The Student’s Desk

That we may know Christ

New Zealand – travelogue entry 4

Well, my time with the world’s angriest sewing machine has come to an end, much to my disappointment and I’m now at home nice and warm. I must admit, though, I did take great delight in laying down on my bed last night without having to assemble it first. Right after having to dismantle the dinning set. Civility is a good thing.

All in all, 18 days and around 3,300km added up to 1 fantastic holiday that ended far too soon. I’ve taken to think of New Zealand as like a box of chocolates – it’s best to leave some for later. Certainly when I’ve had more than my fair share of Kiwi adventure. And all this in a van that looked as though it couldn’t get to the end of a driveway – even if it was down hill!

On my way to Mt. Cook, I did some impromptu bushwalking trying to get into some waterfalls. I was successful for 1 of the 3 walks. Stairs are bad! It turned out to be a good thing that I didn’t hang around. About an hour later, it appeared a weather front had moved in, and it looked very dark from  a distance.

It was a long drive towards Mt. Cook. Especially when I had to come off the go pedal yet again for strong cross winds. I stopped for the night at a tiny town called Omarara where I found a warm welcome at the holiday park. Again, I’m astounded at how little attention Kiwis pay to my disability and just take me as they find me. The woman at the holiday park commented it was good I was getting around on my own. I responded by saying that no one is mad enough to come with me. She laughed with a manner of understanding. I find this very perplexing after visiting the disabled community in New Zealand – and I use that term deliberately, and politically. Listening to people’s experiences outside the disabled community gives the impression that the wider New Zealand community is full is discrimination. I have found that discriminatory attitudes are far less in New Zealand than what they are in Australia. I can only think of 3 explanations for this disconnect: 1) monogamous groups emphasis minor elements outside the group to justify remaining inside the group; 2) the accounts of discrimination I have heard are given within a church context, and if the philosophical presuppositions of pentecostalism are shared among other Christian traditions, this could bare some explanation. It would be interesting to survey the theological landscape of New Zealand some more; or 3) the way I present invariably blows apart any presuppositions of disability people may have, and I don’t cop the same discrimination. That is, I’m on my own, in a rented van, visiting from Australia. Not exactly what you’d expect of a ‘disabled person’. More thinking required.

Me on an Argo - scary!

Me on an Argo – scary!

Mt. Cook was an interesting experience. I went to the Sir Edmund Hillary Museum, and learned about his life. I also learned more about Mt. Cook. I joined an Argo tour in the hope of getting up close to a glacier. An Argo is an 8-wheeled ATV that can also go in the water. (See attached photo. Just when you thought I couldn’t get anymore dangerous, I have the controls! I didn’t get to drive it. It was just a pose). Before I booked, I asked about walking. I was told the track was steep, but the guide would be able to help me up. The woman said nothing about a vertical goat track! The guide was up for the challenge, but 10 steps up the track, I said, “Nah. This isn’t gonna work!” And he helped me back down. Sensing my disappointment, he made sure I got a refund on the basis of wrong information. I don’t think those who know how to get me into difficult places would not have got me up this track. It was a shocker! So, still no glacier…

A snowy evening at Mt. Cook

A snowy evening at Mt. Cook

But Mt. Cook had a special treat for me that night. As I was about to start preparing dinner, it began snowing – proper snow! Not saga snow, not sleet, SNOW! I hadn’t seen snow fall before, so this was special. To think I had thoughts of staying in the hotel instead of camping. I would’ve missed out on this. Staying warm wasn’t a problem. I went to bed with up to 4 layers on, plus my sleeping bag and a duvet over the top. I slept soundly, provided I kept all body parts inside my sleeping bag. The next morning, I woke to find the van covered in snow and ice. A totally awesome experience. To think 36 hours later, I was going to land in Sydney with the temperature in the mid 30s. What a contrast.

The drive out to Akaroa

The drive out to Akaroa

After Mt. Cook, I headed for Akaroa for the night and to have a quick look around. This provided a short drive for the flight out the next day. I got the impression that Akaroa is where the Christchurch yuppies hang out, and is not for the budget conscious traveller. Still, I would like to come back here, and have a good look around. Just not staying in Akaroa.

This has been an awesome, and yes, I’m going to make a big call, this has been my best holiday yet. Yes, I complained allot about the world’s angriest sewing machine, and the driving experience was compromised far more that what I had preferred. But it did provide an excellent camping experience. I put this down to the table being small and light, so it was easy to put up and pull back down. And the cushions for the bed were lighter than what was in the van I had last year. This made things so much easier. Eventually, I did get use to the noise, and driving like a grandpa. In it’s own way, the van added to the adventure. It certainly wouldn’t have been the same without it!

