Week 13 Day 86
46.4131° S, 168.3475° E
When I last left off, I left you with the promise of adventure and this post I hope does not fall short.
Monday morning Tom and I left Kaikoura en route to Christchurh by way of Hanmer Spring.
Hanmer Spring is a resort town built around the amazing Hanmer Spring Thermal Water Park.
When we arrived in Hanmer, we were itching to ride down the superbowl but we had some business to do first.
Along with all day admittance into the water park and unlimited waterslide rides, the entrance fee to Hanmer Springs also bought us a shower. (Our first in over a week!)
Being the responsible Personal Trainer I am I told Tom we had to use this access to a shower wisely and run before we entered the park.
Fully circling the town twice I believe we racked up 5k, an acceptable distance given the fun that awaited us!
We also may have stopped because my body had fully broken out into itchy red hives. Since I’m always showing you the glamorous side of travel (beautiful scenery, epic meals out of the back of our getzya, crazy adventures etc.) I feel it’s only fair to show you the downside. (Please feel free to skip the next couple paragraphs indicated by the lines if you don’t care to read about a rash!)
While many would think going a while without a shower is a smelly endeavor, at times it is downright awful for me. I’ve been one of the lucky 26-28 year olds to develop Cholinergic urticaria (CU), a condition where your body breaks out in hives upon sweating. One of the ways to keep the symptoms at bay is to exercise daily, but that’s only if you can shower after. Repeated sweat sessions without a shower is the number one way to prompt a breakout.
I can keep the CU from bothering me when I have control of my living environment, but being on the road has made my breakouts much more frequent. I’m hoping it will go away as I get older but for now the best I can do is try not to itch, take deep breathes, and try not to let it ruin my mood. (Luckily for me, my husband is very patient with me when I fail and the breakout does put me in a bad mood!)
Tom and I alternated bathing in the warm thermal pools and racing down the waterslides until we had enough.
Heading to the locker room to get our much anticipated real shower we cleaned up and then headed back on the road towards Christchurch.
We arrived around rush hour, but found this to be a non issue in the quiet town that was once NZ’s second largest city.
Christchurch was hit by 2 earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.
The first quake in Sept of 2010 registering at a 7.1 magnitude, surprisingly wasn’t the one that did the majority of the damage. It was actually the second a 6.3 magnitude quake in Feb of 2011 that did the majority of the damage.
It is thought that the 7.1 quake weakened the city making the 6.3 quake cause as much damage as it did. The epicenter of the February quake was also 3 miles closer to the surface (the Sept quake was 10km deep while the Feb quake was 5km) making its affect more severe. The 361 aftershocks (many registering above 5.0 on the Richter scale) within the first week didn’t do much to help the situation either.
Walking through the Central Business District, (CBD) we found the town eerily quiet for 5pm on a Monday evening.
There were other tourists like ourselves checking out the remnants and new beginnings of the city, but otherwise the town was dead.
The city has begun to rebuild itself, but continuing aftershocks and debate over what to do with historic buildings such as the Cathedral and Vintage Watch shop delay progress.
While the historic buildings lay in ruin as they await their fate, other business have taken more creative means of reopening.
One of the cooler areas of town is the Re-Start district. Cashel Mall is a series of business built out of shipping containers.
The color shipping containers provide industry and optimism for the city.
It was also really cool to see all the artwork that has sprung up in the ruins.
Each street corner seems to have another creative artist’s twist on how to use remnants of the city.
Tom and I enjoyed walking around seeing the creative ways people found to celebrate Christchurch.
Not far from the CBD we found Cassel & Bros a delicious Brewery that also makes woodfire pizzas.
When Tom finished his work for the day, we headed to Hagley Park to make some dinner and settle in for the night.
Arriving back in the CBD around 8am we found it much busier than the day before.
Around us, people were headed to work at the City Council and construction was going on all around us.
We picked a cute Coffee shop called C-1 located in the free CCC-WIFI area to do some work for the morning.
C-1 is one the freshly rebuilt businesses.
While Christchurch may not be rebuilding fast, they are definitely doing things right. This little coffee shop offered tons of character.
The best part was the hidden door to the restrooms disguised as a bookcase!
