Duendin, Lake Tekapo and Christchurch

14 Nov

22nd to 27th of October, 2011


After my super cool flight in the cockpit of the Stewart Island Flights, followed by another long wait at the Information center for a bus, I arrived in Invercargill and looked lost. I was meeting family, my cousin’s dad and his wife. I had never met Marlene and only had a vague memory of Vic, so it proved to be interesting. Luckily there weren’t too many people and so I simply glanced around for 2 other people looking as lost as I was. It didn’t take long. They greeted me like an old friend and I was ushered into the car and told of the weekend plans.

Back at “home” I was shown to what can only be called my “wing” of the house, with a large double bed, a tv room and a bathroom with a MASSIVE tub, that has jets. I know what my plan for the evening is. I had some dinner and we watched the end of the Wales vs Australia game. Then bed time, well first long soak in bath followed by bed.

Dunedin Tour

The next morning after a yummy breakfast, Vic and I headed out for a bit of a tour of the peninsula. We went up to a great view point and he pointed the outline of the volcano crater that created the lake Dunedin now sits around.

Me and Uncle Vic

Lunch and a wander through the amazing botanical gardens completed the morning half of the tour. The Rhodedendrons were spectacular.


Then we drove around the lake to the peninsula and past the only castle in the Southern Hemisphere. We would have gone in but the cost was an arm and a leg so we skipped it. Back home along the water with a stop at the university, very beautiful grounds.

Dunedin Uni

My afternoon involved naps, blog and uploading photos, you can’t get much better than that while on the road.

We had planned to go out for dinner but instead decided to stay in have roast lamb and then watch a movie. I found it delicious but Marlene was disappointed that she hadn’t seasoned it properly, the cook is always the worst critic. The movie we got was 127hrs, about the young man who got trapped while hiking and had to cut off his own hand. The movie was really fantastic and except for 2 spots where we had to skip to the next scene as the DVD was scratched, all was good. Vic and Marlene now swear never to go back to that movie store as this has happened before.

Rugby World Cup 2011 Final

The main plan for sunday, other than packing, again, was to go over to some friends and watch the final of the rugby, New Zealand vs France. This was a repeat of 1987, the last time the All Blacks won the web ellis trophy, so tension was high. Most felt that France did not deserve to be in the final as they had lost 2 of their pool games, including one to Tonga, while NZ had won every game so far. Either way, France has a history of upsetting the Kiwis at vital games, so well people feel pretty assured that they will win, there is always the high possibility that the Frogs will wake up and suddenly wreck the home nations plans of victory.

Excitement was high and we all sat on the edge of our seats as the haka began. During the haka the frenchies got a bit of an attitude and crossed the imaginary line moving closer to the All Blacks, they were later fined for this act. In my opinion other teams should be allowed to face down the challenge.

From the start the game was tense and the frogs seemed to have found their stride as they were playing really well. The All Blacks were battling to keep up the pressure and missed quite a few kicks (to be fair so did the French). Nearing the last 15min the All Blacks were forced to send in a 4th string reserve, essentially the bottom of the barrel, everyone groaned until he converted a penalty that ultimately won the game for the team. I think he should just retire now as its not going to get any better.

While it wasn’t the fantastic win the nation hoped for, and some say the French deserved to win, it was a good tense game and the best team won. Go All Blacks. In any case ifthe French had won everyone would have said they didn’t deserve to even be in the final, so this way, its a win win, the French prove their worth and the Kiwis can stop whining about not having held the trophy for 24yrs.
See song on youtube:
24yrs waiting

Return to Magic

Early the following morning, I said farewell to everyone and Vic drove me to my next pick up point for the Magic Bus. I had two more journeys before the end and only 3more nights in NZ. Where has the time gone. Originally I had planned to go with Magic from Invercargill to Dunedin on their Catlins tour, they were even willing to give me a cheaper price as I was missing the first half. Unfortunately the tour only started in November and I was leaving the country before that.

As we headed out of Dunedin we made a stop at the world’s steepest street. Nope that doesn’t mean we flew to SF, cause it turns out that the steepest street is in this sleepy little University town.

Some of the others ran up but even just standing made you worked muscles you never knew you had. I am pretty certain they must be stranded if there is even a hint of snow or ice.

steepest st

Moeraki Boulders

We were told we were stopping to see large round boulders on the beach. Well that didn’t stimulate the enthusiasm but hey you never know. And they are officially the coolest boulders ever!!! They just seemed to “grow” out of the earth. At first glance you might think they are perfectly round drop stones from a glacier but on closer inspection you see they are not.

Moeraki Boulders

According to Wikipedia:
The Moeraki Boulders are concretions created by the cementation of the Paleocene mudstone of the Moeraki Formation, from which they have been exhumed by coastal erosion.

The main body of the boulders started forming in what was then marine mud, near the surface of the Paleocene sea floor. This is demonstrated by studies of their composition; specifically the magnesium and iron content, and stable isotopes of oxygen and carbon. Their spherical shape indicates that the source of calcium was mass diffusion, as opposed to fluid flow.

The larger boulders, 2 metres (6 feet) in diameter, are estimated to have taken 4 to 5.5 million years to grow while 10 to 50 metres (30 to 150 feet) of marine mud accumulated on the seafloor above them. After the concretions formed, large cracks known as septaria formed in them. Brown calcite, yellow calcite, and small amounts of dolomite and quartz progressively filled these cracks when a drop in sea level allowed fresh groundwater to flow through the mudstone enclosing them.

