Saturday, June 23, 2012

June 14 - Dunedin

June 14 - Dunedin

This morning we woke up early to see the sunrise from the Glencoe Hike. The skies were a little gray around 7:30 AM so we stayed in bed until a little after 8. We got up, took down the tent and started the drive Hermitage Hotel for the start of the hike.

We stopped at the community kitchen because the day before I had seen two cans of food just sitting on the counter. I said that if they were there the next day I would take them. There were only two other groups camping last night, and they were both in campervans. Which are literally small minivans that are converted into camping vans.

The food was still there so I grabbed it. The ranger stopped me along the way and asked if we had paid to camp. I explained to him that we had. He said he didn’t see the money pouch, but that it may have still been in the stand. He believed me so I went to find my stash of food.

It was still there! It was a can of beans in tomato sauce and a can of beans with meatballs. It doesn’t sound great, but it was free. We just don’t have anyway to cook it right now without a stove or pots. We plan to buy something at the outdoor store Katmandu to allow us to cook. The grocery stores sold pots, but they were way too expensive.

After leaving the campground we drove a few minutes back to the Hermitage Hotel. It was freezing outside. It was about 8:35 when we got there. I wanted to wait until it cleared up, but Andy wanted to start then. I figured there was no point in going up there to see nothing. I said we could wait until 9. At about 8:55 we got out of the car and made our way up the trail. It wasn’t very clear yet, but it seemed like the clouds were moving.
We stopped along the way and did a lot of gopro hiking shots since the trail was wooded and looked cool. It was steep in some places, but it was a relatively easy hike. We got to the top in about 15 minutes. We only stopped a few times for pictures and videos. It said the trail would take 30 minutes one way, so I was surprised when we got to the top so fast.

At the top there is an open area where there are no trees blocking the views of Mt. Cook and the valley as well as the other mountains.

The clouds on the mountains were covering the top point, but you could see the rest very easily. I put on my big lens and took a lot of pictures as we waited to see if the top would appear. It did after a few minutes of waiting and the picture taking went crazy. The day before it had been cloudy most of the day, but now it seemed like it was going to be blue skies. Too bad we were leaving.

It was ok though because we had seen everything we came to see. Vini, Vidi, Vici! We each took pictures in front of Mt. Cook from different angles. After about 30 minutes we started back down the trail. We did a few more action hiking shots and then were done. We got back to the bottom around 10:15.

Our next destination is Dunedin. It is a few hundred kilometers so we are planning for about 4 hours. We aren’t in a big hurry to get there since today was planned just to travel and stop when necessary if we want to eat, get gas, or take pictures.

The road from Mt. Cook to Twizel follows Lake Pukaki so we stopped a few times for pictures since the sun was shinning pretty well. After we got to Twizel we pretty much drove non-stop for an hour. We drove along a huge lake with a dam at one point. I filmed out the window a lot.

We stopped for about 30 minutes at a pull over because there was a sign that said Maori Rock Art. The trail was about 100 yards. I ran the whole way while Andy was messing around taking pictures of some random rock cliff with holes in it.

I got to what I thought was the end and was pretty disappointed. There was a fence blocking the base of the cliff wall where the pictures were depicted inside a small overhang. They were a sail boat, some squiggly lines that they claimed European people, and something else. It was the dumbest thing I have ever seen. It looked like a 4 year old drew them. They weren’t even that old. They were from the 18th century. I would think they would have better tools than that by that time.

I ran back to where Andy was and couldn’t stop laughing. I told him that if he wanted to see some cool rock art to not get his hopes up. I went and sat back in the car for about 15 minutes waiting on him. I started to think that he must have died because there is no way I would be looking at that for 15 minutes. I ran back over to where the art was and saw him. He was dead. Not really.

He had walked further down the trail and saw more “art” that I had previously failed to see. This art was even less spectacular. There were little signs that explained what the art was. These signs showed the drawings, but on the cliff they weren’t there. They had been removed and taken to museums.

