I control the GPS, not the other way around!

January 25, 2014

Nothing wonderful ever comes without pain.  I have sprained my thumb kayaking.  It’s a minor sprain.  And I know it’s a sprain, because it is exactly like what I did to my toe.  I thought it was a bruise but then there was the swelling.  So in my mind that equals sprain.  It is my left thumb.  So out came the ice.  Hold on.  No ice.  You can’t buy a single cup of ice around here.  You can only buy them in bags of 3kg.  Hurray.  NOT.  So no ice the first day of driving.  Just elevation above the heart and no using the thumb.  Which is actually quite easy for a driving day, which was what this day was.  My legs are covered in bruises and my right thumb and fingers are bruised as well.  And I’ve chipped a tooth.  But don’t tell anyone.  You’d think I was in a brawl or something.  And my ankles are covered in sandfly bites.  Cursed creatures!

So after my lovely experience in Doubtful Sound, it was time for me to leave Te Anau and head for Dunedin via the Southern Scenic Route.  Note to self:  When you use a GPS, make sure you tell it to ‘Avoid all unsealed roads’.  Let me tell you about my road trip day.  It started out well.  From Te Anau, I headed down to Lake Manapouri which was pleasant enough.  The weather was good, a bit of cloud and a bit of wind, but in general lots of blue sky and sun.  My first stop was going to be at Clifden to see an old suspension bridge built in 1898 but it was closed for upgrades so off I went along the highway until I got to McCrackens Rest.  It’s got a great view of Te Waewae Bay.  After a few photos, it was time to keep going.

The goal was to get to Invercargill for lunch and then off to see the lighthouse at Waipapa Point.  To get to the Waipapa Lighthouse, I had to drive on unsealed roads i.e. gravel roads.  According to NZ Frenzy, the book that I used to decide what I wanted to see on this trip, Waipapa Lighthouse is a really good one to go to, even though it is not the lowest point on the South Island, and neither is Bluff but that is where State Highway 1 ends.  Apparently Slope Point is the lowest point on the South Island but there’s not much to see there.  Anyway because of the book I decided I would go see the Waipapa Lighthouse.  I’m glad I did and I know that I can drive on gravel roads.  But I still didn’t like it.

My next stop after Waipapa Lighthouse was Curio Bay, but hold on, What’s with the time?  I spent a little too much time exploring Waipapa Point.  And the gravel road which was actually the Catlins Coastal Heritage Trail took me to the junction for Curio Bay and Southern Scenic Route put me off gravel roads for the rest of the day.  So I turned towards the Southern Scenic Route.  It definitely was a scenic drive.  There were lots of stops and turn offs, but I wanted to get to Dunedin at a decent hour.  When I entered the Catlins, it was like being surrounded by forests after driving through grassy hills.  After cruising along on the Southern Scenic Route, my GPS told me to turn off.  Good Grief!  I was back on gravel roads again.  The machine was playing games with me.  Anyway I went along with it on all these gravel roads until I could see the highway again.  After my white knuckle drive, I pulled over and checked the settings on the GPS and changed it from “Warn” me about unsealed roads to “Avoid All” unsealed roads.  So far so good!  I also changed the setting from “Fastest” route to “Easiest” route.  I’m in no rush to go anywhere.  If I’m really on a time crunch I’ll just wake up earlier in the day.  So, after telling the machine who was boss, I continued on my way determined to make no more stops, mainly because I didn’t want to be driving in the dark, but really, who am I kidding, the sun doesn’t set till after 9pm around here.

And then when I got to Okawa, I zoomed by Teapot Land and had to make a U-turn to double check that I actually saw Teapot Land.  It was the cutest thing ever and I am glad I double backed to take a look.

I eventually made it to Dunedin after 6pm and checked into my first hostel.  The room I had was clean and secure.  However it was located above a bar.  Which at the time of check in was not so bad.  I got some ice from the girl behind the bar for my hand and sat down there checking out my photos to see which were blog worthy before turning in.  I probably slept for about two hours and then I woke up.  Not because of the idiot drunks who had been kicked out of the bar by midnight but from the sandfly bites that I had received during my kayaking trip.  It was insane.  I could not stop itching.  I tried putting on the anti-itch cream but that didn’t work.  Then I had some all-natural bug repellant that was also soothing for the bites.  NO IT WASN’T.  My final resort was to take another anti-histamine pill.  Sandflies are evil!  After the pill finally kicked in, I was able to sleep.  Or so I thought.  I just wish those drunken idiots would sing somewhere else.  I would’ve put in earplugs, but then I might not hear my alarm in the morning.  So I turned on my music and slept to that playing in the background.  Sadly I didn’t get a chance to see Dunedin.  I got in late and I left early.  But I’m not disappointed.  My goal was the drive, not really the destination.  If I do come back to Dunedin, I probably would try a different place to stay.

