Te Araroa: Queenstown Intermission

Date of Adventure: 27 Jan – 23 Feb 2022

Our faithful Campi Schlambi was waiting for us where we left her when we got back to Queenstown! We were excited for a bit of time to rest, relax, and figure out some logistics before heading back out on the trail!

Taxes were first up on the agenda. Though our situation wasn’t particularly complex (no income…yay?), they were certainly unique. We had to figure out the special forms for US->NZ money transfers, it was our first full year married, and we had to learn about NZ taxes as well!

After taxes were sorted, we had to send out some resupply boxes to towns along the way that don’t have regular grocery stores. We went to the Costco equivalent, Pak’n’Save, to get all loaded up!

We spent an evening sorting food, spices, medicine, post cards, maps, and candy into 3 boxes and 1 bag, which we sent out the next day.

Our next task was figuring out any gear changes we wanted to make, since we were back in the van! Over the past few weeks of being on trail, we had come up with a variety of things to swap, ranging from a quick trade to full-on thread ripping the tent!

Here’s a list of all the changes, from simplest to most complex:

  • Larger cups
  • Left trail gaiters behind
  • Left head nets behind
  • Traded a pair of socks out
  • Swapped Kadi’s sleeping pad for a longer and insulated one
  • New underwear, ordered while on trail
  • Bought curved needle for repairs
  • Make drip rig for water filter
  • Repair socks by hand (with curved needle)
  • Repair hole in tent w/ tape
  • Add TVL logo to hat w/ sewing machine
  • Make two new large zipper pouches out of quieter material
  • Make larger hip belt pocket for Cameron’s camera stuff
  • Add door roll-up toggle/bungie to tent
  • Make large, roll-top food bag for dinners, as they are always overflowing
  • Add center shock cord tie outs to each side of inner net tent
  • Seam-rip corner line-locs off each tent corner, and replace ribbon tie-outs with correctly sized webbing
These things are rad

Though any one of those items wasn’t particularly difficult or time-consuming, completing them all took quite a long time! We couldn’t do the tent changes in the van, so we brought the sewing machine into the common area of the holiday park we were staying at. Though we were expecting strange looks, everyone was just interested in what we were doing!

We were staying at a place called ‘Qbox’. We had stayed there right before doing the Routeburn Track last April, and weren’t terribly impressed back then; however, we decided to give it another try and we really enjoyed our time there!

The main facilities blocks are all converted shipping containers, giving it an industrial feel. On the contrary, they’ve painted the interiors all bright colors and have a nice big mural painted on an adjacent wall, giving it a happier feel while you’re actually inside!

Home for a couple weeks!

Our next task was to book flights back home for the (US) summer! New Zealand had just announced their re-opening plan, and we were ecstatic to be able to get home for a few weddings!

Quick backstory: When we first came to NZ, we had to buy three separate sets of tickets; the first ones were through Air Tahiti Nui via Priceline, and were cancelled within two months. The next set were with Fiji Airways, and were cancelled within two weeks! We finally bought AirNZ tickets to get us here.

Of course, airlines don’t give refunds; they just give flight credits. So, we’ve been stuck with nebulous flight credits for a year+, and wanted to use those!

…but because we were more than a year from the original flight date, they had to check with their superior to make sure the credits were valid. Stayed on hold for 45 minutes (costing $0.03/minute to call Tahiti) only for them to tell me they would email me the confirmation when they got it the next day.

Long story short, we were finally able to book flights using flight credits for both legs (NZ->US, then US->NZ)! One with Air Tahiti Nui, and one with Fiji. Huzzah!

Tahiti then closed their borders to travellers that night for the next 4 months.

In the end, we bought Air NZ flights. Maybe someday (Before December 31, 2022 @11:59pm) we will be able to use those Air Tahiti credits.

At some point in this saga, Cameron was waiting for a callback after being on hold for 30+minutes, and had gone outside to stretch. As he heard the phone ringing in the van, he quickly turned around, bent over to get into the van, lifted his leg, twisted to reach the phone on the counter, and pinched a nerve in his back. Though he got the phone, the pinched nerve shot searing pain up and down his back and leg whenever he tried to stand up straight!

This lasted for 10 days. Cameron could hobble back and forth between the bathroom block and the van, and was generally good to cook if he didn’t have to move his back, but getting back on the trail was out of the question!

Saw this rad Corvette in the grocery store carpark!

It was a pretty difficult time for both of us. We were off the trail for a couple weeks already when Cameron hurt his back, so our muscles were atrophying quickly.

We didn’t know how long this would take to heal, so we didn’t want to leave Queenstown, in case it was better and we could leave the next day!

Kadi had to take a larger share of life tasks, since Cameron couldn’t lift much. There’s lots of moving parts when living in a small van!

Overall we just felt stuck, and had quite a few arguments and anger at the situation, directed at each other. Fortunately we discovered we were doing it, but it made for some tough days.

Finally Cameron’s back started to loosen up, affording him a larger and larger range of motion every day! We made plans for starting the trail again, scared and excited at the same time.

To test out Cameron’s back, we went for a walk in a park we’d never been to before. It was a beautiful day, with the sun shining down on the beach!

Creepy statue

On the way back, we drove through a neighborhood with an awesome variety of houses! So fun to see all the neat architecture! Back in the US we are used to pretty standardized houses, not too different from each other.

Not in this place! There were modern houses, stone cottages, A-frames, and even an Arizona style abode right next to each other!

Also before we left, we had a fun game idea! If you’ve ever played the card game ‘Set’, we decided we wanted a 4*4 version. Meet Super Set! We got a 2″ hole punch to cut all these out, and the game is compact enough that we brought it on the trail with us!

To celebrate our trail restart, we headed to a nearby lake to have a picnic. We saw some baby coots (birds), they were super cute!

Pretty soon after that, we were ready to get back on the trail! The next post will be our first couple days back on the trail to Arrowtown!

Old man looking at us
‘Miles Better Pies’ has the best vegetarian pie so far!
Cute breakfast in the van!

Thanks for reading this semi-rambling post, it was a weird time in Queenstown that didn’t have an exact story for us. Back to more story-oriented posts next!

–Cameron and Kadi

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