Monday 3_12... Our last day...Queenstown
We slept in a bit this morning and let most of the hustle bustle of the hut wash lazily over us. There was heavy rain during the night so we were pleasantly surprised to see clear blue sunny skies when we finally emerged from our purple sleeping bag cocoons. Anna Marie confessed that she had almost dragged me out of bed at 4am when she heard the hard rain begin...as she was worried about a washed out section of trail that we had to negotiate on our return trip. We had hear horror stories about folks getting trapped and wading through waist and neck deep water!
By 9:45 we were up and running again...well hiking anyway. By this time we had finally figured out the trick of crossing the many swing bridges that dotted the trails in New Zealand. The up and down bouncing wasn't giving us any difficulty...but after about 10 to 12 steps the bridge began to sway side to side and Anna Marie got more than one case of serious vertigo. The secret I discovered was to plant your feet as horizontal as possible to the two long planks that extended along the floor of the bridge...While navigating the span in this manner the bridge stayed where it belonged...Of course I did look rather ridiculous as I waddled across but...But hey!...it worked!
We arrived at what we assumed was the Routeburn Shelter at 12:45...3hrs in and 3hrs out...I seem to have just one speed no matter the grade. Luckily ...John, the Falls Hut warden came along and directed us to the bus stop or we might have had a real disaster on our last outing. . It seems there is an actual "Shelter" and we were only at the trailhead sign. After about a 30 minute ride we stopped for 30 minutes at Glenorchy, a very small spot in the road. There were showers available and a great store and campground. As we approached Queenstown I recognized a bit of the scenery and rushed forward to ask the driver if she could drop us at the YHA...just in time as she immediately pulled over and out we went. I am so glad we didn't have to hike back the 15 minutes from the downtown bus stop.
We cleaned up pretty well and looked fairly presentable as we enjoyed a great Thai dinner...I got a bottle of Riesling next door at Betty's Liquor store and after dinner they held the bottle for me to pick up on my return from the Maori show later that evening. Near the Gondola two young gals squealed when they recognized us and ran towards us with their arms extended...They encasing us in real bear hugs. They were the two Israeli gals with whom AM had celebrated Passover during our evening at National Park. "We told our Moms about you guys" they said. What fun to be 1/2 way around the world and have someone recognize you! We felt like celebrities. The Queenstown Gondola ride was short but spectacular. Especially after the show when the whole Queenstown harbor and downtown area was dotted with sparkling lights.. We enjoyed and even participated in the Kiwi Haka Maori show Poi dance and swung our Poi balls overhead like silly tourists.
It started to rain on the way home from the show but we just made it inside the door to the YHA before disaster struck...and I don't mean the rain! I suddendly realized I didn't have on my neck wallet...the one that contained not only my money and credit cards...but also my passport! We rushed back to the restaurant...NO...the liquor store...NO! I lost Anna Marie since she was faster that I was so I stumbled back to the YHA just as they were locking up for the night. "It's OK..." she said. "Your wallet is at the Gondola office." She had returned and made a call to the office and they had located the wallet right where I had dropped it when I took it off to participate in the show. Thought I had stuffed it into a pocket but it must have fallen out when I was leaving. Thank You God and Stephen, the fellow who put it in the safe for the night. Finally we sat down and and were now able to enjoy the rest of our last evening in New Zealand. I finished the bottle of wine and we were both asleep by 11 pm.