As we all know weather people are wrong what, at least 50% of the time? Well, today was the other 50% (when they are right). When I woke this morning it was raining and nasty….just as they had predicted. My intention for today was to hike Fox Glacier; however, I had already decided that if it was raining with low clouds (as it was today) I was going to skip the hike as there would be absolutely nothing to see……
So I got up, made/ate breakfast, checked out of my room, loaded the car and sat in the lodge and made good use of my free wi-fi by catching up on 2 days of blogs. According to Google maps I had a 3:30 hour drive to my next destination Wanaka, so I was in no hurry. I finished the 2 blog around 12:45, filled the car with gas and decided to have lunch at a local cafe before leaving. I got on the road around 2:30 and expected to be in Wanaka around 6, just as I had told my host.
I started driving and everything was going as planned. I stopped and read some information placards when I passed through Fox Glacier and dreamed of what could have been. ha ha
|Just for fun I drove to the view point|
|This was the “view” today. 🙂|
Then I got back on the road. Somewhere after Fox Glacier I passed a hitchhiker standing in the rain, in the middle of nowhere, with a backpack. At first I thought this was odd then I thought it may have been someone I saw at the hostel in Franz Josef the night before. Regardless, I couldn’t leave them standing in the rain, in the middle of nowhere. So I turned around and went back.
Now I know what some of you are thinking and no, although I have been known to pick up a few people in the US in the right circumstances, it’s not something that I do every time or even often. However, hitchhiking in most of the rest of the world is different than the US. Especially when it’s in a heavy outdoor/tourist/backpacker area like the Southern Alps region of New Zealand (I’m sure Mike Tanis knows what I’m talking about). Even though, I will confess to having some hesitation but I felt it was the right thing to do.
When I got back I discovered it was a girl (I couldn’t tell with the rain hood). She had been back country hiking, got tired of the rain (being a backpacker I can totally relate) and had just hiked out to the nearest road. I told her I was headed to Wanaka and she said she was as well. So I got out to open the trunk and help her load her gear.
I had just put the last piece of gear (her tent I think) in the trunk when I felt something biting my right leg. I looked down to see my legs (I was wearing shorts and flip-flops) covered with black flies and by this point I was feeling a lot of bites. I started swatting and knocking them away and ran for the car. She got in the other side and we sat there for a couple of minutes killing black flies as a ton of them had followed me into the car. We took off and continued to kill more flies for at least 5 miles. By this time I had dozens of red bite marks all over my legs and then the itching began. It was, with out a doubt, the worst itching I have ever experienced in my life! Oh my gosh, I was going out of my mind. I had some cream in my bag and put that on but the itching did not stop. I scratched and scratched and scratched non-stop for literally the next hour. Finally after an hour or so most of the itching subsided but the red bite marks were all over my legs.
She told me they were called Sand Flies, that they do of course bite, but they were harmless as they do not carry anything like mosquitoes. She said she had been bitten before but that she did not have the itching like I was having. Oh well, no good deed will be left unpunished huh? 🙂
So my “guest” and I began to talk (in between me telling her how bad I was itching 🙂 and I found out her name was Maiwenn and she was from France. She had always had a dream to travel alone (specifically alone) and she had been traveling for (I believe) 4 or 5 months. Over the next few hours we talked about everything from our families to politics to careers and of course lots of talk about travel. She said she was going to try and find a job in Wanaka or Queenstown to work through the winter so she would be able to stay in New Zealand.
I passed a couple of places along the way where I would have liked to have stopped for pictures but I saw people swatting at something (I presumed they were sandflies) so I stayed in the car and kept driving. I told Maiwenn they couldn’t pay me enough to get out with these flies around. 🙂
By this time the steady rain from the morning had changed to small pockets here and there and it was definitively getting better as I drove further south. As I passed pull off spots I noticed that no one was swatting so I assumed we had left the flies behind and it was now safe to exit the car. 🙂 So I pulled off at a couple of beautiful waterfalls and scenery to take some pictures….
As I continued to drive south I entered the area between Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. This was a very beautiful area and I found myself stopping about every 1/2 mile to take pictures. 🙂 Here are a few with many more on the blog site (notice the beautiful turquoise color of the lakes)…..
We finally made it to Wanaka about 2 hours later than I anticipated (from all the picture stops around the lake, ha ha). It was about 7:45 and I’ve learned in AU and NZ that even in the larger towns, many (or all) of the restaurants stop serving dinner at 8. So the first order of business (since I had no lunch) was to find dinner. Maiwenn wanted fish & chips but I wanted something else so Maiwenn ate her dinner while I was looking around Wanaka for a restaurant. I chose Korean (of course I thought of my great friend Young) and Maiwenn and I said our good byes. I finished a great dinner….
I made another lap around the very picturesque town of Wanaka and headed to my Airbnb room for the evening.
|Where Am I|