Monday, 9 May 2016

Managing a Backpackers in the Catlins...simply by chance!

So we wee WWOOFing in the Catlin's for 2 months, which is a long time to sum up in one blogpost, but I'm going to try. It will basically just contain the important parts of our experiences there.

So we left Dunedin and arrived at our new hosts house, in Surat Bay, North Catlins, around the 6th March. They were Ester (from the Philippines, 55) and Jack an 80 yr old Kiwi, who were looking for people to help out with a lodge they had just purchased. They also owned two self-contained units as a Bed and Breakfast, so we also helped out with cleaning or checking in guests for those occasionally. Little did we know that this lodge would be a busy backpackers right beside the sea, which they wanted us to manage full-time. We only learnt this upon arrival! We were rather excited but also a little nervous as we didn't really know much about how a Backpackers is run.

Our first few days were just settling in and working with the other French WWOOFer Laurent, we also went down to Hina Hina (a bay across from Surat Bay), where we went Cockling (in our area you could fish for Cockles, Mussels and Paua - a NZ only Shellfish, kind of an Abalone). We also saw plenty of Sea-Lions on our walks along the bay - Surat Bay is a Sea-Lion haul-up beach, along with Cannibal Bay, the next beach down. You can see Sea-Lions everywhere, there is a colony of around 20 of them. They will just be lying on the beach covered in sand and you'd almost trip over them! But they are super easy-going, they just look at you; 'oh there goes another human', and plop back down to sleep and cover themselves in more sand. The only time they would get territorial is if they have a pup with them or you block their path to the sea, then, they can run at you at terrifying speeds!

On the 10th March was the handover with the old owners, to Jack and Ester. The old owners we basically eventually found out, were assholes. A French couple who had come from New Caledonia and we eventually found out, after all the local community did for them to try and help them to stay, had basically been kicked out of the country (unable to get permanent visas) and we realised after taking over the lodge from all the letters, that they owed thousands of dollars in debt and hadn't paid their taxes properly!!

The day Ester and Jack were taking over, was also they day they were going on a 4-day holiday!! So not only did we have to take over a new business which we didn't know much about, we had to do it without the owners and on the worst day weather-wise! We were supposed to go and view and learn about the Lodge a few days before the takeover but the old owners Sylvianne and Christian wouldn't let any of us enter until 'they said' (Jack and Ester had to get a lawyer to negotiate things because they were being that difficult). So we ended up doing a quick and very brief session the day before, where Christian (who didn't speak much english after 7 years being in the country), basically insulted Jack, wouldn't let him see where the important things like the electrics board, gas, and water tanks were etc, and then came in and almost had a fight with Pierrick while his wife was teaching us the computer system (Pierrick held himself back and just ignored him but Christian put his wife in tears over it).

So the day we took over we had severe gale-force winds, rain and the electricity went down for about 4 hours! So we had to take over, just as check-in started, without really knowing what was going on, while Jack and Ester had to rush around before their flight left to Auckland in 4 hours. Then just before they left, the electricity went down, so we had customers which weren't happy, couldn't cook, there was no wifi and no lights....ahhhhh! Apparently the power went down across half of the south island but it was back up and running before night hit thank god!

That weekend was a busy weekend and we managed to deal with it ok, we basically taught ourselves everything and managed to keep the place in one piece until Ester and Jack arrived back. We moved into the lodge, so we had our own double room there with sea-views - lush, and then we would just go to the house every evening for dinner. Laurent was around to help us with the cleaning in the morning and then we got to work on things around the place like cleaning, making sure the kitchens were equipped, putting up signs, labelling cupboards, moving furniture, adding furniture, gardening (the garden was a mess!), basically making the place ten times better than it had been left!

Once Jack and Ester came back we got to work on the projects they had in mind, like moving reception from the tiny cupboard, and putting it back into the old reception area which they had used as an illegal living space (it had never been cleared by the council). Moving the linen into the actual linen cupboard rather than the laundry room, we got the electrician and plumbers out to take a look at things - everything was illegal and dangerous basically! We got new appliances, new matresses, new beds; changed the 7 bed dorm into an 8 bed dorm and eventually the 3-bed dorm into a family room for 5 people. There was so much to do it kept us all very busy!

