So, after the party, I geared up to move out.
I finished up some work while I still was on the grid, and did an evening crossing: 6:30pm to 9:30pm. The ship was massive – they have train rails on the lower deck (where I was parked) to move entire trains on board. As it was, many tractor trailers – some of them tandems – were pulled straight onto the decks.
The crossing was uneventful and smooth (unusual) with not even teeny waves to speak of. We pulled in to Picton, the arrival area, and I drove about an hour in the dark to Blenheim, the gateway to the north part of the South Island’s wine region. I sneakily snuck an evening’s rest in, parked on a semi-residential road among the cars for a hostel (which they call a ‘backpackers’ here).
I rose the next morning early, relocated to a point on the nice park-like village square to get a little work done, and then headed off for a full day’s driving to make some distance toward my next destination, the glaciers.
My selected mid-point was Hokitika along the coast – about a 350 kilometer drive. A good day for rain, since I was inside anyway.
I made it to Hokitika in good time, set up shop on the beach – oddly, in simultaneous view of both alpine mountains while ON the shore – and worked until my batteries died (at which point I started up the car, plugged into the cigarette lighter, and finished my last article).
I attempted to go see a ‘glow worm’ dell just on the noth side of town, but either the rain had dampened the little guys out, or I wasn’t there late enough. However, the OTHER fork in the path led to a hilltop view of the entire town, the setting sun, and the cow pastures with prime seaside real estate.
I wanted to keep some daylight, though, because I’d found a department of Conservation (DOC – like our Parks Service) campground nearby that i wanted to try to sleep at. These places, when convenient to one’s touring location, are the BOMB. Usually they offer pit or on-site treating toilets, running water (though cold), and usually a small trash or recycling station – you drive up, fill out an envelope with your car’s details, and drop the envelope with your payment into a small box for eventual collection. Thus far, each of these sites I’ve stayed at has been $6 per night (and that’s NZ dollars, so figure, $4.50 or so?) A bargain to sleep in peace and quiet in a lovely location. This first night I found the place -which I’d been worried was going to be full; you can see I was wrong.
I cooked myself a quick thing of soup and made a sandwich, and got ready for bed. The only problem was, near the lovely lake as I was, it was skeeter heaven. I could not at first place the high pitched whining – thought it was someone’s generator – until I shone my small reading light up at the ceiling and saw the thick cloud of mozzies just waiting to chomp on me. Agh! Thankfully they were slow and after about a half hour’s bloody battle, I’d smushed most of them onto the fuzzy light grey ceiling of the car (now spotted like a Dalmatian with skeeters) or had smacked them and their little carcasses littered all open surfaces of the car. I slept like a log and awoke the next morning raring to get to glacier 1, Franz Josef Glacier.