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A funny happened today on the way to manicure…

Well at the manicure parlour…

Aside

Part 12/Final J

 

Well that just did not happen—(getting my booked flight back to Auckland and having a whole day to kill at the airport.) What ensued next is every traveler’s nightmare but to begin at the beginning…

I was in good time for my flight and so settled down with a coffee to wait and chill out. After a time I noticed people getting up and moving around. I spoke with a girl next to me and she said – I think your flight has been cancelled…WHAT!!! No that couldn’t be, I checked the board and yes it was. I simply could not take this in. Sure there was some mist and it was drissling but flights were coming and going- just not Jest star. ‘My’ airline. I saw lots of people on their devices once again either phoning or contacting airlines…I began to panic and rushed to the check in place where there was a lineup of people trying to get on the next flight…I had been sleeping… oh no I am not going to make my flight back am I? I’m trying not to think it’s happening all over again the same as when I was leaving Vancouver only that time it was partly my fault…I rush to the front of the line and tearfully ask the people if I can push in as I have to make my flight out to Canada tonight and desperately need to be on this flight. It leaves at 3.15 and if I can get on it I have chance of making my international flight home. They graciously allow me to go next and no-one is nasty thank goodness. ‘God what is going on? What are you trying to teach me in all this?…not to panic?…oh well…not much joy there’! As I tearfully explain to the woman behind the desk concerning my predicament another airline lady is saying to her ‘remember you have to save me 30 seats to which she is nodding- I’m thinking THIRTY SEATS! That’s an awful lot and will I get one…well she did get me booked on and I profusely thanked the kind guys who let me in. At least I’m booked on the next flight out but would it be time enough to get my international flight – If it leaves on time I think I should be ok.

As I leave to go back to my seat and wait it out I notice the New Zealand airline line up as well with people trying to book on their next flight out. I hang around the line to see what I can find out thinking that if they have lots of seating I might just book with them and hang it all pay through the nose to get home tonight. But as I’m waiting an official comes up and say’ s look you people it’s no use hanging around as this flight is just about fully booked..what I was learning was what most Kiwi’s know that the New Zealand Airlines are able to come and go whatever the weather because their equipment is more sophisticated, whereas Jest Star does not have that equipment, and is much less reliable. Great!

Oh well I find my way to a computer $4 for 30 mins. I must get on fb and let folk know to pray for me that my flight will make it out and that I will get my international flight home…

The system is lousy and I am getting very frustrated as its taking forever to load up and get me on-line. I go to the desk and complain that I didn’t even get half of the time I was supposed to. She gives me another round thankfully. None of this is helping to keep me calm.

I go back to sit and look out of window at the runway and watch the mist settle in with no sign of it lifting. Its mountainous territory and could be dangerous..

After a while I go to the small food section and grab a hot pie and some salad to eat. There is no way I’m going to spend my N.Z. dollars at a big airport now! The latte’ is good though.

I sit and pray and try to stay in peace. Eventually I go back to the New Zealand Airline check in and ask the nice man there if by any chance I had booked a flight today with them out of Queenstown today when I was in Christchurch and nothing had come into my mail box? He looked me up and said no but you did book a flight out of Christchurch to Auckland today…..Well what could I say at least I knew now what had happened. I asked if there was anything they could do for me. All he said was that they had me on file and would give me a discount if I wanted to use it but it would have to be within a year… Oh well this is life I guess. I was working to a budget and made it work – it would have been nice if I hadn’t overspent on that, but it s not the end of the world. Just means I have to go back within a year to use it up…

I went back to my window seat and noticed my 3.15 flight was being delayed…This was a bit much to handle…I stared out of the window and prayed. As I looked up, I noticed a bird hovering in the air over the mist and wind. Then I noticed two more. ‘Ok Lord what does that mean?…I feel a small stirring inside of me. Dare I hope that I will make my flight?

I make my way back to the computer and spend another $4. I Tag my fb book friends and request more prayer for peace and that I will get a flight out today and make my international flight home. I need peace as much as anything. I check the flight board. My flight is still delayed. At this rate I may not make it. Am trying to think of the worst possible scenario. (Like the counseling course I took) What is the worst thing that could happen? What would that mean?