And there will still be lots to do over the coming months. Jack wants to get planning permission to convert the old illegal living space next door to reception into a self contained unit for future wwoofers/managers. Make the outside sheds more stable so he can move all his tools into it. They want to eventually convert our double room into a 6-bed dorm and with our input, we suggested they will need to do some renovating - such as more bathrooms (as currently there is definitely not enough for the amount of people in high season), they needed to replace the slated windows with plane glass to stop the drafts, they also need to get more heaters, insulate the place and eventually double-glaze all the windows of the lodge. There is alot to do but they just don't have the money to do it all this winter so it may take a couple of years, but they trusted us to take our knowledge of other backpackers on board to help renovate and update it. It was almost as they they had started this hostel from scratch, we helped them build everything - the foundations of the business! All the admin side, all the advertising, helping to get reviews up, creating social media pages, investing in customer needs, adding services (like in summer, having a little shop with basic food and toiletry items as the nearest shop is a 5min drive away in Owaka), setting up the booking system, installing a hotel management system and channel manager, adding us to, all things we had never done before but we took the initiative and just got on with it and trained ourselves up and learnt as we went!

In the end, we knew more about the business than Ester and Jack, and so we suggested they should live in it over winter while its quieter, so they would know the priorities and understand the daily running of it. As, they were quite stubborn people and insisted what they thought were priorities (like getting rid of a perfectly good couch because it looked 'ugly' to them, or getting rid of the perfectly good linen for all new things - which would be money wasted) were what needed to be done, and we knew they weren't priorities yet, that there were much bigger things to think about than wasting money when they needed to save money for the bigger projects. So we clashed (not argumentatively) but we had to try and try and try to drum into them what they should be doing, and luckily, when Jack's son and daughter came to visit, they also sat them down as they were concerned like we were, and drummed into them that we were right in everything we were saying. So they eventually began to realise.

It was just hard as Ester was a full-time nurse who worked only night shifts, they had their own B&B to run, plus the lodge to think about so they didn't really have their heads in the right place, plus they were taking over a very risky and very different business to their current one - 23-32 beds in a lodge is very different to two units! Plus, they didn't realise (and im not sure they still do yet to be honest), that their main customers were backpackers, not older richer people. They need to really understand the business better, so I really hope they do this winter before summer hits. Also, towards the end Ester was adament she was going to control reception herself...but we were trying to tell her you just can't, especially when your working nights and needing to sleep in the day, you need people there permanently for the emails, cleaning, checking in, phone calls I really hope this winter teaches them that its not the same as owning two self-contained units! Bless them, they were so lovely but just a little naive about what they had bought.

When we had a frank discussion with them, we got the feeling they had gone into it as though they were buying their dream home...not a business and they hadn't budgeted for what it would need done to it and that one day, especially in the summer, they would need to employ someone permanently as you can't have wwoofers running it every 1-2 months, it needed stability. Plus, unfortunately, even though we are very trusting, some other people wouldn't be. It was a business that was mainly taking cash, and in the first week alone when they were on holiday we had almost $2000 in cash in our keeping - if we hadn't have been trust-worthy people, we could have taken it and run! And thats also what Jack's family are worried about with having WWOOFers come and go, they are very trusting people but they just need that one person who's not and their business will fall because of it. They need to employ someone full-time even if just for the 6 months of summer, and then run the business themselves in winter.

But enough about all that! So, Laurent left just before Easter and then we had a week before the next WWOOFers, Camille and William (also french) came. In that time we had a full lodge hire over Easter - a group of friends and their families came to stay, it was an annual tradition to go on holiday in around NZ - they came with boats, instruments (most of them were Irish married to Kiwi's) loved a good sing-song and a drink! It was nice to see the place so lively! During those 5 days we only really had to clean the bathrooms and kitchens. So the rest of the day we had off and so we went sight-seeing a few times. Jack and Ester lent us one of their cars so we went out with that sometimes, but that weekend we planned on going down to the south Catlins, and only managed to get to Curio Bay (where we by chance happened to see our mate Becci from Dunedin again on a day out with her family!)

