Be careful of your behavior while travelling. You just never know who will meet . . .
After an early start in Queenstown we grabbed a $10 breakfast at a wonderful pub where the service was feisty and the food fantastic. Ten bucks is a good deal for a breakfast in New Zealand – Even Marv had enough to eat. A tip was warranted in a country where you don’t tip – I think the price of food and the included 15% tax might already look after the tip? Food ain’t cheap in this country.
As I quickly walked to the ferry terminal for our early departure to Walter Peak Station, I glanced through the window of a bar just in passing. There I saw a familiar back of a head. I took a chance and banged on the outside of the window. The man turned around and low and behold it was my friend, Mike McMullen, from Leduc. Mike was in New Zealand fishing. He had been on other bike trips with Marv and me. I knew he was there but never ever thought I would see him even though I must say I looked for him at every stream and river we came across. The planets aligned, I took a chance, and there was my friend. Mike walked me to the wharf and it was a thrill to see him and Marv reconnect in Queenstown.
The ESS Earnslaw was a coal fired ferry that carried everything from sheep to people for the past 150 years to Walter Peak Station. Walter Peak Station was a huge livestock operation and we were able to watch a sheep shearing demonstration (which we coincidentally missed). Also there was a dog herding demo, deer with big horns, alpacas, and puppies. The funniest thing however was free. Have you ever heard a bus load of Chinese people calling sheep? Priceless. I’m sure they are saying the same thing about the round eyes as they write there blog tonight.
Marv and George had driven the van around from Queenstown to Walter Peak Station (3.5 hours) the night before so it would be there to meet us on the other side. George kept Marv awake by feeding him by hand, melted Eatmores and Hawkins cheezies from his never ending supply. Apparently they had to pass over many dusty roads as the van was engulfed with dirt upon our arrival.
Gas stations are not abundant in rural New Zealand and this was as rural as you could get. We were worried we would not have enough gas to get to the next town. Marvin finessed his way to a gas connection. We were introduced to Regena. She worked on a tremendous livestock station nearby and said we could buy gas from her. When we entered Saint Nicholas Station we drove up to the owner’s house. We should have known there might be some difficulties when Marvin asked her if this was Starbucks and she didn’t crack a smile. After we got the gas and paid Regena, the owner approached and scolded us and Regena in a very awkward conversation. We gave Regena a bottle of maple syrup for her generosity. Pancakes will likely never look the same to her – sorry Regena – yikes.
After a long drive over many km’s on a gravel road we stopped at Mooeva Lakes. My good friend in Leduc had warned me about the leeches in New Zealand. She asked me if I had ever seen that special scene in the movie Stand By Me. I told everyone they were swimming at their own risk as I would not risk the leeches nor would I perform any leech removal operations. Just like in a movie we happened upon a boy scout leader who assured me there were no such things in New Zealand and the lake was safe. The swimmers were into the lake without any prompting for a very refreshing pause.
Marv choose to ride from Marvora Lakes to the hostel. He had no takers for bike travel companions as the road was gravel and we feared the potential of hills – this gang doesn’t mind going down the hill but coming up them is a different story. This allowed us to bet for or against Marv in his absence as to when he would arrive in Te Anue. He would never be the wiser. Winner got to choose their bed at the hostel that evening. Carol took the cake.
We were greeted in Te Anau by our hostel hosts Bob and Maxine. This was a 5 star hostel – I know one when I see one by now. No pee on the floor –hot dog! Bob graciously welded Marv’s broken bike. Let me tell ya – this weld will hold.
The next day we awoke to French toast prepared by the Murray. We packed up and headed to Milfred Sound. We sailed on the Sinbad (appropriately named for the ‘Church People’). We were greeted by Captain Dennis and essentially had the ship to ourselves. The Captain had a fondness for the ladies and let them all take a turn at the helm. The men were not offered the same privilege. We had gorgeous weather – the scenery was spectacular and the passengers were entertained by a beautiful rendition of The Love Boat sung over the PA by Marv and myself. Captain Denis allowed Marv to ring the ship bell. This meant that Marv had to buy the entire ships passengers a beer – He somehow escaped that?
One final thing about the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand before I go. The country may not have leeches and pesky mosquitoes as in Canada, but neither pale in comparison to the carnivorous Sand Fly. These shysters are sneaky and leave a welt the size of a New Zealand $2 coin. It was mentioned several times in passing, that only the females bite – yada yada.
We returned to Te Anue via the Hollyford Valley. Along the drive there is a tunnel. According to Marv, if you You Tube it, you will see a number of creative alternatives as to how to travel through it. Because of logistics we unable to ride through the tunnel – This was really the only time I saw a sad Marv on the entire trip. He had his heart set on biking through the tunnel. We returned to Te Anue and had a wonderful Chinese dinner, got groceries for the next day’s jaunt.