New Zealand- Round The World Tour 3 2004 Day 361 (171)
Friday 4th March (2005)
We had to be out by ten o’clock this morning, pretty much the norm with hostels, for we forced ourselves out of bed to pack up and load up the car. The weather was great with bright sunny skies and we set off towards out next destination of Hanmer Springs. We had to backtrack slightly to the South and then headed inland towards the looming mountain range that has been with us since Christchurch. It would appear that we were going to have to pass through the mountains to get to Hanmer. In order to save our sanity, I tried to prevent this from being a hell-ride for Sandy by driving much slower through all the hairpin bends than I otherwise would. This would slow our progress a little but it would also allow us to enjoy the superb mountain views all around us that much more.
It took us about an hour to make our way through the mountain pass and we stopped for a spot of lunch along the side of the road just as we reached the other side. At this little picnic area that we found, there was a truck with a couple of men that looked like they were getting into some strange overalls. It turned out that they were beekeepers that were just gearing up to go and collect honey from some nearby beehives. They were quite chatty and cheerful and we engaged for a few minutes in small talk before they set off to go and collect their honey. At that point, another car stopped and a couple of travelling English girls stopped for a break. In talking to them, it transpired that we are actually doing very well with our rental car costs. We are paying about NZ$28 (€16,24) per day whilst they were apparently paying over NZ$40 (€23,20) per day.
We bid farewell to the girls and were on our way towards Hanmer. I had absentmindedly forgotten to fill the car up with petrol before we left Kaikoura and although we had a half a tank full when we left, we were now below a quarter of a tank and I hadn’t yet seen a single petrol station since we departed. Unsure of just how much farther we had to go, I was getting a little concerned, although I didn’t let on to Sandy. As luck would have it, we arrived in Hanmer Springs just a half hour later and there are at least a couple of filling stations here in town.
We located and checked into our YHA affiliated hostel for the YHA discounted rate of NZ$64 (€37,12) per night. Still a bit pricier than I would have liked but it is a nice room with a comfortable bed and an ensuite bathroom. We will stay here at least two nights and possibly a third also. With no budget busting activities on our immediate agenda, this will help with our daily outgoings average. There are plenty of adrenaline activities to be had here but we will content ourselves with the springs, the main draw for this place. We chatted for a bit with the hostel owners, which is usually one of the first things we do whenever we arrive in a new place anyway, and got the low-down on the area. At his suggestion, we walked up to the nearby hot springs complex to take a quick gander for ourselves just what we had in store for the next couple of days. I was hoping to find a completely natural setting but it turns out that the springs here are fed into what looks like a relatively modern outdoor swimming pool complex – although a rather nice one. There are several large spa-like pools with various other smaller pools of varying shapes and sizes dotted around the complex. There’s also a regular shaped swimming pool also. The spring waters used in the pools range in temperatures right up to and beyond forty-degrees Celsius. There are also some sulphur pools in the complex. Some of pools are landscaped to look very natural. It isn’t the completely natural look that I was hoping for but it does all look very nice and inviting nevertheless. We (Sandy) decided that we would not buy our way into the hot springs complex just yet. We will save that for tomorrow.
Sandy went for a lie down for an hour or so and I spent some time on the Internet here. Internet costs here in New Zealand are very expensive compared to every other country we’ve visited so far. Pretty much everywhere we go, the standard rate is around NZ$2 (€1,16) for either ten or fifteen minutes. I asked the hostel owner if there was anywhere in town where I could hook up my laptop and he told me I could do this here. He didn’t say that I would have to pay for it so I’ve taken the liberty to spend some much-needed time hooked up. I fired off another travel update but a glitch in my blog software has created havoc with the updates for Australia and New Zealand so I’m in the process of uploading all of those updates again. I received an e-mail from an old work colleague of mine (Gerald) whilst I was online. He asked me whether I had experienced any sympathy pains or not. I told him that sometimes I would receive a thump or a scolding from Sandy if I was being unsympathetic to her condition but I’m not really sure if that counts.
After Sandy regained consciousness, I thought it might be a good idea to take advantage of some of the easy forest walks that are to be had in this area. We picked up a leaflet from the local tourist information office that outlined the various routes. I thought the NZ$1 (€0,58) charge for the leaflet was a bit of a cheek but I guess that just goes to show just what a cheapskate I am. The forest walk was a very easy one-hour trek but Sandy still found it a little tiring. I’m hoping we can start to do some easy walks with more and more frequency whilst we are here in New Zealand. This will help with Sandy’s exercise needs and it will allow us to enjoy some of the New Zealand scenery. As we were walking, I asked Sandy if she has been doing her pelvic floor exercises. She told me yes, each time we had sex. I told her that wasn’t nearly often enough then. At that point, I started to feel some more of those sympathy pains.
The hostel had given us a voucher for a discounted roast dinner at a nearby pub/hotel so we made our way over there after the forest walk. It was a nice meal but the death by chocolate desert was a little too rich. We’ve been relaxing here at the hostel for the remainder of the evening.