As, on our way to Slope Point, we had a wee little car accident. When I say wee, I mean, we were fine, but the car wasn't! It was on a gravel road, and basically we lost control of the car, it swerved towards a concrete pole, but Pierrick managed to steer it away, but consequently into a ditch...full of muddy water, on an area where the tide came in pretty high sometimes, in the middle of nowhere! The car landed, on it's side, so we were pretty panicked as at first we were stuck and couldn't get out. Luckily there were people behind us when it happened and they had all stopped and called the emergency services and eventually got us out. We had to wait for the fire engine and police to come out. Luckily they managed to tow the car out of the ditch and get it working again, but unfortunately when Ester went to get it road worthy again a few days later, she got told it would have to be written off as the suspension was too badly damaged! Grrr. So $300 excess later, plus a police fine of $150 (they have to fine you out here for an accident to make it worth their while being called out) it was a pretty costly crash! After the crash the volunteer firemen gave us a lift back to their house where we waited for Ester and Jack to come to take the car back. They were lovely and gave us coffee and chocolate as it was Easter Sunday. The next day we spent the whole day helping to clean the mud out of the car - it stank! It was a nasty job but it was the least we could do to say sorry. They were both so nice about it though and were more concerned about us!

The next month was spent with the new WWOOFers Camille and William, where they helped with various projects while we continued to run the backpackers. We did some good dinners like crepes and other french dishes. I started putting the great kitchen in the backpackers to use by doing alot of baking french baguettes, pizza's cookies etc - I forgot how much I missed baking! We did a bit more local sight-seeing, going for walks and hikes. We had Ivanna and Adrian come to stay with us for a night so we did some sight-seeing with them and had a great catchup and movie night. And we continued to better the backpackers, making slow but steady progress and enjoyed meeting the people who came through and getting some good reviews on TripAdvisor. One couple loved the place so much they stayed for 8 days!! I really would love to see it when it's all finished and looking it's best.

Camille and William left after a month - they stayed longer than intended as they had to spend $2000 getting their car fixed. And we spent the next week on our own, finishing up our stay with them. 3 weeks had turned into 2 months and we really had to leave to find paid work - we would have loved to have stayed but they couldn't afford to pay us. So we decided to continue and finish the rest of our Stray Pass as we had enough money to, then we would need to settle somewhere and find work until our visa ended. Ester and Jack had invited us back in the summer to pay us, which we may well come back and do but it would mean extending our visas, so until they are 100% sure they need us we won't plan anything just yet as for me its a good $500 for an extra year as I have to get a medical etc.

We managed to find Jack and Ester an experienced couple to come help them for another month and so we stayed until they arrived so we could give them some quick training. We also managed to secure (hopefully it stays that way), some work for accommodation in Dunedin, where we will be night managers in a hostel (2 hours a day in the evening each), to cover our accommodation, internet and laundry while we work, so that when we do find work, we don't have those expense to pay out for - we can save more! It also entitles us to work during the day - so hopefully no restaurant or bar work - yay! I don't mind a cafe but I really didn't want to go into hospo again. So although it means working and then working in our evenings, it's only light reception work and it means we can save more, so it will benefit us in the long run. So I guess after our two weeks of travel, Dunedin is our city of choice for work - wooo! Awesome city! I'm actually looking forward to living and working in a city for once, (as my jobs in Australia were in the middle of nowhere) plus it means me and Pierrick may actually have a normal relationship for the first time in our relationship as we will be working separate jobs.

So, I will update you on our travels soon, in the meantime, enjoy the pictures on Facebook (and instagram). Our first destination was Invercargill, then Queenstown and Mount Cook. We are now in Lake Tekapo, then on to Rangitata, Christchurch and ending in Kaikoura. Then we will slowly make our way down to Dunedin where we will start the next chapter of the NZ Working Holiday...the work part... :-(

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Dunedin (Dunnerz) - student city and catching up with Becci!

So onwards to Dunedin. Dunedin would you know, is actually one of the first places settled in the South Island. It was also where the Scots landed, hence it's name Dunedin (the old name for Edinburgh). Dun = hill, so Edin-on-the-hill. Pretty good eh? It's still got alot of Scottish heritage, seen in the buildings and even the people and their accents. Everyone refers to people in Dunedin as crazy, with very rough accents (they roll their r's apparently), obviously descending from the Scottish accent. You can even see the Scottish genes in the locals (lots of ginger freckly people, and dark curly hair with freckles and pale skin colour).
Dunedin is a unique city and I would actually say it's my favourite 'city' in New Zealand so far. At only roughly 120,000 people, it's a small city on European terms but big for New Zealand, however it still had that 'South Island small-town-city' feel, nice and quiet! It felt like Bangor with it's hilly roads, old buildings and university lifestyle and it really took me back to the good old student days! There's even two beaches, St Kilda and Brighton beach and it has a really cool arty-scene, lots of street art - a bit like Melbourne in Australia. It's also home to New Zealands first and biggest University, The University of Otago, and the first and oldest Church, plus a super cute Train station!

