The long white cloud

Sunday, January 29, 2006

An unfortunate series of events

Have developed a new game on the long drives, “Roadkill poker”.The rules have not yet been completely developed, and the gaffer is not fully on board with the game, but I still feel it has potential. Basically you have to hit existing roadkill with a satisfying thump. A single hit on a fresh roadkill (or a complete miss) is the lowest hand, hitting it with both front and back wheels is a “pair”. A stoat followed by a possum (or vica versus) is a “full-house”, and so on and so forth. Picking up detritus on the wheels, or playing a hand that has already been played umpteen times are both considered poor form. The dream hand , or “royal flush” as I have called it, is a mother possum with a pup in the pouch, which is alive and is crossing the road. It remains to be seen whether I am man enough to play that hand….

After the glaciers down to Wanaka, and the weather is just getting better. Blisteringly hot, and car travel would be most uncomfortable if it were not for our A/C. And although the A/C is heavy on fuel, it’s no more expensive on fuel than leaving your windows open (apparently the drag created by opening windows also affects fuel consumption, no really). Wanaka has become like a Chelsea by the lake since we were last here, houses exchange hands for ridiculous sums - the lake is excellent for families and boating enthusiasts alike, and in the winter some very good skiing is available (apparently). On our arrival I went for a dip in the lake and was staggered at how cold it was, not quite as cold as the unswimmable Tekapo, but still very cold. Our accommodation options were very limited here and we ended up in a v. nice but expensive motel. We spent one more day in Wanaka and went for a walk up Rocky Mountain , where spectacular views of the lake could be seen from the summit, and the gaffer took an unfortunate tumble on the mountain path (skinned knees and bruised pride were the only injuries)

From there down to Queenstown the “extreme activity” centre of NZ. We did plenty of that the last time we were here, and so decided not to stay too long. We stopped off at Kawara bridge for old times sake, this is where bungy jumping started and is still the most famous bungy site in NZ. People from all over the world come here to pay money for the privilege of throwing themselves from the 130 year old bridge. And although the site is much bigger and much more commercial than the last time we were here (business was brisk this day also), an excellent viewing platform gives a clear view of the only line in the world where no known queue-jumping has occurred.

We stopped off in Q’town to pick up lunch only, the town has become far too big and noisy for it’s own good, which is a shame because it is in a very beautiful location. From Queenstown, down to Lake Te Anau , a long drive (2 pairs and a full-house) and on our arrival we decided to go immediately to the beach for a cooling swim. Tragedy struck the gaffer again as she managed to scoop up a bee in her sandal, which responded by stinging her. I carefully removed the stinger from her foot, and she bravely hobbled back to the car, and we drove down to the beach.

You would have thought with the mountain tumble and the bee that my wife had been through enough, but there was still more to come. I decided to nip back to the campsite to make a flask of tea and left Lisa by the lake. When I came back , as I pulled the car up I couldn’t help but notice this old guy, who, well, it’s hard to describe really , but he was about 75 walked with a walking stick and wore nothing but a hat, some plimsolls and what can only be described as a pair of bikini bottoms that he must have stolen from a 10 year old. His old and wrinkled bottom spilled out of the back of his “swimwear”, and I thanked the lord I only caught a glimpse from the back. The gaffer was not so lucky. She looked a bit white and shaken when I arrived, apparently the old guy had come over for a chat, and his makeshift trunks apparantly covered even less at the front then they did at the back. We both assumed that this was just a lonely old man with no fashion sense, but did think it odd that he only had “chats” with single women on the beach.

The next day and a boat ride down Milford Sound, I took only a few photos, because they really do not do it justice. It’s actually a fjord, and not a sound as such (if you really care, look up the difference on google). It is a spectacular stretch of water leading down to the sea, and the steep sides reach up 1000’s of meters and reach just as steeply down to the ocean bottom. If you ever come to NZ, you must visit this place. We went for a swim later that day, and saw our friendly smiling flasher again (please God, make the bad man stop!). That night we went out for a meal and unbelievably Lisa bumped in to someone she knows ! A lovely woman called Marion who was a Samaritan in Surbiton with Lisa, and was on a 3 week holiday in NZ.

We are currently in Invercargill - arrived via the spectacular “Southern scenic highway”. Invercargill is a notoriously wet and blustery place, and if the weather had not been so good recently, we probably would not have bothered. Invercargill is a unique place, very Scottish in nature (has historical links with Scotland), and is the Southernmost city of NZ. It also has a few cultural oases, the Anderson gallery (see piccie) which was well worth a visit and the Southlands museum, both free and both very well presented.

We have gone as far south as we can now, (unless we want to go to Stewart Island ), from here on in we will be heading north……


  • John, since when did you start using words like "detritus"

    By Anonymous Pete, at 6:41 AM  

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