Tuesday, December 8, 2009

NZ - Franz Josef --> Te Anau

I got up at my first awakening, which was current with our two German roommates’ movement.  My goal was to figure out where I was going today – an action I’d been woefully procrastinating on for so long that now the time had come that I had to figure it out.  I knew I was going south, but how far?  What was I doing along the way?

The night before, I think I had the same mental disconnect that I had last year whilst with Svitlana and Anastasia.  That is, the realization that we have too many differences.  Jojo’s interests are just too different from mine.  It’s when I hit this realization when I suddenly become very quiet & introverted, as I come to realize that I’m letting socialization hold me back from what I want to do.

To discuss differences more specifically: Jojo has absolutely zero desire to hike around New Zealand.  I figure she’ll eventually mature out of that – she’s still young – but for my own vacation’s demands it just wasn’t going to work out to stay with her anymore.  Svenja, on the other hand, seemed almost my equal as far as hiking: she joined me the previous day the whole way through, and we shared the same degree of earnestness as well as subsequent soreness.

Of course, I couldn’t just stay with one and not the other.  Hence, the previous night I decided it was time to get them to their final destination; and I’d intentionally separate myself.  Even if I was going to stay in Queenstown, I’d take to different accommodation.

Our departure started out with a beautiful day, even though weather reports were calling for rain today and tomorrow.  When we arrived at Fox Glacier it was cloudy, but clear sky could still be seen in the distance.  We did a quick hike up to the glacier’s terminus & then back again.  It wasn’t too far back on the road when the rain began.  It made it a bit of an arduous drive, though cashews & orange juice helped keep my as wide-eyed as I could be.

It was around Lake Hawea when glimpses of sunshine began to appear, and before we knew it blue sky was overtaking dark.  How fitting in the land of Mordor.  Er… geeky comments aside, the sun couldn’t have arrived at a better time: just as we were arriving at all the lakes.  We did pitstops in Hawea and Wanaka before ultimately ending up in Queenstown.

My problem with New Zealand is that every single town looks exactly the same.  You have your town center, consisting of single-floor retail along one street (or for “big” cities: a couple grid streets), and then it’s surrounded by some single-floor houses.  Granted, that could also be its benefit: it only further encourages you to get out and explores its beautiful countryside instead of sitting in town.

I lead from that into Queenstown because it’s really not terribly different, though a couple buildings did have a bit more architectural charm.  The commercial core, however, wasn’t much better than any other city’s, town’s, or village’s.  Its surrounding landscape, however, proffered quite a bit more defense for the city against any disparaging remarks.  The surrounding mountains and lakes created a lovely image, especially from the top of the gondola – which whisks people up to an adventuring playground for enthusiasts of more extreme sports.

After bidding the girls farewell & riding the gondola, I was back on the road toward Te Anau.  The SH6 afforded yet more amazing lake and mountain views, though after passing by the lake it ended up turning into rather monotonous small hills covered with livestock.  Still scenic, but not nearly as spectacular.

I rolled into Te Anau at just about exactly 8pm.  It didn’t take much effort to find Bob & Maxine’s, my lodging for the next two nights.  This place is amazing: it’s run by an enthusiastic couple (guess what their names are!) who really seem to love getting to meet the variety of people that pass on through.  It’s set on a farm located right beside what looks like it’s gearing up to be a subdivision – so for the moment it’s in beautiful countryside.

Backpacker accommodations are in what may have very well been a barn at some point in its history: the massive open communal area, with its 2-story cathedral ceiling, certainly create an inviting & casual atmosphere.  Internet is cheap & on the honor system (that earns kudos from me), and the television has yet to be turned on (yet  more kudos).  This could very well be in the running as among the most inviting hostels I’ve yet come across.  It’s location also couldn’t be better for getting a headstart to Milford, whenever the weather provides.

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