How do you top an end-of-year high note like climbing a glacier? You don’t. You stay inside and get a lot of reading and journaling done while it rains steadily for 48 straight hours. Yes, the rain that we’d had off and on for the last few days turned into a nonstop downpour that took out the hostel’s power for several minutes, not to mention the bridge on the main highway just north of us.
The last day of the year was also the last day of my travels with Liz. She was moving on at a faster pace, in order to make it to her Christchurch job on time in a few days. It was hard to say goodbye to such a fast friend and great road trip partner, so after her car crossed the horizon I ate my feelings in the form of some Tim Tams and planned out the next few days to cheer myself up.
I celebrated New Year’s with other guests at the hostel. We chatted in the warmth of the common area, and then foolishly decided to venture out in the rain to find a party. We went to a bar that promised retro tunes, but when we got there it was all LMFAO and overpriced drinks, so I went back into the inclement weather to see what was happening on the other side of town (a town consisting of five streets).
A wonderfully local event, that’s what. Taos (pronounced like “chaos”) was playing the local gym/auditorium/cavernous indoor gathering space. When I got there, it felt just like a school dance or church event–too much space for the number of people there, a few people enthusiastically dancing, older folks watching from the sidelines, a table in the back with a couple kegs of beer (ok that part was unlike either the school dances or church events I’ve attended). Most people were barefoot, and I soon abandoned my flip flops and danced along on the wet gym floor. Or I tried to dance, anyway; I find reggae inherently un-danceable. The band was so into their set that they only realized it was near midnight at the last minute. The lead singer held up his smartphone to lead us all in a countdown, and that seemed a fitting way to do things as we cheered in 2013.
On the second day of the new year, I went on a long bus ride down the coast and into the heart of the mountains, to Queenstown. I stayed with the friend of a friend, children’s singer Craig Smith. Craig is big on the Couchsurfing scene, and he invited CSers to his birthday party on my second night there, so I got to chat with travelers while admiring the breathtaking view from Craig’s porch.
I didn’t do any of the adventure activities that Queenstown is known for. Indeed, mine was probably one of the more sedate visits a Queenstown tourist has experienced. I walked around the gardens near the harbor and read in the shadow of a small stone church. I bought a new quick-dry towel to replace the one I’d accidentally left behind in Greymouth (the first of two things I’ve lost on this trip–so far). I booked the next portion of my trip. I enjoyed the sunshine while it lasted. I ordered a giant hot chocolate that missed some essential chocolatey-ness. After a couple days, I moved on to Te Anau, and from there to another magnificent stop, Milford Sound.