24th December – Stewart Island

Word of warning, getting up at 4:30 will WRECK your body when you’re just shy of 30.  I don’t know how I managed to get up and out the door.  The three of us headed up to the rugby pitch, and picked spots to stake out.  Unfortunately, we never saw anything conclusive (I saw something that might have been one, but it might also have been a plant and my eyes playing tricks on me).

The other two decided to go down to the harbour to check out the sunrise, but I took one look at the clouds and knew it would be Angkor Watt all over again, so retired back to bed.  Turns out I missed some more penguins getting ready to leave, but don’t think I could have made it anyway.

This early morning destroys me so badly I sleep in way longer than I planned.  As in waking up at 9:30 and having to scramble to check out in the morning.  It’s also wrecked my schedule since the ferry leaves at 3 – no getting on any last-minute tours with me starting this late.

Instead, I decide to look at a few island walks.  There are two I could do – possibly both depending on my speed.  One heads to the lighthouse, the other is a walk around several bays.  I choose the bay walk (the Bragg-Horseshoe Bay walk) since it seems to cover the most distance and interesting views.

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Of course (and I still don’t know how), I end up going the wrong way and find myself walking along the route I was supposed to come back on, and doing the walk backwards.  I walk along the main road to Horseshoe Bay, and then walk along the cliff side in the forest until I reach the midway point, Dead Man Beach.  Why it has this name, I don’t know, because it’s a beautiful beach hidden away on this island.

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I eventually make it to Bragg Bay, and get my bearings in order to get to the village centre, but it’s taken a lot longer than I expected, so doing the lighthouse just wasn’t an option or I might miss the ferry.

I only have about 90 minutes before I have to head over to the ferry for check in, so I don’t want to risk the other walk, and instead hang around the hostel with everyone else who’d done the same.  It’s a much quieter ferry going back, and we pretty much have the entire back to ourselves.  Once again it’s a crazy choppy crossing, but for whatever reason, I survive it even without medication.

However, there’s another surprise for us when we get to Bluff – Lego has arrived with Jugs!  Apparently there was water in his electronics which was shorting out everything, and the mechanics insist he’s fixed now.  We’re not convinced – this is Jug’s sixth time getting repaired – but credit where credit is due, the bus is running at a decent speed now.

This is yet another express run, ploughing through the 4 hours it takes to get from Bluff to Queenstown.  If we can get there in good time, we might be able to hit the shops or do something in the evening since it’s Christmas Eve.  I learn after the fact that a good chunk of the bus was arranging a barbeque, but no one thought to mention it to me so was left solo.

I worked retail for seven years, so I definitely believe retail workers should be allowed to leave early on holidays, but at the same time, I was rather disappointed I wouldn’t get another shopping opportunity in Queenstown – by the time we got there the only shops still open were the souvenir shops and the odd candy store.  However, there was one business that was open that caught my eye – Fergburger.  The queue was only to the bakery, which is the shortest I’ve ever seen it.  Figure I can’t let the chance slip me by, and order one of the most famous burgers in New Zealand.  The queue takes maybe 10 minutes, and then there’s a 15-20-minute wait for the burger, and I head down to the lake to enjoy it.

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Personal opinion?  The burger patty itself is very good, but I think Devil Burger do a better burger overall.  Ferg was good, but a little overrated considering how hyped it is.

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About Batale

I am an aspiring writer - though since I haven't written anything original in about 2 years, so calling me a writer is like calling a man who makes dinner every night a 5 star chef. I started this blog to force me to write. From the 1st January 2013, I intend to update this blog every day. If nothing interesting happens, I'll write about something that does interest me, whether that is a movie, a book, something I've heard about, or even some of my stories growing up.
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