 

Advertisements

November 15, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

New Zealand – travelogue entry 3

Slope Point

Slope Point

I have traveled south til I can go no further – at least not without getting very wet! I have attached a photo of myself at Slope Point – the southern most point of mainland New Zealand. It was a bit of a hike to get there as well. But at least it was over a couple of paddocks, so it was an easy walk. (If the photo appears to be at a strange angle, I had my iPad on the ground, propped up by my backpack to take the shot.) So now I start the long journey back to Christchurch to fly out on Friday. But I’ll be going via Mt. Cook.

Thunder Creek Falls

Thunder Creek Falls

I returned towards Haaste from Wanaka, and the day did not start well. I was on the foreshore at Wanaka in the van on compacted gravel, and saw a good spot to take a photo. Except the gravel there wasn’t as compacted. In actual fact, it was a gravel beach. Fortunately, one of the locals was happier enough to drag me out – on the third attempt. Note to self: this is not a Delica.

After all that wind and rain, New Zealand really turned on the sunshine, and I enjoyed a splendid day of photography. But the day ended as it began, stuck! This time for reasons not my doing. The Haaste Pass is having roadworks done, and at some point in the afternoon the road is closed completely for the night. I didn’t know what the times were, and became stuck on the Haaste side of the range, and spent a second night at Pleasant Flat. I was a bit disappointed. I was hoping to

Haast River

Haast River

spend the night at Cameron Flat. That valley would be spectacular to see in the first and last light of the day.

After further delays due to the road still being closed, it was on to Queenstown. I took a less traversed route from Wanaka that climbed over a range with the road summit at 1081m above sea level. I could just about eyeball the passengers on the planes coming in to land at Queenstown airport. If there was ever a time I wanted my trike, it was then. The road down to the other side was full of sharp elbows and hairpin bends. And I was in one of the worst handling vehicles. Oh the injustice of it all!!! I still had fun.

Crown Range Pass

Crown Range Pass

Queenstown was a buzz with activity, and there was nothing to encourage me to hang around. I camped just out of town and met a couple with the same van. So I took the opportunity to compare notes. Their van wasn’t in much better condition as mine. I think I won ‘my camper rules’ in that department. Although, mine had a working table – what a bonus! I felt much better about my van, and seeing they had come to the same conclusions as me – yes, it’s a bucket of rusty bolts, but it’s doing the job, so enjoy. It’s just how it is with this rental company. The next day, I was even happier when I got my music going. At least I can now add some variety to the monotonous noise of the world’s angriest sewing machine (more widely known as the Toyota Diesel engine).

Lake Te Anua

Lake Te Anua

From Queenstown, it was on to Milford Sound. What a mysterious corner of the world that is! Again, New Zealand really turned on the sunshine, and I enjoyed a full day of bushwalking and photography. I didn’t get to cover the whole area that day, and finally arrived in Milford Sound the next day when New Zealand well and truly had turned off the sunshine, and the snow capped mountains were once again enveloped in cloud and rain. I was very disappointed. I could have pushed on the day before, but I like to call it a day when I’m feeling tired, and make camp for the night. I tend to enjoy things more when I’m not tired. I didn’t envisage the weather hampering my enjoyment. Even still, I was able to appreciate just how unique this place is. I don’t imagine they’d be too many places in the world where you can stand on the edge of the sea, and be immediately surrounded by snow capped mountains in spring.

Eglington Valley

Eglington Valley

By the time I had driven back to Te Anua for my cruise, the sun was back out again in full force. I could only wonder what it was like back at Milford Sound. At 2 hours drive up the road, I wasn’t that interested in finding out. The cruise took me to a glow worm cave on the other side of the lake. This involved a 200m walk into the cave on a raised platforms by guided tour. Walking in I managed to bang my head on some very low overhangs a couple of times. Not recommended. And if anyone is wondering, no, it didn’t knock any sense into me. The cave had a river rushing through it at a rate of 300l/min. It also had a waterfall! The tour went another 50m into the cave by boat. From what I could see in the low light, the boat looked like a big aluminium bath tub. Our guide stood on the side, and dragged the boat along by chains bolted to the cave walls. Not for the faint hearted. It was pitch black. The only light came from the glow worms themselves. It was an awesome experience.

Fiordland National Park

Fiordland National Park

From Te Anua, I’ve spent a few days rounding the south coast, which I must say is a bit boring after Milford Sound and Mount Aspiring National Park. But it was still very scenic. Today ended in a bit of frustration when I tried to get into McLean Falls. It was a very well formed track, but 700m in I came to some steps with no handrail, and I didn’t feel steady enough to take them on. So, disappointed, I turned back. I did get to see some very nice rainforest though.

Humboldt Falls

Humboldt Falls

I’m looking forward to returning to the mountains, and hopefully, I can get up close to a glacier on a guided tour. This really has been a fantastic trip.

November 15, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment