Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 9 - Akaroa Peninsula to Lake Tekapo

June 9 - Akaroa Peninsula to Lake Tekapo

Last night I slept pretty well, but because the bed is so soft and squeaky I did wake up a few times. Although I planned on getting up early, around 7 AM, that didn’t really happen. I did wake up early, but was too comfortable to get up. I also didn’t want to have to turn the lights on to pack my things and wake up our roommate. The girls in the room next to ours kept getting up and turning their light on to do things. It didn’t bother me since I was already awake, but I don’t know what they were doing around 6 in the morning.

I laid in bed until about 8:30 AM. I decided it was time to get up and take a shower and eat breakfast. I was starving since I didn’t really have much to eat the day before, I didn’t drink much either. I took a quick shower and came back to pack.

I couldn’t find one of my gloves, but kept packing anyway hoping it would turn up. I couldn’t turn the light on so I couldn’t see very well. I was sitting right next to the heater and felt like passing out. I had to stop for a minute and eat something.

Finally the girl in our room got up and left so we turned on the light. I still couldn’t find my glove so I unpacked everything. Somehow it showed up. I finished taking a shower, eating breakfast, and packing around 9:30.

We went downstairs to check out and fill our water bottles. While we were in the living room we talked to a girl from Ireland who had been doing a round the world trip. It was supposed to last 10 months. She started in southeast Asia and went to Australia, New Zealand, and was heading for South America that afternoon. Her trip through southeast Asia sounded identical to the one I plan to do. It included Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. We talked to her for about 30 minutes and decided it was time to go.

I told the lady that ran the hostel that we were checking out and that we were going to Lake Tekapo. She seemed really excited and gave us some good advice. She mentioned doing a hike, seeing the observatory, hot pools, and an ice skating rink.

We were hoping to get on the 10:30 bus to the airport to pick up our rental car from Ace Rentals. It was about 10:15 and we had to walk about 15 minutes to the proper bus stop. It only took about 10 minutes to get to the bus stop so we had a few minutes to spare.

The bus ride took forever. It took about 45 minutes to get to the airport. Once we were at the airport we saw the rental car area, but no sign for Ace Rentals. We wondered around for a few minutes and then asked some people that worked there. They told us we needed to go to the international terminal and look on a big board and call the rental company.

We walked to where they said, but couldn’t find anything. We asked a man at the information desk and he pointed right to the sign. It was a big board like the previous people said, but it wasn’t very clear what it was. I called the place and they said a car would be there in a minute to pick us up. The rental place was a few miles from the airport.

We weren’t sure where they were going to pick us up so we asked another group of people that worked there when they asked if they could help us. The place they pointed us was the place we were dropped off by the original bus. So we basically spent about 20 minutes walking in a big circle.

We waited for the shuttle for about 10 minutes. There were two other people with us, a couple from Auckland. They were visiting Christchurch for business I think. We talked to them and told them where we were going throughout New Zealand. They seemed impressed.

It was now about 12 PM by the time we got to the rental car place. We spent about an hour getting our car sorted out. The people in front of us were having all kinds of trouble paying for their car so it slowed things down. Luckily there were two lines. We ended up getting insurance on the car and purchasing chains for the tires since they are compulsory for going to Milford Sound after June 1, which we will be doing in a couple of weeks.

We got our car and everything packed inside. Andy turned the car on and the engine light came on. We had another car brought to us and repacked everything. It was after 1 PM when we finally left the rental car place. I’d say we were about 3 hours behind schedule.

We wanted to go to Akaroa because we were so close. It would give us an extra day later in the trip if we needed it so we didn’t have to drive out of the way later on to come back to this area. One of the guys that was staying at the hostel said Lake Tekapo was only an hour away from Christchurch. I figured we could go to Akaroa and get to Lake Tekapo around 5 PM.

Akaroa was about 75 kilometers from the rental car place. That seemed like it would take about an hour to get there and we could spend a few hours checking it out before we needed to leave. There may even be time to get a late lunch in town.

