Woke up at 9 on the Sun 14th and after a quick teeth brush and an even quicker shower ($1 for 6 minutes....between us!) we were on the road.....AHHHHHH!
Headed down the coast from Christchurch on what was a pretty boring drive for 3 and a half hours - very straight flat roads with the odd field of cows/sheep/llamas through Timaru and stopped for lunch in Oamaru. Found a nice cafe called Roost where after some yummy hot food and drinks we were ready to hit the road again. We made our way further south of Oamaru to the Moeraki Boulders, a bit of a detour 40km there and back again but on the cover of the Rough Guide therefore we HAD to see it ;o) Their name is pretty self explanatory, big grey spherical rocks all partially submerged on the tide line of the beach. Inside they are made up of crystals like honeycomb and something that I guess must act as natural cement (but not really the person to ask as you might have guessed). Really strange as some are smooth and some are veiny though and of course all different sizes. Jumped up on the boulders, some of us with a little more difficulty than others lol and took lots of pictures, had a scenic walk along the beach and finally walked back up to the car to get back to Oamaru. Went through a town on State Highway 1 called Maheno, which Dan noted was the name of the shipwreck we saw on Fraser Island in Oz - happily driving along when a police car suddenly rocked up, put its lights on and turned round to follow us and pull us over! Actually crapping myself by this point, but quite unsure as to my offence, maybe they had sniffed out some more satsumas?! Apparently the speed limit had changed down from 100km/h to 70 and he had clocked us doing 88. Bummer. I had thought I was under the speed limit for a change! Fortunately it doesn't affect your UK driving license so no points but due to the 18hm/h oversight we received a fine of $120 (plus you have to pay a $75 admin fee to Spaceships the b******s!) We were just even more relieved to have escaped the customs fine on Friday or else it would have been a seriously expensive few days on pointless fines.
Arriving back in Oamaru we wanted to see penguins....opted for the yellow eyed colony as opposed to the blue ones as it was in a more natural location and not semi captive. Consequently we drove up to Bushy Beach, parked up and walked along a path up in the cliffs to a lookout point onto the beach. Penguins don't like to be disturbed apparently, it upsets them and they won't then return to their young (awww!) hence the covered lookout where we waited....and waited....and waited....and froze. No sign. The volunteer lady tried to point us out an ill/dying one but we were more convinced it was a fur seal and not being keenos (having no binoculars) couldn't see a great deal anyway so headed off before we did actually freeze.
Drove from Oamaru to Twizel, a disproportionately long drive thanks to the dark and scary amounts of mist that materialised from nowhere. Thankfully managed to find a 24/7 petrol station with a pre pay card machine en route (we have since discovered that the fuel guage in the Spaceship is very dodgy). Arrived in Twizel, unable to see a thing, mist everywhere and could only find a supermarket that was shutting in 5 minutes! Scoured around for food and managed to find only one restaurant that was open - Thai it was! Starving, we got chicken satay, spring rolls and then phad thai and sweet and sour pork with noodles, all for 15 quid! Made good use of their facilities as decided to stay in the car park over night as marooned by fog.... put on 40 Year Old Virgin at 8ish, got into our PJs and snuggled up. Only problem was the lack of toilets and my pressing urge to wee - all looked fairly deserted so crouched down behind the car, jumping back in 20 seconds later with my trousers round my ankles when headlights appeared out of nowhere and drove right past - nice view!!! Needless to say what with that little episode being the only highlight (if you can even call it that!) it was a pretty uneventful night and crashed out around 10 for a VERY early escape.
Mon 15th, we were up at 5am after a very fitful nights sleep, scrambled around for clothes and managed to manouvre from the back of the car to the drivers seat so as to avoid the sub zero temperatures. Still in urgent need of a wee and not wanting to recreate last night's fiasco (the FROZEN evidence of which Dan had to negotiate on his foray from the back to the front of the car - not being the most agile and unable to squeeze through inside haha :p) we decided to hurry up to Lake Tekapo for sunrise and fingers crossed public loos! Only took about 45 minutes so sat from 6.15am in a car park right by the lake waiting for sunlight to materialise from somewhere... by 7.45am it was distinctly lighter but still no actual sun and my bladder was about to explode so Dan braved the cold to take some snaps before we drove to find a toilet! A fairly unsuccessful sunrise - forgetting that of couse it is mid winter and almost winter solstice (my birthday for a change!) so the sun was never going to rise that early and we had also got our bearings slightly wonky and the sun was attempting to come up behind the otherside of the mountains! Nice one. After finally using the (mens!) toilet and changing into jeans, I felt like a whole new woman lol and we headed back the way we came. The scenery was amazing this time, now we could actually see it, spectacular snowy mountains that looked pink in the light and then we hit Lake Pukaki, BEAUTIFUL! Parked up and took some photos as shockingly we were the only ones there. Soon started to freeze so jumped back in the car, cranked up the heating and set off to Queenstown. Drove and drove and drove, through Lindis Pass, a pretty precarious bit of road through the mountains - very icy and twisty and then through Cromwell, where we were going to stop but it was so close to Queenstown that we continued.
Arrived in Queestown by 12.30pm and found the hostel where we had booked to stay for the next 3 nights. Checked in and paid but couldn't use the room until 2ish so parked up outside our dorm (right on the lake!) and headed into town. All very touristy and geared towards the ski season but cool. First things first we went to get some cash out with no success so got charged 4 quid to call NatWest from the mobile, ready to shout and scream at them for blocking our cards for the umpteenth time but apparently it was a whole system failure and we had to wait until 5am GMT (4pm here) to withdraw money....hence very cheap lunch, KFC it was! Managed to get some free internet from the Bungy station in town, as well as confirming our bookings so that was a result and a bit more time wasting! Came back to the hostel and sorted the car/beds out. Chilled, Dan napped, I read, not spending money is bloody difficult in somewhere as busy (and expensive!) as Queenstown. Went back out about half 4 and thankfully managed to get some money so booked a trip to Milford Sound for the day after tomorrow (Wednesday) and went for a few drinks at a bar on the lake front called Atlas. More wine and wedges! Drank for a couple of hours before checking out some places for dinner. Settled on an English-esque pub called the Pig and Whistle for some standard pub grub! Had a few more drinks but stopped after that as didn't want to feel rough for the bungy in the morning. Came back to Bumbles, had more free internet to use and came back to the room to find sleeping people and all the lights out at 9pm - cool! Took refuge in the car and watched Blades of Glory before going back into the room for a good nights sleep, only partly disturbed by our room mates ridiculous train like snoring!!!!