Phew, What a scorcher

Trip Start May 30, 2005
Trip End Sep 30, 2006

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Where I stayed
Red Corner

Flag of New Zealand  ,
Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Up early and away on the bus to Mount Cook. I was rather surprised to find that our driver was giving a commentary on the way. "And now we're passing through the xyz suburb, part retail, part industrial and part residential", "The animals on your left are ostriches, being farmed due to the high retail value of their meat". I put in my headphones and listened to my music after a short while.

He did catch my attention again later when he said, "And now we're passing through Mackenzie Country" (Mackenzie is my surname). I was intrigued to listen to the story of James Mckenzie (no-one knows why the spelling is different) and his dog that it's named after. Sadly it turned out that he was a sheep rustler and made his living by nicking sheep from the farmers of the land, not one to be too proud of then.

As we approached Mount Cook our driver commented on the fact that it was such a clear day, apparently it's quite rare to see the mountain at all and when you do it's at least partially obscured by cloud. We had clear blue skies to greet us, not a cloud to be seen. I booked into the Youth Hostel (see, I am still young) and went straight out for a walk. This is the area where Edmund Hilary trained prior to his little jaunt up Everest, but don't think for a minute that I'd be doing anything as hard core as Eddy.

I headed up the valley barely believing how amazing the scenery was, the valley was gouged out by glaciers making the surrounding hills so steep. The top of each mountain is capped by a dusting of snow. As I walked up the valley I could hear a series avalanches in the distance. I could never see them so they must have been on the other side of the mountain range.

After half an hour I took the track up to Sealy Tarn, which is a path that just keeps going up and up. I met a few people coming down who'd just smile, say hello and comment that I had a bit to go yet, it reminded me of the climb up Mount Kinabalu. It was also incredibily hot and the sweat was just dripping off me. It was great to reach the top of the path, there was a great view and a park bench waiting for me, greatfully received.

After a while I took a walk a little further up the hill, as the trail continues for quite some way afterwards. I was after the Kea, a parrot like bird, thinking that they may live nearer the snow line. I reached the snow line but with no luck on the Kea front. I merrily skipped my way back down the hill, via a quick viewpoint of mount cook, then back to the hostel. It ended up being a 5 hour walk and it was superb, My bus wasn't until early afternoon the next day so I'd be back out again in the morning.

I found my mind wandering while I was walking along, then I realised that I'd soon be in Queenstown (next stop). This is where AJ Hacket started up the whole bungy thing. When I set out I planned to stop here for a bungy, then didn't think anything more of it. My realisation was that I'd be there, standing at the top of a bridge very soon looking down very very soon. Let me reiterate that, SOON! Now that I've added this to my travelpod I can't back down now, I've got to go through with it, the thought gives me the willies, wish me luck.

I'm now getting into the hang of travelling in Oz and NZ, mainly you should cook for yourself and never eat out (unless you want to splash the cash). The hostels that I've stayed in so far in NZ have 'Free Food' sections where people leave behind food they no longer want. I've become a bit of a vulture to these boxes. Before I cook anything I always give them a quick peruse, it's a bit like Ready Steady Cook. Today the Red Corner will be cooking rice with vegetables augmented by an egg and bread roll taken from the mystery box.

After my early rise, long walk and free sauna at the hostel I was in bed by 10pm, sleeping like a baby all the way through to 8am, sweet. In the morning I got talking to a woman in the dorm, she was talking about how she wanted to visit many of the areas where they filmed Lord of the Rings. As an aside, it's impossible to go anywhere here without hearing or reading those four words in that order. I can't understand anyone whose main objective on a trip to NZ is to visit areas that they've seen on a film. Surely they could be a bit more original and read the guide book to decide where to visit. I just don't get it. Personally I'll be able to live with myself if I don't get round to visiting Hobbiton.

The weather was crap in the morning, high winds and rain. I'd been so hopeful of a nice walk again, but I guess this is what it's really like. It meant that all I could really do was to hang round the hostel and wait for my bus, and think about the impending bungy......
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