Eventually we get called to the flight desk.. It is now past 4. We are all lining up to get on. I know it’s going to be touch and go for me. Then the woman at the flight desk gets on the blower to the Captain. ‘Where would he like the cello put? It had been allotted this seat but believe it should be ‘that’ seat. This is taking a lot of time. After about 10 minutes I am screaming ‘put the bloody cello anywhere you like just get me on this plane’….in my head. Not out loud…This is madness, here we are, and extremely late for this flight to be leaving and she is fiddling about worrying about where a stupid cello should be put. Well finally after a looong time we are allowed to board the plane I am looking or trying not to look at the time. 4.45 when we finally take off. As we are taxiing along the runway the sun comes out. I burst into tears. The steward looks at me sympathetically and comes up to chat. People are staring but I am past caring. We will see if we can contact your flight but being a different airline it’s difficult to communicate but I will speak with the captain. I nod and thank him. I am sitting right near the front and close to the door. I am on the end of the row. Two young women are sitting in the other two seats and the plane is to capacity. I realise I don’t want to take my neck cushion back with me and offer it to the girl next to me. She is amazed and thrilled do I really not want it? No really you have it. (I had noticed that my $3 neck cushion from the dollar store here cost $16 in N.Z. for the same thing.

We are finally coming in to land. The steward says he will have me out of the door first with his assistant showing me the way. He is kind. I have my pack on and am ready to run for it. I have 20 minutes to get my flight – this is mad. I need a miracle. No-one gets an international flight with 20 minutes to spare. At Vancouver the Air Canada people were nasty to me and I had almost an hour to spare, they berated me all the way to my flight desk.

Well they opened the door and I ran – follow the green line around the car park and into the international flight area. I am thankful I packed light. I run and follow the green line. I am puffing and blowing it’s a long time since I ran like this. People are staring at me my eyes must be bulging. I finally make it to a N.Z air desk and quickly tell my story. A nice man at a window checks on my flight. He calls an assistant and she helps me to check in through the computer. (I could not do this if you paid me right now)… He says ‘they will keep the flight open for me’.. I’m not sure I believe him. The assistant takes me up stairs and down escalators we walk very fast I can hear them calling my name I walk faster if that’s possible. She says to me-‘it ok they are keeping the flight open for you don’t worry.’ I’m not sure I believe her… We finally get to the check in and they rush me onto the plane. I get on – the flight attendant kindly say’s you have free seats next to you, so get settled as we want to take off. I quickly ask if I can use the loo. ‘If you’re quick.’ I am. I then settle into a three seats just for me. This is luxury and I’ve made my flight. I still can’t quite take it in. He also informed me that my seat is equipped with a seat belt that allows me to lie down and strap in without being disturbed if there is turbulence. I sit down and we take off. It’s that quick. I am amazed and can’t quite take this in just yet. I’m going home. The flight is wonderful and only half full plane. Everyone is kind and helpful and the food is great and we don’t have to pay for any of it not drinks or anything. This is the best airline I’ve ever travelled with and would def. recommend it. What a totally different attitude from Air Canada.

All my connections work well and I am so very thankful. I did get my miracle after allJ The End.

Aside

ImageHostelling/Backpacking/Part 11.

 

Marie from Scotland said it was her anniversary o f a year being in N.Z. She really wanted to go out and celebrate so we went to a very noisy pub- who say’s I can’t party!!  I was pretty tired after the trip but felt as I’d been asked didn’t want to let the girl down, so off we go. German lad came along as well. They felt like my kids for a night. We yelled at each other for most of the night, but it was nice to out socializing for a change.  We eventually walked back to the hostel together yakking most of the way. I learnt that Tom is working his passage doing whatever but he didn’t seem terribly keen to move on or find work. I got the impression that his mother was shelling out to keep him there. He was a nice kid though and we had some good talks about Germany and the war and such deep things! Apparently they get taught all about the war and the atrocities’ that were done, the camps and so on. I asked him how he felt about this. He said it was ok but that he felt that it was all a bit much and doesn’t know why they have to learn all that when there is a lot more to history than that.

In the morning I’m not sure what to do the weather is iffy – some sun some drissle- can’t quite seem to make up its mind. I found a nice coffee shop and had my lovely latte’ overlooking the Harbour.  This is my last full day in Queenstown. It’s not a big town but is very pretty. I find a ‘Million Dollar Cruise. On a very nice boat for later on at 10.30 for $25 wow can’t beat that me thinks. So while I’m waiting, decided to walk around the town a bit. I forgot it was Sunday and happened upon a small church. What time was their service? – 10.30 – darn- what about later any prayer meetings? no- but they did let me go in and peep around and gave me some information on the church. I am thinking I will probably ditch it later as obviously don’t want to carry stuff around. I find a place where you can hire kayaks and bicycles and think I will do that later on after the boat trip.

The boat trip was great on Wakatipu Lake. Again a running commentary from the ‘captain’ I met and hung out with ‘Mark’ from Wales. He seemed nice and chatty – quite young and was keen to go out in the evening – as it was my final night in N.Z. I decided to go. I would ask my roommates to accompany us. Mark seemed keen to do this.

After the boat trip I hired a bicycle and did the town. I found the supermarket- it was quite a way off so glad I had a bike. I purchased some food for supper. I cycled around the harbour trail declined the kayak as it was drissling again.