We found it to be exactly the same, but still enjoyed it indulging in some yummy pizza that we had restrained from the night before.
After lunch we set out towards Greymouth via Arthur’s Pass.
Along the way we found a super cool cave that you can walk/swim through on a good day.
We unfortunately didn’t get a good day. We made it about 100m into the cave before the water got too deep to go any further….please don’t bring this up to Tom, it’s his biggest disappointment of the trip so far…
We finally made it to Greymouth around 6:30 heading straight to Monteith’s Brewery for a celebratory beer. We were pleasantly surprised to find that while this brewery has an insanely priced beer tour at $20 a head ($10 more than last peak season from what I’ve read…) it does have very reasonably priced beer at only $7 a pint.
We did our evening routine of cooking, cleaning up, and movie watching before falling asleep for the night.
We woke up early Wednesday morning and headed into town for some WIFI.
We were supposed to meet up with our friends Claudia and Simon in Greymouth the night before, but lack of internet impaired that plan.
Finding a coffee shop that offered 75MB per day I connected with Claudia and made a plan to meet up at their hostel after we visited Pancakes rocks in Punakaiki a town 30min north of Greymouth.
The Pancake rocks, may be one large tourist stop along the South Island West Coast Highway, but they are free and pretty spectacular, especially if you catch them at high tide and see the natural blow hole that we got to see.
Not only do some of the rocks resemble a stack of Pancakes, but others resemble other objects, and animals as well.
Heading back South to meet up with Claudia and Simon we stopped along the way to make some breakfast.
One of the best things about living out of your car is that it’s super easy and cheap to always eat at the places with the best view.
Our latest food staple has been lamb sausages and eggs! The lamb sausages don’t have the thick outer layer that other NZ sausages have and now that I’ve mastered cooking eggs in a cake tin over a gas stove Tom and I are super happy with our trunk kitchen!
We got back into Greymouth, hooked up with Claudia and Simon, and soon we were all jammed in the Getzya headed down the coast to the Glacier region. After driving for a couple hours we were no longer on the beach, but rather up in the mountains at the foot of Franz Josef Glacier.
We did a couple short walks with Claudia and Simon around the glacier, then dropped them off at their hostel for the night and continued down the road.
Claudia and Simon were going to do a longer walk the following morning, but Tom and I had to keep moving south in order to get to Milford Sound by 9am Friday morning.
Continuing South we passed Fox glacier and hit the town of Haast around 7:30.
We were hoping to find some WIFI for Tom to post his blog for Tommorkes.com, but we very quickly discovered neither one of the two bar/cafe/restuarants/hotels had WIFI. We would have continued on our way, but the town has also begun shutting down the highway in the evening so we were stuck.
We took advantage by buying a couple $10 jugs and chatting with some locals who taught us all about the art of catching Whitebait fish. A thriving industry in the town of Haast, We soon found out that we had caught the last day of Whitebait season. In season the population of Haast increases from 297 to over 2,000!
Heading out to the beach to camp we had our first experience with the crazy sand flys of the south that would haunt us for the next couple days.
Thursday morning we woke up early enough to head out as soon as the highway opened at 8.
While we were bummed there was no WIFI in Haast, we weren’t overly upset that we had gotten stuck there because there are many short hikes I wanted to do on our way out of town.
About 30 minutes outside of town we hit the first hike, Roaring Billy Goat Falls, just in time for our car to completely stop. For no reason. In the middle of the road.
Putting the car into neutral, we pushed it into the Roaring Billy Goat Falls parking lot and began to wave down passing cars.
The first car said they couldn’t help us because they didn’t have cell service and wouldn’t have it for an hour.
The second car said they would stop in Haast for us and call AA.
The third car happened to be a mechanic!
He tried starting the car.–It didn’t work.
He popped the hood and took a look.–Nothing wrong…hmmmm…
Let’s try starting it one more time…IT WORKS!!
Whew!! 30 min later after we saw the falls, our car started yet again and the only problem we’ve had since was has been on steep hills…say your prayers that our little Getzya makes it back to Queenstown!
