‘Silence is golden, duct tape is silver’ – Stewart Island

31st August

First day of spring and spring has apparently sprung. Snow capped mountains surround us and the sun was shining. Yesterday’s non ‘awesome’ weather apparently has arrived a day late.

We found our happy place in the Fiordland National Park. With views over the waterfall and river, overlooking the snow-capped mountain and in the middle of a forest, I think I can safely say we both want to live there.

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I know I keep going on about the views but there really isn’t anything like it. Everywhere you look it looks like a movie set. Our next stop overlooked the valley and the surrounding mountains. It really does take your breath away.

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Michael, John, Anita, Elisabeth, Flo, Gerhard, Sam, Line, Kepa, Kathy
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We can’t take credit for Sam’s beautiful photo

We arrived in Invercargill, and after driving through some of the most magnificent scenery, it didn’t really stand much of a chance. It was described by Keith Richards as the ‘arsehole of the universe’…. We didn’t linger there too long so I can’t confirm or deny this. We stayed just long enough to visit the Southland Museum.

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Kathy, Flo and the Fastest Indian

The museum is home to a number of ancient lizards which John was keen to point out weren’t actually lizards at all but more closely related to dinosaurs. So we saw a 170 year old living dinosaur called Henry in Invercargill. Maybe it’s not such a bad place after all.

The ferry ride across to Stewart Island was not kind to the the sea sick. We on the other hand had a great time. After an hour of battering waves we got off the ferry and Spring was gone, to be replaced by the coldest of the cold.

Gerhard, Sam, Kepa, Anita, Kathy, Flo and I were the only ones staying in the hostel tonight because of a school trip using the rooms. So while we arrived at a lovely but unbelievably cold hostel the others had hot showers, towels and all the luxuries of the local hotel.

Vicki, the hostel owner, had put on a barbecue for us. Once again there was so much food! Once again it was amazing.

After dinner it was time to look for wild Kiwis. We knew they were rare and that Tutu had never seen wild one in his life. Hopes were not overly high. Flo and I took measures to ensure that we were prepared for the arctic temperatures outside. Three pairs of trousers, 4 tops, gloves, hat, scarf, and coat and we were ready.

Apparently kiwis have very bad eyesight so you can get close with a torch. Unfortunately they do have good hearing. This meant we had to hunt for kiwis in silence, a task that Tutu thought would be impossible for Flo and I. I like to think this was because of the constant rustle of our waterproof trousers as we attempted to waddle through our hundreds of layers.

Mission accomplished. Within only a few minutes Tutu spotted one. They are the most bizarre creatures. All body and a long break they shuffle around looking very unstable on their feet. They stand at about mid calf height, they are not, as Flo told everyone, mid thigh height!

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Tutu found us not one, but two kiwis. Sam, Kepa, Flo, and I ended up getting separated from the group and stalking the second kiwi for far too long.

On our way back to the hostel we stumbled upon a playground. So a few swings on the swing and goes on the slide and it was time to get back for the pub quiz that hostel owner Vicki had arranged for us.

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We were late to the quiz… But despite Tutus ‘pudding’ of tequila and Vicki duct taping Flo’s mouth shut, we made a startling comeback to come in joint first place.

The evening passed with steadily more raucous behaviour. The school staying at the hostel meant that we couldn’t make any noise in the kitchen so Vicki bundled us all up into a tiny shed. As the gang slowly dispersed, once again it was left to Sam, Kepa, Flo and I to keep the party going until sunrise when we planned to go and see the penguins. We lasted until about an hour before sunrise until we finally admitted defeat. No penguins for us today.

Apparently no sleep either. Our room was freezing! After 30mins of uncontrollable shivering enough was enough; Flo get over here and bring your duvet and blankets. With big spoon and little spoon, 2 duvets, and 2 blankets we were much happier. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for our dorm mate who left ASAP. Although after a few drunken visits from the next door dorm who can blame her…

Tori x

 

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