Kaikoura was a town I was excited to work in. It was small and beautiful - but I didn't get any work there so I didn't have much choice but to move on. I did get a call from New World to offer me work but it was too late, I was already four hours down the coast. If someone is looking for four weeks of work then taking one week to offer a job feels like too long...
I planned one to two days for hitchhiking all the way down to Queenstown. Well, I actually hadn't even decided I was going to Queenstown, I was quite keen to end up in Wanaka. My journey got off to a poor start when I couldn't get a lift out of Kaikoura. I spent most of the morning trying to hitch a ride but eventually caved and bought a ticket on the one bus heading south that day. Six hours later I hopped off the bus in Timaru ready for round two of hitchhiking, but this time I was more successful. I was looking to travel 100km to the beautiful lakeside town of Tekapo and with the help of three rides from three people I arrived early evening.
Tekapo lies at the southernmost point of Lake Tekapo and is almost exclusively a tourist destination. The long, deep lake was formed by glaciers and has a creamy blue colour because of the rock particles suspended in the water. There has been a storm crossing over the bottom of the south island in recent days and I think strong winds were a result of that - it was a real test for my tent to see how it deals with wind and rain, and fortunately it passed. It wasn't without some dicey moments though, as on a few occasions the wind was able to push the top of the tent sideways enough that it touched the ground, leaving me inside squashed! I redistributed the tent pegs to maximise guy rope usage and that felt more secure. However, the wind did still manage to bend a tent peg 90 degrees! I ran in the morning and I think it might have been the most picturesque run I have ever run. See pictures for proof.
Just 250km remained on my journey to Queenstown/Wanaka but there was a slight issue in my hitchhiking plan. It was cold and bucketing down with rain, despite the area being renowned for having a low annual rainfall. I opted again for the bus - and I'm glad I did because the rain only got heavier during the test of the day. The bus also solved another problem for me as the bus to Wanaka was fully booked, so I guess I was going to Queenstown! Being a miserable day meant the usual stunning view along this journey was mostly out of view.
I have now been in Queenstown for a few days. I have applied for over 24 jobs, I've climbed a small mountain three times and I have celebrated my birthday. I was helpfully pointed towards a local newsletter which contained literally 231 job vacancies. I selected all of the applicable jobs and applied to all of them!
Just 300 metres from my campsite is the start of the Tiki trail. A 2km trail that climbs over 400 metres. Yesterday I ran up (misleading, there wasn't a huge amount of running - more "power hiking") to the top. It's a pretty brutal climb and it took me over 30 minutes (for 2 kilometres!) to reach the top. But the run back down is a real rush. I'll admit, it's definitely not the safest trail to run down, there's a lot of nasty looking drops - but as long as I don't go super fast it's perfectly fine. The downward section took 18 minutes. It was so much fun that I turned around and did it all over again. This time up in 24 minutes and down in 14 minutes. If that wasn't enough, I did it again this morning - up in 26 minutes and down in 13. I am definitely addicted to this climb. The view at the top is phenomenal. Actually, it's not even the top. The climb continues for another 900 vertical metres!!
It was my birthday yesterday, I am even more ancient now. I don't ever do much for my birthday, just try to keep it chill. So after my double lap hill run in the morning I chilled in my tent picking out jobs. In the early evening I went into town with Risa and Sofia (who I had met a month earlier in Blenheim) for a "world famous" burger. Fergburger, based only in Queenstown NZ (and who I've applied for a job with) serve up some big boy burgers, including a delicious cod burger which was big enough that the seagulls don't even think it's food. I'm not sure about world famous just yet, but it would take Mcdonald's out of business if it went worldwide. We then chilled in the town gardens with a concert giving us some chill reggae music in the background. Quite an acceptable birthday, I enjoyed it a lot.