Zen On Dirt


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New Zealand is actually a big island. I only know this because it took us two days of bussing to get from the north of the South Island to somewhere in the middle of it.

We woke up early from our river-side campsite outside of the township of Franz Joseph to a dry tent. The only time we’ve woken up to a dry tent in New Zealand was when we’ve gotten a room in a hostel and laid the tent out to dry, inside, overnight.

Dew-free mornings are rare around here. We packed up quickly and made our way into town where we bought quite possibly the biggest ‘bacon and egg bun’ I’ve ever seen. Think two giant slices of roll, a massive amount of eggs, Canadian bacon, and hash browns. Giant. The key to less expensive breakfast here is to buy items from the pre-made food case. This was our best find so far, and in a tourist town!

Getting on the bus was a bit of an ordeal with an excessively grumpy bus driver. I think the exact words when he saw us were: Four bikes? Bloody hell.

This was followed by a solid rant about not allowing that many bikes on the buses this time of year, and then he threatened to leave us behind if we couldn’t fit all four bikes into the tiny cleaning compartment of the bus. We negotiated three bikes plus our bags in there as long as we could put the fourth bike into the regular luggage bay.

He was definitely a Grump-a-Snuff-a-Luffogous.


Luckily, we only had him as our driver for the first half. The second half, he was replaced by a Jack Nicholson from The Shining (think REDRUM REDRUM) look-a-like, who was endlessly entertaining and informed us about a lot of what we were looking at.

It ended up being a fairly long drive, mostly because, as a tourist bus, it liked to stop places. We stopped at Fox Glacier (which involved a U-turn because Mr Grumpy forgot someone), a Salmon hatchery that had a cafe (Grumpy got a free lunch), the town of Haast, Thunder Creek where we got our new driver, a cafe where the new driver got free lunch, a roadside stop for photos of a lake, Wanaka, a fruit stand (where the driver got free fruit), and then finally Queenstown.


It was almost epic.

Once in Queenstown, we assembled the bikes and made our way up to the nearest hostel that had space for tents. The road was so steep, all except for Kurt had to hike it, and Kurt only rode it for the experience of riding something that ridiculously steep.


Scott and I quickly got the tent set up and headed down to Pier 19, the place of employment of my younger brother. Between getting drinks and ordering fish and chips, I did a quality Big Sister job of embarrassing him. I’m pretty stinking proud of him for picking up his life and moving down here. I’m looking forward to more time with him while we’re here.

Queenstown looks amazing. I can’t wait to explore.


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