The first part of the drive was really flat and we were able to drive fast. After about 40 kilometers that changed. We started going up the mountains. They weren’t very tall mountains, but the road was steep with sharp turns. It took an hour to go the last 20 kilometers. We did stop along the way to take pictures and I used my gopro out the window a lot.

We finally made it to Akaroa. We spent most of the time along the rocky beach near a dock. There were boats anchored in the water, but it didn’t seem like people were on them. We took a lot of pictures and spent about an hour in the town. We stopped at a grocery store and bought some food. We didn’t get much. We got bread, peanut butter, jelly, chips, and cookies. This would be good lunch food for the next few days.

Andy was starving and wanted to get something to eat. I wasn’t that bad, but had a few bites of limbus bread, a few cookies, and my apple cinnamon flavored cookie I brought from home for lunch. We hoped to get to Lake Tekapo around 6. I started looking at the map and realized that there was no way it was only an hour from Christchurch. I didn’t think it was, but I assumed someone that had been in the country for a while and had been there would know the distance.

By the time we got back to Christchurch it was dark. I was hoping it would only take about an hour and a half to get there. The latest check in time was 8:30 PM. So if we could get there before then it would be great. Also, we were going to have to set up our tent in the dark in freezing weather. I didn’t care to do that.

Some of the signs were saying that Timaru was 150 kilometers, and Lake Tekapo was much further than that on the map. We eventually stopped and ate McDonald’s. I had 20 chicken nugget bites and a small French fries. It wasn’t a ton of food, but it was ok. I should have gotten a hamburger because it would have been more food. They had a $2 menu and a few things that were $1. The nuggets were $2 and the fries were $1. It was probably more than I’d pay at home for the same thing, but it was fine. New Zealand has expensive food at grocery stores, but the fast food places so far have been somewhat reasonable. Although I’d prefer to not be eating American fast food in another country.

Andy ordered fish and French fries since that is a local delicacy in New Zealand. Not really, but it’s popular. His was $6.50 and only had 3 pieces of fish. I thought it was a rip off, but he claimed it was good. Afterwards we each had two cookies. The package had 28 cookies, so we are rationing them at two cookies each for lunch and dinner.

At this point our car was getting low on gas. We didn’t have the overdrive on so we were getting terrible gas mileage. We ended up having to stop to refill. After refilling Andy turned on the overdrive, so hopefully we get better gas mileage, otherwise it’s going to be expensive.

We finally got to Lake Tekapo around 8:30 PM, but we had no clue where the campsite was. We turned down one road that said camping, but it looked more like a sheep pasture. We turned down a dirt road, but I’m not sure that was even intended for driving on. There was nothing that resembled a campsite at all and eventually the dirt road ran into the original road we turned off. Andy didn’t want to jump the curb so we turned around and went back.

We got back on the main highway and continued further into town. We saw the sign for the campground we wanted and followed it down. The reception area was already closed so we decided to try to find a campsite ourselves.

The camp area has cabins, RV’s and tent camping. We saw the cabins and RV’s, but no tents. We drove around and asked some random lady where the tents were, but she didn’t seem to know anything. We drove to an area that seemed to have run down RV’s that were all rusted. Behind them was a row of sites that weren’t powered and looked like they would be for tents.

Of course there were no tents in the area. The spot was pretty secluded and would be a good place to set up a tent. We picked out a good spot and started getting things set up. It took about 15 minutes to get everything done. My air mattress filled up much faster than I had thought. I used the air bag it came with for a little while and then blew in the rest with my mouth.

I was ready to start writing about the day and then go to bed. I spent about an hour writing my journal entry and then tried to get on the internet. My computer battery was really low, so right when I logged onto the internet the computer shut off. I fell asleep at about 10. We plan to get up early and do the Mt. John Hike and see the Good Shepherd Church. All the pictures of this area include both of those landmarks.

I am about a day behind on entries. If I can stay like this the whole time then I should be fine in terms of getting things completed.

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