This morning I started early (well, early for me 🙂 as I had a 5 – 6 hour drive ahead of me.  I headed West from Christchurch on highway 73 rather known as The Great Alpine Highway (Web Page).  I drove for an hour or so before I began to see the mountains on the horizon.

I had read (and now I know firsthand) that the land on the eastern side of the divide was more arid, the grass is brown and farmer’s use irrigation systems.  But once you pass over the divide it turns into a subtropical environment with lush green plants…..all in the span of a 100 miles or so.  So as I drove on the eastern side these are the types of mountains I saw…..

The mountain areas of New Zealand (I am learning) have a lot of very large river valleys.  However, I assume these river valley’s are probably full of water in the early spring as the snow begins to melt on the mountains and/or when there is a large rainfall.  However, during this time of the year (late summer) they are mostly dry with a creek running down the middle….

The mid-way point on the Great Alpine Highway is a place called Arthur’s Pass (Google).  It’s at this point that I got my first glimpse of a snow covered mountain (remember it is late summer here so like late August/Sept on the US east coast).  From this point the land begins to change, the grass is green and you begin to see more tropical vegetation….

One of my favorite pics of the trip thus far

Of course New Zealand is an island and not very large (east to west).  So it only takes less than 3 hours to drive from the east to west coast.  Once you drive through the mountain pass you quickly pass into the beach area. Like most coastlines around the world the west coast of New Zealand’s South island has many small towns. One of the “larger” one’s is a place called Greymouth.  So I decided to take a short (if I only knew then….) detour and checkout Greymouth.  It was a great little town with plenty of small shops and right beside the ocean.  I was having a good time until I had a classic Stephen “moment”.

It all began so innocently (as most Stephen “moments” do), I was going to change the SIM in my phone to see if I could get better reception.  Ok quick sidebar….for my US friends who have never traveled outside the US….using a US phone outside the US is VERY expensive and not practical if you’re traveling for more than a week.  There are two ways to work around this….buy a foreign phone in the country you are traveling to (too expensive) or have your US phone “unlocked” (which I did) and purchase a local SIM in country for a couple of bucks.  Then all you need is a prepaid plan (usually less than $50/month) and you’re good to go.  I was originally planning to suspend my US number while I was here (as I did my internet/tv at home) but decided to keep it as I found that, since it was not tied to just one local network, it would sometimes get better signal than my local provider. So since I’ve been in AU and NZ I now have a US SIM, an AU SIM and a NZ SIM.  Ok, so back to my Stephen “moment”…

So I went to change my SIM and dropped my US SIM on the floor of my car.  No problem right. Just bend down and pick it up right?  Yeah, probably for 99% of people….but not for Stephen.  Long story short….35 MINUTES later I was still looking for that freakin’ SIM!!!!!!  Needless to say I was fit to be tied!  After 10 minutes or so I figured the only thing that could have possibly happened was that it feel under the carpet under the seat and was sitting on the floorboard of the car.  I pulled the carpet as far as I could and felt everywhere I could reach (under the seat) but nothing.  And of course, it couldn’t be the AU or NZ SIMS that could easily be replaced…… had to be the US SIM that was impossible to replace in NZ or AU….of course. 🙂   So after 35 minutes I drove to a gas station and asked if they knew any mechanics in town who could remove the seat from the car so I could retrieve a tiny little piece of plastic. 🙂  The lady laughed, said she does stuff like this all the time and directed me to a place called The Muffler Shop where she said they have all of their work done.  I thanked her and left for my next “adventure”.

When I arrived at the muffler shop they were very busy.  As I stood and waited my turn I thought to myself, “there is no way they are going to be able to help me right now”.  When it came my turn I told the lady my problem and what I needed (to have the passenger seat removed) and she said, “yeah, we can help”….Thank you Lord!  So she walked me out to a guy, told him the situation and he directed me to pull the car into a bay.

One of my favorite passages in the bible is Genesis 50:20 where Joseph told his brothers, “What you intended for evil God has used for good”.  I love that because it reminds me that good things can (and often do) come from things that we often see (at least initially) as bad.  So is the case with my Stephen “moment” in Greymouth New Zealand when I lost my phone SIM and, as a result, met an awesome guy named Jon.

Jon asked me where in the states I was from and I told him.  He said that he has lived/worked in California for a while and that he and his wife had been to about 40 US states just touring around and it started from there.  We talked about the US, about NZ, about classic cars and the import business to NZ, we talked about the area, the weather and on and on.  It only took Jon about 10 minutes to get the seat completely removed (it wouldn’t have taken that long it the back nuts required a special driver that he had to look for) and literally within 10 seconds of him removing the seat I had the SIM in my hand.  Yep, I knew where it was and what I needed to reach it…I just didn’t have it in Greymouth NZ….but Jon did!

We talked for at least another 5 minutes after he had everything back together (even though there were other cars waiting) and then he took me into the office and told the lady he removed the seat and just to charge $10 or so.  I happily paid her, met her new puppy (cute) and went back out to remove the car from the bay….but not before talking with Jon for another 5 minutes.  If it had not been for the fact that it was the middle of a working day (for Jon) and I still had 2.5 hours of driving I would have loved to have bought Jon a beer at a pub and talked to him for hours.  What a great guy and what an answer to prayer!  It certainly wasn’t how I planned to spend 1.5 hours of my life today….but as I drove away it all made sense and I was happy to have met Jon and thankful for what led me there.

So if you ever find yourself in Greymouth on the west coast of New Zealand you should stop by The Muffler Shop and meet Jon.  You’ll be glad you did.

Lastly, I asked Jon for his email address and I am going to include him on the blog updates.  So feel free to leave a comment for Jon if you’d like.

I was thinking yesterday (as I was hiking…more on that later), God has certainly blessed me with a LOT of people who look after, care for/about and generally take care of me. I am so thankful for each and every one of you and am thankful that He just keeps putting people, like Jon, into my life at just the right time.  ðŸ™‚

So with SIM in hand (actually in phone) I headed south for Franz Josef Glacier.  On the way I stopped at a couple of interesting little towns (only briefly). One was Hokitika (GoogleImages).  I drove around and parked and walked to the beach entrance in the center of town.  I immediately saw some really cool driftwood “sculptures” and then saw a sign saying it was part of a contest that ended at the end of Jan.  I like a town that decorates in driftwood! 🙂

I drove for 2 more hours stopping at a lot of single lane bridges (most are single lane)….

And under many of these bridges flowed a beautiful blue/green, turquoise water…

I later confirmed with a local that this was correct (Wiki,Google).

So about 7:30 I arrived in the village of Franz Josef Glacier, checked into my room, made some dinner and spent 2 hours planning my next 2 days and trying to find places to stay.  The west coast of New Zealand is very busy right now so finding places to stay, where you want to stay, is proving somewhat challenging.  This is one reason why I am running behind with the blog because the time I would normally spend on the blog has been spent mapping my travel and finding places to stay.  Oh well, it’s all part of the adventure aye.  ðŸ™‚

Where Am I (duh 🙂

2 thoughts on “Day 30 – Cross the Great Divide

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