The Quiet Traveller: Day 22 – Kaikoura (2)

Due the circular nature of my route around the Southern Island, I was now re-entering previously explored territory on my way back up to the ferry terminal in Picton. This wasn’t such a bad thing though- it meant traversing through Kaikoura once again; a fate I was more than happy to accept.

It was a horrifically early start leaving Rangitata. So early that it was still dark outside. So early that it was 6:15am. No-one should be awake at such a time. This early arising put me in a miserable mood, and combined with the lack of a shower, multiple insect bites, an overly warm room, and a general fed-upness with being around people, it put me in the foulest of foul moods.

So I thought to myself, ‘you know what you need Simon? You need a cup of tea. That’ll sort you out.’ And my internal monologue version of Simon was right. I did indeed need a cup of tea. So I queued up with a cup and waited for my turn at the hot water boiler. To clarify, the tea was free and provided by the lodge.

I was just dropping my bag in the tea, when I noticed the woman next me draining the last of the milk into her own tea. ‘There might be some more in the fridge’ she half-heartedly muttered.

Picture the scene. I’m standing there with my milkless tea, after being told by a fellower traveller that I should go find some more milk. This traveller in question was another Brit. So naturally, I go and check the fridge.

Luckily there was another carton of milk in the fridge, so I opened it up and poure- THERE WAS NO MILK LEFT AND THIS PERSON CLEARLY KNEW AND DIDN’T CARE THAT I WAS GOING TO BE LEFT MILKLESS.

What sort of animal uses the last of the milk when it’s clearly in short supply. And it’s 5:45am. And the person in question is fellow Breton, from a country where tea is known to have magical healing properties that go beyond the known dimensions of the space-time continuum

This is why we have lost our humanity.

To add to my misery, when we got on the coach an absolute gogglemoose in front of me was on their phone with full brightness on. This meant it reflected off the window next to me, blinding me and preventing me from seeing the stars unhindered by light pollution. Some days people are just too much. Luckily I knew that at Kaikoura I could get away and do introvert stuff by myself. That kept me going that hideously early morning.

Kaikoura looking lush. Look at that sea fog. Love a good sea fog. And a bit of bush.

I was pretty desperate for a recharge. My mind wandered whilst on the coach, and I thought about castles for a bit. Don’t ask me why, they just popped into my head. Partly because of the lack of them. When I think about it, we actually take our castles in Europe for granted. The UK is chock full of em.

But in Australia, NZ, and the USA, castles are in short supply. And old stuff in general. The minster in my town is from the 1200s or something. And it’s strange to think that places like NZ are whole countries but they don’t have anything that we would really consider a castle.

Here’s me looking awkward. What’s awkwarder? The couple sitting on the beach ruining my photo.

Occasionally whilst walking through Kaikoura, you will hear what can only be described as an impending nuclear apocalypse.

Upon hearing the siren the first time, my mind panicked, first assuming a nuclear attack (despite Kaikoura being of zero strategic importance), followed by a tsunami (much more likely), followed by a hasty google to find out the source of the screeching.

The googling revealed that the fire brigade broadcast a warning klaxon whenever its fire fighters are needed on duty. This means they can rush to the station, but it also means traffic (of which there is little) is aware that a large red rectangle may soon be appearing in their rear view mirror.

I think this klaxon could have a number of applications in England, and after much thought I have come up with a top five:

  1.  Klaxon for when it’s warm enough to go outside in shorts and t-shirt.
  2.  Klaxon for when schools finish, nightclubs kick out, and when old people emerge to collect their pensions. (Ok that’s 3in1).
  3. Klaxon for when McDonald’s Monopoly season begins.
  4. Klaxon for when a truly fresh and truly zesty meme has been created.
  5. Klaxon for when Vincent Janssen scores from open play.




The Quiet Traveller: Day 21 – Rangitata

At Mount Cook, there was nothing there, and it was therefore glorious. At the next stop, Rangitata Rafting Lodge, there was nothing there, but it wasn’t exactly glorious.

This single night stop was so those who had signed up for the white water rafting could throw themselves down a furious stream of H2O. For everyone else however, this meant a lot of waiting around. The location was pleasant enough and isolated away from the nearest town – we were instructed to buy provisions on the way in.

In a certain twist of irony, I found myself missing the hustle and bustle of the city. At least in the city there are restorative niches and escape routes from people; out in the sticks I was stuck with strangers I had only just met. Which is fine, but not when you’re starting to get tired of people.

What surprised me the most about the accommodation was the triple decker beds. That’s right, TRIPLE bunk beds. Unfortunately being one of the last ones in, I ended up in a corner on the top bunk, with my face engaging in pleasantries with the ceiling. However, I soon discovered that this was actually quite a nice experience, as I was so high up it was like my own private area away from the street level below me. It’s always nice when something unexpectedly lends itself to your introvert tendencies.

I spent most of the day reading Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything, which I highly recommend to anyone with an interest in anything. But then I always recommend all Bill Bryson’s books, so then who am I to say?

Whilst reading on the Lodge veranda, I noticed some new Brits who had recently joined the bus sitting on a bench further down the entrance path. How did I know they were Brits? Shirts off. Bucket hats. Stella. Fags. The traditional exports of Her Maj’s islands. In general the people on this bus were not quite as fun or interesting as the last. But hey, I wasn’t going to see them again so I decided to just get on with it.

I chatted with Cookie (the driver) for a bit, and discovered that he joined Stray as a driver simply because it was offered as an opportunity to him and he thought ‘why not?’. Apart from the fact that NZ is a lot sunnier than Donegal, I believed him. The opportunity arose and he took it. Being a driver seems like a stressful job at times, given that you have to shepherd an ever-changing flock of often smelly and sweaty tourists who never seem to be on time. But on the other hand, the view out the office window is unbeatable. And sometimes you get to join in the activities. And the beverages.

There wasn’t really a lot going on at Rangitata. But I had noticed that my note-taking was getting much better. It was becoming a habit, and I was learning to memorise useful observations in a much more effective manner than the first few weeks. And much like cocaine, the habit was rather addictive. First I did a line. And then another. And then before I knew it, I had a full notebook. Don’t do sentences kids.

(The featured image is from the journey to Mount Cook – that’s how boring Rangitata was – I didn’t take any pictures)