|September 19, 2011
Today we had a marathon drive, even longer than yesterday. As we had headed south yesterday we had to head back north, this time to the northernmost point of the South Island, Nelson. The drive was due to take about 10 hours but we changed the route slightly to make it more scenic and, with stops, we knew it would take about 11 hours. I had forgotten to add Elizabeth to the car insurance so it meant I was having to do all the driving. Considering it was my idea to make a 1,000km detour in our trip, it was only fair I had the punishing drive. Heading north from Dunedin, we made our first stop at a bakery in Timaru for pie for breakfast and made sure we bought a second one to have for lunch! We’ve eaten a lot of pie in NZ!
I was trying to stop about every two-three hours to stretch my legs and grab something to eat or drink. Our route soon left the eastern coast and headed inland, towards the Southern Alps and an area known as Arthur’s Pass. The scenery through this area was lovely, with the snow-covered mountains both sides of us and even alongside us at some points as we climbed. The weather was a little bleak and the cloud cover stopped us seeing the mountain tops and even turned the slight rain into snow at one point. We stopped in a little town along Arthur’s Pass for coffee and while I was inside the café some kea birds decided to jump on top of the car and started pecking at the rubber around the doors. Thankfully I came back in time to shoo them away but the campervan next to us wasn’t as lucky, the keas taking a liking to their South African flags! A little further along we stopped at a lookout, I think called Dead Man’s Corner, and here there were more keas eating the car! They all moved when I started the engine and gave them a beep, too!
We eventually arrived in Nelson about 6pm after seeing a magical rainbow along the roadside. I kept stopping to take pictures, trying to capture the whole thing. At one point there were two partial rainbows but we eventually saw the brighter of the two spanning the entire sky and with my wide angle lens I was able to capture the entire thing.
Once we had checked in at the hostel we went straight for dinner. I wanted to eat early so I could get back and get some rest and we decided to go to an Italian restaurant called When In Rome. The pastas sounded good but I couldn’t resist yet another pizza although Elizabeth managed to pull herself away and order the lasagna!
September 20, 2011
Elizabeth woke up this morning covered in bites. The hostel said it was probably a mosquito but we knew this was unlikely and it was probably bedbugs. They promised to change her sheets anyway but it wasn’t a good start to the day.
Elizabeth wanted to go to a museum called the World Of Wearable Art and as it was over $20 to get in I decided to skip it. I drove her to the museum and waited outside in the car, relaxing listening to some music. After that, she wanted to go to the Nelson Provincial Museum so I dropped her off there and returned the car to the hostel. I went to the Founder’s Brewery for some lunch and to try their organic beers. It was $10 for a sample of their six beers so I decided to try a bit of each. Their five main beers were called Tall Blonde, Redhead, Long Black, Generation Ale and Fair Maiden Ale and were all pretty good. They also had a seasonal beer which wasn’t very nice at all and had quite a fruity flavour.
In the afternoon I had a nap while Elizabeth caught up on her travel journal. We were both quite a way behind but I hadn’t had much motivation to write mine lately so I took the lazy option (I’m in fact writing this a week after the events so excuse the sketchy details!).
In the evening we were going to the rugby, Italy v Russia, which was the first match they were hosting in Nelson. The locals were all quite excited about it and as a warm up we went to a bar called The Free House. The bar had selected 15 beers as their “World Cup Best XV” and so we got to try some new beers. Between us we tried the Dead Dog IPA, Tuatara Hefeweisen, Captain Cooker and Golden Goose. We got chatting to a nice couple who were from England but owned a B&B in a town near here called Murchison. It was interesting to hear about their trials and tribulations in running a hostel/hotel in a quiet region with very seasonal business. They said that even with the World Cup, they had only had a couple more bookings than they would usually have had in September, the end of NZ’s winter. The bar had pizzas available from a nearby restaurant so we grabbed one of those for dinner before heading to the match.
Italy won against Russia fairly easily but the locals had fun dressing up. Most of them seemed to be supporting Italy and had gone to trouble to design outfits in red and green and paint their faces red, white and green, too. The chap a couple of rows behind us had even gone to trouble of perfecting his Italian accent and was making many people around him laugh with his comments, many of which made him sound more like The Fonz than The Godfather! He was having a quite enjoyable conversation with the kid in front of him who had decided to cheer for Russia, despite how bad they were. There was also a first at the match today – the lady next to me deciding that the best place to breastfeed her baby was a rugby match at a cold, windy Trafalgar Park, surrounded by drunken men. If that was my kid, that would definitely be a story I’d be reminding them of when they brought home their first boy/girlfriend!
Back at the hostel, we hit the sack fairly quickly after the match as we had yet another early start tomorrow. I’m not a big sleeper particularly but I just want one night of decent sleep, in a quiet room, where I can wake up when I want to and not when my alarm tells me or when someone snoring awakes me!