Sunday, May 8, 2011

Worldly Travels: New Zealand

What can I say about New Zealand other than: IT IS FREAKING AWESOME! I only spent 144 hours (6 days) in New Zealand, but I was able to make it around the entire south island and hit quite a few high points. I'll definitely have to go back, several times, to accomplish everything there is to do there, but I think I did alright for the short amount of time that I was there. Let's review.
April 2nd

I arrived in Christchurch on April 2nd without anything pre-booked. I had a rough idea of where I should go, but no idea what I was going to do when I got there. Renting a car was no different. I strolled up to the information counter and asked, "Where can I rent a car for cheap?" After being directed to an ad board with many local services listed and an airport phone, I put my passport, along with several others papers, down on the ledge and proceeded to I call several companies. Finding one that was reasonably priced and could pick me up at the airport, I went outside, got picked up, signed the papers, and proceeded south to Lake Tekapo.

About 20 minutes into my journey, I did a mental self-check, something I do quite often, probably as a minor case of OCD, and couldn't remember where I put my passport. I pulled off to the side of the road, just wanting to be secure that I knew where it was, and started looking through my backpack. After turning my backpack, luggage, and the rest of the car inside out, I called the car office, the airport, drove back and proceeded to freak out for about an hour. After leaving my number with the car agency and the airport (an Australian number, so it was international for them to call me, another important point in my journey), I went back to the car, noticed the GPS case on the seat, not knowing what it was, and brought it back into the car office thinking it must have been left there by the last person. When I went back in, the office lady was on the phone with the airport and told me, "Someone found your passport and turned it in!" I guess I got a little pseudo karma for the trying to turn in the GPS case. Anyways, I rushed over to the airport, picked up my passport, gave many thanks, and finally got on the road to begin my 3 hour journey to Lake Tekepo.
Lake Tekepo

Lake Tekepo is a beautiful place. A lake out in the middle of nowhere, it's one of those places that's so quiet that if you stopped rowing your kayak and glided to a stop, you wouldn't hear a thing. No airplanes, no cars, no wildlife even. Just sitting peacefully in the middle of the lake. I arrived about two hours before sunset at the Lake Tekepo YHA and with no plans, just like with the car, asked, "What is there to do here?" I was able to rent the kayak for those two hours of daylight and afterwards made a trek over to the hot springs where they have three pools ranging in temperature from 38-42 C (100-108 F). It was a fantastic way to end the day and the view of the lake from the pools was gorgeous. (Also of note: the night sky over lake Tekepo is in consideration for World Heritage status because you can see so many more stars without any light pollution for hundreds of miles.)
April 3rd

I went to bed early and woke up early the next morning because I had a lot to get accomplished. I knew I wanted to visit Mt. Cook, 1 hour away, and then move onto Queenstown, another 3 hours away. So at 7:30am, I rolled out of bed and began my journey.