Trip Start Dec 03, 2008
Trip End Oct 14, 2009

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Saturday, May 2, 2009

I was truly, so happy to leave Ashburton and Talley's - finally FREEDOM!!!
We headed northeast, back into the mountains.  AHHH, I forgot how WONDERFUL it is to be back on the road!!!  I was so sick of Ashburton and that caravan!  We had a great drive and the sun finally came out.  We went to a small mountain town called Hanmer Springs.  It is completely surrounded by mountains and has natural hot springs.  After a week of rain it was nice to see the sun again. We found an interesting campground.  It was more or less a school holiday retreat.  The kind of camp you go to when you're in 6th grade and you all share a cabin and play Ghost in the Graveyard.  Well, that's exactly what this place was like.  There were a few other travelers but the first night it was mainly kids.  We went into town that night and had a great dinner.  The restaurants are a little different here.  Almost every single restaurant is set up so you order and pay for your food from a counter and you receive a number to put on your table.  Not a bad idea, but its like cafes back home.  This means there is no service and you have to go up to the bar and order you drinks there.  You are not supposed to tip for service here, well at least not at restaurants.  Although, I am sure they would like tips.  They get paid a full salary from the restaurant.  Even if you wanted to tip, you wouldn't know who to tip because no one really helps you.  It is less expensive to go out to eat, but you have to love good service!  Oh, Chicago, how I miss you. 

The next day I tried desperately to get an Internet connection to skype with my girlfriends who were having a Girls Weekend in Bettendorf.  One of the few really important things that I am missing this year, along with my 10 year high school reunion!  I will not be able to forgive myself for that one.  So after trying 7 different places, I decided just to call them and then my phone card ran out of minutes.  After that upsetting morning, Brian and I went for a long hike to see a waterfall.  It was super muddy but lots of fun as we really enjoyed walking through the forests here.  The guy that told us about the waterfall said it would take about 2 hours - it took more like 3 hours.  We haven't been able to hike as much as we thought, so its great when we get too.  

We rewarded ourselves by visiting the HOT SPRINGS!  Oh, how wonderful they were.  There were 20 different pools or something crazy like that.  Whether it was the temp or the minerals found in the water, all the pools were different too.  It was so great.  The stars were out and there weren't too many people.  That night we got to stay in a larger, nicer cabin but we were the only 2 people in the entire camp!  It was a little scary because its such a huge place.  

Hanmer Springs was definitely a mountain resort town but without being touristy.  It was a nice relaxing weekend after doing nothing all week but sit in the rain.
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