Sunday, September 10, 2017

Circle Track Fail

Went for a picnic with the German ladies after work. I waited quite long and was abit angry with Kerstin for wasting my time waiting aimlessly for her to finally get going as I could have done more productive things while waiting. Cora and I eventually went, followed Kerstin through the bushes and up the hills. There were no signs along the way and it looks like the lookout is only known to locals. The view was way better than View Hill.

By the time we were done it was around 3pm and Cora still wanted to go kayaking. We stuffed the paddles into her car and parked near the jetty. I was apprehensive about our ability to get the double kayak out of this mess but Cora was determined. I was in pants and shoes and still wondering if I should try and stay dry when Cora picked me up and carried me into the kayak!

We were SWARMED with sandflies when we paddled across the lake to the other side; lucky it was a short row. Cora and I parted ways from this point; she went for a swim and since I can't swim I decided to try the Circle Track, a 3.5-4 hours loop walk. I wasn't at the start of the track; Kerstin suggested cutting through the bushes to get onto the main track.

I crashed through the very thick bush and vegetation for a long time but can't seem to get out of the bush. I had no idea if I'm still going straight or moving sideways to nowhere. I started to panic. I didn't have enough supplies with me and I have to get out before it gets dark. The saving grace was there was reception in the woods. I telephoned Cora first to tell her I was lost and I will be shouting out for her to see if we could hear/locate each other. I then rang Kerstin to tell her I was in a bit of trouble. She apologised saying it was her stupid idea and said she'll be making her way to the jetty.

I kept shouting for Cora hoping she could hear me. It was dead silent in the forest and there was no one in sight. I was so deep in the bush that it was as hard to turn back as it was to press on. I felt really helpless and kept talking to myself to stay calm. I figured if I keep walking in the direction where I can see light, that should lead me out of the bush. Somehow, I finally managed to get onto the main track. I was so happy when I saw the orange marker.

But I had no idea which was the shorter way back to the jetty. It was a loop track and either way would lead me back but it would take me ages to return if I went one big round. I went with my instinct and was so relieved when I finally found the jetty. THANK GOD! πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™

Cora coming to my rescue! We were so glad and relieved we found each other. I was lost in the forest for two hours that day. Lucky to come out in one piece and only had a tear on my shirt sleeve. Thank you so much Cora for saving my life!!! 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Kepler Track Day Walk: Rainbow Reach to Shallow Bay Hut

Last night, Cora jio me to do part of the Kepler Track. It was a no-brainer; I agreed immediately as I have always wanted to do it anyway and it was so close to where we were staying. I jumped into her car with Carla at the back in her baby seat and set off to Rainbow Reach. The track starts at a swingbridge and wanders through beech forest with a few glimpses of the Waiau River along the way. Cora had Carla on her back and she was faster than me. Power!

Lunch at the kettle bog - lecker!

We walked along the shores of Lake Manapouri and came to a nice beach with clear waters - Shallow Bay. I watched Cora played with Carla in the water and started swinging her so that her little feet brushes against the water. Despite being just 19, Cora's maturity was evident to me and I felt that she has more life experience than most girls of her age and even myself in some ways.

We are great babysitters!

Carla slept most of the time when I carried her back to the carpark.

Last photo with blur-looking Carla who had just woken up from her sleep lol

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Free Cruise Manapouri

The owners of Freestone Backpackers also run cruise tours at Lake Manapouri. I was invited to go on a cruise with the owners and their friends on Sunday. The boat was Kerstin's "baby", named after the Pomona Island, the largest island in the centre of Lake Manapouri.

Cora from Germany was the only other "woofer" at Freestone. She babysits the owners' 18 month old daughter Carla in exchange for food and accommodation. She loves riding horses and exercises horses at a nearby farm during her spare time.

Big brother looking out for baby Carla

Kerstin looking pleased that she found a secluded spot to anchor for the rest of the afternoon

I had no idea they had prepared and brought these food onto the boat

I went for a row while Cora went for a dip

She said it was cold

Afternoon tea before heading back to shore

Reflections on the peaceful lake

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Frasers Beach & View Hill

The first guests I met at Freestone were Josef and Thomas from Germany. I hardly ever see father and son on a holiday together and I was really amazed how friendship-like their relationship was. On the surface they would annoy and make fun of each other but Thomas would still cook for his dad while Josef does his best to keep up with his son when they go sightseeing. When I asked what were their plans today Thomas said he wanted to go to Fuel Hill. I laughed when I realised he meant "view" and it was just the way Germans pronounce "v" as "f". They let me tag along; I was eager to get out and was quite surprised they weren't taking their car given we were in a remote part of the country.

They stopped at Frasers Beach for a look. This was taken yesterday when Kerstin brought me to the same place with her baby daughter Carla and I was swarmed with sandflies.