Got back to the hostel showered, packed my stuff carefully and got dressed ready for my final night. I wore the nice outfit that Suzanne had given me for my birthday.

For some reason Marie didn’t seem keen to go out (although she seemed keen earlier on)and was a bit ‘off’ – oh well I could have pointed out, but didn’t, that I had made the effort to go out with her for her anniversary but on my last night…oh well it would just be me and Mark I guessed. I figured he would be disappointed as it was going to be only me and he is quite young- early 40’s I would say. I figured it might be a good match meeting Marie whose boyfriend had got fed up with their prolonged year plus stay and had decided to go back home to England thinking she would follow but she had made a plan and decided to stick to it. So end of relationship.

Mark was gracious and found me a seat and we chatted for about an hour when the others did finally show up. We found a table for the four of us and we found out that Mark’s wife had MS. She ‘let’s’ him go away from time to time. I was a bit taken aback as I had no idea he was married. He had not let on before this. Not that I was interested for myself I have to addJ

Around 9.30 I decided to go back and get an early night as I would have a big travelling day tomorrow. I made my farewells and walked back to the Hostel.

They got back around 2.30 am and slept in.

In the morning around 8.00am I showered and got ready to leave. Tom was awake and as usual was on his device. We whispered our goodbyes but Marie was out of it. I’m catching my bus to the airport at 9.30 and so there is time for a nice latte’ in town first.

Goodbye Queenstown I’m heading back for Canada now. I will be in Auckland airport for most of the day as my flight out doesn’t leave until 6.50. Still that will give me chance to spend my last few dollars and chill out before my long flight back.

 

Aside

Backpacking /Hostelling pt/10

 

Friday morning we walked the dog and left around 10.30 for the Wildlife Park. We walk the park backwards as I ‘know’ the Kiwi’s are going to be last- they were, and I wanted to make sure I saw them- this was fine. They were in an enclosure which was dark- they are night birds so they had to ensure the birds think it is night time. Only problem was the nice man who took the flash off my camera forgot to show me how to do it and so with no flash everything turned out black. Still I was able to see them and see their large beaks’ digging into the mud to extract goodness only knows what. They are an endangered species now and I have no idea if there are any left in the wild but anyone can check this out on Google since Mr. Google knows everything. I was thrilled to be able to see them at any rate.  We stayed in the park for a few hours and had lunch and saw wallabies (or were they Kangaroo’s) with Joey’s hanging out of pockets – but far away and so pictures didn’t show the babies.  After the previous day’s shenanigans I was determined to enjoy my time at the park. And I did.

After the park we travelled around to a friend of Kath’s for a visit on the outskirts of Christchurch.– all the way there were signs of damage to the houses roads and Cliffside’s with many houses hanging over the edges of cliffs.  It was quite something to see. The friend’s house was ok but across the road most of her neighbours houses were unlivable.

Back at Kath’s after supper/ except they call it tea just like the British – (in many ways it was like being back in Britain as many of the terms were British,) We then went to visit Kath’s cousin Diane who lived on a small holding which she managed by herself and went out to work..I do not know how she does it all. Anyway after a cup of tea we walked out in the dark and climbed fences to feed the sheep. That was fun, especially as I was wearing my ‘nice’ shoes and not the walkers I wore most of the time. It wasn’t raining or too mucky and so we managed ok.  I am always introduced as the author from Canada- this is nice and makes me feel a tad special- however the Lord just knows how to bring me right back downJ

When we got back to Kath’s I finished packing my stuff and went to bed fairly early. Kath is more of a late night person.

 

Goodbye Christchurch what I saw of you…

 

In the morning I got my bus early at 8.00am and am excited to be on the final stage of my trip, just two nights to go and I’m set – no more figuring out where to stay or how to get from A to B.

 It’s a very nice bus with not too many travelers and its going to take all day – I’m ready for a rest.

When I began this trip I had no idea if I would manage to work my rough thought out plan which was to do exactly what I had done and I was glad that I had. At any stage I could have given up and just stayed where I was but then would have defeated the object to see as much of N.Z. as possible in the two weeks I had. It seemed that at each stage there was something pushing me on keeping me going. But I have to say I had my eyes opened as to how stressful traveling can be and having to make all those  connections. It seemed like everyman and his dog had devices they could connect on to and book the next stage of their trip where as I had to rely on libraries and hostels and pay through the nose to use computers. This was all very time consuming. I made mental notes to get more technologically savvy.-So far I haven’t!

 

The bus driver had a running commentary most of the day but you could tune out. Most of it was interesting though. We learned all about the milking cows of which there are millions to be exact…there are 6.4 million milking cows, I wondered if they had miscounted and maybe there were really 6.5 and a half million now!  We passed the 44th parallel hmmm interesting as I live by the 50th parallel in Canada.

