New Zealand Nov 2004 trip – Starving broke

This is part of some travelling notes I wrote exactly 4 years ago for a trip to New Zealand in November 2004. Please enjoy the story.

Day 8, 13 November 2004, Saturday

Woke up at 6:00am, but decided to just lie underneath the covers because it’s really cold. Got out of bed at 6:30am because I was hungry. Ate the Snickers bar and two muesli bars. Packed everything and just waited till 8:00am.

Took my luggage out of the room and the motel manager (happened to pass by) told me to stay put. He’ll drive around to pick me and another couple’s luggage. Apparently, the couple went to the coach pick up point first and left their luggage here. Anyway, the motel guy is really nice. Forgot to get his name, but I’ll remember his establishment. Rainforest Motel, folks, Rainforest Motel of Fox Glacier.

The pick up point is actually just outside the Alpine Guides station. I met a middle-aged/elderly couple from Sydney, Australia. They’re going to take the TranzAlpine as well. This was also the couple whose luggage was brought over with me.

Coach came, and driver took everyone’s vouchers except mine. I gave it to him and he was trying to look for my name. I moved closer to help him, and he backed away. Whether he wanted a better light, or he didn’t want me to look at his list, I’ll never know.

When we’re about to leave (8:31am), the general store lady rushed out (the store’s opposite the Alpine Guides station), with what I think is a NZ20.00 note in her hand. Some conversation between her and the driver, and I only caught something about the driver keeping the change. Started moving again at 8:32am. Coach driver’s name’s Maurice, I think. Didn’t quite catch it. Or Moris.

Franz-Josef town
The town of Franz-Josef seems larger than that of Fox Glacier. But I think Fox sounds way cooler than Franz-Josef…

Some commentary from driver about the colour of glacial rivers. Chalky, because of the rock dust or rock flour ground by the glaciers. Picked up more passengers from Franz-Josef town. Met the Mexican couple again. Left Franz-Josef town proper at 9:42am. Passed Whataroa town. Picked up another passenger at 10:04am. Entered Mount Hercules Scenic Reserve (10:16am).

Pukekura stop. Possum delights. Yum…

Bushmans Centre
Pukekura stop. The coach driver was making a joke of running if one was suddenly under a huge shadow. It could the killer sandfly… haha… 🙂

Moose and turkey
Pukekura stop. This a moose? Coach driver was talking about there being three turkeys. That was two Christmases ago, he said. And we now have only one turkey here…

Frisbee at Pukekura
Pukekura stop. Frisbee! Blue disk in picture centre. People lounging, writing in notepads, licking on ice cream and so on and so forth.

Stopped at Pukekura (10:48am to 11:14am). Entered Fergusson’s Bush Scenic Reserve (11:22am). Passed through gold mining town of Ross (11:32am).

Rain in Hokitika.

Hokitika clock
Jade, or greenstone as they call it.

We stopped at Hokitika from 11:55am to 12:30pm. Didn’t want to walk around town. It was raining then, so didn’t want to get wet. Lunch was a miserable muesli bar. Rain stopped at 12:15pm. The coach windows were clear again at 12:30pm. Either the rain here is different or the coach windows are really good at keeping water off.

Greymouth Station

Greymouth train station and the TranzAlpine.

Stopped at Greymouth at 1:10pm. Checked in luggage, and didn’t want to miss the train, so kept close to the station. While waiting for the train, saw a “Just Married” tag hung on the backpack of the husband of the Mexican couple. Awww… that’s so sweet. Got on TranzAlpine Express at 1:40pm. My ticket gives a window seat on the left! Seat B3A. Carriage B, row 3, seat A.

Well, the train ride might have been really good, but I didn’t really enjoy it. In fact, I was downright miserable. Cold, hunger and exhaustion overwhelmed me, and I dozed half the time on the train. Plus the windows were a bit dirty, and they really reflect the interior, so pictures weren’t great.

Arthurs Pass
Arthur’s Pass.

Just showing the real cool reflective properties of the train window.

We stopped at Arthur’s Pass station and picked up (and left off) some passengers. Took pictures of the mountains and went back in. Really cold. And really hungry. I’m left with one muesli and two Snickers bars, so I want to conserve them a bit.

