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Diary 17

27 Oct.

Arrived at Liz's place at about 5 last night.

Beer, food then out to the local for a pub quiz.

Yet again I'm privileged to meet such nice folks.

Today I was up and out by 7:30 (Liz had to go to work).

There are a number of things I want to write about - but I can't be airspeed.
Kit failures, the wind on the road, a cafe where they gave me the key for the local hall coz the was the only public toilet, the roads (take it as read from now on that the roads here are wonderful - unless specifically mentioned otherwise).

I'm tired and need to sleep

Good night - what ever time zone you're in.

28 Oct.

Overcast this morning, and windy again.

Another gentle run heading for Queenstown and Sheena's.

The stuff I should have mentioned - I broke the side pod of my helmet so the visor isn't secure.
I've taped it down but I'll look for a bike shop & try to get a replacement.

My camera can usually sort out which way is up if I take a portrait, but it's started getting confused and rotating some landscape images. Maybe it's being bounced around for so long in the tank bag.

One of the applications on the Palm Pilot is crashing the Palm. It has to be the one that I have the lists of places where free wireless is available. It needs rebuilding but I don't have all the apps with me.

The cafe was just south of Windwhistle (which is very well named, I was all over the road).
After a second breakfast at this cafe I asked about toilets, was handed a key and pointed at a large building across the road.
It wasn't till I'd entered that I realised that it was the local hall.

Got to Sheen's around 5.
Nige turned up around 5:50 and Sheen about 6.

Spent hours chatting about life 25 years ago in Aberdeen.

29 Oct.

After some discussion last night we decided what I should do today.

Nige is a gliding instructor and has his by-annual inspection today.
The initial plan was that after that flight he'd take me up for an aerial view of the area, but after a couple of phone calls it turns out that a helicopter pilot that they know is taking a couple of tourists from Queenstown to Milford Sound today and has a spare seat - so it looks like I'll be flying into Milford today.
It's a tough life.

The helicopter flight was quite stunning.
So many of the views you get you wouldn't see any other way.
What a great way to travel.

We only spent 30 minutes on the ground at Milford as the other two people on the trip had a tight schedule and had to fly out of Queenstown that afternoon. We did stop on a glacier on the way back but were back in Queenstown by lunchtime, so that means I can go gliding in the afternoon.

When we got to five rivers gliding club everything was at a standstill. The winch engine wasn't running properly.
One stripped & cleaned carburettor later and we were back in business.

After Nige's successful examination he took me up.
Taking off on a winch is quite an experience.
You climb hard & fast and then drop the nose to release the cable.
I'm not the biggest fan of rollercoasters in the world and this is a similar experience.

There wasn't much lift so we were only up for about eight minutes - though if you'd asked me I'd have said it was about two minutes - the time distortion when your concentrating that hard is remarkable.

After Nige got his exam paperwork done we went up again.
Unfortunately the guy who had taken the club glider up in the meantime had assumed that that was the last flight of the day and had landed at the top of the field meaning that we had to walk the glider the length of the runway.
It is an odd feeling, taking your glider for a walk.
The plane was roped to the tow bar of a car and we trundled along at two miles an hour with me holding the wing.

The second take off was exciting.
The winch surged just as the wire went tight and the nylon section closest to the glider (the deliberate weakest link) snapped.
We didn't get off the ground and Nige called the winchman to warn him as he hit the brakes.

The third attempt was smooth, until the release which came without a warning from the winch man and caught me completely by surprise. Nige found some convergence that gave us lift and from the 1,000 ft off the winch we got to just over 3,000.
I have done things that I enjoyed more that being in a glider.
I felt incredibly vulnerable. The craft seems very flimsy and it's a long way down.
On a number of occasions I had to consciously relax and was quite relieved when we landed 30 minutes later.
I'm glad I did it but I'm not sure I'd rush out to do it again.

Give me a helicopter any day.

30 Oct.

After yesterday I knew that today would be less exciting.

Right - that was going to work.

Headed up the side of Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy and visited the possom shop.
Cracking road.

Back to Nige & Sheena's early afternoon.

Nige had muttered about driving me over one of the classic of road tracks here in the 4 wheel drive, but decided that the weather would be a little warm to be stuck inside. Fishing seemed like a better option.
Nige hitched the tractor to the boat trailer, we got the lifejackets, fishing rods and beer & hit the lake.
Nige guessed that the other side of the lake would be the best place to start so we burned some fuel & ran at a reasonable speed until the outboard died. After a bit of investigation Nige got it started again & we were almost at the other side when the sound of metal against metal came from the engine. Nige was quick off the mark and killed the power. Closer investigation revealed that although one piston was moving the second wasn't. Either the big or small end had gone.

