DoC sign, and we hadnt crossed the boundary where the “Private Property” sign sat a few yards away.
That night we had a campfire and sat around chatting and laughing. Having a lovely time as the skies were clear and our tent seemes to be holding up okay from all the duct tape we had used. Our tent was set up right by a really steep hill. Unfortunately for me, once the sun had gone down I wasn’t able to see where the flat ground ended and I sprained my foot quite badly. I was so glad at that moment that I travel with a first aid kit. I pulled out my tensor bandage and wrapped my foot up and was all set to go again.
We left our tent set up that night as we planned to return later that night after some more job hunting. We crossed the private property line and left a can of corn for the men who had chatted to us the previous night- just to try and keep the peace. Apparently it didn’t work.
Upon returning to the site that evening we discovered our tent to be missing. It was a bit stressful not having a clue where it had gone. Luckily we had taken all our valuables with us. Evan decided we should go chat with the scruffy men and see if they had seen anything. They had. Not only had they seen what happened, they were the ones who took our stuff. They accused us of leaving crap on their property and said a can of corn was an insult. When we asked where the DoC site ended and their property started they got a bit more upset and avoided the question. We got all our stuff back though and we just moved our site farther away from their property. We didn’t hear from them anymore.
After a week and still no luck finding work Audrey and Evan had a proposal for me. They asked if I would be interested in heading to Queenstown. It was a twelve hour drive south of Motueka. It’s a huge tourist town and the adrenaline capital. I was a bit unsure as I was hoping to find work in a town that is a bit less of a tourist trap and a bit more of a cultural experience. I thought about it and decided we may as well give it a shot. If I didn’t like Queenstown it would be easy enough to pack up again and move onto another town. That was when they introduced the next part of the plan. They wanted to leave that night. Again I was unsure as I would have liked to be able to see all the scenery as we made our way down. I agreed to it. I would just drive back up the coast before I left the country. It wasn’t a big deal. Plus that’s half the fun of this trip, being that spontainous!
We took turns driving through the night. There were next to no cars on the roads. We met fewer cars than me hit possums. It was a long drive so we took turns napping too. Of course the one napping was never the driver, we made sure of that!! We arrived in Queenstown at 7:30 in the morning. It is so beautiful here. Totally surrounded by mountains, a crystal clear lake skirts the town center. I had to admit it was a really cool place. Evan found a job right away and found a place to live. Audrey and I went with him and crashed on his couch as we continued to look for work. It took about a month to find a job but we are now both employed. Audrey works tow part time jobs, one in Arrowtown at a French cafe, and the other as a night receptionist at a lodge. I am currently working at a big souvenir shop. It’s a really fun job, I get to meet and chat with people from all around the world. Some are on vacation, some are working, and others are on working holidays like me. The people I work with are all really nice, I am the only salesperson who is not either Chinese or Japanese. I help the girls with English when they are unsure of what a word means or what something is, and in return they teach me different words and phrases in their languages. Who would have thought that I would learn Japanese while in New Zealand?!
Audrey and I are now living together in a little Cabin with Becky, a friend Audrey met earlier in her trip. We are like the three muskateers. We do all sorts of random missions together, always having a laugh. Our little cabin is such a home and we have a constant flow of people coming to visit us and hang out. There’s never a dull moment. It’s exactly what we wanted in our home. I am so happy here and am really glad I agreed to come to Queenstown!
Congratulations! You have managed to catch up with me and my adventures. I’ll make sure to make it into town more often to get posts up!