We were staying at a super nice hostel, Geeky Gecko, which became our home for the 5 days we were there. The first thing we did when we arrived, went shopping as A. there was the 1st PAK'N'SAVE supermarket we'd seen on the South Island, and B. with the start of Autumn hitting pretty suddenly in temperature, we needed to buy some actual winter clothes and a coat! So I went long-sleeve top, leggings, gloves, coat and boots mad at Warehouse (I bought a bargain winter coat for only $12 at a 2nd hand clothing store - yay for being a student town!). We also decided to treat ourselves to Moules Frites Thai Curry as we had found a pak'n'save which is the cheapest place for Mussels.
Over our time there we decided to do some sight-seeing. We went and checked-out and walked up the Worlds Steepest Street, Baldwin Street, we walked through the beautiful Botanical Gardens and then walked back to town via the University. Which is very much like Bangor/Cambridge in it's architecture. We also walked via the student area which brought back so many memories seeing all the trashy houses with sofas outside and music blaring from inside, rubbish strewn around and alcohol bottles overflowing the bins. It was freshers week here that week so it was pumping with students!
We also checked out the Octagon; the centre of town, went on our own street art tour, checked out the oldest church, and just enjoyed spending our time chilling around town in parks. We also checked out the free museum there which was actually very interesting. They also have a Cadbury's factory but we decided not to pay $25 each for a tour. Our last day we met with Becci, our friend from Oz, and had a wonderful few hours catching up, especially as she had recently married her Nepalese fiance, and enjoyed hearing about her life living in Nepal. She was back for a while to escape life over there for a bit as it had become intense having to live with his parents with the culture and caste difference, and plus her sister was due to make her an auntie again so a good excuse for family time. We actually also met her again while we were touring the Catlins during our current WWOOFing placement, just randomly at Curio Bay...hang-on I know that girl, ah it's Becci! So weird but so cool!

Then it was time to venture off to another great HelpX/WWOOFing experience in Surat Bay,  the Catlins, with Jack and Ester, where we are currently managing a Hostel...pretty cool experience and great for future job prospects! More about that soon in my next blog!

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Majestic Milford Sound and catching up with friends in Te Anau!

So we left Queenstown on the Stray Bus at the crack of was still dark at 7am! The good thing was that as we were leaving Queenstown we got to see a magnificent sunrise over The Remarkables (a quite remarkable mountain range surrounding Queenstown).

It took us roughly 3 hours to reach Milford sound. We stopped on the way in Te Anau, (pronounced Tay-Arnew) where we tried to figure out how we were going to get to our boat cruise the next day. Basically, Stray only spend one night in Milford Sound at the off-the-beaten track location of Gunn's Camp. Today's weather forecast was rain, and so we decided to extend our stay to two nights, so that we could do our boat cruise the next day in the sunshine. However, we didn't realise Gunn's Camp is actually a good half hours drive from Milford sound, with no public buses on route, and only hitchhiking available to use (with a good hours walk to the main road) we realised we'd screwed up!

So. What we had decided after being told all this by the company of the boat cruise, was that maybe we could see when we get there, if there was availability to change to today with our Stray bus group at 3pm. The weather wasn't looking great but it was basically almost our only option, other than paying $120 for a round trip with a local pickup service. So we hoped and prayed on the hours journey from Te Anau to Milford sound that A. there would be space and B. the weather would clear up a little!

We stopped on the way once we got to Fiordland National Park for picture spots. Such as the mirror lake, and just before the tunnel heading through the mountain. Fiordland National Park is amazing, just huge towering peaks, some snow-capped, and loads of waterfalls (at least the rain was good for something). The thing is is that the west coast of New Zealand on the South Island and Fiordland National Park, is the wettest area ever, it's actually been dubbed the wettest place on earth (move over UK). Rainfall can reach 250 mm (10 in) during a span of 24 hours. On the forecasts all you ever see is maybe one or two days of sunshine, the rest is rain, so you have to be very lucky to see the sun! However, everyone we'd heard who'd done it in the rain, said that it was even more beautiful, because of the HUGE waterfalls it created through the sound.

