We woke up this morning with an itch to get out of town. We rose around 7am and made our way to the kitchen, where we found breakfast waiting for us. Well, we found sliced bread ready to be toasted and coffee ready to be brewed, along with assorted jams and cereals. We ate lightly, wanting to get on the road and into Alexandra early enough to catch the afternoon bus to Queenstown. It was only on our way out the door that we saw the notice that the ‘Continental Breakfast’ was $10 per person. Oh, hell no! Readers, I hate to admit this, but we declined to pay for our 2 pieces of toast and cup of coffee. We packed up our bags in a hurry and got out of there feeling crazy guilty about running out on the breakfast bill, but feeling like we’d been kind of set up: we had been at enough hostels in Central America that included breakfast as a matter of course and no one had mentioned any kind of fee for the modest spread that was laid out in the morning. Had the cost been more reasonable, say $5, we would have ‘fessed up, but we couldn’t justify spending $20 between the two of us when we had made an honest mistake and could have just whipped up some oatmeal had we known better.
We didn’t take any photos on the highway back- we were too focused on catching our bus to Queenstown
With the wind of guilt howling at our backs, we made great time to Alexandra, where we were able to purchase our bus tickets, do some grocery shopping, and even have a picnic lunch before our bus arrived. It is always shocking to ride in a vehicle while seeing through cyclist’s eyes. What would have been a full day’s ride took about an hour and the scenery whizzed past, barley registering. We noted the high traffic volume, notable hills, and lack of a good shoulder and congratulated ourselves for not having attempted to ride the route, only remembering after a few minutes that we would, in fact, be riding a good chunk of it when we left Queenstown for Wanaka in a week or so.
We pulled into the bus stop in ‘downtown’ Queenstown (it’s in quotes because it’s so little!) and walked our bikes to the campground in town where we had reservations. The campground itself was very much like a parking lot, but it did have a pretty sweet location, great kitchen and disappointingly, pay showers. We showered, cooked up some food and went to sleep early so we’d be well-rested enough to collect our rental car the next morning. We had decided for a vehicle-based interlude during our stay in Queenstown. Back in Alexandra, we had reserved a couple of spots on the Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’. We had some time to kill before our reservations started (hiking traffic is so high on these trails that a registry system, along with a fee [$15/night to camp and $50/night for a dorm bed in a trail hut] to ensure that the routes are not overcrowded), so we thought that we’d take a rental car to see the regions that we had to skip on bike. I’ll jump ahead and say that, while we got a decent daily rental rate, with insurance included (!), the gas was so astronomically expensive that I felt like my own grandmother, complaining about how much gas used to cost. [Note for the curious: $2.11 per liter here in sunny NZ and 99¢ per gallon when I learned to drive in sunny California.].
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