We continued on from Billy Goat Falls to the other waterfalls that Haast Highway has to offer, stopping at:
Thunder Creek Falls:
and Fantail Falls:
The AA guide book said you can see brown and rainbow trout swimming in the pools.
We didn’t see the trout, but we did get to go over a couple fun suspension bridges, the pools were really pretty and there were some cool stone stacks or cairns.
Leaving the Haast district, we found ourselves in the Southern Lakes District.
The first lake we passed was Lake Wanaka on our right, followed by Lake Hawea on the left.
Both lakes were pretty spectacular because they are surrounded by pretty severe mountains.
While we were driving down Lake Hawea we hit a traffic jam caused by hundreds of lambs blocking the road.
We were blocked by the lake for at least 45 minutes…at least we had a good view! The lambs were also super entertaining to watch dart in and out of cars!
When we finally got past the lambs, we were right outside the town of Wanaka.
Ravenous, we pulled in to make ourselves breakfast!
The town of Wanaka was super cute, but it didn’t offer much WIFI to get work done.
Most places charged for WIFI, but we did find some free WIWI at the Monteith’s Lake Bar. Unfortunately, free also meant super slow. We stayed
forever because it took over an hour to load one post long enough for Tom to post his blog and we were on our way.
Heading out of town we passed 2 hitchhikers who turned out to be none other than our German friends Claudia and Simon!
Their hike had gotten clouded out (no view no hike) so they were on their way to Queenstown too!
We cleaned out the back seat and soon all 4 of us were headed down the road together once more.
When we made made it to Queenstown, Tom and I enjoyed a nice leisurely break before we headed further south.
We had booked a cruise through Milford Sound Friday morning at 9am so we wanted to be as close as possible by the end of the night, but Tom had more work to get done and we were both sick of being in the car.
After Tom finished up some emails, we stocked up on food at the New World Market, (we’ve learned it is very far from town to town in the South and you never know when you might need extra food!) and we headed further South.
We finally made it to a campsite around 11pm.
We didn’t even turn on a movie, we just laid our seats back and went to bed!
We woke up the next morning to make breakfast and hit the road.
As I began cooking from the back of the car, I soon realized we were not alone. Our camp site was home to a million little sand flys all of which were biting me all over my body. Much worse than the ones in Haast!
Tom swatted them away as I cooked, but I think we both came away with about a hundred bites which are still itching as I type.
As soon as breakfast was cooked, we hopped in the car and drove as fast as possible away from the sand bugs to Milford Sound.
Oh well, the epic site that is Milford Sound makes up for the sand flys in it’s harbor, and luckily as soon as we got out of the harbor there were fewer sand flys!
Milford Sound is a small port that only seems to exist because of the revenue it generates from tourists.
There are about 10 seperate commercial tour boats that take tourists like Tom and myself out on the water.
Going through an NZ website called bookme.co.nz I found Go Orange to be the best company.
Not only did they advertise having a 15 min longer cruise than the rest, but they also were the only company to offer a meal all for the same price as their competitors. To top off that great offer, Go Orange also offers a much smaller more intimate cruise than their other more commercial competitors.
Go Orange didn’t disappoint either!
We did find out the more intimate setting isn’t because they limit passengers, but rather because they are a newer company, but the less crowded boat was definitely nice and everything else lived up to the ad!
Our captain was the only one to take the boat close to shore and stop the cruise at times to make sure we all saw the penguins and seals and had time to take pictures.
The BLT’s Go Orange served were pretty tasty as well!
Aside from our awesome cruise line, Milford Sound itself was pretty spectacular.
The water was a crazy calm teal and the mountains were crazy tall and severe. It was a pretty unreal experience.
Before we knew it, we were already back on the dock.
Doing the 9am cruise, meant that we had our whole day ahead of us–which was a good thing because we had about 5 hours to drive.
We took our time driving to our next destination and by night we had arrived at Invercargill–land of an awesome library, random fire drills, and sobriety checkpoints–but that’s all a story for next week.
We hope your home team wins today but most importantly, GO SEAHAWKS!!! Let’s Make it 10-1!
Shout out to the Burlington-Edison Volleyball team for winning their back to back state title yesterday! Go Tigers!
Another Shout Out to Jeff Hartmann and Christy Baker Happy Birthday This Week!