BootsnAll Travel Network

Helicopters, Hitchhiking, and Hangovers (I needed one more H)

The helicopter ride and glacier walk were by the far the most expensive things outside of airfare that I have done on my trip, yet, but well worth it. (Aunt Rosemary, you said you wanted me to use your monetary gift for something special on the trip, and this was it. Thank you!) I was put in a helicopter with four other people and ferried about halfway up the Fox Glacier. The Fox Glacier is one of the few glaciers in the world that is actually advancing and not shrinking. New Zealand is getting wetter as Australia dries out due to climate change. As I was the only non-coupled entity, I got to sit in the front seat next to the pilot. I had panoramic views of the entire glacier on the way up. Upon landing on the glacier, we slipped and slided our way to the box of crampons. After putting on the latest in glacier fashion footwear, I was able to walk around with no problems. We spent about three hours on the glacier looking in crevasses and walking through ice overhangs admiring the blue ice. The mountains on the sides of glacier were full of waterfalls plunging into the ice. My batteries on my camera quit working in the cold, so I am waiting for others in the group to email pictures. I didn’t have the worst of it, though, as one lady actually lost her camera in a crevice, or crevasse, to get my terminology right. It should make an archeological find one day. The guides had to be on the constant look out for clouds as the helicopters won’t fly when the clouds move in. If this happened before we could get off the glacier, we would have to spend the night up there (an interesting concept which would have definitely lead to great stories).

In order to save some money, after my expensive glacier adventure, and to make sure I keep having interesting experiences for my loyal readers, I decided to try to hitchhike to Queenstown which was about 400 kms or so away. This was the first time in my life I have tried true hitchhiking. I really don’t count the Cook Islands as the lifts were usually only for a kilometer or so. (Yes, I am using kilometers as that’s what everything is measured in here. 1.6km=1 mile.)
I went to the edge of town at about 8:00 a.m. and spent two hours trying to get a ride. Traffic was very light. Just as I was about to give up, a lady from Maine who now lives on a boat in the Caribbean offered me a ride. She was goint to Haast (a town about a third of the way to Queenstown). On the way we picked up a German hitchhiker whom I recognized from the hostel where I had been staying. He was also going to Haast. Upon arrival in Haast, I ate lunch and then walked again to the edge of town to try my luck again. I saw the German guy hitchhiking again. He had to go to the next town as there was no ATM in Haast and he was out of money. After an hour, I was about to give up and just spend the night in Haast as I didn’t want to make the drive to Queenstown in the dark and miss out on the scenery. Once again just as I picked up my bag to walk into town, a couple from Taiwan picked us both up. Their car was already full of luggage so we had to sit in the backseat buried in luggage. They drove to Wanaka which is about 60 km from Queenstown. The scenery as usual was stunning and full of assorted waterfalls, snowcapped mountains, and lakes. Once we crossed the Alps, we passed into a drier part of New Zealand called Central Otago in which the kingdom of Rohan was actually filmed. I spent the night in Wanaka and found that the local bus company was having a $1 special for a bus trip to Queenstown which I took them up on. In the end my hitchhiking adventure saved me $49 NZD but cost me one day of my trip. I probably won’t hitchhike anymore as I can’t afford to lose any more days. My time in New Zealand is growing short.

Upon arrival in Queenstown, I checked into Southern Laughter. I was sharing a room with three English girls. Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand. As a result the town is actually quite young in its population and well touristed. It sits in a lake bordered by very steep very high glacial formed mountains. That night, I went out with my roomates and some of their friends (guys and girls) to experience the Queenstown nightlife. The night started out with vodka and fruit juice drinks in the hostel. As I wasn’t paying attention, half the group left without me noticing it and suddenly I was alone with six Irish girls at the table. It seems to be a common theme that whenever I go out, it’s in the company of Irish girls. I listened to them and discovered that they all knew people in common and discussed their boarding school days of which I have no experience. I did use this time fruitfully though. I found out that two of the girls had a car and were driving to my next destination, and they offered me a ride (which I am currently waiting on as I write this). Funny thing is though, neither girl has a driver’s license. Their friend (with a license) who rented the car with them left for Fiji. One of the girls assured me that she has a license in Ireland. They are also eight months into their round-the-world trip so we have something in common. I just hope they don’t speed and get caught. I left with one of the girls and found the bar where the bulk of the group had gone. I stayed out until about 2 a.m., finally leaving as the bars were very packed and I hate being in crowds of people. My roomates didn’t come back until about 5 a.m.

I woke up feeling slightly under the weather and decided to do a 1.5 mile walk up the hill behind the hostel to clear my head. At the top of the hill is a luge center. I spent about an hour doing the luge. At one point my jacket got caught between the side of the wall and the luge making my jacket muddy. After luging, I went to the restroom to clean my jacket and then caught the gondola down to the bottom of the hill. Once at the bottom, I found to my dismay that I had left my camera at the top in the bathroom. Also strangely enough, I ran into Elke again (the German lady that I had given a ride to in the North Island). I didn’t have much time to visit though as I wanted to go get my camera. I told my sob story to the gondola operator who let me go back up for free. I found my camera and walked back down the hill and again ran into Elke who was walking up the hill. This time we visited a little longer and then I left. Last night I stayed in while my roomates and their Irish cohorts went out again. Maybe I am just getting old but I can’t keep up. (My roomates were 20 or so.)

Today I am going to Te Anua which is the start of the Kepler and Milford walks in Fiordland. These are the two most famous walks in New Zealand. If it hasn’t snowed yet in the mountain passes on the walks, I will do them. I am not overly keen on being buried in an avalanche. Again it makes a great story but there has to be some limits.

Interesting side note: Australia is in the middle of the worst drought in decades. Just this month they are actually beginning to shut down all farming irrigation. This should make food prices nice and high for me by the time I get there. They are also considering opening up desalination plants to give water to the cities. This is a very expensive way to produce water. If the rains don’t return soon, Australia will have a very big problem. They may also start importing water from New Zealand which is getting wetter.

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No Responses to “Helicopters, Hitchhiking, and Hangovers (I needed one more H)”

  1. Dogwood Dell Says:

    Barry,nrnrThe grand adventure continues. Love to see the pics soon. Don’t forget to add pics of some of your friends along the

  2. Posted from United States United States
  3. Kellie Says:

    You don’t need to hitchhike to keep your readers interested. I think we’re entertained enough! Glad to hear you’re having fun, though. Love you!

  4. Posted from United States United States

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