On waking this morning, a lot of thoughts were running through my mind. If you have been following my blog or know me at all, you realize that the phrase "long-term planner" does not, strictly speaking, belong anywhere close to my current profile. At this point, I plan 1-2 days ahead - that's part of the fun of this trip.
Queenstown from the holiday park. Really, this is just to put in some filler so all the text doesn't look so long. Oh, and it's pretty, even when overcast a bit.
Consequently, as I rolled into Queenstown, I still was not sure how I was going to roll out of town. There are a couple of options. I could bike the two to three day trip down to Bluff, completing the sort-of end to end biking (I DID bus it over the boring and long bit from Gisborne to Masterton, after all, so it wasn't the entire country). However, this means that I have fewer days to make it back up to Masterton before heading over to bicycle Tasmania.
The second option is to start looking for a vehicle dependent more on long-dead dinosaur remains rather than my personal body calories. After all, once I am done fully with bicycling, I will be back in Masterton for at least 6 months and will need a vehicle.
The biggest bonus of the latter plan (other than not fussing too much about the elevation maps of various routes) is that I can check out the east coast of the south island as I head back up to Masterton. That means checking out some of the fantastic lakes and coastlines, Christchurch, and Dunedin at my leisure.
I have 10 days before I would like to be back in Masterton, allowing me to do several things:
1. Pick up my passport, which is being held by the government until my work visa goes through. I have heard that passports are sort of important when traveling to another country, despite my passport sporting a picture that may actually worsen my chances to enter the country.
2. Deposit my last check from working in Alaska. It is waiting for me in Masterton, sent there by my kindly mother and kept safe by the clinic in Masterton. Though initially very proud of the plan of "low cost cycling through New Zealand", the combined effect of my unplanned bike shop trips (especially including the two weeks of renting a car and waiting for the bike frame to be fixed) have helped to bring my funding to what we would like to call "the Sally Mae and Freddy Mac stage."
3. Set up some housing. It would really be nice to have a place to call home when I return from Tasmania.
I have enough money (with the check above) to afford NZ$4000 for a vehicle and still make it back to Masterton with Ramen Noodle money. My search begins.
I am looking for a small van that is set up for camping. Most tourists planning on staying more than a few months here buy these little vans that usually have full beds in the back and storage under the bed for camp stoves, chairs, and food. Perfect for me, as I will be trying to get to cool places in New Zealand while working here as well, and this would allow me cheap (read: free) lodging. This means that vans are pretty easy to find in bigger cities. Queenstown is NOT big, but it is a place where lots of tourists go, so may be a good source of vans.
Local classifieds only have a single van, but it is outfitted for camping AND has 4-wheel drive. It also has 280,000km on it. Most of the vans available in New Zealand have at least 200,000km on them and usually were made between 1985 and 1993. None of them are available in the United States, so they have unfamiliar names like the "Toyota Townace", "Mitsubishi Delica", and my personal favorite, "Nissan Homy". You can bet that someone, somewhere has outfitted their Homy with 21" gold spinner rims and a bitchin' paint job.
I also check out Trademe.co.nz, which is New Zealand's equivalent to Ebay. They have a bunch for sale, but they are all in Christchurch, Wellington, or Auckland for the most part.
There are a few others I find in Queenstown. The only one that looks appetizing has 280,000km on it, and the guy wants NZ$5000.
I close out my search as the afternoon comes up as Kris and Erik are arriving today. Sure enough, they tandem their way in around 1PM. After they set up camp next to mine, we head down to town for a bit of food (for them, as I have eaten).
Kris and Erik, obviously still feeling a bit wacky due to the headwind they were fighting today. I promise I will NOT insinuate in any way that Erik's gang sign seems like it will fit better on Vulcan than Compton.
We visit the shrine that is the Fergburger. As Kris and Erik are vegetarian, they try the veggie burger, and pronounce them excellent. I hold off as I want to be starving before I test the real Fergburger (Veggie burger? I scoff.).
Just outside Ferg's house itself. Mecca for burger lovers.
The rest of the evening is spent catching up and calling the guy with the only van that looked interesting. Will meet with him tomorrow.
Plans after Queenstown will depend on whether I can procure the van. . .