We went through the McKenzie Basin – it was all quite beautiful. It was called the McKenzie Basin because of James McKenzie who was a sheep stealer who along with his dog stole hundreds of sheep in his lifetime. He was quite a character, a legendary figure and much has been written about him. He was eventually caught and his dog shot because they thought the dog had a demon or some such thing – poor dog-he was just doing his job.  Well McKenzie had a huge land mass named after him at any rate.- this all took place in the 1850’s.

We went through Dobson Mountain pass, Burkas pass and the Southern Alps- all very beautiful – this trip was one of the best I did scenery wise.

We stopped at the fruit bowl of N.Z. and purchased some fruit of course. Past the gold mining area hmm would’ve liked to stop off there and do a bit of mining…

My silent comments were ‘Lord this just beautiful.’ Lord must have got fed up with my singular comment!

We bypassed Arrow town another special gold mining town made a mental note – next time if there is one I would like to visit that town. There was the Shot over River where Gold was first discovered.

Finally after an impressive trip –( would def recommend this one) we reached Queenstown my final leg of the journey whoohoo. I was told that my backpacking hostel was quite a hike out of town. This was fine by me as I wanted to walk and stretch my legs. It was a good hostel not a partying hostel ( I had been informed that Queenstown was a party town – like Wellington) – oh no…’My’ hostel was just out of the town so not as popular which suited me just fine. I was in a 4 bed mix with one guy Tom from Germany and Marie form Scotland. Both are very young and working their passage and staying at this hostel for a break.

 ImagePart 10

Part 9!

Backpacking/Hostelling/Part 9

 

Did I say looking forward to seeing Christchurch…it did not turn out to be a good experience? Delays trying to book flights, busses and hostel for my last two nights..But here are the encounters…

 

First because we had to pick up Zackie (Kath’s dog) and then was chatting and sightseeing, I was dropped off later than expected. The drive into Christchurch was dotted with explanations of the churches that are now just shells, the roads that are wonky and lurching and the boarded up houses that people no longer live in. It was quite a sight. When I am in town I make my way first to a bank and change the last Canadian dollars I have- I am pleasantly surprised, the lady serving me is really nice and the exchange rate seems a lot better than the one in Canada. I had decided before I left that I would budget and that I would use the visa to buy trips and hostels and the cash (which I placed in a few spots)  to purchase food and anything else I might need. So far I was doing quite well in this.

 

 As the town is wrecked due to the earthquake- (most of the shops and banks are pulled in large boxes – like box cars from trains to keep the place going,) It’s not so easy to find places. My main interest is to see the town and take pictures. There were certainly large cranes and bulldozers everywhere. I go secondly to the library and after a fruitless search to book a flight (you get only half an hour and your time is up. Not only that each time you try to reconnect the prices are escalating) I decide to have something to eat and try later but not too much later hopefully. After what seemed like an age I find the information centre and book my bus for Saturday to Queenstown, plus a hostel for my final two nights.  The lady seems to know what she is doing and is helpful. I am beginning to feel stressed as by now it is way past lunch time and I’ve yet to book my flight. This is crucial and the library is a long walk back. Buses are not an option. I find another couple who are lost and also trying to find their way about.. Everywhere is a long way from everywhere else and walking just takes a lot of time. I am snapping pictures as I travel speedily along. Kath is going to cook supper and  seeing that my time for sightseeing is disappearing fast. Trying not to panic I get to the library once again and get on-line. As my time is running out I believe I have booked my flight but it is not coming into my in box via web mail. Now I am panicking. Finally I log out and go to talk to the librarian where I burst into tears and sobbing she talks me into her office. I explain that I’m pretty sure I’ve booked my flight but can find no reference to it. Can I call my visa number and see what has happened. No joy here.  I decided to go back to the bank and the nice lady where I burst into tears once again. She recognises me and takes me into her office…( people are so nice)Can’t get hold of visa but she gets on line and finds a flight ( for a bit more money ) something like$175) for my flight back on Monday morning to Auckland, with Jetstar.  I just said book it. I have to leave and get my flight home on the Monday evening so booking an early flight seems like the best thing to do. I don’t want to be scrambling like I was when I arrived…By now it’s getting late and I have to find my bus to go back to Kath’s – I’m not quite sure where it all is and don’t want to be late home for dinner. However I see that I do have time if I hurry a bit to scurry around for a quick visit to the Cathedral –or what’s left of it- and snap a few pictures. I notice some bike trips around town – no time and really expensive so no go. I find a great little souvenir shop and quickly buy a toque for my self- (this proved to be a good thing as the weather was chilling somewhat.)And a nice pack of N.Z. cards with pictures on.