At the wrong side of the lake with no power and no paddles.

Sod it - we had beer.

"So what do we do now"
"You have your phone ?"

The way we were drifting the phone time was limited as a headland was going to come between us and any hope of reception.
Nige hit a couple of answer machines before he tracked down the Queenstown harbour master who advised us to call a boat rental company (who would have charged us). On the off chance Nige called the manager of a sheep station just round the headland who he knows and luckily was in.

With the knowledge that someone was coming for us we cracked a beer and drifted out of cell phone coverage.

It was about then that we realised the boat was starting to fill with water.
It has active bilge something that removes the water - but only if the boat is moving.
It wasn't filling quick enough to be a worry and we had enough things to bail with if it became a problem.

I had to laugh.
If Sheen & Nige had planned an adventure weekend for me it wouldn't have been this much fun.

About 10 minutes later we hit the cliffs on the west side of the lake.
Nige threw a rope over the stump of a tree so we would stay reasonably still.
About 15 minutes after that a jet boat from Cecil Peak came round the corner.
We threw ropes at each other, got stuff tied & headed home behind a jet boat.
When the jet got up to speed we rapidly became unstable and were fishtailing alarmingly, Nige pointed out the life jackets and lowered the busted outboard to stabilise the rear. We started to run straight, but the engine caused the nose to drop slightly and the spray from the jet started to come over the windscreen.
We ducked down and waited to reach the opposite shore.

At no point was I in the least concerned - actually I was giggling way too much.

All in all a quiet weekend.

31 Oct.

After doing so little at the weekend it was time to get off my arse & go somewhere.
Packed up, put the dog in his kennel and headed East to Dunedin.

Stopped in Alexandra at a Honda shop & got a new chain fitted.
The old one has 20,000 miles on it, has a number of tight spots and was becoming impossible to set a good tension on it.

Had a quick look at Dunedin & decided that I still don't like cities as I still can never find anything.
Except that I did find a Honda shop.
I managed to talk the clothing guy into letting me have a helmet side pod off one of his Arai helmets and I would pay for a replacement that he could fit to the dismembered helmet in his shop when it arrived.
All was going swimmingly until I suggested that he checked he could order one before I attached it to my helmet.
Six weeks for the replacement to arrive - too long for him.
I put the pod back on the shop helmet.
I do wonder how many helmets he will sell in 6 weeks - I bet that one will still be there in a couple of months.
Back to the attractive red insulating tape up the side of my lid.

Headed out the Otago Peninsula to check the albatross colony.
Sheen had said to make sure and take the 'middle road' for the views.
I, of course, utterly failed to find it either on the way out or the way back.
And the observatory is closed coz the birds have only just started returning from the annual sojourn.
And it started raining.

Back through Dunedin and south to the first motel I spotted.

1 Nov.

This has obviously been a quiet day.
Given recent events that's not tough.

Headed south following the signs for 'scenic southern route'.
The plan was to go through the Catlins and check out the coast.

This worked OK till I ended up on gravel.
There's a funny junction south of Dunedin where the 'scenic symbol' sign says turn left but the 'scenic highway' goes straight on.
Seeing coastline is not a bad thing, especially knowing that the next thing down there is Antarctica, unless you miss then it's the end of the world - but directing me onto a gravel road is no fun.

Back on the tar seal and over a few headland.
I did stop at a waterfall that was marked on my map in green letters (scenic attraction).
I'm sorry - it was small.

Over another headland and the wind hit.

I'd stopped earlier to put on more clothing but the wind coming across the south of the island was scary.
In Invercargill I had serious doubts about staying here as I was almost blown over at every junction.
I did finally chose a motel and in the office we spent ten minutes talking about stuff (the weather, bikes, movies, geography) before we broached the subject of 'I might want to stay here'.

Given that I'm in Invercargill and that the 'worlds fastest Indian' is showing then I guess I have to go and see it here.
They have one of his bikes in the foyer - everyone looks at it on the way in - and looks at it differently on the way out.

If you haven't seen it then you should have.


2 Nov.

Cold and windy in Invercargill.
Headed up the coast road to Te Anau then cross country back to Sheena's place.

Quiet day.

3 Nov.

I slept late.

This would be a difficult day - but it had to be done.
I hate planning shipping. It's the only bad part of the trip and the only thing that gets me stressed.

I found a customs agent and organised to get the carnet sent to them.
I e-maild the shippers and asked for a booking.

Then spent another evening with Sheena revisiting ancient history.

4 Nov.

Didn't do much today either.

Read a book & chilled.

It's tough being on holiday.

Hope to find an internet connection tomorrow & post this lot.

Diary 19