Relaxing at The Split Level

Trip Start Feb 17, 2005
Trip End Feb 27, 2006

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Monday, September 26, 2005

As it is still fairly quiet in New Zealand, the Bottom Bus only runs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Therefore I had another 2 nights in the area before my next pick up, so I decided to move 5km up the road to Owaka, the Catlins' main township (although 'township' is stretching it a bit!).

The owner of Surat Bay Lodge kindly gave the 2 German girls and myself a lift as we all had our main back packs. I quickly got settled into my new backpackers, which was called The Split Level, and it seemed like a cosy place. It was a strange mix of '70s decor and modern facilities, and it was a real novelty having a huge stereo and Sky TV! I wasted no time in playing one of my cds and flicking through the channels! It's fair to say that I haven't missed television in the slightest over the last 7 months, but it did make a nice change to have the option of some decent programmes.

The wind outside had dropped, and the sun had appeared, so I went on a 4km walk to Pounawea. I walked part of the way with a friendly old man from Oamaru, who often came here for a holiday with his wife. He gave me more precise directions for the bush walk I planned to do, and I duely found the start of the track soon afterwards. The Nature Walk was a 45 minute return journey via the estuary, and it was great to hear the array of birds singing in the trees. Some of the noises they were making were quite bizarre, but it made for a pleasant, relaxing experience.

The walk back to Owaka was nice as the sun was beating down, but unfortunately I didn't have a drink with me. So for about 3km, all I could think about was how nice it would be to have a nice cold beer in my hand. I therfore decided to treat myself to a six pack of Speights on my return, and the first one had to be the most satisfying beer I've ever drank!

I had the hostel to myself that evening which was heavenly, so I watched the AFL Final from the MCG, followed by a couple of Premiership games. Why couldn't I have been here a few weeks ago for the cricket?! Helen, the owner of the hostel, popped in at 10pm to see me as she'd been out all day. A real chatterbox, but extremely friendly, we talked until midnight about a wide range of subjects, from hunting, to ghosts, to Yorkshire Puddings! I eventually fell asleep at 2.30am.

I slept like a log as the beds were so comfortable, and I took advantage of the electric blankets! It was nice to have a lie in, though I quickly headed outside again after breakfast. I wanted to do an 8km return walk to Barrs Falls and take in more of the countryside on the way.

By now I knew that the Catlins were characterised by rolling green hills, gorgeous sandy beaches and a distinct lack of people. So I wasn't surprised when I didn't encounter any other walkers, although there were a large number of sheep, lambs and cows in the surrounding fields. One set of cows acted very strangely, as they would stand in line, stare at me, then all of a sudden bolt off in the opposite direction! The waterfall itself was very small, but that was fine as I enjoyed just hearing the water and breathing in the fresh air.

I had another relaxing evening at the hostel, where I attempted to watch a dvd but got Helen'd half way through! I must have been in bed by 10pm, and let's face it I was due an early night! Afterall, I wanted to be fresh for my next destination...Papatowai.
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