Bought TransApline train ticket from Christchurch to Greymouth for $63. Booked car for 10 days from Greymouth, drop-off in Christchurch. $280. Then got an email from car company informing me there were no cars, NONE available until April 11. And so my whole plan got derailed. Fancy footwork: my hostess with the mostest Kiri, (former tour guide in Africa, England, Europe and New Zealand) rented me her Isuzu SUV, loaned me her esky (cooler) some mittens a hat and wool socks and now I am staying in Greymouth at youth hostel in a 4-bed-room dorm.
The dorm stay is $20. I get free soup for dinner and free toast and jam for breakfast included in that price. Also my second beer is free at the bar. By the way, and from here on out I'm just quoting all prices in US dollars for ease.
Today I woke up at 6:30 am to call TransAlpine to cancel my train ticket in hopes of a 50% refund. Their hours were posted wrong and they didn't open until 7, so I had to wake up AGAIN and call. I was able to cancel and got my refund. Then I fell asleep again until 8:30 when Kiri gave me a tour of the car and let me know where the jack is and the spare tire and such. I got rolling at 11:30am. I had to sort of pack one bag with my winter stuff for this trip and leave all my summer stuff in another bag at Kiri's place. I felt so bad because she worked so hard on my itinerary and wrote it out several times because my plans kept changing. She recommended that I get on the road at 10am. I didn't leave the house until 11:30 and as I pulled out of her street, she was pulling in. Busted. So guilty...felt ashamed for the next hour. I had all these imaginary recreations of her-- mad at me and wondering why I didn't appreciate all her hard work and just leave at 10am as she suggested.
Found my way out of Christchurch, and headed towards Arthur's Pass. Stopped for coffee and a toasted sandwich. Stopped at interesting-looking rocks on the way and took a nice walk around them. Drove really really slow through the mountain pass, didn't want to ride Kiri's brakes.
You cannot even imagine the gorgeous, spectacular views that I saw today. Try. Imagine the most beautiful mountain, and then multiply its' awesomeness by 1,000 and then maybe you'll come close. I took pictures of course and will try to post them. AMAZING...
Arrived in Greymouth, booked the hostel, and then drove 1 hour north of town to Pancake Rocks. Don't freak out: I picked up three hitchhikers. Total backpacker-y types, and they totally stunk bad. I regretted it instantly, not because they pulled knives and threatened to kill me, but because of their stinkiness. They were very nice, from northern California and are in New Zealand for just under six weeks. They have apparently been showerless and rained on, I gathered that from the smell. But nice people, nonetheless. They gave me a beer for the ride. I haven't drank it yet...somehow I want to work on that free beer from the hostel instead and save the bottled beer for an emergency. And, I've got that Esky...
LOVE TO ALL. I'm kind of lonely.