Saturday, March 20, 2010

Getting to Stewart Island (via Invercargill)

This post is dedicated to John Bain. Through a series of serendipitous events, I found something in Invercargill, NZ that he introduced me too.

New Zealand's McCullum brothers celebrate their win over Australia.

On Sunday, Hannan and I drove down from Arthur's Pass to play ultimate. After the game, we rushed out the door to the Twenty20 cricket match between New Zealand's Black Caps and Australia. Australia had a player with Tait (same as my brother) on his jersey. Other than that, I had not heard of a single player. New Zealand was up first. Their one batter scored 100 (a century is a big deal in cricket) of NZ's 214 runs. After Australia bowled (pitched) their twenty overs (120 bowls total), it was their turn to bat. They didn't look like they would make catch up, but they rallied in the last couple overs to tie the game. The NZ outfielders had to do some fancy fielding to keep them from winning. In the super over (overtime), each team had one over or six bowls to score as many runs as they could. Australia scored seven. NZ scored more. New Zealand handed Australia, their biggest rival, their first loss of the year. Pandemonium! It was cricket and it was exciting. I've been told I should probably make that my only cricket game to keep it a very fond and exciting memory of what the game is like.

Sunrise at my house in Christchurch.

Unfortunately, the cricket match ran late which meant we got home late. We were up even later packing and then waking up early to finish packing. Fortunately, getting up early meant that I got to see my best sunrise since leaving the Ice. It was absolutely breathtaking.

Sunrise at my house in Christchurch.

Our plan was to leave at 8am and get to Invercargill around 4pm to buy our hut passes and then catch the 5pm ferry a half hour away in Bluff. We got out the door at 8:15am. The night before Hannan didn't want to fill the gas tank because he needed to do some more food shopping. We filled it in the morning. On the way down, we hit some bad weather, construction, and slow cars. The highways in New Zealand are almost all two lane roads with lots of passing sections that go directly through every town. This isn't like the USA where will be major four lane highways and bypasses between and around the cities. It makes you move slower and I'm a fan of that.

White smoke under black clouds.

We rolled into Dunedin, our half way point, a bit after noon. We dropped Celeen off to meet up with other Ice folks and then we dilly dallied a little too long. I had to use the Internet because the Antarctic Program wants you to request your flights home no more than thirty days after leaving the Ice. My day would be while we were camping and I didn't realize that until the drive down. Then, I got some really good veggie lasagna. We left at ten of one, but it was too late. The hut pass office closed at 4:30pm. We got there at 4:35pm. We were able to get someone to let us in who informed us we could get the passes on Stewart Island instead the next morning. We tried to boogie to the ferry, but missed it because we took too much time at the DOC office. We were stuck in Invercargill for the night and that bit of serendipity led me to a hardware store.

This has to be an early model of the moped. That red engine looking thing is connected to the black bicycle..

A Triumph motorcycle.

When we went looking for a place to stay, we came across a hardware store to buy Hannan a bandanna. In that hardware store, we found a couple odd things. They had possum fur insoles and a number of old motorcycles. They also claimed to have the 'World's Fastest Indian' which was a bike owned and raced by Invercargill native Burt Munro and made famous by a movie John Bain introduced me to called . . . . wait for it . . . The World's Fastest Indian. Before we watched it, I thought it was about a Native American Indian (maybe Jim Thorpe), not a motorcycle built by the Indian company. As it turns out, they have the actual bike that broke the records at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. They also have the 'twin' bike that he kept in New Zealand to try ideas out on and then would make those same modifications on the USA bike. He had two bikes because it was too expensive to haul it back and forth. They also had a replica of the bike's racing shell that was made for the movie.

Burt Munro's speed records.

The NZ test model of the World's Fastest Indian that was used in Invercargill.

The actual bike that broke the records.

A replica for the movie of the casing of the World's Fastest Indian

At first, I was disappointed about not getting to Stewart Island and getting started on our tramp. However, finding that motorcycle that John Bain had shared with me made the serendipitous detour worth it. I was focused on doing the one big hike that BNelson and I missed out on my last visit to New Zealand. I had forgotten that the racer was from New Zealand and the bike was in Invercargill.


This wasn't in Invercargill, but it should be!

While walking around, we saw the sign saying no dogs on main street. I've seen signs like that before, but never embedded in the sidewalk and never in such a small town. It is the biggest town in the area at 50,000, but I didn't think it was big enough to not to want dogs there. I guess there is enough space everywhere else to take your dog. I'm just a dog lover and prefer the second picture.

The other sign that left a lasting impression from Invercargill was posted outside the elevator in our hotel. We took the stairs.

The sign for the elevator at our hostel.


  1. The lift sign wouldn't be in the Kelvin Hotel, would it? I remember as a kid, over 40 years ago, standing outside the Kelvin Hotel in awe at its height when close to completion, a full seven stories, the like of which had never been seen in Invercargill before. (Maybe never since? I haven't been back there in a while.)

  2. Unfortunately, that is not the Kelvin Hotel.

    The hotel we were in was the Tuatara Backpackers Lodge on 30 Dee Street. I wondered if it was converted from the Kelvin Hotel, but the Kelvin still looks to be open at 16 Kelvin Street, about a block and a half away.