This is a post briefly about our stay in our current Queenstown host’s beach house located in a small village, Karitane, near Dunedin. A week ago, our host and all four of her WWOOFers and her Jack Russel, piled into two cars and headed across country for a few day beach house adventure. The purpose of this trip was so that our host could have knee surgery in Dunedin. She thought that while she had four WWOOFers and needed to head that direction anyway, she would have us spruce up her nearby beach house as well.
The drive from Queenstown to Karitane/ Dunedin is normally about 2.5 or 3 hours long. It took us a solid 4 hours. Our host was like an excited grandmother showing her grandkids all the interesting sights along the way. Our first stop was at the first bungee sight. The A.J. Hackett bungee bridge. We didn’t do a jump, but we watched one. Not my cup of tea.
After a drive through pinot noir wine country we then stopped at a fruit stand. Not just any fruit stand, but one that she has been going to since her children were small. Here she treated us to fresh fruit icecream (I was feeling a bit car sick and forced Eamonn to finish my cone for me. Oh, the sacrifices he makes for me). We wound our way through a gorge that once had been more orchards and old miners cottages, but was now a huge lake due to a damn for hydro power.
Next we stopped in a tiny town with a really old grocery store (for NZ) that was on the old railway. It was full of old merchandise and receipts from back in the day. It was fun to see old cans and the old registers. The old railway has been converted into a long and famous bike trail (and I mean bicycle, not motorcycle). We drove through a few more very similar tiny towns and all of them seem to have benefited greatly from the bike trail. Each one had a little pub with lots of bikes parked outside and in their convenient stores there was bike gear. If I were a cyclist, it definitely looks like a nice, easy trail ( it’s relatively flat which appeals greatly to me).
We had packed our lunches and our host had intended to take us to a lake (or an old cemetery, I couldn’t really figure it out) to have a picnic. Well we some how missed the turn off so instead we went a bit more out of our way to another little town. That was 500 meters above worries and cares (or some similar cutesy town slogan). We had our sandwiches in a park there. That was our last stop.
Finally we arrived in Karitane, where the beach house is. While driving, she had told us the history of this beach house. It was built on the side of a hill overlooking a beach that has beautiful basalt stone boulders strewn about. Originally it had been built as a ward for sick/ in-need mothers and children where the primary factor in wellness is a healthy environment. Knowing that makes the layout of the house make some sense. It is one long building that has a large kitchen at the rear with a dinning area directly in front of the kitchen. To either side of the dinning area are two long hallways. One side of each hallway is a row of doors leading to bedrooms or bathrooms and the other side is a wall of windows looking out to sea. Stunning. There are about five or six rooms. Each of these rooms has a door and a window that open onto the hallway, so you can have a sea view from the room!
Besides feeling incredibly lucky to be in such a relaxing atmosphere with the fresh sea air and being treated like kings (she brought us coffee and sweet treats every day for a snack break), we were meant to help tidy the garden up. This meant one really long day of pulling huge geranium like weeds, raking, cleaning the garden beds and packing all the debris into a trailer and shuttling it to the dump. The dump was only open for four hours that day, so we had to cram as much of the work into that one day as possible. Another day of less intense tiyding up and the day we left just clean the house of our mess and then free time in Dunedin.
On our really busy day, our host asked us if we wanted to go into Dunedin with her while she did paperwork for her upcoming surgery. Eamonn and I went in with her and then Clemence and Jeremy were to meet us. I think we all thought we would get to wander around and see the city for ourselves. It ended up being a driving tour with the four of us tired WWOOFers crammed into the old car (she had dropped hers off to have it checked up), while our host drove around and told us about the University of Otago and parts of Dunedin. After a long day, it was a bit much for me and I don’t think I appreciated it as much as I could have.
The next day was much more relaxed because we couldn’t create lots of garden debris because there was no place to put it. I sprayed weed killer, Eamonn cleaned gutters, Jeremy cut down big bushes and Clemence cleaned up the branches. After that again we all piled into the car and went into town. This time Eamonn and I were dropped off to met up with Adam and Lucy (our former Hanmer Springs housemates), our host was going to her pre-op information session and Jeremy and Clemence were going to the nearby Albatross and Penguin colonies.
Eamonn and I had a great time catching up with Adam and Lucy. It was good to hear what has been happening in Hanmer and their lives. Both seemed rather tired and were ready to move on from Hanmer. We hung out for a few hours, had a few beers and enjoyed a huge icecream cone. Eventually they had to continue on their journey, leaving Eamonn and I to wait for Jeremy and Clemence to finish their adventure and pick us up. Our host stayed with her brother in town so she could get to her knee surgery easily.
We all slept in a bit the next morning (I was a bit nervous about getting out of the beach house on time, because guests were coming later that day, so I didn’t sleep in as much as I should have), cleaned the house and left for Dunedin. Our host was having her surgery, so we had the day off. She had also bought us tickets to the rugby match that night, so we had that to look forward to.
Eamonn and I wandered around with the Jack Russel (we felt bad leaving her in the car), while Clemence and Jeremy went into churches and other buildings. Eventually we all met up again for the rugby match. It was the Highlanders (the Dunedin team) versus the Rebels (an Australian team). It wasn’t the best of matches. There were lots of stops and starts and that makes a game slow and less interesting, especially for people who have never watched Rugby aka Jeremy and Clemence. After the home teams victory, we picked up our host and headed home. We started driving at 10:30 pm. Soon thereafter, it began to pour rain. We didn’t arrive back to Queenstown until 2:30am. We were exhausted.
The next few days I think everyone felt a little bit like they had a hangover, just from being so tired. We all got back into the swing of things rather quickly though. Nothing like a little bit of adventure to mix up the routine!