Rain, Rain go away, clear up after bonfire day

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
Parklands Alpine Tourists Park (yes we paid)

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Friday, November 5, 2010

We woke up to the rain thrashing the van at 06:00, a miserable start to the day. Well I woke up and woke the lady as she wanted to get to somewhere before the tide caught up with us. She didn't however want to get up and out of sheer exhaustion I fell back to sleep. No doubt she didn’t like that and was soon dragging the covers off me shouting "go, go, go" aka drive, drive, drive. We headed the short distance to the Mouraki Boulders and by 06:30 we were walking along the beach to look at more rocks, despite being as negative as I sound here it was actually quite amazing. Fossils and other objects had formed into large perfectly formed boulders then had been encased in the soil. Through erosion from the sea, rain and wind these had then been exposed and left on the beach which nature has then taken its course and broken some of them up into smaller pieces. They are really just a few boulders (well a lot) on a beach but when you read about how long ago they were formed and how relatively recently they have been exposed it is quite incredible really.

After a pre 7am walk on the beach in the wind and the rain (in shorts of course) I was glad to get back in the van and for once glad to be driving (I can’t wait to not have to drive anymore). We then headed to the town of Oamaru, famous for its colonies of blue and yellow eyed penguins. It was a very odd but nice place. As in Dunedin the young schoolgirls all wore tartan skirts to school. The buildings had a resemblance of a small Scottish town, including things like the Scottish hall. We had a drive around the town and out to see if we could see some of the morning penguins heading off over the gates of the tour centre but no luck. I had been dying for the loo since yesterday evening but the toilet doors were locked at the reserve and I thought I was going to wet myself.

After stocking the Esky (Chilly Bin as it is known in NZ) and following Rorie’s advice, “grab plenty of spirits, wines and beers, oh and something called food” (blooming heck Rorie you must have been having a good time in Mount Cook) we decided enough was enough and we may as well use the rainy day to drive on towards Mount Cook the highest peak in the Southern Hemisphere. On the way we stopped at two sets of Mauri Cave paintings which were pretty cool actually, in particular as they were dedicated to a god called “Supergroove”, now if you want religion to live on in these times of science and explanations you need to hook them in young and having a god called 'Supergroove’ must help in continuing organised religions to have such wealth and land banks at their disposal. Erica edit: Errrrmmm, Andrew are you stealing my material again?  I distinctly remember saying something similar to you yesterday (oh it was this).

 I’m now thinking of starting a cult with Supergroove as the god like figure and anyone we can get hooked into should give 30% of all their income straight to me so I can pray to Supergroove on their behalf.  We detoured off the main highway at Aviemore Dam which gave us a nice view of the Aviemore Lake the largest manmade lake in New Zealand. The lake was beautifully blue it almost looked fake.  We then stopped off at a salmon farm where we got the chance to feed the salmon for free (of course) they were ferocious when we threw the pellets in and I ended up getting soaked.

The rain just showed no signs of stopping and relying on Rorie’s advice we decided as we were in no rush we would stop in a major town before we got back into the remoteness.  After consulting the map we decided Twizel would be the place and hopefully it would have a bonfire and fireworks or at least some people setting off fireworks. We had considered buying some but decided knowing our luck we would set fire to the van or something plus they cost money. (Back at the penguin watch last night we were both amazed to have seen fireworks, when Erica asked what we would do for bonfire night I said “why in the hell would people in New Zealand celebrate Guy Fawkes failed plot on the house of commons”, I suppose the answer may be the Scottish connection still it’s a bit weird to be on the other side of the world).

We arrived in the vast metropolis of Twizel at least it seemed vast to us, it only has 1,000 people living there but it still just seems huge, two supermarkets and a couple of pubs. We stopped at the I-site to see if a campsite had a tv room or something to while away the hours waiting for the rain to stop. After a light hearted discussion the girl seemed to take a shine to us and told us not to pay for internet at it was completely free in the library (that’s the benefit of such big places), she also said something along the lines of “since it is you two asking you clearly like to have a drink and it is buy one get one free in one of the bars between 5-6 and 7-8 tonight”. This reminded us of Emer’s recent retort against me calling me Tsingtao boy from the women in china who when asked “do you know Tsigntao and everyone looked blankly at her she turned to me and said “you clearly do”. I asked if it was my rotund physique while Erica asked if my breath still smelled of wine “clearly she doesn’t know that I have been driving every night recently it seems.

 Anyway we paid to go on a campsite next to the area where the fireworks were going to be set off. Had a quick shower got dressed and headed out to the pub with our South America guide books to shelter from yet more rain. We sat and had our first good buy one get one free in what was seemed like ages (perhaps the last offer on this scale was back in Nam, the beer wasn’t as cheap but it worked back to about 1.50 a pint and we have hardly had any beer back at the van bar (our name for drinking cheap wine and spirits from the back shelf of the van). Well he had a good go at it in the hour as you can imagine, got some lined up for the hour long interval of buy one get none free, and then got stuck back into it at 7pm. We didn’t even realise our time was up until the woman checked and said you only want one or do you want two now happy our is over. We wandered back to the van in a slightly un-straight direction, fried a chicken thigh and some onions and had it with rice and kecap manis, bear in mind that in the pub they were serving huge gourmet burgers, fantastic lamb and sticky toffee puddings. It was slightly weird because at 9pm the fireworks started, very odd because it was only just really going dark where as at home it is probably dark at 6pm on bonfire night it seems, still it’s odd enough having terrible hayfever in November.

Erica skipped the end of the fireworks as it was not as impressive as our local one held by Salford city council but I suppose in a town of 1000 people with an outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, bowling greens etc you would prefer your council tax to be spent on the latter rather than the former. In the end we got to sleep at about 10:30 hoping the weather would be nice for the next few days for our stargazing and tramping adventures.
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