I then head for the bus stop and find a bus going to where I want to go and head back to Kath’s feeling quite disappointed that here I am in this amazing town with no time to visit it properly. (Tomorrow we are going to a Wildlife park to see a real live Kiwi and on Saturday I’m heading further South to my final destination of Queenstown.)

Back at Kath’s she asks me how it went and I promptly burst into tears again. It is then I notice that the pearl on my silver ring is missing. Oh great, what a nice way to top off the day. It was my own fault when in Rotorua I just ha to put my hands in the ld bath place–it was on a beach. My rings I noticed were turning black and now I’d lost my pearl…I just can’t keep my fingers out of things that I should…Just like those corroded pipes at the bath house…Kath had cooked a nice supper of beef casserole, lots of nice veggies and found a polishing cloth for my rings which worked nicely. I shower and get ready for bed first. I am dead tired and just want to go to bed. But we eat and chat some more. I refuse to think about the possibility I double booked a flight to Auckland.

Tomorrow I see my first real live KiwiJ.

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Aside

Backpacking /Hostelling/Part 8

 

So I woke fairly early and made my porridge in the nice kitchen (the best one I’ve encountered so far.)

A new lady was in there sitting down at her breakfast too. As we get chatting it becomes obvious that she is a Christian. She did however have a few problems and so we chatted for a while. Eventually we moved to the sitting area and had a time of prayer together; we then both left the hostel to go our separate ways. As the train wasn’t leaving until mid day I walked around the small town area once more. Noticing some lemons growing on a tree I snuck one –OK I stole one. If you’ve never eaten a lemon off a tree you don’t know what you’re missing. You can eat them straight like an orange- they don’t taste as sweet as an orange but still good and as the food I’d been eating wasn’t exactly fresh, green and healthy.  I felt the lemon made up a tad for that not so good diet. I finally got to the station only to be told the train was going to be an hour late. I think it had something to do with the Inter-Islander ferry – due to bad weather it was going to be an hour late and so the train had to wait for the connection. I got my ticket and made my way across the road to the info centre to check it out. I found a very cute kiwi in a rolled up zipper baggie which when squeezed made a Kiwi sound. I bought it for Jasmine of course. I wasn’t into buying much because of carrying it but this was just too cute, besides I had yet to see a real live Kiwi and I imagined this would give me a boost in that direction. Finally, finally the train rolled up. As we all had set seats there was no point in a mad scramble to get on. Still good to get on and sit for a bit. And then we were off. The train trip was another one of those ‘must do’s’ if ya travel N.Z.

Blenheim was the second stop where I saw Kath and Tracy and the grandson looking to see if I‘d got on. So we met up once again and sat together and chatted once more about anything and everything. There was also a commentary going on if you decided to listen, concerning where we were and what was what. We listened to some but mostly just talked. It was a pretty journey and was better when the man in the seat opposite managed to turn the flash off on my camera as I was trying to take pics out of the window. Much of the scenery on the trip was like Canada with mountains and tall cedar trees. Weather was getting colder the further South we went. Kath and I had our dinner on the train and sat in the dining car for a lot of the trip. It was comfortable and the young waiter was full of knowledge and interest concerning the various places we were travelling through plus he was good lookingJ He informed us it was going to be minus 1 that night. He pointed out some snow on the low mountains and said that they had never seen snow that low down before…we passed some salt lakes as well where they extract the salt for markets.-interesting, I took some pics.

We also had to stop for a short while and wait as there was some spillage around the tracks, of gravel from the sides of the hills

We finally reached Christchurch and Kath had a lift already arranged for her and so, me too.  We arrived at her house around 7.30. I was bushed, but she wanted to go for a walk. I figured I could manage it if she could, so we walked about a half klm around a lake. – Very pretty and close to her housing estate. 

She showed me my room –nice- I was able to shower and crash. Tomorrow we would pick up the dog and I would be dropped off in Christchurch where I will see the town and devastation from the earthquake, make reservations for the bus to Queenstown (final destination) and flight back to Auckland from Queenstown. I’m on countdown now. Looking forward to visiting Christchurch.

Aside

Backpacking/Hostelling/part 7

 

I am finally on the ferry to Picton and the South Island. I’d managed to book into a backpacking hostel called The Fat Cod. I am hopeful – ever hopeful, that this will be a step up from the one in Wellington.

On the ferry and looking for seating I find a nice comfortable area where one can lounge but right next to me are two ladies,  on impulse before I sit I ask if I can join them.

