Well, damn. After writing that entry yesterday, research revealed that it was just too freakin' expensive to do Stewart Island. Transportation alone made it an unwise investment. Much as I'd like to see the place (and I really really do), I think I'd rather be able to eat while in Australia. Sigh. So this afternoon I'm getting on a bus and heading to Dunedin, which I've been assured is a city worth seeing. Not sure how long I'll be staying there, nor what I'll be doing afterwards, as I have about two weeks to fill before I must return to Christchurch to prepare to fly to Sydney. Lonely Planet guidebook, steer me well.
Still haven't decided how to celebrate my birthday. I really feel that turning twenty-five (a quarter-century!) in a foreign land ought to be recognized in some significant way, but I'm not sure what that will be. Hmm, well, I've got almost a week to decide.
It's snowing in Queenstown today. Just flurries, but it's pretty. Have I mentioned before that I was determined to dislike Queenstown? I don't know if I have, but it's true. It's essentially the tourist destination of the South Island, if not New Zealand, and everyone comes here and does bungy jumps and sky dives and other things of that sort (the number of activities available in this town is staggering). And the nightlife is practically legendary- bars and pubs and clubs litter the streets and you can go out any night of the week and find it hopping. So I was sure that I would resist the hype, go against the grain, and be unimpressed by Queenstown. And yet . . . I like it here. The lake (Wakatipu) is gorgeous, surrounded by amazing mountains. There are places to walk and the town is clean and cute and damn it, it is fun to go out of a night. Sigh. Way to be a member of the crowd, Joanna. Sure, I haven't thrown myself off a bridge or out of an airplane, and I sure as hell don't plan to, but I have become a Queenstown admirer.
Yesterday it rained and I stayed in and watched movies with my hostel-mates. Saw 12 Monkeys for the first time and The Shining for the second. Drank lots of tea and ate lots of cookies. Enjoyed the huge fireplace. I like that hostel. Here's the Joanna formula for a great hostel- small, comfortable couches, fireplace or woodstove, good video collection, friendly hosts. So well done to the Alpine Lodge for fulfilling all of my requirements.