I ran back to the car one more time and waited for Andy. I didn’t take any pictures of the rock art, but I did take pictures of the small mountains in the distance. I could tell it was raining over near them. Andy finally showed up and we were back on the road to Dunedin.

We drove for a few hours slowing down each time we came to a town. It felt like driving through west Texas with little towns of a few hundred people, maybe less. We saw a neat church on the side of the road in one of them so we took a picture.

The only major cities we drove through were Omarama and Oamaru, which I kept calling Omarosa. At Oamaru we stopped at a KFC for lunch. They had a weird menu that made no sense with weird food choices. People in other countries seem to get chicken sandwiches from KFC instead of the normal bucket of chicken. They did offer the normal meals, but it wasn’t the same.

I couldn’t decide what I wanted, but eventually got two pieces of chicken that included a roll, a drink, and mashed potatoes and French fries. It was $10.50 NZD, which is about $7. Pretty expensive. KFC at home offers a similar meal for $2.99. We ate in the place and then drove across the street to a grocery store.

There large chain grocery stores that seem to be the cheapest are called New World. It seems like it’s a small Walmart, similar to the Neighborhood Market version. The prices aren’t great, but they were way better than the 4 Square we had been shopping at.

We bought a lot of food that should last us for awhile. We got spaghetti, sauce, bananas, lettuce, a cucumber, a huge bag of carrots, hotdogs, yogart, broccoli, milk, buns, cups of ramen noodles, cheese, bread, ham, cookies, and chap stick for me. It was about $50 NZD. At home that stuff would have cost about $20 probably.

We looked at pots, but they were about $30 NZD. We decided to wait on that. We were back on the road again and headed for Dunedin. We had no more scheduled stops, but we were getting low on gas. It seemed like we should be able to make it the whole way though.

We finally made it to Dunedin around 4 PM. It was cloudy and had been raining off and on as we were getting closer to the town. We planned to stay in a hostel tonight that I pre-booked, but didn’t know exactly where it was. We knew it was in the city center and the street, but that was all.

Dunedin is a pretty cool town with steep roads and houses on the hills. It’s like a coastal town you might see in the northeast or west coast of the United States. The downtown area reminded me of a Midwestern city for some reason.

In the city center there are two roads shaped like an octagon, one inside the other, with side roads feeding in. Some of the roads were one way while others weren’t. Every few hundred feet the roads would change names randomly. It made navigating pretty tough. We finally were able to see the Dunedin Backpackers Hostel, but there wasn’t any parking. Andy stopped on the side of the road in a 5 minute parking spot while I ran upstairs to check in.

The guy inside gave me a brief tour of the kitchen and living area and then gave me directions on where to park and things to do. I asked where a Katmandu store was and he showed me on the map. We drove down the street a few blocks and paid to park for 40 minutes on the side of the road. It was $2 NZD. This area is full of shopping on either side of the road and there is a ton of traffic.

We ran inside and immediately found the pots. They were a good size and not too expensive, but they were aluminum. I had been wanting titanium since they are lighter weight. We also were looking for long sleeve shirts made with merino wool. It’s very expensive, but supposed to be warm and dries easily. I think it doesn’t smell bad either and you can wear the shirts for days without a problem.

Katmandu is a New Zealand brand outdoor store and was having a major sale going on which we had seen on T.V. and heard on the radio. Everything was deeply discounted, but because the prices were already so high to begin with the discounts weren’t very good. The merino wool shirts I liked were normally $259 NZD, but on sale for $159 NZD. That’s a good discount, but $130 for a shirt was out of my budget for something I didn’t really need that badly.

We walked around for about 35 minutes and finally decided the pots were necessary and we’d buy them. It included two pots and a frying pan. Now we can have eggs and warm food, as long as the places we camp have a community kitchen with a stove. The Holiday Parks all over the country offer them, but they are a little more expensive to sleep in. We won’t need them tonight because the hostel has a kitchen with everything we need.