‘Oh of course come right on and join us.’ The older one said making more space. We soon got down to chatting. The older (Kath) introduced the younger as her daughter Tracy.  Then before you could say ‘Jack Robinson,’ she told me she came from Christchurch, said I would be looking for accommodation in Christchurch and did they know of anywhere to stay and I tell you not even before one minute was gone I am invited to stay at Kath’s place. I immediately said ‘yes please.’ Before my trip I had heard tales from friends who had travelled NZ a number of years ago and who said that many people had invited them back or taken them around but this is the first time it happened for me. I am relieved as staying in Christchurch was not going to be easy by all accounts. The conversation went something like this;

‘Do you have any idea where I might stay in Christchurch?’

“How about my place?’

‘Ok sounds great.’

And that was it, settled. I didn’t need to be asked twice.

They soon get out a spread of nice goodies to nibble on and I am invited to partake. I have a few crackers to offer but they were not needed.  As it was windy and raining somewhat I didn’t see too much of the wonderful views – I was told it was quite beautiful- however we just sat and chatted sharing our lives and their food for the next four hours. It was a treat to spend time chatting with really nice people.  I learned that Kath had lost her husband two years previously to cancer and she had a dog and was heading home on the train but was staying with Tracy for a few nights first and to visit with her grandson. She would be back on the train Wednesday, I could get on the same train and meet up with her on then.  Now I am so glad I wasn’t able to book anything in Christchurch (tho ticked at the time) as I was intending to travel on Tuesday. I would have missed this opportunity to visit with this lovely lady. I braved the weather a couple of times to run out side in the wind and rain to snap a few pictures that ended up looking grey and damp so was glad to stay inside and chat. Both Kath and Tracy work with special needs people.

At the Fat Cod which was a two minute walk from the ferry thankfully I was glad to ask for a 7 bed mixed room and got it ALL TO MYSELF- whhooo. And right next to the showers etc. The weather is now getting cold and I am very thankful that I took my waterproof warm jacket that I was able to wear properly (instead of having it tied around my waist) I took the opportunity to do some washing. A woodstove was going to keep us all warm although my room was pretty cold. I just wrapped up with the extra blankets they put out.

In the morning I decided I would do one of the hikes that was advertised. I asked the girl on reception which way to start and got up early and headed out. But first I went to the station and booked my Transcenic rail trip to Christchurch for the following day. The very helpful lady found Kath’s name on the list and booked my seat next to hers. She was getting on further down the line at Blenheim.

As it was rather iffy weather wise, I wanted to head out before the rain came on. Picton is a small pretty town on the seaside. I made my way toward the hills. It was chilly but I felt really free and glad to out and walking without the backpack. It was exhilarating.  I walked the Scout Trail part of the trails and headed up to the bluffs where I got a really good lookout across the sea. The cruise ship ‘Legend of the Seas’ was out there (I think it followed me from BC:) funny to see that ship – the one I see from my window on Quadra Island, all the way in N.Z. The Interisland ferry was doing its return trip. Pretty soon  it began to rain and started to come down heavy. I didn’t care a bean, I felt like dancing in it:) And did. Just before I headed back a few people who had driven up there were surprised to see me walking.(and possibly dancing!) We exchanged pleasantries.  I kept thinking of my friend Joyce on Quadra (an avid hiker) who would have persuaded me to walk the whole way round! I decided to get back as quickly as possible and got totally soaked in the process. Still I was quite happy and found my way to a coffee shop where I sat with my yum latte’ and dripping hair. I noted the breakfast menu items.

American Pancakes $13.90

Big Kiwi breakfast $18.50

French Toast $15.50

Muesli $12.50

Hmm glad I made my breakfast porridge at the hostel. But the latte’s – they are worth it, comparable to ours.

I am now wiped but need to shop for lunch. Its a toss up go back for a sleep or food…Image I find a supermarket and find the food super expensive. (Why am I now surprised,) the tomatoes again almost $20 a klg. I want one but avoid them- I notice no-one is buying tomatoes.  I find something I can heat up without too much hassle and head back to the hostel. I wonder how the elderly manage their food bills.

The facilities at Fat Cod are pretty good – better than most. A really nice kitchen area and place to lounge and watch TV.  During lunch I met a nice Christian couple; we eat together and share stories.

A young couple from Ireland is staying as well. They have given up really good jobs at the bank to travel for a year.  During the afternoon we exchange brief details of our lives, hang out and watch Forest Gump, while outside the rain in coming down in torrents.  After that I go to my room and tidy up my stuff – repack carefully and rest. It’s a good thing I rested because that night really noisy folk come in and are in the room above me. The insulation between the ceiling and floor is not good. Thump thump until the early hours. – Oh well I don’t have to be up early as the train doesn’t leave until mid day.

Tomorrow the train journey and Christchurch.

