On the road again

Friday, Dec. 17

Yesterday we put in a full day of work on the road with eight hours of driving.

We left Lake Tekapo and headed for Queenstown.

After a few hours there, we decided to move on. It was a beautiful city, but extremely expensive and basically a carbon copy of Whistler.

Instead, we headed to Caradrona following a recommendation from a fellow traveller.

He told us it’s the one place in New Zealand you can drive a monster truck. And who doesn’t want to do that?

When we saw the school bus on oversized wheels and a jacked up pink Cadillac de Ville, we knew we has found the place. But at $250 each, we skipped the test drive.

However, the drive was still worth it because we got to the meet the owner, Ian Soanes.

He was a huge, 300 pound, tanned, muscle man.

He was wearing a trucker hat, a tight black tank top and told us the highlights of his life in the first five minutes of meeting him.

His shop was covered in newspaper clippings boasting his success, trophies and weight lifting photos. A TV in the corner was playing a performance from his hay-day – he was revving the engine of a monster truck while a woman balanced on the front bumper.

(Ian really was a superstar. In 1981 he became the first person in the world to drive a standard farm tractor on its side. And in 2002 he wheelied his monster truck on balance point on its back wheels – the only person outside of America to do that.)

That night we drove until it was dark, searching for a cheap campsite.

At about 10 p.m. we spotted a campsite sign leading into the woods. It was only $5 each and directly beside a lake. So we cooked some chunky soup and hit the hay.

This morning we found another $5 campsite at Lake Gunn. (We have a list of the conservation campsites in New Zealand. They’re cheap but are only equipped with a porta-potty.)

Considering the area was rainy, muggy and full of bugs, we stayed inside and played cards, ate rice and napped.

Tomorrow we’re heading to Milford Sound. We’re hoping for a change in weather.


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