Sunday, December 8, 2019

New Zealand - Kalos - Saturday, December 7, 2019

Ok.  This is getting ridiculous.  We've been here for almost a week and it's rained - poured - every single day.  The downtown area is flooding and there is no end in sight.  I'm thinking it might be time to build an Arc.  

This view from my window shows the snow capped peaks of The Remarkables.  It's cold and still raining here in Queenstown.  The Remarkables are one of only three mountain ranges in the world that run true north and south.
Seriously, we went to Milbrook to play our second round of golf today.  It rained all the way to the course.  And in the distance, the sky was black and heading our way fast.  Again, we're faced with stay and play ...  or revolt and bolt. 

Stay and Play?

Revolt and bolt!!

We opted to stay and play, but I was none too happy about it.  What's the fun in playing golf when it's cold, raining and I'm playing like I've never held a club before??!!  After three holes, I told Stevie I was done.  She shamed me into staying, so I made her life miserable with my whining for a  couple more holes until the rain finally let up a bit.  We finished the 18 holes at the perfect time.  When we pulled the cart into the barn, the bottom fell out of the sky and rained all the way back to the hotel.

Check out the dark clouds behind us.  We are paired again today with Margo and Sally from Pinehurst, North Carolina.
I kind of enjoy a rainy day now and then.  But I'm over it after a solid week of rain with a teaser glimpse of sunshine thrown in now and then.  And I'm sure the residents of Queenstown are over it, too.  They've actually declared a state of emergency in Queenstown due to the floods.  Our hotel is high and dry, but my heart goes out to the merchants who have their stores sand bagged and closed to wait for the water to recede. 

We were just told that the entire South Island is under a state of emergency with the floods.  Kalos loaded our suit cases and golf bags on a transport truck to be taken to Napier.  However, the bridge on the main highway has washed out.  With no way to reach the ferry to cross over to the north island, the transport truck has returned to Queenstown.  They will load as many bags as possible on the charter airplane.  The others will fly via Air New Zealand to Auckland, then be placed on a transport truck for the 5 hour drive to Napier.  Wow!  When will the rain STOP??!!

We had dinner tonight at Bella Cuccina, right next door to the hotel.  It was a short walk in the rain.  The food was pretty good.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

I walked down to the lakeside this morning before leaving to check things out.  Sandbags are piled against the shops and the water is creeping up.  The lake is expected to crest on Monday, but the rain continues, so who knows when it will truly max out.  

Last night, the water covered this road and was creeping into the stores.  The water drained, but now the lake is threatening.

This is the pier that lost all power last night.  Power is still out.

This dock is totally under water this morning.  

The high water didn't bother the ducks.  Normally, these stairs go down to the water.  Now, the water has come to the steps.
Even the ATM is sealed up.  By the way, the internet system is out city wide.  I couldn't get on line this morning to post this blog.  A minor inconvenience compared to what these folks are dealing with.

One last stroll down to the docks before we leave Queenstown today.  Good luck to this beautiful town.  
Gotta love women who start their morning in the bar.  Margo and Sally found a quiet place to play cards while waiting to depart on our Jeep Safari Tour.
Kalos has arranged a Jeep tour for us. I was a bit skeptical and not excited about the tour.  I went on a Jeep tour years ago to see the forest where the Lord of the Rings movie was filmed.  It was fun and interesting, but a "one and done" type thing. 

I'm so glad we went today.  It was a totally different experience, taking us on the 8th most dangerous road in the world.  And I totally understand why it's so dangerous!!  I thought Independence Pass was dangerous with it's sharp curves and no guard rails.   But this road gives new meaning to SCARY!!

We crossed over the Shotover River, home to an adrenaline rushing jet boat ride.  However, the jet boat ride is closed because the docks where they load the boats is under water.  Also, because the river is raging.

Not a very welcoming warning sign.

I found this warning sign interesting.  No shooting from public land or roadway.  The sign is shot full of holes.

This warning sign is posted at the beginning of the road to warn drivers of the danger that lies ahead.  And they weren't kidding!!
To start with, we were on a dirt road ... in the rain, which means it's going to be slippery.  AND we were with a driver/guide, Ross, from Scotland, who is on his last two weeks in New Zealand before moving to Australia and who seemed to have a death wish!!  The road was one lane that carried two lanes of traffic.  There were NO guard rails to protect from the MASSIVE drop offs ...  I'm talking thousands of feet ... the entire way.  

