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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

ChCh to QT

NEW ZEALAND | Wednesday, 10 June 2015 | Views [437]

Christchurch to Queenstown that is! I've done the journey a million times yet I never get tired of it as the drive is considered one of the world's most beautiful. Yesterday I caught up with a good friend, Doug Jacques. Six years ago I met him in Queenstown as the owner of Joe's Garage. He'd invite me in regularly to recite poetry and he always shouted me a coffee. I was in a bit of a pickle because Jordan & Anna had a friend whose son has a medical condition that requires specialist treatment and they regularly visit from Ashburton and stay at their home. I called Doug and asked if he could put me up at his home but his place is small and he felt bad about having me sleep on the floor, so he booked me a room at the YMCA. I didn't really want him to do that but I greatly appreciate it. For dinner we went to Burgers & Beer, a restaurant owned by Craig's sister. Over a hearty burger and a few glasses of wine we chatted about what he's up to and how I'm excited to be back in NZ. In '09 I met Doug in Queenstown and he now lives in Christchurch, and I met Craig in Christchurch and he now lives in Queenstown. Christchurch is vastly different after the earthquake. Cathedral Square used to be active and lively with numerous buskers and throngs of people strolling around, but the cathedral is in ruins and the square is a lifeless void except for the many construction workers. Often I'm asked if I go to the Busking Festival but with what I see I'm not keen on spending loads of time in Christchurch. The cathedral in 2006 and now:

The rebuilding of Christchurch has been dreadfully slow and is expected to take at least another ten years, and the cathedral is likely to be demolished. Some creative attractions have popped up built out of salvaged rubble. 

This is where the Christchurch Convention Centre once stood.

Doug would live me a lift to a good stopping spot yesterday after I was up extra early collecting a few geocaches. Also I got photos of a Christchurch sunrise in various colours.

A blonde girl picked me up a few minutes after Doug dropped me and she gave me a lift about 20 minutes up the road, but then a guy picked me up and he had to drop me at the beginning of Ashburton. It took me a fair bit of time to walk to the other end of town where a uni student picked me up . He's driving back to his home somewhat north of Invercargill and said he'd pick up a hitchhiker today. The turnoff to Queenstown is at Rangitata, and as he was getting ready to drop me off we spotted another hitchhiker. I know New Zealand's roads and hitching spots so well that I knew he was going to Dunedin rather than Queenstown. When I suggested getting him, it turned out he was going to Dunedin. My fourth lift of the day was from a deaf man driving to Geraldine. At first he seemed a bit dodgy but first impressions can be deceiving. He could understand what I was saying as long as I spoke clearly and slowly. As he dropped me off across from his home his wife said I could stay the night at their home if I got stranded, and then suggested that truckies often stop at the dairy for provisions. There I asked a truckie named Fred if he could give me a left. He said only if it's OK with his passenger, a German hitchhiker named Antje. Why does the media paint such a negative image of hitchhiking! As we drove through Canterbury we had some good chats. Fred told us he met a Japanese lady who's been to Lake Tekapo seven times in 20 years. After all this is an extremely beautiful drive. As we dropped Antje at Lake Tekapo we picked up a couple of hitchhiking French girls. They were heading to Mount Cook Village. Lake Pukaki is milky blue due to glacial silt (I've said that before having been here many times) but Fred told us that occasionally tourists will attempt to fish on the lake, even though there are no fish due to lack of oxygen! As we dropped off the French girls they got picked up straight away by the first car. From there in the cold, rain, and darkness it was a drive south. Fred had to turn around at Lindis Pass last week due to snow and ice. Cars can make it over the pass in these conditions yet buses and trucks can't. Although I've been looking for a place in Queenstown since the end of April I've yet to find a place to live. It's always very difficult at this time of year but Craig said it's especially hard this year. I felt awkward about asking Craig if he could host me since they had a baby recently but he said I could stay at their home after he spoke with Margaret. Fred lives in a custom-built home on a farm in Manapouri but he offered to put me up at his "stopover" home in Alexandra. Since he has to drive all the way to Christchurch he rents a home in "Alex" that he stays at two nights a week. I told Craig I'd see him tomorrow night after I took up Fred's offer. One of Fred's former jobs is dismembering dead bodies at a funeral home: probably not the best thing to tell hitchhikers. Fred turned out to be a great guy. He gave me a lift all the way from Geraldine, put me up at his home, shouted me some fish & chips, and invited me to come to his home in Manapouri next month. 

It all worked out in my favour staying at Fred's house last night because he had to go to Queenstown early to drop off a load, so I was up well before dawn whilst he was at the truckyard. As it pissed down rain I sat in a warm cab and before long I was back in Queenstown! As the rain hammered down on this cold morning the first place I went to (and I nearly ran there) was Patagonia Chocolates! After the rain subsided I climbed that huge hill to reach Craig & Margaret's home, and there she was with her baby girl! Last year Margaret always talked about how she wanted to have a family, and her dream has come true. Margaret had a smile and a deep sense of vibrance, and over a few cuppas it was nothing but smiles and great chatter. 

Queenstown, I'm back! And I'm back in grand fashion for perhaps the best ski season ever! 

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