And the train driver wasn’t helping! He kept mentioning about the bar counter in carriage D, where things like warm pies, sumptuous sandwiches, delicious ice cream (for some reason, tourists really love them despite the cold weather), fragrant teas, and hot chocolate could be bought. And there were specialty sandwiches. NZ2.00 for two. They might be good value, but I couldn’t even afford that now. Oh this is disasterrific…

Passed through Springfield (stopped for some servicing) and Darfield. We must have passed through some other towns, but I was asleep. 5:20pm, and I’m now really looking forward to being in Christchurch, where I could find some food. I had not eaten real food for about 2 days now, surviving on just cookies and nutrition bars and chocolate bars.

45 minutes later, we pulled into Christchurch train station. I waited patiently for my luggage to come unto the conveyor belt. Grabbed it, and went looking for my hotel transport driver. “V. Tan. Cotswold Hotel.” I think the driver’s a Mauri, name’s Tores. Really big man. Took me to Cotswold Hotel, where the receptionist Rewa gave him a voucher (NZ12.00) for the taxi fare (my transport’s supposed to be paid for by the hotel. Or I’ve already paid it, and it’s included in my itinerary vouchers.).

Room 872
Oh yeah, room 872.

Cotswold Hotel
Cotswold Hotel.

I checked in. Room number 872. I’ve never stayed at a hotel room a road away from the main hotel before. Cool. Entered my room (opulent) and emptied my pockets. NZ31.65 and an American quarter. Well if the departure tax is NZ25.00, I would only have NZ6.65 for dinner. I went back to the reception counter to check. Yup, NZ25.00.

Burger King
My life saver!!

Head down, I went looking for a fast food joint. Burger King! I went in, scanned the menu on top and rested my eyes on “Double Cheeseburger. Normal NZ5.95. Large NZ6.45”. Yes, within budget! I might as well get the large one.

“No combo?”, the waiter asked.
“No, just the burger.”, I replied.

Now, under normal circumstances, one could have deduced that NZ6.45 wouldn’t buy just a burger. But I’m not thinking straight at the moment. So when they plopped a pack of fries and a cup with the burger, I asked if this was part of what I paid for. They look stunned. Since they didn’t ask me for more money, I diverted the question. “Is that where I get my drink?”, I pointed to the self-service tap on my right after glancing around. They nodded.

I sauntered towards the drink device, scanned through the available choices, and stuck my cup under “raspberry fizzy”. I sat down, and at 7:15pm, chewed on my first bite of normal food. Bliss. Never mind it being fast food. Finished my meal at 7:28pm. Fast, considering the normal speed I eat. I’m just happy I got more than the burger.

National Radiation Laboratory
I remember it’s the National Radiation Laboratory. Not “Research”. “Radiation”. I wonder why it’s in the middle of the city…
[EDIT] It is National Radiation Laboratory.

Christchurch clock
Missed this clock on the first day.

Christchurch penitentiary
I could be mistaken, but this building is a penitentiary. Says so on the gate.

Christchurch casino
Christchurch casino.

The Peterborough. I have no idea what this building houses. A club maybe?

It’s my last leisure day in New Zealand, so despite the aching advice given by my right calf (injury from glacier walk), I braved the city once more. Finally, at 8:00pm, my desperate thighs added their protests as well, so I made my way back to the hotel. Checked my finances again. 1 NZ20.00, 1 NZ2.00 coin, 2 NZ1.00 coins, 2 NZ0.50 coins, 1 NZ0.01 coin, 2 NZ0.05 coins and an American quarter, disregarding the fact that I still have Singapore money on me.

On hindsight, I could have changed money at the reception or with people around me, but I only remembered the bank. And they were closed now (Saturday afternoon). After paying the NZ25.00 tax, I’ll just have NZ0.20 left. And the American quarter. Not exactly a penny to my name, but close.

Anticipating another Amazing Race flight connection. Domestic flight from Christchurch to Auckland flies at 8:55am, and I think it takes two and a half hours. So will reach Auckland at about 11:30am. Connecting flight’s at 1:00pm. More than enough time, some would say, but I’m not too hopeful at this point. Will check out early the next day, and hope my transport to the airport arrives sooner. Oh yeah, ate one more Snickers bar. Still hungry.