Distance Travelled: 287 km
Total Road Trip Distance: 1495 km
17th – 18th Nov
Our journey back to the east coast involved a fair few planned pit stops and one rather exciting unplanned one. Just outside of Queenstown is a big bridge over a gorge. This bridge is the home of the commercial bungee jump, founded by a chap called AJ Hackett who once got arrested for bungee jumping off the Eiffel Tower. He started his bungee jumpinh venture back in 1988 and to this day, for a mere $190, you can emulate the great man by throwing yourself off the same bridge.
After watching the full spectrum of jumpers, from super-cocky arms-out-wide jumpers to the poor lady that said “no no no” so many times she became an honorary 90s dance classic before being pushed off the edge, we got back into the car to see some big fruit.
I’m not sure of the significance of these giant fruits but they were building something around them so we couldn’t find out any information. But our stop in this village was not just to overindulge on our five-a-day. Cromwell was once a gold mining hub and they’ve maintained a bunch of old shopfronts from that time. Some still function as shops and cafés, others are memorials to a simpler time. One particular store had a voice track that explained the story of an immigrant family from Scotland. The only issue was the actress playing the Scottish lady hadn’t quite mastered the Scottish accent and Kate was rather offended at her Kiwi/South African/French/Irish hybrid.
The rest of the old town was thankfully much more culturally accurate and rather quaint.
The old town had actually been moved from closer to the river to where ut stands today. The river used to be a piddly stream a long way down a huge gorge until they built a giant dam further down the river which raised the water levels to where they sit today.
Talking of dams, our next stop was Clyde Dam, the culprit. And also NZ’s tallest concrete dam.
Our last stop on this leg was a small town called Alexandra. When we arrived I spotted a bargain shop and, having packed mostly warm-weather clothes I took the opportunity to get myself a super cheap hoody. Of course men’s hoodies were twice the price and only in black so I found myself an $11 XXL navy ladies’ hoody that fitted perfectly.
From there we found the shaky bridge, a surprisingly secure wooden-slatted bridge crossing the gorge and a huge clock on the cliff face.
The opposite side from Alexandra has the Shaky Bridge Vineyard with a cute little cafe. The rain had started and we were quite thirsty anyway so we stopped in for a drink. And cheese.
From the shaky bridge we drove onwards to Dunedin. Having driven most of the day we were ready to put our feet up. All the way up to the top of the world’s steepest street.
Having seen some pretty spectacularly steep streets already, including walking up one in Queenstown, I was a bit sceptical about how much steeper this one could. Turns out quite a lot.
A fun activity for locals and tourists to walk, run, drive or even rollerskate up apparently. We went for the first option and strolled to the top of the 1 in 2.86 gradient residential street. Although it’s not particularly long, the gradient alone is enough to tire you out in seconds.
At the top they have very kindly installed a water fountain for a victory sip before you trudge all the way back down again as it doesn’t go anywhere.
We drove around Dunedin for a bit to see some of the more interesting bits (the University of Otago, the train station and the octagonal road that forms the city centre) before grabbing some food from the shop and eating at our hostel.
The next day we checked out and headed off in our beautiful Tiida.
Pavlova palace was probably very nice at some point. Our private double room was lovely, the facilities sounded great (although once more we used the kitchen and left the rest) and the location was great. But it was filthy. I gather it was due at least in part to our fellow guests but it ruined our stay. Someone left their business on the toilet seat (how you miss with that I don’t know), the crockery and cutlery was all grubby with most of it in the sink and the kitchen as a whole was a bit old and rank with open bins right next to it full of day old veg cuttings for the chickens. They make a pavlova for the guests every night but we didn’t fancy any.