Sunday, March 19, 2006

Back Home

A couple of great weeks have past. There was the trekking I have already mentioned (sore heels and fantastic views, rain and snow, tents and huts) and then there was a small tour off to the very south of New Zealund to round it out.

We trouped off to Stewart Island for a couple of worthwhile days, passing straight through tarmac loving Invercargill where I had just enough time to pick myself up some new shoes that didn't hurt. The weather, as it always seems in that part of the world, was touch and go. Our first night on the island was just rain .. and some more rain. It didn't stop us wandering around the town trails up until the evening twilight hit around 9pm. We got very wet in the process but it meant that we got a free feed when we ventured into a local pizza shop and got talking to some locals and long termers, a couple of whom were American girls.

(Which brings me to ask, why are there so many yanks travelling around NZ and the majority of them, girls. Out of the two in the pizza place we got talking to one earlier in the day in a shop (who was a friend of the owner of the pizza place .. hence the free feed). But there were also Americans everywhere else we were. On the tracks. In the huts. In the campsites (some Californian girls there whom we cuddled up with on the first very cold night of the Routeburn .. sharing body warmth and all that of course the things you have to do .. photo below). And then there was also our hiking mate from Seattle, who turned out to have exactly the same track itinerary as ours. She was good value, and certainly not your average stereotypical burger munching fat American, in fact the complete opposite. Although she lived up to their ability to be able to talk, we heard all about her impending wedding preparations.)

Our second day on Stewart Island was spent kayaking around the large Paterson Inlet (great name) and taking along the fishing rods. We had originally planned on getting off the ferry from the mainland and kayaking on the first afternoon to a campsite, but the weather prevented that, so instead we made the most of just day tripping on the water.

I never really liked fishing before. Thinking it was particularly boring. It is when you don't get bites at least. But it is actually fun when you can just drop a line and get bites straight away and then just reel in fish after fish. This is what we did. Blue Cod after Blue Cod. It is also handy when you are travelling with someone with a degree and honours in aquaculture. You can get them to kill and fillet the things for you.

We were originally told by the local we hired the kayak off to stab the fish through the head after catching to stop the flap. That's not when you are with my mate, it takes too much time to wait for me to get my Swiss army knife out of my pocket. Just rip the heads half off with your bare hands. Effective. It made me laugh. Poor cod, taste good though. Pan fried with a herb batter and some chips from the local fish and chip shop. It was a good end to the day.

We picked up a car in Invercargill and headed off to have a sticky beak at Dunedin. Nice town. Lots of active people. Everyone seems to jog around and it is one hilly place. A tour of the Cadbury's factory was had. Quite a few samples to keep us awake for a few local brews at a pub to watch some of the Commonwealth games. Poor old Kiwis they try hard at least.

We rounded off the trip heading back to Queenstown to catch up with our Seattle friend and had a monster night out on the town for St Patricks day. What a riot. I haven't been in such a great night in years. In one pub we ended up in there was dancing on tables and on the bars. Guys were hanging from rafters. Everyone was going mad. It was a sore head for the trip home but a great way to round out a great couple of weeks.

Not happy campers Snow day

Alpine on top Fish destroyer

Phots on Flickr. Clockwise. Californian bird and me keeping warm (mother Hubbard look intentional). Third day on the Routeburn in the snow. My mate killing Cod fish. In the Alpine section of the Kepler track, the best hiking of the trip (the track can be seen wandering off like a ribbon on the ridge).

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