Look at this crazy Scot in his short shorts.  We were bundled up as if going to Antarctica and Ross is in his Kiwi short shorts.
Ross was very friendly and informative.  He was talking and looking back at us while navigating sharp turns on the wet slippery road.  I'm a nervous back seat driver anyway.  But when on a death defying road with a young bullet proof driver!!!  Well, let's just say I was a bit scared.  Heck ... I was a LOT scared. Spoiler alert ... I'm still alive to write this blog, so I obviously survived.   But I was truly concerned at the time.  

Light house rock.

This is called Gorilla Rock.  Can you figure out why?
We stopped for photos at Lighthouse Rock.  I've never been afraid of heights, but WOW!  I was nervous to WALK on this road.  Photos can't truly show how far the vertical drop is from the road.  The wind was blowing.

I could imagine a gust of wind ripping us from the ledge taking us to the bottom of the valley.  That would not be a fun experience.  

Different view of Light House Rock.

Well, we did not get blown off the ledge, nor did we drive into the abyss, but we did enjoy the incredible views.  

This little fella thought he was well hidden by a rock watching us as we quickly passed him by.  

A scene from Wolverine, staring Hugh Jackman, was filmed in front of this little cabin.  This is where Wolverine came out without his shirt.  Where is he now??

This sheep sheering shed that had a lingering aroma of just that, is the sight of today's lunch.  The farmer who owns this land rents it out to off road tour groups and film makers.  So he no longer needs to sheer his sheep.  They are left in the fields as "props" for movies instead of being sheered for their wool.  More money in movie making.

The lunch was good, but at a sheep shearing shed?????  It was actually the rain "back up plan" for lunch that was intended to be on the beach.  

After lunch, we traveled further up the mountain - a scenic, less frightening road, headed to the airport to catch our charter flight to Napier. 

Full speed ahead through puddles.  Glad the windows were rolled up.
Our driver, Ross, to our delight, drove through mud puddles at light speed, throwing water everywhere.  I love to do that, but mostly when someone is standing on the road to receive the joy of the splash.  We were the ones enjoying the splash.  I've been on the receiving end of that splash before in New York City.  Not fun.   But today, we cackled with laughter as we zoomed through each puddle covering the jeep in muddy water.

It is Ross's goal to have the muddiest jeep in the fleet.  Great Success today, Ross.

Walking around on top of a mountain above Queenstown.  Such a beautiful place.  Even in the rain.

Looking back toward Queenstown. The views from this hill were spectacular.

Sally wouldn't come to the edge for this photo as she's afraid of heights.  So she took the photo instead.

We finally reached the airport and said our goodbyes to our driver, Ross.  He cracked me up with his short shorts and wellies (rain boots).  He was truly an excellent guide.  Very safe ... even though I didn't feel all that safe at the time.  He entertained us and kept us safe.  I wish him well in his new life in Australia.  He's moving because the cost of living in Queenstown has outgrown his income.   Sadly, this is true with most New Zealanders.  Apparently, like Aspen, there is an exchange rate here.  The cost of living is outrageous.  Makes me sad to hear this, because it's such a fabulous place to live.  

Here is our chartered airplane for the two hour flight to Napier on the south end of the north island.  Ok.  Strike one for Kalos.  NO cocktails were served on the plane.
We arrived at the Queenstown airport and hopped on our charter flight to Napier.  Can you believe that Kalos had NO WINE on this flight to Napier.

Fortunately, Stevie saved the day by bringing our left over wine along in a Minaret Station water bottle.  She also remembered to grab "to go" cups.  So Stevie and I enjoyed wine on our flight to Napier.  Too bad, so sad for the others on the plane.  Some things are a "no share item." 

We landed at Napier - to sunny skies, the first we've seen in days -  and had a 45 minute ride to Cape Kidnappers, arriving just before sunset to a lovely cocktail hour followed by an incredible dinner.  Our new friends, Margo and Sally joined us for dinner.

Ya gotta love a THREE fisted drinker.  Way to go Margo!!
Tomorrow, we play Cape Kidnappers Golf Course.  I've played this course before.  It may be the most scenic golf course I've ever played.  Rain is NOT predicted and even though it will be warmer, I remember the winds here which will make things pretty chilly.  I'll be prepared with all of my new down filled jackets.  Stay tuned for tomorrow's golfing experience.  

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