This was one of the stranger days of my trip, just due to things completely out of my control. First off, the pickup time on Stray Mate (the online app that Stray HEAVILY encourage you to use now) said pick up was at 12. However, when I left at 11:30 (so I had time to say goodbye to Krislin at her work), the bus was already there, and planning to leave in 20 minutes.
I used the time to say goodbye to Krislin, and grab a pie before I hopped on. However, I had to get off ten minutes later when I learned you had to buy a ticket to Stewart Island here – I thought it was just the Milford Tour.
(I will say this about Stray, I find it bad form that they don’t include the ticket for Milford or the Ferry in the Deep South package. These are supposedly highlights of the Deep South trip and it’s not a cheap ferry considering how expensive the Deep South trip is anyway. In hindsight I kind of wish I’d scrapped the Deep South part of the trip – but more on that later).
The bus is going to Milford Sound, and since I’ve already been all over, I decided just to hang around the nearby café and catch up on my blog writing. When they come back, we head to Gunns Camp…but there’s an issue.
Jugs, the Stray Bus, is being VERY slow. As in 35km on flat and 10km on a hill. And Milford is mostly hill. We end up holding dozens of cars up and having to go to the side to let them pass. It’s just a little faster than walking speed.
In a desperate attempt to give the bus a fighting chance, Lego stops by an area called ‘The Chasm’ – an impressive natural cave created by the rushing waters. Photos don’t do it justice – it’s a deep fall with elegant twists and holes with very blue and powerful rapids running through it.
Unfortunately, the stop didn’t really help poor Jugs. He’s just as slow as before. Poor Lego has never been so embarrassed to drive a bus – it’s a ridiculously long line behind us. But the worst is yet to come. We still have to get through Homer Tunnel…which has a time limit on getting through it…
Yeah, we don’t make it. There’s cars coming straight at us in the final quarter. Thankfully, this tunnel used to be two way, so a bus and a car can get through. Still very relieved to get out and into the flatter portions of the trip.
Gunns Camp is a camp site that’s been around since the 1930’s, and its appeal comes from the fact that it’s more or less exactly the same as it was back then. Originally accommodation for the men who were digging out the Homer Tunnel, it was reopened as a camp for anyone doing the several day walks. There’s no constant power, instead the place has a generator that runs from 6-10pm, and fireplaces in the huts for heating. Thankfully, there is running water in the bathrooms, but all of the hot water comes from fire charged boiler too.
Sadly, it’s also teeming with sandflies. We get off the bus and basically run into a swarm – they apparently know the orange bus means fresh meat. Even covered in bug spray, there’s no escaping their presence.
The rooms are nice enough, although our room has an issue. There’s one person extra on the bus from some reason, and there lacking an additional bed. Some miscommunication happens, and we realise that two girls were expected to share a queen bed, which was ridiculous considering they had paid the same as everyone else. We did eventually go as a room to Lego and the boss about it, and they found another bed in a different hut for one of the girls.
Tonight, Lego arranged a barbeque for dinner at $10 a piece since the facilities were limited. Our biggest issue was that another bus was here – who were meant to be camping but had taken over 3 tables in the kitchen, meaning we had to get creative with space. Still somehow managed to cram everything onto two small tables, though I still don’t know how.
Gunns Camp has a few walks you can do, but due to the rain earlier in the week and the frankly atrocious state of all of my footwear at this point, I only braved the first ten minutes of one walk before the mud forced me to turn back. They also have glow worms along one of the road walls, but they’re quite hard to spot – especially when its freezing outside and the fire makes the room so warm you don’t want to leave!