Well, the night with the old lady went well - in fact she made me a coffee. The night was interesting - minus 6 outside, but like the inside of a toaster in Lydia's sleeping bag. I kept stripping off layers but still felt like a crouton this morning.
The naked Bus was full of people with lots of layers on. It's a no-frills bus company and boy it shows. John the driver likes Abba but mercifully God intervened and snarled up his tape after the third go through ("Mama mia, here we go again"). After lunch we had Peter Paul and Mary ("I'm leaving on a jet plane..." wish I had been), then to make matters even worse Frank Sinatra. The coach trip lasted 8 hours and felt like 18. First of all we went down boring coastal plain, but then from Geraldine (reminded me of an early would-be girlfriend when I was 9) climbed up into the hills, and finally into mackenzie country, the flat mountain plain named after a sheep stealer who escaped there from the authorities - whi is it that our antipodean cousins have a heritage of either convicted criminals (Australia) or ones that didn't get caught (NZ)?
We climbed up over the snow line and proceeded along flat snowfields with an occasional glimpse of a snowy peak through the mist, but no views of Mt Cook, only one rejoicing in the name of Mt Misery. Enough said... The journey continued up and down, through valleys and gorges and over snowy passes, which were a bit hairy at times and we saw a few vehicles that had come a cropper earlier that day.
Eventually we arrived at Queenstown which is the snow capital of NZ and the scene for the Lord of the Rings footage. The scenery really looks spectacular, even though I';ve only seen it through steamy coach windows - in the summer it would be great to drive here. I've already come through the Misty Mountains in LOTR and it lived up to its name.
Tomorrow I'm off to the tourist spot, Milford Sound, including another long bus ride and a cruise on the fjord. It's forecast rain, but it's still supposed to be brilliant. I have to get up at 6am to catch the bus and won't ber back till 7pm - it's not a long way by helicopter but bloomin miles by road.
Don't know what I'll do after that. Because the coach was so long I'm tempted to fly out back to Christchurch butt he airport shuts if it gets cloudy or too snowy...
Will keep you posted.