Me trailing behind as I was busy taking photos and them giving me the "hurry up" look lol. There were no signs along the way but Thomas still managed to get there using a handwritten map.

Based on this survey mark, I finally managed to retrace my steps years later. It is located near the Moturau Heights subdivision and west of the Te Anau airport.

This little known lookout offers an overview of Lake Manapouri

Fuel Hill πŸ˜‰

As we were making our way back, Josef stuck his thumb out for a ride. He gave up quickly and told me it was super easy to get a ride in Bavaria. As we walked along the highway, Josef laughed at my English and I laughed at his English while Thomas translated what I was saying from English to German to his father and translated what Josef was saying from German to English to me.

See that tiny white triangle in the middle? That's Jimmy's house. We have to walk back there. Groans!

Finally we made it back on foot. Thomas prepared a nice meal for his dad and we had more laughs over dinner. They told me they will be stopping at Singapore on the way back to Germany and I wrote them a list of food to try. It was a shame that they were leaving the next day as I had enjoyed my short time with these two funny and interesting Germans. Safe travels Josef Papa & Thomas!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Woofing at Freestone Backpackers

It's only after I got to Freestone that I realised how comfortable, cosy and clean Poplar Lodge was. The owners don't seem to get along with each other and the place hasn't been up to scratch. It was quite dirty and untidy and they don't even have proper cleaning aids! (Kerstin told me Jimmy uses the dish washing liquid to clean everything.) It's remote here and I miss having other woofers around.

I lived in the bottom house on the right. Cleaning a village is tiring because I had to climb up and down the hill every time I forget to take a pillow case or plastic bag.

Kitchen and fridge space was insufficient in a 4 bedroom house that can sleep up to 8 guests

The uninviting lounge with mismatching pieces of furniture

Kerstin was so pleased with my housekeeping work that she gave me a thank you hug even before the end of my stay.

Old coin operated washing machine and dryer. There is a key hanging behind the washing machine that opens the money box so that I can slot in some coins to get the laundry going.

Hang laundry also can slip and fall T_T

The owner's house and individual huts are up on a hill and quite spaced out. The huts are pretty basic with no electricity - similar to DOC huts on the tracks.

I have a room to myself but can't enjoy surfing the net from the comfort of my bed. I have to climb up to the owner's house with my laptop and would hide under the deck to use their wifi.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Hitchhike Queenstown to Lake Manapouri

Two and a half weeks flew past and it's time to leave Arrowtown. I carried a heavier load than from Christchurch to Arrowtown with the sun burning at me as I waited for my first ride. Waited 50 mins opposite Frankton Hub bus stop with no luck. Walked further down past the airport and waited by the road for an(other?) hour... Finally got a ride from Anaud and his parents from France! I had a seat to myself at the back and it was quite difficult to hold a conversation with them sitting in front. So I just sat through this 2 hour ride in silence, checking my GPS location on my ipod from time to time.

They dropped me off at Te Anau. A lady stopped right after I alighted. She thought their Jucy vehicle broke down and came to help. She had no intention of giving me a ride. I waited for awhile without success again...

Walked further down along SH95 and Syd stopped. He said he knew Jimmy & Kerstin (owners of the hostel I'm heading to) and offered to let me stay a night at his house if I can't make it to Manapouri tonight. He gave me a short ride (on his way home I think) and I continued to wait aimlessly for an hour or so... until Susan & Gilbert, retirees from France (FRANCEFπŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡«πŸ‡·ROCKS) sent me all the way to my final destination:

Long and tiring day!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Arrowtown: Tobins Track

My last walk in Arrowtown was up Tobins Track which starts at the bottom of Ford St, just 7 mins walk from Poplar Lodge. I learnt of this track from Jeremy who told me it can easily be done in under 30 mins. He didn't say it was a continuous uphill climb though; gave my legs a little fright because I was expecting short=easy. At the top are two chairs donated by the Stevenson family placed in an awkward position and a trig station. Lovely views of Arrowtown to end my short stay in Otago.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Queenstown Hill Time Walk

Saving the best for the last on a sunny day. The Queenstown Hill Time Walk is one of my favourite day walks in NZ. It takes 3 hours return from town and there are clear signs guiding you to the start of the track at Belfast Terrace.

Information panels in the forest provide a brief history of Queenstown and its rise to fame as a popular tourist destination. A simple game of stone stacking can be found round a bend, breaking the monotony abit. From here it's another 15 mins to open grassland and the Basket of Dreams (an art sculpture). I watched a group of quad bikers crashed through a pool of muddy water.

Phenomenal views from the summit~~~ πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜

"The Basket's spiral of steel follows you inward to reflect, to draw inspiration from the mountains, lake and from those who are with you; outward to dream for the future."

Someone climbed onto the Basket of Dreams for a photo made me wanna smack my forehead

Descending back to town on the very steep Ballarat Street