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7th Dwarf (grumpy)

15 April 2010

I am super grumpy this morning. This is in part because the English boys in the rooms next to me were incredibly noisy last night and kept smoking outside their rooms, and the acidic smell seeped into my room and also in part because I am hormonal (too much information?!). Yes, I know that I sound like a grumpy old woman but I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep for ages. Anyway, rant over.

A lot of the people who were on my coach from Queenstown are now on the coach to Greymouth. I chat to a guy from Malaysia and he’s booked on the Tranz Scenic rail at 1.45pm but I didn’t book this as I thought that we may not get back into Greymouth in time but in hindsight, it would have been a better plan. For those of you following ‘The anthology of New Zealand coach drivers’, our driver today is Glen but he doesn’t seem to have the gift of the gab and is very quiet (which may be just as well considering the mood I am in!)

We continue our trip up with West Coast through small towns like Hari Hari, Hokitika and Ross (the latter being famous for gold mining during the boom in the late 1860s and during this time over 800kg of gold was shipped to Melbourne on a monthly basis.) We have a comfort break in a tiny place called Pukekura (pop. 2) in a rustic cafe called 'Bushmans Centre'. Glen warns us that you have to have sense of humour when you enter the place and he isn’t wrong as they have a pathological distrust of possums; animal rights activists and Aucklanders (not necessarily in that order)

On the way I notice a lot of placards outside houses with ‘ban 1080’ on them and I find some leaflets in the Bushmans Centre which explain what they mean. It would seem that the NZ government are concerned with possums carrying TB so they are poisoning them with 1080 (sodium monofluorocetate) but this is also killing domestic pets, birds and plant life. The next drop on the West Coast is May – September 2010 over 90,000 hectares and 270 ton of poison will be dropped over prime NZ bush. I cannot say that I am very impressed with this but it would seem that there is a massive problem with possums (there are over 70m of them in NZ and they destroy vegetation at an alarming rate) and there is no real solution on how to deal with them (I don't have a problem with getting rid of possums but I have a problem with poisons being used)

We continue on to Greymouth in the rain (yes, I know this is a rainforest) and when we reach Greymouth I decide to try and change my ticket on the train to today as spending 24 hours in Greymouth would be something that I wouldn’t wish even on my worst enemy.

Luckily, this is done without a hitch and after a quick text to K and J to make sure they don’t mind me turning up in Christchurch a day early, a find myself on the Tranz Scenic (or Tranz Alpine as it’s called in some literature) heading towards Christchurch.

It is rated as one of the great train journeys of the world and they are not wrong. The journey is 231 kilometres and takes 4 and half hours.There are 19 tunnels and the highest viaduct is the Staircase at 73 metres. We also pass through Arthur’s Pass National park which covers over 94,500 hectares of rugged wilderness rising to Mount Rolleston at 2,270 metres and the Waimakariri River an ice-fed river which is about 150km long (it starts its journey in the Alps above Arthur’s Pass and reaches the sea near Kaiapoi, just north of CHCH)

My carriage is packed with a tour group of people in their 60s with a mixture of Aussies and Brits and when we pass over one of the viaducts, one of the women announces that the scenery is like that to be found in the film ‘Deliverance’. Now, I don’t know if you have seen the film but the scenery is not something that you immediately associate with that film!

We burst into CHCH in brilliant sunshine and K and J are there to meet me and we head to their flat in the suburb of Sumner for dinner, beer and bed.

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