Well, we definitely saw those, both driving through the National park and in Milford Sound itself. There were waterfalls everywhere! However, we were suuuuuuuper when we arrived at the boat check-in, A. there was space and we only had to pay $10 for the price difference and B. the sun decided to burn through some of that cloud, and the rain had stopped - so we ended up having the best of both worlds; the joys of the waterfalls and a little blue sky! Woop! We unfortunately weren't able to see the top of Mitre Peak (the tall famous mountain at the entrance to Milford Sound), but I guess you can't be greedy when luck strikes. So we boarded our boat and went on our hour and a half cruise around the huuuuuge Milford Sound.

Milford Sound (also called Piopiotahi) is a Fiord (wrongly labelled a Sound), within Fiordland National Park and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site. Carved by glaciers during the ice age, it has been judged the world's top travel destination and labelled the '8th wonder of the world'. There are peaks up to 1200metres, some snowcapped, and there are many waterfalls. Seals and Dolphins (even Whales) can often be spotted - and we were lucky enough to spot a pod of Dolphins and some Seals lounging on the rocks in the sun. There is one waterfall, Lady Bowen Falls, which is actually 3 times higher than Niagara Falls, but due to the optical illusion presented by the huge peaks surrounding it, actually looks way smaller than it is. But boy is it powerful - we got very wet underneath it on our boat deck! The tour took us all around the Fiord on both sides and also out to the opening of the ocean where we saw the Dolphins. And thankfully the sun stayed out for the full hour and a half. We got some stunning pictures and even a little burnt.

Then we headed back on the Stray bus and towards Gunn's Camp, where we would stay for two nights, but there was no phone signal and no wifi, and limited electricity (from 6pm-10pm). So it was going to be a secluded couple of nights. But I was looking forward to it, time to catch up on some reading. We did a river walk the next day, had good Pasta, tried a bush walk but it got too slippery so we turned back, and then played some games, like battleship, trivial persuit etc, talked to people (yes we actually talked rather than everyone sitting on their phones) to bide away our day of rest. It was like going back to the old days when internet and phones didn't rule your life and it was great, so refreshing. The couple who owned the camp were also very lovely and had made the place very unique.

On the Monday we hopped off the Stray Bus in Te Anau for two nights where we did a few walks around the lake and ate amazing Pies at Miles Better Pies (the best pie I have ever tasted!) we had one a day while we were there. They had Thai curry, Satay Chicken, Venison, steak and bacon, steak and cheese, lamb and mint, you name it they had it; all freshly baked! We also met our friend from Sweden, Ivana, and her boyfriend Adrian while we were there, as they were working in a hotel there for the next couple of months. So we had a great catch up which was lovely and vowed we'd see each other again when they finished work. And in fact they are coming to stay with us at our hostel in the Catlin's next week!

Our next stop was Dunedin which we couldn't wait for! It was a whim decision as we'd been contacted on HelpX for a WWOOFing spot in the Catlins and had wanted to go to Steward Island before but the ferry was too expensive. So instead we decided to head to Dunedin as it was only an hour from the Catlins. So we booked our 4 nights there, and took the Intercity from Te Anau (we were going to use Stray but it meant spending a night in Invercargill and there was nothing to do there so we thought we'd save money). We'd heard lots about Dunedin and couldn't wait to go we'd contacted an old Kiwi friend from Australia (currently living in Nepal, but was from Dunedin) and found out she was actually HOME, so we were going to get to see her while we were there - amazing! Dunedin was awesome...more about that in the next blog.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Queenstown; we came, we conquered - it destroyed!

So I’ve not blogged in a while which is bad I know, but we’ve been super busy managing a hostel! So I’ll allow myself this one glitch!

So since I last blogged we visited Queenstown, adventure capital of New Zealand, also home to New Zealand’s best burger joint – FergBerger! We were pretty excited as we had our Canyon Swing booked for the 25th February. We hopped on the Stray bus from Cromwell, stopping off at the AJ Hackett Bungy, Karawau Bridge jump – which is where the Bungy Jump was first invented by a Kiwi, AJ Hackett, and we watched some people jump. I tell you though, watching people do it was the first time in my life I’ve ever wanted to do a jump. It looked so cool, but I’m still not sure I could do one, unless I did a tandem one and someone forced me to go with them, or perhaps the Queenstown ledge bungy where you can get thrown off so you don’t have to jump yourself!

