When the sun finally shines

As our HelpX gig wraps up, we searched for new travel buddies to join for another road trip. It is almost New Years and we are not sure where to go for New Year’s Eve. Like I mentioned earlier, Mount Cook would be a cool destination for New Years to be celebrated in the middle of the mountains. We found another Belgium travelmate off the New Zealand Facebook group and planned to head back down south again towards Queenstown.

Hokkitika Gorge

The weather was nicer to us our second time going southward from the west coast. We stopped by the Hokkitika Gorge which we drove passed earlier due to bad weather. The bright blue waters is worth a stopover. Since our new travelmate was not too interested in seeing the glaciers, we were happy to breeze by those locations. We stopped over at Lake Matheson, the reflection lake, again. While the weather was not the best, we were at least able to see some reflection this time! The drive down to Lake Wanaka was stunning. We did not notice any of its beauty during our first drive in the rain. I am glad to be able to see it when the sun shines! We spent a night camping at Lake Wanaka since our travelmate’s car was overheating. It was 10 PM and still bright out! Lake Wanaka is really beautiful. I would love to stay here longer if we have more jacked up camping equipment, haha. Everyone at the campsite have legitimate tents and camping gear.


Lake Wanaka

We made sure to remember to stop by the Wanaka Tree this time! As expected, it is just a tree growing out of the water. It looks a lot less significant than the photos on Instagram. I have been wanting to do the famous Roy’s Peak or Isthmus Peak track in Wanaka. Unfortunately, we spent a lot of time trying to find a mechanic to look over my travelmate’s car,  so we did not have time for the long hike. Most of the auto shops were closing or closed for the New Years. Instead, we went on the shorter Mount Iron trail near Wanaka. The views were still nice despite the short stroll up to the peak.

View from Mount Iron

We made a last minute decision to celebrate New Year’s Eve at Queenstown. Queenstown is supposed to be the most exciting place in New Zealand to celebrate New Year’s Eve. I never thought I would make it there for the end of the year celebration since all the hostels were fully booked well in advanced. We planned to just wing it and maybe sleep in the park for the night. We prayed that no one breaks into our car during the night – apparently, car robberies are common especially during big events such as New Year’s Eve. When we got to town, we realized that some hostels still had some available rooms even though they were not listed as so online. We decided not to book the hostel since it was too expensive to only spend a few hours on the bed. We spent countdown by the lake in Queenstown. The fireworks only lasted a couple minutes so that was anticlimactic. Being used to large crowds as a native New Yorker, the “crowd” during New Year’s Eve was not so chaotic. I was so mentally drained for New Year’s Eve. I spent the past few days trying to entertain our travelmate since I felt bad that he was so concerned with his car issues; it was not until the bars did I realize he was just an antisocial bloke who was hoping to miraculously find a gal for countdown.

The much anticipated Wanaka Tree

After New Years, we got in contact with another HelpX experience at Bluff. Getting to Bluff was expensive, but the work seemed interesting so we might as well give it a try. Although after the Bluff work, we would have to make our way back to Queenstown again for a car transfer reservation. An alternative to directly renting cars is to participate in helping with car relocations. You have a limited amount of days to transfer a car from location A to B, but you can pay to extend the number of days for you to relocate the car. While it was not a lot cheaper after tacking on full car insurance, it was still cheaper than renting a car. Car rental prices had gone up since our first car rental in North Island. Sometimes I wish to have bought a car since the beginning, but my lack of knowledge on cars and limited comfort with driving long distances had held me back.  Sometimes I wonder how my experience in New Zealand would differ if I had bought a car.


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