The morning started as we'd hoped, although noticably wetter. It had been windy and rained all night, and it was not unlike a horror movie for a little while there. But it stopped raining in time for us to have a nice breakfast of toast and coffee, before heading out down the road. We were on our way to the village to do some shopping, and wondering how we were going to kill half an hour before most shops opened.
There are a lot of funny birds here in New Zealand, and one of them is featured in a clever commercial. It's called a pukeko, and it's big and blue and flightless. Not two minutes down the road from the backpackers, and we come across two of them on the side of the road. Dizzle realized what they were too late and decided to swing the car around to go back for a picture. He misjudged the angle of the uturn and got the Sunny (our rental) and got stuck teetering on the rim of the small ditch on the side of the road.
Before either one could think of what to do, BOTH of the first two cars to pass by stopped to help. Seriously, we had barely realized we had a problem, and all of a sudden we've got these two Kiwis grabbing rope and straps and attaching them to our axle (or: A-X-E-L. We honestly can't remember and are nowhere, NOWEHERE near internet access to check. More on this in a sec). They pulled us out and we thanked them and it killed the halfhour we needed to kill for the shops to open.
Here are the not-very-good-after-all photos we got of them, anyway:
p.s. About an hour later, Dizzle accidentally hit one with the car. We're not laughing – it was a little sad.
We left Hokitika around 10:00am (Wed.) and continued South. We knew sooner or later we'd have to drive the “Haast Pass”, one of the only three ways east/west across the South Island, but we didn't know when we'd end up stopping for the night, we just knew we had to regrettably leave Hokitika (potential retirement place, by the way, for anyone looking) and hit the glaciers sometime in the afternoon.
When you see pictures of snowy mountains in New Zealand, you were probably seeing a picture of a glacier, or Mt. Cook (or: “Aoraki” in Maori), Australasia's highest mountain.
The Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are two of the fastest-moving glaciers in the world. You can feel free to go to Wikipedia and read about them. We'll just show you pictures of both and tell you it was breathtaking and just the two hours we walked around for lunch was one of the top three moments of our whole time here.
We had lunch at Lake Matheson, one of the most photographed places in the world. We won't go into too much of it's geology unless you ask us, but the lake is very still and right at the bottom of Mt. Cook, so there's a reflection of the mountain and it looks like a Bob Ross painting – but not in a bad way.
From here, we were presented with a choice. We opted to try to get as far South as we could before sundown. So we checked into a little backpackers in a town of three buildings called Makarora Wilderness Resort. So far, we've had a lot of luck sticking to our $50/night budget. We walked in to our tiny little room, and Dizzle immediately informed Baby G he could not find his glasses – THE ONES HE WAS JUST WEARING.
As it was neither sunset nor dinnertime nor bedtime, we proceeded to kill about 45 minutes looking for his glasses. More time well spent.
Tomorrow we'll go to Queenstown and hopefully play a little disc golf. As for tonight, we're huddling up around the space heater and watching a bootlegged copy of '300'. 'Night!
p.s. again: They were on the bedspread the whole time.