Aside

Part 6 (I’m back:)

I slept eventually (my first night in Wellington) then head to the shower to try and get some life into my sleep deprived body. Thankfully it is deserted. (I am not surprised.)  I find the kitchen and make my porridge. It too is deserted apart from a few guys who are watching TV. They look at me somewhat oddly. And no wonder as I’m the only oldie here in this party infested place. They must be thinking either she is crazy or out for punishment. (Probably both) I wonder they are up at all, maybe they just didn’t go to bed. As it is Sunday I want to go to church. The night before, I noticed a Salvation Army church just along the road from my hostel.

As I am checking to see what time it opened my eyes are drawn to a Revival church a bit further on- No one need to tell me I need reviving so I head there.. The two services begin at the same time and so I had time for my usual latte.  Again I notice the breakfast starting at $9.50- so glad I have eaten already.

Still early, I make my way to the Revival church – it is Pentecostal- well this could be interesting I think. I sit near the back while the worship team goes through a short rehearsal.

After a short time an elderly lady comes up to welcome me and we make our acquaintance. Her husband is there too. And so I meet Graham and Val Harding. They had been attending this church for over 60 years and had met just down the road while attending services. The service is good, the music lively and at one point we sing quietly in sweet waves of tongues for a few minutes. It is truly refreshing.

After the service and coffee time Val came up to me and invited me back to their home for dinner. We really got along great and shared stories and lives and walked to the local river. They live in Lower Hutt, a very pretty area. I stayed for supper as well and then we all went to the evening prayer meeting. I was surprised to see a different worship band leading the evening prayer meeting – a Philippino man was leading and his worship was infectious. It was awesome. Once again we sang gently, sweetly in tongues and I didn’t want it to end. As it was Pentecostal I half expected to hear prayers in tongues but that didn’t happen. There were a few exhortations and a little prophecy all done in good order and with no sense of sensationalism what so ever. 

I went to bed more cheerful and hopeful for sleep. The Irish girl and I decided to have breakfast together in the morning – she is a psychiatrist. I am keen to chat as I want to compare notes with my counseling course I had completed not to distantly.

She is late getting up and I want to go. I take time re packing my stuff carefully.  However it turned out that being late was a good thing as by 9.30 in the café we eventually decided on some of their breakfasts were half price after 9.30- wh-hoo I felt blessed.

We spent some time over breakfast and enjoyed our chat. It felt really good to talk with this intelligent younger woman. Then I left to find the library and a computer to check messages and a hostel for Christchurch – no luck here, so a tad stressed I decide to wait until I’d reach Picton and find one from there.

 I was now heading for the Picton ferry. As I had quite a bit of time on my hands decided to walk to it. It was several Klms along the sea walk and road.

The Picton ferry I was told is ‘must do’ in N.Z. Quite beautiful scenery apparently. Well first the walk was pretty hazardous because at one point I had to cross a major 4 lane busy road to get across (the walkway finished half way through and so I had to cross and re-cross this busy road to get to the ferry terminal.) It was longer and harder than I imagined. I’m so very thankful I packed light.. I arrived with plenty of time to spare and had walked off most of the stress I’d felt in not being able to secure a place for myself in Christchurch.-(I was told later that due t the earthquake not much was left standing and so finding accommodation might be difficult:(

I really hadn’t seen much of Wellington itself but did go to the famous museum for a bit and check it out – that was a fine, handsome building, housing many artifacts’ and history of N.Z and area, commonly known as the ‘Te Papa Museum.’ The Maori -meaning container of treasures. The water front was also really nice. However if I had the choice to stay in Wellington an extra night for free I wouldn’t’ do it. It didn’t help because the weather wasn’t great and the town seemed dingy and old but then maybe that hostel didn’t help much here! Going back and forth from the museum to the library was tricky having to cross bridges and so on seemed like a bit of an obstacle course and was annoying because you could see both from both places but ….my time was running out by now and I had that ferry to catch…as I said the long walk was good. I made the ferry n good time and was glad of half hour to rest up and have a cup of tea even if it did cost $5– more than my latte!

My next installment will be my travels to the South Island, Picton, meeting friends and hiking in the rain….enjoy and comment if ya like…

Aside

Part 5

I was so glad to get on that bus and rest for a few hours; I hadn’t lost anything from my back pack thankfully. I was also happy to be away from the pungent smells of Rotorua. We were able to stop for 15 minutes only for a pee and coffee break. I rushed to find a coffee shop and have my daily obligatory latte.  A nice young lady from Germany – (did I Mention that I met a lot of Germans on my trip) watched my pack while I went off for my much needed caffeine break. We sat on the bus together and chatted for quite a while. She is the serious type but friendly enough. She is a keen footballer back home in Germany. I forgot to mention the German young man in my last hostel who seemed quite at a loss as to what to do to find work. I got the impression he was expecting it to fall into his lap. I left him reading some of my (I felt relevant) torn out pages from my bible study notes plus some left over burgers I’d made up. A lot of the food these young hostellers were eating was pretty basic. One young man had bought a whole whack of sausages which he’s split up into two’s in the hope they would last for some time. Many were eating packets of noodles with hot water poured over. But I digress…

