Let me tell you a story after our exciting ...

Trip Start Sep 19, 2002
Trip End Sep 22, 2003

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Let me tell you a story ................

After our exciting activities in Queenstown we had a little incident. One of the first things you learn when you have a campervan is to make sure you tie everything down before you set off. Before our activities my darling wife had had an early lunch of pumpkin soup(as popular as tomato in England and slightly more flourescent). Now being the delicate thing she is she was unable to finish it all and so put the saucepan of the remainder on a shelf just behind the drivers seat. I started up Stan and drove to the exit. I needed to make quite a swift exit and so asked Stan the question. He responded with his 2.4L of throbbing power and shot out onto the road. CRASH! The pumkin soup decided to travel in the opposite direction. It is quite incredible how far soup can travel! When I pulled over we found soup on the floor, on the bags, on the cushons, on the side windows, on the curtains, on the back window and even on the roof! When we thought we couldn't find any more we found some more on the underside of the table. Stan was not a happy camper!

On the way back to our free campsite we passed a load of vans and some film cameras making some sort of movie. If you see a film featuring a scary character in a mask punting an old fashioned row boat wearing a black shroud you can say Pip and Red were there!

The next day we were awoken by a helicopter landing in the field next to us. I pity the poor people in a tent in that field. They must have thought some invasion was going on. We then left Queenstown for Te Anau which is the gateway to Fiordland. After lunch by the lake there we decided to head towards Milford Sound ready for an early start and cruise the next day. We travelled 82km to the last DOC campsite. This road was basically 82km of nice scenery but nothing else. Not a shop or any turnings off the road. We settled down for the night on the only bit of solid ground we could find because of the rain and wind. That night was not the best sleep we have had due to the howling wind and heavy rain. LJ made the comment that it was like sleeping in a drum. Undetered the next morning we set off to complete the final 40km to Milford. After about 20km we came across a number of other campervans parked by the road (we hadn't seen any other vehicles prior to this). Just past these we saw the barrier and the road closed sign. It was still raining really hard but we got out to ask what was going on but other people only knew that the road conditions were too bad and it was unlikely to be open that day at all. Hollyford (as far as we got) is not the centre of the universe and we therefore had to make the decision to turn back or wait in the rain, possibly until the next day. After a sustaining cup of tea, we headed back. On the return we saw the signs saying the road was closed due to avalanche risk! We should explain here that in the spring, the availance risk is at it's worst as it's illegal not to carry and know how to fit snow chains between June to November. As it's now considered summer (ha ha ha ha) it wasn't a problem, however, when we got back to town, all the "snow chain for hire" signs were back out again.

So, back in Te Anau (also not the centre of the universe) we twiddled our thumbs. We checked the DOC info centre for the weather report and it said "snow to 1700m" for Saturday and "snow to 1400m with high winds" for Sunday. That basically meant that Milford Sound was off the itinerary which was a real shame as that was one of the places on our must do list. Hey ho, these things happen. We can buy a postcard. And we never got to see the Homer Tunnel and shout Doh! So we were really pretty miserable, cold, wet, cramped, itchy (swarms of sandflies in Fiordland) and in need of a hot shower. Stan was also beginning to smell (however we later found out that this was a gas leak!!) What could we do with ourselves we wondered, especially as it was Stan's 4 week birthday and also NZ were playing England at rugby and the Kiwis were playing Great Britain at league rugby. There was no alternative. We checked ourselves into a motel!! ($95 well spent)

En-suite bathroom, fridge, sky tv and a proper bed. Where we stayed till the next day. We even had our dinner in bed. We made the most of the showers too! We set the alarm for 03:15 to wake up for the rugby and heard our neighbours do the same. The only difference was that they cheered when we boohed and vice versa. Of course England won 31-28. The league game wasn't so good - we lost. Badly. Never mind. The Auzzies got stuffed by the Irish too.

So having decided to abandon plans for Milford Sound, we headed South East for Invercargill for a step back in time.

More tomorrow folks!

Pip and Red

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