You know it's seriously raining when there are waterfalls coming down onto the side of the road...
Arthur's Pass, New Zealand
So I just managed to send the one I was meant to send 3 days back (but the lightning cut it out just as I clicked send!!!). I'm going to give you a low down of our trip so far as the other one was meant to be more of a "don't worry we are alive!" message!
Well, where do I start...basically if you think we are used to rain after being in Cardiff for 3 years then think again. If Wales is in the Premiership League of raining, then goodness knows what level new zealand is!! World Class? Olympic!? Essentially neither of us have ever witnessed such stormy weather in our lives - and you certainly notice it when you don't have a warm bed and drying facilities to come back to!
But before I rant on about a bit of precipitation let me take you back to Saturday the 7th September. After writing to you guys about sleeping in an old jail, Vick and I made our way to the Escape Camper Rental place where we picked up our trusty britmobile Hugo (see our piccy). He's an automatic drive so very easy going and laid back, he doesn't like hills very much, but he gets us from A to B safe and sound!
The drive to Arthurs Pass was just out of this world. If there is a way to get you into the scenery you are in for in NZ its the Alpine Route through the middle. Christchuch is massively flat, with the sea on one side, and mountains lining the horizon everywhere else. We drove towards these snowy capped peaks (the Southern Alps) along a looooooong straight road, bootiful. Arthurs Pass is right int he middle of these montanas and is the highest settlement in NZ! This night was the first night we camped in Hugo. But we were not alone. Not in human terms, woah in human terms we were the only souls around for miles and miles (and miles). Instead, as soon as we got to the campsite in the middle of a valley between snowy mountains we were accompanied by Percy. Before we actually got to see what Percy was all we heard when we stopped the car was something walking on the roof. Sounded like something out of Jurassic Park! Then, this massive PARROT (hence the name Percy) flapped into view. For the next hour of our amusement we couldn't actually get out the car because Percy kept trying to come in! But eventually he decided we were no fun and flew off, enough time for vick and I to set up camp for the night.
Hugo is very comfortable. But. Because he is made of tin, anythign that hits the roof is LOUD. So when a terrential downpour started in the night Vick and I were warmed up to what we were going to be enduring for the next nights of our trip! Nonetheless, my earplugs were handy and we slept peacefully until the morn where we trekked across the valley to a big old waterfall. Certainly got us puffing!
The next drive was westerly across arthurs pass, over to the West Coast of NZ. The lake we camped that night is called Lake Manipua (or something like that!). If I can try to make you visualise it..well, it's a big lake to start with, surrounded by forested hills, sandy shores, a field with Hugo in overlooking these shores, and again, no one else around. We cooked our pasta by the lake (until the rain drove us inside) and we happily slept another night out like a lamp to sleep off our jet lag!
The following morning we headed onto Franz Josef Glacier, a couple of hours drive (if that) south from where we were. On the way though yet again stunning landscapes and countryside (there are many many many sheep) we were joined by another camper behind us. Vick gave them a friendly wave - it's easy to amuse ourselves on long drives - and they then proceeded to wave us over to the side of the road! We joined forces with three guys from Liverpool (Vick understood them, I didn't quite as well) and stayed at another lake that night with a few beers and a campfire. Oh and one of them sang and had a guitar, so you couldn't get much more picture perfect to be fair! Again, later on the rain forced us all to shelter in Hugo and we had another night of getting used to the rattling on the roof all night!
The following day was the beginning of the rain (or Noahs Flood whichever you want to call it). Nonetheless Vick and I thought that once you are wet you are wet, so we might as well tramp up the glacier seeming as we were in the town, after all, you do dry off and rain does stop, right? In the middle of the glacial valley, amoungst the thunder, lightning, gail force winds, rock and ice fall warning signs, waterfalls on your head, and the constant waterfall coming from the sky, Vick and I realised that actually, once you are wet, you still get wetter. Our pants where even soaked! But hey, Cardiff has taught us that rain doesn't get any better if you are moapy about it, so we talked about and visualised that hot choccy waiting for us back in the town! And it was a very welcome hot choccy at that! That and the giant chicken bacon and cheese melt with extra fries went down a treat. And parents, before you ask, we are getting our vitamins and minerals, we have an apple a day after all!
We decided to camp it out down at the lake one more time before heading onto fox glacier the next day, as we just wanted to pop in and see that before driving south to queenstown! That was the night of the storm...vick and I were woken by thunder, lightning, and you guessed it the hammering of rain on the roof in the night. I have a cracking video that just ends with vick saying "I WANT MY MUMMYYYYYYY". We woke in the morning to falling trees, waterfalls coming onto the roads, and a large sign at the base of the villiage saying Haast Pass (our route to Queenstown) closed. hmph.
We decided we might as well make it to fox glacier as it couldn't be closed for that long....wrong again. Fox glacier we couldn't actually see because there was so much rain, and the road was still closed by the time we got to the villiage. So we treated ourselves by staying in a holiday campsite with electricity, hot showers (we had been washing our hair in cold water hsoe pipe taps) and we could do our laundrey and dry it too - BLISSFUL.
After a well earned beauty sleep in our warm and happy Hugo the pass was still closed....so we decided we might as well make our way down to the villiage, stay in a campsite a few km down from it, so that when it opened we could slip on through! There was one other camper (Owen) at this campsite in the ultimate middle of nowhere, and he even invited us in for tea and shortbread biccys in the morning to watch the yacht race that NZ are getting very excited about. what a lovely guy! He was trying to get through to get to his sons 46th birthday in queenstown, he didn't quite get there and neither did we!
My post that was meant to be sent a few days ago was at the holiday site (we treated ourselves to another night) in Haast. The next morning, however, was the bearer of bad news. The Pass was still closed due to another landfall, and they doubt a road would even exist underneath it now, and it's not opening till Monday (I think even now it's not opening till Wednesday!).
So, we puckered up and decided we couldn't play a waiting game any longer. So I drove 11 hours, with a very hairy last 20 miles with the fuel light on, over 1000km round the way we had come then down to the adrenlalin capital of NZ. And oh boy, it is INCREDIBLE.