January 26, 2014

Next stop, Wanaka.  Oh no, wait, Shag Point.  That’s right!  I’m looking for my Austin Powers!  Silly!  Nicole this is for you.  I went to Shag Point.  Did you know that Shags are birds and one third of the world’s Shags are found in New Zealand?  Did I see any Shags?  I don’t know.  I’m not a bird watcher.  But I did see lots of birds.  But I thought they were seagulls.  And I saw even more fur seals!  And they saw me.  We were eyeing each other up and I guess they didn’t like the looks of me so the ones I was closest to disappeared into the sea quite quickly.  And then there were the ones that couldn’t have been bothered and just turned away from me as I stood there snapping their pictures.  Apparently Shag Point is also a good place to see Yellow Eyed Penguins, however only at certain times of the day.  Morning is not one of those times.  Or it could’ve had something to do with the incoming storm.  The waves were crashing against the shore like crazy and the clouds were very ominous looking but there was still a little bit of blue.

So my next stop was to the Moeraki Boulders.  These are really interesting.  They are really round boulders which actually has a fossil inside.  I didn’t see any fossils, since the round boulders were still intact.  We could really tell there was a storm a-brewing because it was windy and the waves were quite strong.  Be careful walking on the sand.  I slipped on a muddy patch and had a nice brown patch on my bum and side.  But at least I saved my camera from the sand and mud and water.  And it was a pretty good landing too since you can’t even see the mud on my shorts in the photo!  The poor lady who took my photo also slipped in the mud and got a nice muddy stain on her capris.  I, at least, could just step into surf and let the waves wash the mud off my legs.  Yes.  I was covered in mud.  What a way to start the day.  So after washing the mud away and getting all my photos, it was time to head back to the car and find something clean to wear.  Next time I venture down to any beach I have to remember to wear a swimsuit underneath my clothes.  It makes it easier to change in the car should you ever land in a muddy patch while trying to protect your fancy camera.  And again, perfect timing.  As I was changing into clean pants, the rain started to come down.  And it didn’t stop until well after I arrived in Wanaka.

Along the way, Laurence had suggested I visit Naseby and St. Bathans but with the rain, I just wasn’t into it.  So I headed straight for Wanaka.  One thing about State Highway 85, which was the road where Naseby and St. Bathans was just off of, starting from Palmerston until the turn off for Middlemarch, it is Hobbit movie territory.  Specifically the scene where the company is hiding from the wargs and Radagast is leading them on a wild chase.  I don’t know the exact location, but my imagination didn’t have to stretch too far.  The landscape just screamed Warg Chase!  It’s a shame I didn’t have that piece of music playing on my iPod during that stretch of road.  It’s a shame there wasn’t a safe place for me to stop to take a picture.  I did make an afternoon coffee stop at Cromwell.  I have learned to drink a Flat White with no sugar.  The hostel here was also clean and secure.  And I took the time to do some laundry since I had clothes covered in mud.  The YHA is located right across from the lake and two minutes from New World supermarket.  So it is very convenient.  The other thing that I really liked about this hostel:  the kitchen was huge.  There was lots of space for a lot of people.  Much nicer than the YHA in Dunedin.  Sadly I didn’t get to see much of Wanaka.  I was busy getting groceries and doing laundry and the rainy weather was not conducive for walking the streets of this town.  But the very next day the sun was out.  And from what little I could see, it is a very inviting town and I immediately wished I had another night there.

Update:

I have used up all of the 30% DEET stuff and have moved onto stronger stuff: 80% DEET.  I had another itchy night in Wanaka.  However I was able to survive by slathering on more of the anti-itch cream.  None of this “use sparingly” crap.  My ankles are coated.  Sandflies are evil!

I’ll try to get photos up in the very near future!

Next stop, Glacier Country!

Wish you were all here!  Be glad you don’t have sandflies at home!  Luv, Aunty!

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