We made it back outside just before our time was up. I never saw any policemen in the town so I don’t think it would have been a problem if we were a few minutes late. Right next door was another outdoor store that was having a sale. I went in to see if they sold titanium pots and merino wool. The pots were all aluminum and the merino wool was still too expensive, although cheaper than the last place.

I did find a spoon and fork combo for sale that was only $3.95 NZD. I was going to just buy a spoon at first for $1.95 so I ran to the car to get a few dollars. When I came back I saw the spoon/fork so I ran back to get more money. I bought that and then we left to find the parking for the hostel.

There was free parking on a side street a few blocks away or we could park closer for free after 6. We wanted to park closer so we drove around looking for a spot. Parking in the center is ridiculous. It’s either not allowed, 5 minutes max, or pay lots of money to park on the street. It was about 5:30 so we drove to the free parking a few blocks away.

It seemed like a far walk and we weren’t sure if we were in the right area since some signs said residence only. We decided at 6 we’d drive closer and see what we could find. We ended up driving in circles getting lost looking for a spot to park. At one point we drove into a parking garage for the library, but it said it closed at 8:30 PM and was only for guests of the library so we left that place. We then found another parking garage, but realized it wasn’t going to be free. We wanted to back out, but a van pulled in behind us at the entrance so we had to take a ticket and go in. We considered parking and drove to the next level, but decided we should try to leave.

At the exit we told a worker that we didn’t want to park there and he said if we put in the ticket there is a grace period. We were able to get out for free. We were back to driving around on the road. We found a street around the corner from the hostel that had one open spot. It was right next to the pay meter so we didn’t know if it was considered free after 6. We decided it was and parked.

We packed the things we would need for the next two days, food, change of clothes, and toiletries and walked around the corner to the hostel. I paid and asked the guy about parking and he said it was fine. He showed us to our room and the bunk bed we would have. We stayed in a 10-bed dorm. All the other guys in there were German.
There were three guys in there at the time all in their bed, all on the computer. Only one set of bunk beds looked unused. I was hoping the room would be empty. I’m thinking most of the people in this hostel were students in the town since Dunedin is a college town. Why else would there be tons of Germans that don’t act like tourists?

We decided it was time for dinner around 6:30 and that we would boil our hotdogs and eat a carrot and cookies. The hotdogs took about 10 minutes to make. I thought it tasted pretty good and was better than eating a sandwich for once. We also had a glass of milk.

After dinner we took showers. The guy at the desk pointed to two doors and said those are the showers so I wasn’t really sure how it worked. I walked into the first door and there was a girl in there. I asked if this was the showers for everyone and she said down the hall was for the guys. Good thing she was dressed I guess. That would have been awkward.

The shower was really hot and felt good. It was the first shower I had had in a few days. I was ready to put on clean clothes and fix my hair. I’ve been wearing my stocking hat a lot so my hair was messed up. After the shower I went back to the room. There wasn’t really much else to do.

It was dark, cold, and rainy outside so I didn’t want to walk around and see the city. In the living room there were some Germans playing guitar hero or something. Usually when I walked by they were either playing a video game or watching some American T.V. show. I saw “Who’s Line Is It Anyway” on at one point. Nobody watches that show.

I went to the room and got on the internet for the first time in awhile and checked my emails. Internet is free here so that was good. I didn’t write in my journal at all and got behind by a day. So now I’m two days behind. Hopefully I can get caught up pretty soon.

It’s June 16 now, but we are staying in a campground with no electricity and my battery is about to die. We plan to go to a hostel in a few days so I should be able to charge it then and hopefully get caught up.

The idiot Germans were making lots of noise in the room. When we first got there they were quiet, but now that it is almost bedtime they want to be loud. One of the guys was wearing a headset and playing on his computer talking. I think he was playing a game with someone online. He was just saying “Hallo, Hallo, Hallo” over and over. Shut up you stupid kid. It’s 10 PM, go to bed.

They also had the window opened. I was freezing. Just typing was making my hands cold. Luckily the blanket on the bed was warm. I think I went to bed that night around 10:30. Pretty late night for us on this trip.

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