What a difference a few hours makes!!

Front end of the day and I’m in another DOC hut, drinking coffee.

Later, something very different.

Yeah, Queenstown is a zoo.

It might have seemed a great idea that I slipped a mattress on the living room floor last night, but that really needed to be revised at 4 05 am when the four Korean trampers emerged from their bedroom with their head torches on to cook themselves breakfast.

They left at 6 10 am, keen to make a 2 pm shuttle.

Everyone else packed up quickly and left, so I was the last to depart some two hours later.

This is the section that closed the track for much of the last three years after a massive rock slide blocked the Dart River and created a kilometre long lake. Lots of drowned trees on the flats, and some new track to negotiate. Plenty of ups and downs, with one stretch, looking original around a huge bluff with the track chiselled out of the rock with occasional huge drop-offs, I guess 50 m or more to the lake. Time to pay attention to the head height and my footing.

More new track that was easy until finally getting onto the old track that I could have mostly cruised on a mountain bike easily enough.

I caught up to two of the Koreans, and went past. Maybe they wouldn’t make the shuttle.

Maybe I wouldn’t make the shuttle. Better step on the gas now the track was super cruisy.

No worries. I was there with some time to spare.

I had only 20 minutes of swatting sandflies in the car park shelter, unlike the others who had been there for an hour or more. I elected to fork out $55 to get to Queenstown. I suspected my face wasn’t so pretty, and in any case on a Friday afternoon I didn’t want to stand around waiting for a ride somewhere along the way.

As predicted there were plenty of daytrippers in the car park, so hitching wouldn’t have been too much of an issue. I was, however, dirty, smelly, and with a bloody face.

And exhausted.

“Can you take a stray,” I asked the driver. “I’m not Austray-lian,” in reference to a cheery Australian couple also aboard.

“No worries.”

At 2 02 pm the driver announced he wasn’t waiting for the other two latecomers, but immediately shouts were heard in the distance, they eventually motored in.

Yeah, Queenstown was in the height of Chinese New Year. Totally packed.

I turned up at the campground to have the counter staff announce “No room”, even for my tiny tent.

Surely not. It’s a big place.

The owner was talking to the manager and came over. He must’ve taken pity on me, with my smashed up face, and personally walked me to the tent area where he created a “campsite” on my behalf.

Man, just as well. I’d be up in the pine trees otherwise.

And yeah, I went to the shower block and finally spotted myself in the mirror.


Much of the skin was scraped from my nose, and there were punctures in my forehead and cheek. I really looked like I’ve been in a big punch up.

On the other hand this is a mountain biking/adventure capital of New Zealand so perhaps it wasn’t so out of the ordinary.

Much of my suntan washed straight off, shortly after that I was wandering through the crowds late on a Friday afternoon, heading for the fresh fruit section of the local supermarket.

And booking my fare home.

A few hours can make a difference to amenity, and certain aspects of civilisation can be welcome.

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