Lake Tekapo

We stopped at a couple of other lakes and such and were awestruck by the color of the water. Due to the copper sulfate in the rocks, the water is a stunning milky blue. It quite literally looks like someone has dyed the water. Getting into Lake Tekapo we stop first at a tiny little church on the far side of the “town”, or rather small collection of gift shops and restaurants.

tiny church on lakeside, about 100yrs old

We also visited a statue erected to honor collie dogs, who without their help the sheep farmers would never have been able to run their farms.

Finally we dropped all relative travelers off and made our final stop at Lake Tekapo Hostel. I was put in a 4 bed dorm while the others were put in a 6 bed, but it meant we all had bottom bunks.

Braai/BBQ time

When we stopped in Oamaru our fearless driver had picked up a few things for the BBQ. Only a very hungover scotsman, the driver and me were participating, but with $10 each we got a fair amount of meat and even a small thing of coleslaw.

Dinner time

The hostel had the sweetest cats and every now and then when a rabbit was killed (they are serious pests in New Zealand), the cats were given a treat. In truth I don’t think it knew what to do with it but it was awfully cute watching the reaction.

Weather issues

Had hoped to go horseriding, but the weather was downright foul and so spent most of the day writing and reading. Mailed a parcel and just chilled, always a good day when you can take time out, so it wasn’t a total loss. The walk to town was always fun as the wind blew so hard it nearly took me with it. The Magic bus arrived with a whole huge group all of which had put money in for the BBQ, so they had a downright royal feast, which left the rest of us drooling. They even had icecream. It also brought with it a pair of Dutch who seemed to have gone a bit sour our last meeting and did not seem enthused to see me. Oh well, I wasn’t enthused to see them either. There is always 1, or 2 in this case.

Off to Christchurch

My last morning in Tekapo and my last full day in New Zealand. Can’t believe it has been 2 mths and that tomorrow I would be heading to scuba diving!!!! The hostel cats seemed determined to claim my bags and were soon making themselves quite comfortable and using them as a playground.

Hostel Kitties

Arriving in Christchurch I checked into my hostel, Jailhouse. It used to be an old jail and the rooms are the actual cell. The only thing they had was a 10bed or a 2bed. The twin was double the price but it was my last night so I figured what the hell.

Jailhouse Hostel


I have always wanted a tattoo, but love the Maori designs and spirals (my favorite shape), and always promised myself if I ever got one it would be in New Zealand. Well I had barely 24hrs left in the country so figured I would go check it out. I had picked up a flyer 2mths before during my first visit to Christchurch and now I headed out to have a meeting with an artist. I had checked their website and asked around and they had a very good reputation. I hoped to chat and maybe even get a rough sketch of what the tattoo might look like.

I was super nervous walking to the store, but kept reminding myself of all the insane things I had already done, shaving my head, paragliding and so much more. Have always wanted one so this was the perfect time. At the office (which seemed a little small from what I was expecting with only one chair and artist). The manager, I think, sat to chat with me and just wrote down notes then said come in at 11am in the morning (note I needed to be at the airport at 1pm) and it would be no problem. I felt a little rushed and since we hadn’t even discussed price I asked the question. He immediately launched into how good they were and they charge a minimum of $200 even if it is just a tiny spider tattoo, mine would cost around $350. I gaped a bit and tried to look composed. Definately not in my budget, I was thinking $100 at the most. I didn’t even want to tell him that, as he continued to say how the days of $50 tattoos were over and how they are now works of art. Am sure they are, but $350 is another 2 days diving on the oil rig in Borneo… I asked about a small sketch and he said he would do me a deal and charge me $200 for that. I politely said thanks and I would think about it, stepped outside walked away and then almost gagged at the thought of that.

Was feeling a bit down as all the nerves I had had were now completely let down and I was feeling unbelievably exhausted. I had some korean food for lunch, which perked me up a little and got some passport photos for my Nepal Visa, then walked around before heading back to the hostel and collapsing in a heap. I felt like I had just run a marathon. Amazing how much disappointment can effect you.

Emily from England

After about a 2hr nap my new roommate showed up. I had hoped that I would not get a roommate and could spend my last night in New Zealand curled up in a ball sleeping and reading.

But Emily, who was just starting her trip in New Zealand, and I soon hit it off and were chatting about places she should go and things she should do. Then we headed out for a quiet dinner, not! She had stopped in at this small restaurant the night before and had ended up sharing a bottle of wine with the bartender. He was very happy to see her again and soon we were drinking jam jar cocktails and eating delicious pizza. While most bars have pool, this one had a putting range. It was a fantastic night, and I had a feeling that after 4 jam jars and something called Agua mixed with red bull, I might feel it in the morning. But may as well go out with a bang on your last night.

Emily and me

Agua (not water) and Red Bull shot

Farewell NZ

Last morning, feeling more than slightly rough, both of us consumed copious amounts of water and while Emily headed out to start her tour I headed out to the airport, to hopefully survive my 11hr flight to Malaysia. Why did I break my rule of no flying with a hangover… oh well at least it was fun.

I love NZ and hope to come back, have made some amazing friends and seen amazing places. Thanks to all those who helped me on this leg of my journey.

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Posted by on November 14, 2011 in Uncategorized


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