Week Thirty Nine - South Island Tour

Trip Start Aug 26, 2003
Trip End Aug 24, 2004

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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

I've made a riks of this entry. Somehow I missed this week's text entry and went straight to week forty. Therefore all the photos for this week are in next weeks. How confusing is that?

Week Thirty Nine

Day 252 - Tuesday 18 May

It is optional activities day today. I have chosen a trip through some of the sets of The Lord of the Rings then a walk through some forest followed by a trip down river in a jet boat with 'Dart River Safaris'. I get up at 7 feeling rough as. I manage some breakfast then am downstairs in time to be picked up. I hadn't realised that the first part of the trip took 45 minutes in a minibus to Glenorchy. It was twisty, I was sitting in the front with an overtalkative wee girl and the heat was on full blast. The rest of the people on the bus were in a tour together. They all seemed to have mental problems. Once at the tour office in Glenorchy a small man in an oversized 'joke' wooly hat came over to me presumably having heard me tell the driver I was Irish. 'Irish then', he shouted. 'London', he shouted sticking out his hand and looking all proud of himself. 'Hard luck', I said. He didn't bother me again. Thankfully we were split into two groups and I joined five normal people on a different bus. One of the guys was a Kiwi and worked as a rep for a jewelry company licensed to make 'Lord of the Rings' rings. He sold to the company running the trip. He told us a story of two Americans who had bought his top of the range platinum LOTR rings and had hired a helicopter to fly them over NZ's most active volcano and dropped the ring into it. Anyway everything was good although the jet boat ride was the coldest I have ever been despite buying their overpriced hat and gloves. All in all very good. Back to the hotel where again the driver had organized a flight for me to Millford Sound. I had to cancel as I was frozen to the core. I lay in a hot bath for 40 minutes then went to bed still freezing. I got up at dinner time and wandered into town. I had a nice Indian dinner in a restaurant then went home to bed.

Day 253 - Wednesday 19 May

My fortieth birthday. I told nobody on the bus so just sat quietly on the bus for the trip up to the Fox Glacier. The scenery was once again stunning. I treated myself to a birthday helicopter flight over the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers and around Mount Cook. It was nice and clear and I enjoyed it quite well. Back on the ground I went by myself to the local bar and had five pints for my birthday then went to bed at 9.30.

Day 254 - Thursday 20 May

We drive up to Greymouth and boarded the Trans Alpine train for Christchurch. It was a nice 2.5 hour trip but not as nice as any of us had hoped. I think that we had already seen most of the scenery by now and were glad to get back to our hotel. I went out and bought myself a carry out Thai curry, took it back to the Pavilllion hotel and eat it with a tea spoon. Another early night.

Day 255 - Friday 21 May

Bid adieu to my fellow passengers and got taxi down to a swish hotel called The Copthorne Central. I have a lovely room and, after checking in, walk into town to book my flight to LA. I book it for the 2nd June and my homeward flight from Boston on the 26th August. I also decide that the weather is so bad that I will fly back up to Rotorua for the rest of my stay in NZ. Phil has offered to put me up and take me golfing. (Ian and Elspeth have also offered but I feel that I have imposed enough - but thanks anyway I & E). From there I walk towards where I think the Hegley Park Golf Club is. I get lost and end up walking all the way around the park to find the club house. It is a rough and crappy course and I have no warm jumper to wear. I hire clubs anyway (2 x nine irons, 2 x sand irons) and join a guy teeing off on the 10th as the first tee is full of Koreans. He turns out to be a nice chap who is a Baptist Minister. He plays around to the 18th then I play another 3 holes by myself. I am too cold and decide to walk home. I am back for 5 and then go into town for a few beers. It is a lovely city with some nice bars. I get home for 10.

Day 256 - Saturday 22 May

Walk through the rain to the Arts Centre cinema and go to watch a marvelous little film called 'The Station Agent' about a dwarf train spotter. Go and see it if you get the chance. Afterwards I grab a lamb souvlaki from a van and wander home. I do my laundry in the hotel's machines then head out to watch the final of the Super 12's between CC and Canberra. CC Crusaders get stuffed by The Brumbies so all the bars empty and everyone goes home unhappy.

Day 257 - Sunday 23 May

I go to the CC Art Gallery for a wander around. Next I take a tour on the city's tram. It is crap and over-priced and I have already walked it's route. I nip into an internet café and catch up with some e-mails. I have a free drink in the hotel bar for every night I stay so have a few glasses in the hotel bar. I nip next door to another bar but my heart is not in it. I have an early night.

Day 258 - Monday 24 May

The Kirra Tours shuttle bus doesn't turn up for me at 9 as booked so I have to get a taxi to the airport. My flight leaves at ten. It is drizzling as we leave. The flight takes us up over the North Island where the skies clear and I get some beautiful views over Lake Taupo and the surrounding mountains. The plane sweeps over Rotorua and lands at noon. Phil is there to meet me and take me back to the house. I dump my stuff and we go out to play a lovely little nine hole course whose name evades me. We meet Donna back at the house for tea then drive into The Commercial Travelers Club (the CT Club) where we would spend hours over the next few days locked in combat over the pool table.
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