The Happy Camper: new austerity measures on the road

“Men like Tom Crean and Roald Amundsen have looked into such tracts of the wild unknown and thought ‘onward.’ For us, this will be the southern limit of our lifetime.”

MONEY’S TOO TIGHT to mention. The fleecing we got in Queenstown, along with shelling out for tickets for an extra quarter final, have put super noodles back on the menu rotation.

As the tour wears on it seems everyone is in a similar boat.

I meet a couple from Ireland’s north-west having breakfast in Invercargill. Kevin is outside the kitchen trying to contact his bank’s automated service but is left cursing the lack of mobile phone reception in the deep south.

Seosaimhin sits inside putting the final touches on the most important meal of the day.

From Tyrone and Donegal respectively (they will return to work in Australia next week) the pair are trying to reload the bank account for their own assault on Queenstown before Saturday’s festivities.

With a day required to see Milford Sound, I wonder how they will fit it all in with a second to spare but my wee chat is curtailed as Del honks the horn of the van, the boys are eager to get down to Bluff.

Our last southerly journey brings us through some tough and uncompromising farmland. The vast flat green fields are far less lush than in Otago to the North.

Horses, deer and (of course) sheep graze on the edible grass, avoiding the dense scrub and weeds which puncture the surface.

We pass straight through the town itself, but it looks like everything a working fishing port should be: galvanized roofing and shed doors rust to a shade of dirty red, well-worn and well-used boats are moored to the dock watching other crafts get tossed around the rough waves like toys barely 500 meters offshore.

End of the road

We reach Stirling Point; it is as far as Cian can take us.

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Men like Tom Crean and Roald Amundsen have looked into such tracts of the wild unknown and thought ‘onward.’ For us, this will be the southern limit of our lifetime.

This is not New Zealand’s most extreme south, Stewart Island straddles the choppy waters of the Antarctic and Pacific waters.

Beyond that, 4810 kilometres to the southwest, is the Pole. Sail east in a straight line from here and the first land you meet will be Chile, travel west and it is Argentina – it’s time to turn back.

“We’ll follow them north” chimes Del, his stomach lined with the oysters from which Bluff has become famous for throughout this country.

The run of good weather has come to an end, the sky is shrouded by a dishcloth and after plenty of sunshine it feels as if we have returned to the land of the long white cloud that we entered almost three weeks ago. I take the wheel and steer us back up the road we came.

We bypass Dunedin; rising above the city on its northern hillside and continue on driving through Oamaru, where Richie McCaw went to school, and past the road to Kurow where he grew up. Tosh pushes Cian through the twilight and parks him up under a seedy looking overpass on the loop road near the port in Timaru.

All to save a few dollars by avoiding a campsite… and we’ve already spent some of that frugality on the finest bottle of red that the supermarket and $6 could provide.

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