Leaving the wonderful Abel Tasman behind we continued our traveling southward along the West Coast. “We” being Michael and me. And it seemed that we would stick together at least until Queenstown.
What we learned quickly about the West Coast is the high probability of rain and cloudy weather. One of the bus drivers talked about 277 days of rainy-cloudy weather every year. How much does London have, I wonder. I think we had quite a good 90% score on our multiple stops from Nelson to Wanaka.
We walked a day through rainforests and along the Pancake Rocks in Punakaike – but had sadly none of the real pancakes. We had our very first unplanned hitchhike from Punakaike to Hokitika when we got picked up by a guy from California who was driving further south and asked us if he can give us a free ride. And one simple rule unites all backpackers: We never say no to something free.
The talk during the free ride evolved to a far deeper conversation than just the weather as he told us he didn’t know if he still has a house when he’d be back in California as it stood in the evacuated fire area. He talked of photo albums and old instruments that he told his brother to get out of the house for him. Memories. Things with personal value. And that he tried to enjoy the time in New Zealand as much as possible because he couldn’t change a thing.
I got quiet as I had to think for myself what it would be for me and my very few belongings back home. Imagine your house burning down and you can just grab on load of stuff before you leave. What would it be?
In Hokitika equipped with snack box and fish we felt that we wouldn’t stay long here – even on sunny days. Strangely reassuring were the lines someone left on the frames of our upper bunk beds. “I’d rather shove *beep* in my *beep* than stay another night in Hokitika” was written with pen, tears and a lot exaggeration on the wood. I’m happy this is a rated G blog, my education couldn’t write the full sentence down.
We got the best out of it and turned further south the next day to Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier.
Update: I forgot about the free glow worm dell where we walked to. That was actually quite cool in Hokitika. 🙂
The walks around the glaciers in company were fun, the one or other hiking song upon our lips, and enjoying the hostels’ own hot tubes even better. I didn’t get the million shot at Lake Matheson. “Maybe that’s just a marketing joke after all,” my brother marveled via texts. But I got a nice one hour walk in sun and rain with music and a happy “Brotzeit” at the lake.
The next day we would cross the Alps at Thunder Creek – I love these names all around here! – and finally get on the good side of weather again. Until then we warmed up in yet another hot tube.
Side note: I wonder if other languages have an equivalent of “Brotzeit” or “Einkehr”. That’s why a lot of Germans – and especially myself – go out for a walk or a hike on a mountain because there will be Einkehr in a hut on top with a Brotzeit or Einkehr down in the valley / back home with a good cold/warm drink and a nice cold/warm easy meal.
Whose motivation could this not be?
Side note 2: A friend from Germany asked me lately “How do you get in contact to people? And how do you find all these interesting people?”
Well, number 1 is easily answered: when you’re traveling as a backpacker there’s nothing easier than getting in contact to people. Either on the bus, in the hostel or during activities – you are able and allowed to just start talking to strangers.
Concerning the 2nd question: it really seems that people I meet and stay around longer are especially kind and good hearted. But maybe that’s how most people are? Everyone has interesting stories to tell if you give them your honest attention. If they have walked the Camino, work or want to work for helping people, if they like to sing Disney songs or get so cheerful and happy over the chance to see seals – it’s these people I stuck with. I don’t look for them or search actively. We just find each other. And that makes me really grateful.
Isn’t this just a wonderful world?