Friday, March 4, 2011

Rain, hot pools and blowholes

It is March – Its cold, wet and windy!

The dry night in the hostel didn’t turn out as planned – First of all, there is a great Glacier hot spa, about 200metres down the road so about a dozen of us spent the evening in there moving between the 28, 38 and 40 degree pools. It was great as the pools are outside, but covered and every now and then we got a blast of cold rainwater seeping through which cooled us down from the hot water.

After the pools we all wandered back to the hostel in our swim gear as it was still ragging down with rain. Some of the girls went to bed for an early night but most of us spent a good couple of hours in the hostels bar, playing pool, chatting, watching cricket and there was even yet another false engagement!!

The next morning it was still tipping down with rain and most people got up wit sore heads and just about managed to get onto the bus for the 7.30am departure. It was a horrible morning interspersed with the odd bit of sunshine, but not a jolly holiday type of day!

The first stop was a toilet break and the chance to read a story about a pilot who had crossed from Australia in the 1930's and crash landed close by. There was even a replica of his bi-plane in a shed by the side of the road.

The second stop was at the Bushman’s café, where a local called Pete, was supposed to entertain us with his bush talk -but Pete wasn’t well so we spent an hour looking around the wired café and museum with its over the top amusing quotes about the weather and the menu that pretty much abused everyone on the bus. While we were there the weather got worse yet again and the rain started to come down really hard. So we piled back on the bus and started off again. The 2rd stop and a couple of hours for lunch and internet/admin was in the town of Hokitika, where there is a Jade museum and various other things to entertain the tourists. I didn’t have much interest in any of it, so grabbed a bit of lunch before heading to the library to discover that United had been beaten by Chelsea – bugar. The wind and rain were still falling, so I am considering an upgrade again tonight as there is a distinct possibility of getting flooded out of the tents!!

As we got to the camp-site the weather turned for the better – The sun wasn’t exactly shining through, but there were no more rain clouds and it had warmed up a bit with the wind dropping. Most people then decided to camp out in the tents and only 3 or 4 people took the option of a cabin. It turned out to be the right idea as we had a dry but cold night. After a good dinner – I cooked the veg and did some chopping as part of the cook team – we all took a short walk down the road to a large cave, where after clambering into it and going about 10 metres into the ground, we were met with the sight of hundreds of glow-worms hanging precariously from the roof of the cave. Me, Buffy and Todd ventured deeper in to the earth and found one more lonely glow worm hanging about all by itself, before heading back to the surface.

On our return to the camp we piled down to the beach – just a short walk through the trees, to where we had earlier prepared a good fire site. A few of us got together and after a bit of a 'too many chefs' episode, we finally got a good fire going. There were 15 or so of us sitting around enjoying the warmth, when a 'rogue wave' as Fiona like to call it, crashed through the lot of us leaving everyone except me, wet. The fore took a direct hit too, so a lot of people went back to camp and an early night. A few of us stayed behind though and built a bigger and better fire and an hour or so later me, Michelle, Todd, Stefan, Andy Buffy and Fiona were still there stood next to a proper large fire, giving out a lot of heat. There was another rogue wave incident, but this one didn’t make it all the way to the fire and so everyone was dry before we went to our tents after midnight.

In the morning, me and Buffy, who had pitched our tents down a little slope away from the rest, got up a little bit late and nearly missed a treat. As we are at Pancake rocks, Vinnie had cooked real American style pancakes for breakfast – but we so nearly missed out. Luckily, there were enough left for us to have 4 or 5 each.

Thursday’s options were horse riding and knife making – I wouldn’t mind riding a horse, but it is very expensive for just half a day and so I had a mellow day, along with most people. A few went horse riding, but me and a few others took a walk up to Pancake rocks – This is a strange rock formation, that looks like layers of this rock, piled on top of each other, therefore looking like pancakes. However, the rocks have another reason to visit them – Over time the ocean has worn down the rock and created caves and tunnels through the rock itself. When it is high tide, these tunnels get the full force of the ocean crashing into them and the water has only one way to escape – up and out of the ground. They are known as blow-holes and are really unusual and mesmerising. We stood and watched for ages as the waves came in and then there was a 20-30 foot high shoot of water spurting out of the ground. I didn’t expect anything like that when we were told about this place, so it was a great surprise to see something so spectacular.

After the visit to pancake rocks we all made our way back to camp. A lot of people just mellowed out for the day – Sitting aro9und enjoying the sunshine, sunbathing and playing games. I got my running kit on and went for a run around the rain forest track. It is a 4 hour walk through the rainforest, climbing up the hill, passing through caves and following the river down the beautiful valley. I really enjoyed the run and on the way back I passed Buffy, who had taken her guitar and was busking at the information place opposite Pancake rocks.

When I got back, Fiona let me use the power in her room to charge my phone and I had a good long shower, before doing my washing. Unfortunately the washer takes 25 minutes and the drier takes an hour – so there was a big queue for the drier. So me, Buffy, Fiona, Emma, Vinnie and Waheed all piled down to the pub where there was a few games of pool played and a bit of banter. We were joined by Sabine, Becky, Lindsey and a couple of others before finally heading back to the bus for bangers and mash for dinner. It had been a great day as everyone had been able to do just exactly what they wanted to do. Just like a good holiday should be!!

After dinner a group went down to the pub for a few drinks while I went to the beach with a few others, where we found a group of locals gathered around a fire. I had prepared a good fire this afternoon and didn’t want to waste it, so I set fire to it and left it to burn on the beach while we all gathered around the 2nd fire. We didn’t get hit by any waves tonight though, so when we went to bed we were all dry, but had that lovely smell of burning on our clean clothes.

In the morning we woke to a downpour. It had been raining for a good couple of hours and all the tents were soaked, but everyone had managed to stay dry inside them,. We all mucked in to get everything packed away and set off towards Abel Tasman national park for the next couple of days.

On the way we stopped in Motueka, where we bought some booze, did some internet in Maccy'ds and swapped buses. I ended up putting all the bags in to the bus as nobody seems to be bothered that if they just lob them in willy nilly, then they wont blooody fit!!

I tell you, sometimes, people just dont think - We have a cool box, that only 3 people have actually bough ice for in 3 weeks - they assume that it just gets cold in there!! Then someone puts a full box of 24 beers in there - Where the fuck are the rest of us supposed to put our beers!? Some people are bloody selfish or just blinkered!! It amazes me - Even Vinny has noticed it -A few times people have opened the side of the bus to get at bags and then left the door open - Lickily Vinny has noticed before driving off!!

Anyway, enough of the ranting!! Its all good!!

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