The driver stopped for a lunch break at Lil’s café somewhere along the road. The driver was obviously friends with ‘Lil’ who served him lunch. I had a cup of tea and a pack of chip-(crisps) It came to $6.50 The tea was $5. Yes it really was. I did get a small tea pot and went up for a hot water refill- everyone thought they would charge me for more hot water and I think I tried it out just to see. But they did give me some. (I guess we were paying for the drivers free oneJ – In most places a cup of tea was around $4. I did find one for $3.50 but that was unusual. The latte‘s were the only ‘food’ item on par with Canada and they were always under $5. The driver informed us firmly that we only had half an hour and needed to be back on the bus pronto. He was quite adamant about this. I decided to go bathroom after about 20 minutes, trying to leave it until the last minute. Even so he called out was there anyone else in there at which I am yelling ‘yes me and I’m almost done.’ Good he say’s we’re just about to leave.’ I hurriedly finished my ablutions and rushed out to the bus – I was sure we had not had half an hour. But he wanted to press on. We were about 10 minutes into our journey when a lady from the back cried out, ‘The woman in that seat in front is not there. The driver has left her behind, some-one go and tell him.’ A young man ran up to the front of the bus and the disconcerted driver had to turn around and go get her. She had been in changing her little one’s diaper and had not realised the bus was leaving. Her older daughter came out and saw the bus leaving the parking lot. The small family group was really glad to see the returning bus. If the driver had given us our full half an hour she would have been fine.

 I was looking forward to a good night s sleep in Wellington. It was a long drive. Before I left on my trip I had been told that the New Zealanders are very hospitable and often ask you to go back with them to stay. So far this had not happened for me, but a night in a house and not a hostel would have been wonderful at this point. It’s a difficult choice because you need to have somewhere to stay but if you book up too far along the way you can miss out. For instance on this particular trip the young German girl had not found anywhere to stay so some Maoris’ girls said she could go home with them for the night. When I reached Wellington I had get on another bus and travel closer to the hostel and then walk some. I never minded the walking after the hours of sitting. I found the right street and located the hostel. On my way I noticed a Salvation Army church and made a mental note as the following day was Sunday. On reaching the hostel ‘Lodge in the City’ I notice it is pretty large. Going inside I went to reception and was given a key and told my room number – the 6 bed mixed was all that was available so I didn’t have much choice besides which it was all experience. I went in and saw that there were 3 bunks. All were taken apart from one top bunk which I assumed was mine. A pleasant looking young black guy was lying on one bed, with another slightly older guy in one of the bunks. I looked at pleasant black guy and said ‘Is it all guys in here tonight.’ He looked at me with a rue smile on his face and nodded. OK fine I thought. On closer inspection of the bed I realised that due to the bunks being pushed so close together only a person who was about 3” wide would be able to use the ladder to get up. I stood looking at it for a while, the young man looking at me, looking at the bed and I begin to shake my head. I look at him and he is shaking his head. ‘This is not going to work.’ I say out loud. He is nodding in agreement. My brain ceases up for a moment. I’m thinking what on earth I am going to do. I make a silent prayer and pick up my bags and walk out. ‘God what am I going to do?’ I am saying. The place doesn’t look very clean either. I walk into the ladies- no mixed washroom to think. There are two English girls here working their passage. I confide to them that I cannot possibly sleep in that room because I can’t heave myself up into top bunk. They look at me shaking their heads. ‘No way,’ they said. ‘You can’t do that.’ We’ll go and talk to reception guy.’ ‘But he said they had nothing else.’ I reply. ‘We’ll sort it.’ Oh well… I watch them go and wonder what can be done. In the washroom I notice one loo not working and one shower not working. I begin to realise the whole place is badly in need of renovation.  I wonder once again what on earth I am doing here. After a bit they all come back up (girls along with reception guy.) He gives me a key for another room – a four bed mix. Ok this just might work. It did. There were two guys in the one bunk – French Canadian and a guy from Ceylon. Myself and an Irish girl shared the other one. The girls have informed me that Friday night in Wellington is Party night where folk come to ‘let of steam’ which is why there is no-where much to stay. How wonderful I think. It wasn’t. Anyway I went to bed fairly early (fully clothed for the first time since I arrived in N.Z.) to rest even if I didn’t get much sleep (I didn’t) they were hooting and hollering and drinking until around 3 .00am. Joy. Tomorrow’s another day…Image