Unfortunately Nelson was dead on a Sunday night. I stayed at Tasman Bay Backpackers which I’d highly recommend. When I called I was told if I got there within an hour I could joing the free Sunday night BBQ. Sweet Bro! (as everyone says in NZ). I stayed at their sister backpackers the Sequoia Lodge in Picton and both of them have a cracking balance of friendlieness and a chilled out atmosphere. I had a totally chilled evening and ended up chatting with an English girl who used to work for the Alamy photo library which was quite interesting. I also had the best sleep for ages…..although that may have been largely due to the fact I had my first shower for a few days (hey who needs to be fresh sitting in the car!), only shared the room with one other person, and was in a real bed.
I’ve covered around 5500km since landing in NZ 6 weeks ago, and over a quarter of that has been in the past week. I dread to think of the cash I’ve spent on petrol as I’ve been hooning it around the country. I guess I’ve got pretty much the same to cover scooting around the North Island, depending what route I take. I don’t know why everyone thinks Kiwi drivers are bad, as that’s what I was warned about. They are no worse than any Europeans, in fact a lot better I’d say. And if you’ve ever been to Asia…..
(Picture : Car passenger footwell, passenger seat and rear seat) The car is starting to look as though it’s been a bit……’lived in’. Its got a covering of dust from the several gravel roads I’ve been along (quite good fun when no one else is around!), the odometer is ticking up nicely to almost 230000km, and the passenger footwell is starting to look like a batchelor pad’s undercleaned kitchen – full of empty bottles, coffee cups, random leaflets and wrappings. The back seat has everything thrown on it from rucksack to shopping bags. Occassionally I put a sprawled out tent over the boot and the back seats to dry out if it was wet the night before: the drying out process is helped a lot with the rear windows open at 100km/h with the sun shining through. Sometimes there’s even the odd pot and pan kicking around as well. The passenger seat looks relatively tidy in the photo but it gets the brunt of everything from tops (usually my blue Rab Vapour Rise as it has hardly came off my back in weeks) cameras, lenses, maps, leaflets, headtorches, bags, food, phone and MP3 player. The compartment under the stereo has an assortment of bits of paper containing DOC campsite passes, booking reference numbers, receipts, pens, collected emails addresses and if I treat myself, a selection of pick and mix sweets, which has happened rather a lot on the longer road trips! Sometimes the MP3 player gets dumped there depending how it’s behaving itself (just after I slagged off iPods my MP3 player decided to have a dodgy headphone connector so it has to be placed perfectly to make it play in stereo). That’s the biggest indicator of the time spent in the car – often my MP3 player lasts for ages uncharged, but this week it’s needed a couple of charges. Although the car has been running well, unfortunately the bonnet release seems to have lost it’s connection so it doesn’t open anymore!
I’m writing this on the ferry crossing over to the North Island so am looking forward to catching up with my mate Jono in Wellington for a few days and leaving the car parked up most of the time.