I am writing this blog post in Sydney, Australia. I am obviously behind but I am having trouble finding the time and energy. I am sitting on a patio just down the street from our very small apartment in Potts Point and drinking a long black coffee. A Sydney post will come later.
The South Island Story
From Queenstown, Bruce and I rented a car and set off on our own up the West Coast of the South Island. Bruce’s driving on the left hand side of the road is getting better and the South Island is a good place to practice becuase there are no busy cities. I have fallen in love with Google Maps and it now gets us everywhere we need to go – stress free 🙂
We chose the West Coast because the scenery is spectacular and because it isn’t as busy with tourists – both things we love. What we didn’t anticipate was the things that go with rather remote, rural areas:
- Very limited access to the internet, and mostly dial-up. Oh my! This is an issue because I am still trying to get a book chapter done and finalize things for my time at the Australian university
- Limited interesting eating options – we don’t eat dinner out that much but we love fun happy hour snacks.
Can’t have it all! The nature was spectacular. Here was our route and some highlights:
1. Haast Pass – This spectacular drive through the mountains that goes along Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka. Our first night was at the top of the pass in Makarora, just outside Mount Aspiring National Park. A very simple cabin with an amazing view of the mountains all around. Access to wifi cost $10 for 500 MB (which I used up in about 10 minutes becuase I hadn’t closed the apps running in the background). Definitely a big step back in technology time.
2. Frank Josef (town and glacier) – Even though this was billed as very touristy, it wasn’t at all by North American standards. Walking up to the glacier was an incredible walk through the ages. The glacier is quickly receding and local businesses predict that the tourist business here will be in trouble in the next 20 years. In Frank Josef we actually stayed in a motel unit in a backpackers lodge (that was all that was in our price range). I was quite worried but it was a positive experience (for one night :). There was a nice feel amongst all the young backpackers, it was quiet at a reasonable hour, and there was wifi (shared but reasonable for e-mail).
3. Hokitika – The beach here is know for its driftwood art and was amazing – not busy, beautiful sunsets (my favorite), great for walking, beautiful rocks (collected a few). Our unit was steps from the beach and I enjoyed some great down time (except when a creepy guy bothered me when I was reading and no one else was around so I had to pack up and leave). Too bad.
Learning and Growth
- The World is Spectacular – The South Island of New Zealand is absolutely spectacular. There are so many corners of it that I would still love to explore. We are blessed to be able to experience it.
- Progress – Yes or No! Although we often wish for simpler times, I realize that I really like my high speed internet and my wine bars. Nature is awesome! But so are some of our urban pleasures.
- In Hokitika, we talked to some local business people and they don’t really want progress – they like it just the way it is.
What are the urban pleasures and conveniences that you would have trouble doing without for more than a week?
The next post will be about our “pursuit of the ultimate adventure” in our last stretch on the South Island.