The night we arrived in Queenstown we met up with Guillaume again, it’s becoming a regular occurrence now! And we had a few drinks, we also got our $25 worth of drinks vouchers from Peter Pans, but we were a bit disappointed as it was promoted as ‘free drinks’  but actually it was just $25 worth of discounts, so like 25% off or half price drinks etc. We went into one bar where the voucher looked like it offered a free meal, idiot backpackers we are, didn’t realise it was actually a burger and drink for $25 rather than a voucher worth $25! It was a bloody good burger though, and huge so it was worth spending £50 for a meal! 

The next day was our Canyon Swing, it was a pretty wet and windy day so we didn’t have high hopes for it going ahead but when we got to the check-in they told us it looked ok. It was scheduled for 1pm. Before, we went for a short walk around Queenstown city centre and went for a $10 curry and rice! On the bus on the way there, we were getting pretty nervous, but we hid it by getting to know a few people going – one girl had won a ticket to do every bungy and every swing in New Zealand – however she did chicken out of the highest one The Nevis Bungy at 134m (I think I would too!).
When we got there we were told to check-in but it was on wind-hold (as its so high, its dangerous to operate in high winds), but we only had to wait half an hour before we got to walk along the wobbly bridge of no return! Once we got to the jump platform this is when we really were bricking it! Watching other people swing was probably one of the scariest things about it, as you see them suspended over the ground at 160m, and then they just drop, full force, free-fall, in all their screaming glory towards the ground! It’s a 70m free-fall, 300m arc swing at speeds of 150kmh! We saw around 7 people swing before us – tandem definitely dropped faster than the singles as you have more weight behind you. We were doing it tandem! 

So it came to our turn and we started freaking out, we told the guy we wanted no surprises, we wanted a countdown lol. Two couples had been surprised before – one had been made to put their arms around each other and as they were moving into position he dropped them, another had been made to smile at their friends camera and then dropped – it looked terrifying! They strapped us in, and then the terrifying part came – taking our feet off the platform and being suspended above the ground, waiting to drop! 

On a count of three, after smiling at the cameras, we dropped, it was awesome but breathtaking – I’m not even sure how I even managed to find the air to scream! Pierrick screamed like a girl too (haha), but only on the swing as he was too breathless on the drop. That feeling where your stomach feels like its in your lungs? Well multiply that by 2 (it’s stomach in the head feeling), for at least 3-4 seconds, and that’s how it felt to drop, it was worse than freefalling in a skydive!

After, we had a huge rush of adrenaline and I honestly could have done it again and again! I think next time we are in Queenstown I will do the other Canyon swing where you can chose how you fall (I really want to go down a slide and fall!) That night we got a FergBurger to celebrate – amazing! They are huge and delicious. Pierrick had the Big Al – basically the biggest you can get, and I had the Steak burger – full of juicy tender sirloin steak and onions! 

Then we decided to have a night on the town, where we met up with the couple we had met at the Canyon Swing, Guillaume and also Katrin (a girl we had met on one of our stray journeys from Germany) as she is working in Queenstown. We also saw Kookie (our previous stray driver). We had waaaaay too much to drink...think 2 vodka orange, desperados, half a bottle of wine each, a litre of beer for $10 in Cowboys (best bar ever, it even has a rodeo you can ride), plus shots and other drinks...needless to say, I don’t remember much of the evening and the next day I woke up with THE WORST HANGOVER EVERRRRRRRRR! 

I kid you not, from the moment I woke up at 11am, to the moment we went to bed, I was throwing up – I couldn’t even keep water down! I blame the litre of beer! Pierrick even went to get another Fergburger thinking the grease and a coke would help – which it normally does – nope, I got 3 bites in and up it came! What a waste of a Hawaiian Fergburger! We had to go shopping that evening too, in the pissing rain, while violently hungover, which was NOT fun. As the next day we were leaving for Milford Sound and the place we were staying for 2 nights was in the middle of nowhere. 

Needless to say, Queenstown destroyed me and my liver, and when we next go back, I want to actually see the place and do the walks, rather than just see the toilet bowl! Damn you Cowboys...