Walkabout: Travel Life and Photographs

Queenstown and Beyond

November 21, 2005 

Just when I think I’m actually getting used to the roads and rules in New Zealand they go and throw something new at me. It definitely took some time to get used to everything being backwards like driving on the left side of the road and having the steering column on the right side of the car, but I’ve been adapted and adjusted to this and it seems second nature anymore. Although I have to admit I still get into the wrong side of the car at times. New Zealand is filled with numerous one lane bridges, some fords, a dotted passing line that never seems to end even around corners for anyone so daring, road construction crews working without the Stop and Go sign people leaving you to pass through as you can and see fit, and a 100kph speed limit on all open roads which seems impossible to fulfill most of the time. Most the roads remind me of those found in the Loveland and Boulder canyons back home. The other day though when I was headed out to Glenorchy from Queenstown the two lane road suddenly became one with little warning and no reduced speed limit sign. It made me slow
down though and take caution as I drove around the curves and hoped no one else was coming from the opposite direction. At one point however another vehicle came and I was forced to back up into a wider spot back so he could pass by and then I went on my way…………..what next?

It happened all the time in South America, numerous times some days as I seemed to be a magnet with my long hair, but it took nearly two months for someone to approach me wanting to sell. The Maori guy was hard to understand and basically had to spell it out of me only to make me laugh when he spitted it out of his mouth full of food. He carried on and I went on about my business.

I spent some time in Queenstown which reminded me much of the resort towns off of I-70 back home like Keystone, Winter Park, and so forth apart from the lake which it cradled next to. I did about the first day and a half of a hike called the Routeburn. It’s one of the more popular multi-day hikes that takes most 3-days to accomplish the non-circular hike that ends near Milford Sound. I went as far as a place called Harris Saddle before turning back that is suppose to have spectacular views, but I saw little more clouds clinging to the peaks. I may try it again from the opposite direction now that I’m in Te Anau and plan to head to Milford Sound next. Apart from that I have been taking it easy since my right calf muscle has been giving me some grief recently, and plan to stay off it for at least a few days.

Somehow in Queenstown I put myself 12 miles out of way on a hike one day by missing a turn somewhere. Luckily I met some peeps on another trail who offered a ride to me back to town. Normally I wouldn’t hitch, don’t want to take the risk, but she seemed nice enough and appeared to be showing her parents around. Turns out she and her husband have been coming to NZ for the past 8 years following the ski season and working as instructors, and then returning to Switzerland where she and the parents were from to do the same there. Her husband was actually from South Africa. What interesting world we live in, and it’s great to see how some go about their lives in it.

My parents come in little more than a week! I am looking forward to that as well as my super-hot girlfriend visiting me shortly after! Rachel has just finished her first project with Americorps. She spent four weeks in Mississippi helping clean up the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, and now looks to head to the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina before Christmas break.