Sleep in a little, take it easy. Meeting with Sam, the guy with the van, today around 5 PM. Erik, Kris, and I explore Queenstown a little, do some reading, etc. They are planning the rest of their trip, as tickets have to be bought early. Queenstown is quite lively, but to really experience the craziness, one tends to spend money. Want to jump off a cliff? Fine, if you have $150. Oh! Those rapids in the river look COOL! OK, you can river sledge it for $200. Look at all those people parachuting around! Another $200 will net you a tandem jump. Restaurants tend to be a bit more expensive than other parts of New Zealand, as well. The town is pretty, but not quite as amazing as some other towns purely on a view basis (though it is close to the top). Camping is also more expensive at $18 per night.
That doesn't matter, though, as I am purely business today. After resting and catching up, I meet the guy with the van. He really wants $5000, and the high-mileage van is pretty beat up along with its 280,000km odometer. It is 4-wheel drive and has a totally converted camper in the back, though. No major mechanical issues other than the exhaust may have to be worked on.
After a quick test drive and some thinking, I offer him NZ$4500. It's higher mileage than I want, but it would definitely do what I want and seems to be ready to go, and there don't seem to be any other real options in this area. I am time-limited and wanting to travel to several areas in the southland.
He says he has to talk to his girlfriend, and will get back to me. I head off, not sure I made a good decision. As I walk down the street, I see a new edition of the local classifieds, dated starting today. There are three reasonable vans listed.
I hop on Skype. The first sounds a bit sketchy when he says "It's a diesel, and diesels are supposed to have some black smoke from time to time." Ssssuuuurrrrre. The second I actually check out, a later-model Mitsubishi. High-mileage, ABS light is on, and it makes a funny sound in the front differential. Perhaps not.
The last sounds much better. 1994 Toyota Townace (Which are basically bulletproof) with "only" 170,000km. This is 100,000km less than the ones I have been checking out.
I bike out to check it out. The guy, from Brazil, forgot to mention that he lives up a hill where, I am sure, several short-wheelbase vehicles per year flip over backwards trying to climb it. Even after my weeks of biking, I am really puffing by the time I make it to his place.
The van, though, is excellent. I test drive it, try out the systems, and just admire it. It is 4-wheel drive, too, an added bonus. It is not made as a camper, but would be easily converted. In the end, I offer him NZ$3300 as long as it passes an inspection. We'll get it checked out tomorrow.
He drops me back by the holiday park. I celebrate by doing two things: setting up my one adrenaline adventure for Queenstown - Hanggliding. Will do that tomorrow.
I also head out for a Fergburger.
As mentioned before, the reason I am so tuned-up for a Fergburger is related to Jon and Sally (OK, basically Jon) - my friends I met in Kerikeri at Christmas. Jon talked for about 30 minutes about the Fergburger. We checked out their website (which is excellent - can't remember the address, just look up "fergburger queenstown" on google). He described the joy of the Fergburger at length. Now it's time to see for myself.
1/2lb of top-grade NZ beef, plus bacon, onions, and a shopping bag full of excellently greasy fries. You will be glad to see I got the DIET Coke, though. Got to watch my girlish figure.
And. . .
Yeah, it's really good. Like one of the best burgers I have ever had. I also realize that the placebo effect is in full force. I don't care. How do you account for error with special sauce like that?!
I think I see a Toyota Townace 4x4 van in the clouds. No, I don't perseverate on things at all - why?
I head to bed - tomorrow, will be meeting with the owner of the van early in the morning, and heading for hanggliding later on that day. Almost too much, but this is Queenstown.