My new job as a Travel Guide!

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

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

It was getting towards the unfortunate stage when I had to start thinking about work again, particularly as my mum and Stu are arriving on 8th November and I need some money for when they are here (and the subsequent trip to Brisbane...). My original plan was to stay in the Queenstown area and look for a job, but the thought of accompanying Charlotte up the west coast was looking quite appealing. I could act as her own personal tour guide, and she could act as my own personal taxi driver - a win-win situation if ever there was one. The fact that there is guaranteed work in Nelson at a shellfish factory (more seafood?!) made my mind up - I was going back to Shortbread Cottage!

So, after departing the Milford Wanderer, we set off on the long journey to Franz Josef at 9.45am. It would be a full 12 hours later that we'd arrive at our destination...

We passed through some amazing, diverse scenery along the way, although I couldn't take any pictures as I'd understandably filled up my memory card in the previous few days. Charlotte has promised to email me a selection of her professional looking shots when she gets back home which will be nice, although I'll see this part of the country again in a few weeks regardless.

When we reached Haast, Charlotte got her first glimpse of the wild ocean that typifies the west coast. She loved it, and we made numerous stops to have a little walk on the beach, or to see the views from the many lookouts. It had been a while since I was on this stretch of road, and it looked even nicer than I'd remembered. The grass was greener, the sun was shining, and I was travelling by car - much better than by bus as you get to see so much more.

We had a quick stop at Pete's Possum Pies, although I made do with a milkshake as I wasn't feeling that adventurous! Anyway, time was getting on and one thing I highly recommended to Charlotte was a walk around Lake Matheson, scene of the stunning reflections of Mounts Cook and Tasman.

The final part of the journey to Lake Matheson seemed to go on forever, as we were conscious of another amazing sunset, and we didn't want to miss it. Our first little tiff came when, after arriving at the lake at 7.30pm, I decided to lead the way to the best vantage point. Unfortunately, I missed the turn off which meant that it was a 30 minute walk at pace to get there, rather than the 10 minute stroll that I'd envisaged! My new role as a tour guide had got off to a shakey start, particularly as Charlotte has a temperamental 'hockey knee' that was giving her problems.

To my extreme relief, we arrived at Reflection Island before sunset, and there was noone else around. We stood there for 2 or 3 minutes, in awe of the crystal clear reflections, before the most amazing thing happened. The mountains gradually, and indeed briefly, turned red before our very eyes, before the whispy clouds directly above turned the same colour. We'd arrived at the perfect time, and I couldn't resist deleting an old photograph so I could take one shot of the beautiful scene. Charlotte's mood brightened, and neither of us minded walking back to the car park in the dark.

A 40 minute drive through the mountains in pitch black conditions followed, before we eventually arrived at Glow Worm Cottages at 9.30pm. Charlotte had booked a studio unit for herself as she isn't a fan of dormitories, so I was hoping to sleep in the spare bed. Only, there was no spare bed, just a double...I was on the floor! It was fine though, and I enjoyed a great night's sleep as there were lots of huge blankets that created a mattress like effect.

Quite frankly, I'd have slept on a bed of nails after such a long day!
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