NZ Day 12 & 13: Ferry to South Island

Day 12 Ferry & driving

We woke up early to go to the ferry. While in line becca started to get a migraine and then couldn’t see out of her left eye. We felt like this was a good omen to start the day. Normally we might be alarmed by this especially since this is the longest driving day we had. But becca has been experiencing these monthly and she knew she’d be able to see by the time we got off the ship.

The ferry was huge. It felt like a cruise ship. Maybe like a lower tier cruise ship like Carnival. (Jk, I don’t actually know the tiers of cruise ships but I’m sure JP could speak to the cruise ship brand tier levels). It even had a cinema on board. I was hoping they would show things for free. They did not. You still have to buy tickets. Movies were Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw and Abominable. Becca and I opted for the free chairs on deck instead and played ticket to ride and downloaded the next mandalorian episode. The trip was about 4 hours long going from the north island to the South Island. It was a little sad to leave the north island but we emotionally survived. Halfway though the trip the captain came on the intercom and advised us to not go outside on deck. The winds were very strong. 175 km/hr. I thought this might be a good opportunity to take up wheelchair windsurfing. Becca did not. We stayed inside. As we were about to dock in the harbor in Picton on the South Island (and while I was going to the bathroom) the captain came on the intercom and announced that the weather has gotten so bad in the harbor that Harbor Master has closed the port and that the ferry was going back out to sea until the weather got better. Luckily I have seen the first half of the Titanic movie so I felt adequately prepared. We circled the harbor for about an extra 2 hours.

Once we got off the ferry we had a long drive ahead. Basically 10 hours to our next destination. We listened to an audiobook. Starsight. The sequel to Skyward. It’s a YA fantasy novel about aliens and space. It’s sort of like Ender’s Game. It helps becca stay awake while driving. It helps me fall asleep. We both win. Becca is very good at summarizing what I miss while I’m asleep… and awake.

Because of the delay with the ferry and a bunch of construction on the motorway, we got set back several hours from our intended destination. We basically arrived at Christchurch which is half way to where we were trying to make it, around 9pm. It was still pretty light out. The days are long here and keep getting longer the further south we go.

Before we made it to Christchurch we stopped at a gas station so I could go to the bathroom. About an hour before this, becca and I kept smelling something weird. It smelled like rancid onions. We couldn’t tell if it was the farms or something else. Turns out it was something else. When I came out of the bathroom I saw a trash bag with a bunch of orange mush on it. I thought maybe becca was making a hummus sandwich and it was hummus. She is usually very passionate when she makes food so this wasn’t too alarming. But when I got closer becca said “I found the source of the smell”. A bag of pumpkin soup that we took from the gratis item area of the camper van rental agency had exploded. Before we got our van we went to this area where people could drop off supplies they were no longer using and pick up things before their journeys. Neat idea. Which turned on us. We’re not sure if there was something with elevation or temperature change but when becca found the soup bag it was squirting a fountain stream all over the van. She quickly escorted it to the dumpster. I could see the exact trail she took from the spray pattern on the ground. Becca was cleaning up the van when I came back from the gas station. I only had to help clean a few specks off her camera bag. I had missed most of the excitement. It also left a pungent smell in the van the rest of our drive. We’re hoping to remedy this soon. We’ll probably never eat pumpkin soup again.

It was about 9pm when we passed Christchurch and realized we were hungry.  The only options were KFC or Pizza Hut. Thanks America. But then we drove by a Thai place that was about to close. We decided to eat there instead. Much better meal option, less better driving meal option. Turns out curry is hard to eat while driving but we managed not to spill. Another Christmas miracle.

Basically becca drove until she couldn’t anymore. We found a free camper van lot and stayed there the night. It was less crowded than the other places we stayed on the north island. But you could see the stars much better.

Day 13 Twizel

The campground we slept at had an accessible portapotty. The only one for the entire camp. I didn’t want it to be accessible so we left and went into the nearest town to find a gas station. It was SUPER windy. I kept expecting a tornado to pop up and take us away. The best part is that we have no access to news really and so if there was a NZ tornado warning we’d probably just drive straight into it none the wiser while everyone else drive away from it. It was fun to see the trees swaying back and forth like they were dancing.

Wind soon turned into rain. We tried to go to mt. Cook but we couldn’t see anything with the clouds. We could see the gorgeous blue glacial lakes though. Lake tekapo and lake pukaki. And the helicopter take off pads for heliskiing. The lakes reminded me of the ones up in Banff. But much bigger.

We were supposed to drive all the way to wanaka where we reserved a campsite. The lady at the gas station said they’ve been having crazy weather with lots of flooding. This was said while the tornado was raging at her gas station. We weren’t sure whether it’s he worth the extra 4 hours of driving to get to a flooded campsite so we decided to stay in twizel instead. It was raining so hard we just hunkered down in the van and watched movies while trying to stay dry and warm. Around 8pm the rain lightened up and we decided to try to pull my wheels off my wheelchair. Oh! Fun fact, my wheels have been stuck on my chair for the past three days. We hadn’t noticed since we don’t need to take it apart while in the van. But we do need them to come off for when we Uber in Christchurch this weekend. Becca even with her strong muscles wasn’t able to make the wheels budge. We even tried putting grease on the axel buttons and nothing. We were worried they’d been rusted shut from the saltwater bath it had on our kayaking trip. So we decided… here, in Twizel, is where these wheels needed to come off. We went to the porch of the communal camper van kitchen and started to pull with all our might. Becca would hold the chair and I sat on an aluminum porch chair trying to pull a wheel off. I wasn’t having much luck. I kept falling over. Because I only have one ab. Poor Abe. A group of Australian school teachers and kids were coming in and out of the kitchen. Eventually the male teacher with a scruffy beard offered to help. He suggested he and he’s a put their feet together for leverage while he pull the wheel. He also said it was a great get to know you game. I trust him. Then low and behold the wheel popped off! Christmas miracle! We cleaned it and greased it up again and then was able to pull the other one off as well.

Becca could tell this group was not from NZ because of the difference in their accents. She’s becoming an accent connoisseur.

It might just be the rain but it’s definitely colder on the South Island. We are sleeping in our winter pajamas. We’re hoping tomorrow will be less rainy so we can go to mt. Cook and film LOTR re-enactments. You should also be hoping for less rain.

Cheers! Until next WiFi.

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