09.24.2010 - 09.30.2010
Upon my return to Invercargill, I was certain that I would be greeted by sunny weather, chirping birds and flowers beginning to bloom. Hahaha how wrong I was. Instead what I came back to was about four inches of snow. Not much for this native east coaster, but unprecedented for the Invercargill set. To help paint the picture, a roof of a ten year old stadium collapsed from the weight, along with roofs of other buildings in the city. After dealing with this for a week and realizing I had a week off from work, I decided to make a last minute trip to Stewart Island and return to my woofing roots.
I made some hasty day of plans and was able to get on the flight to Stewart Island.
Me: I wonder if they'll have a flight attendant for drinks.
Juan: Do you think they could fit a drink cart in a Honda Vigor with wings?
So I got to the airport about 15 minutes before my flight. I start making conversation with a fellow passenger when all of a sudden there is a massive hail storm for about 3 minutes.
Inner monologue: I'm excited about going to Stewart Island, but would prefer not to die getting there. Perhaps I'll see if I can fly tomorrow instead.
Me: (at flight desk) Hi. Ummm. Are there any flights tomorrow.
Agent: No, the 9 and 1 are booked.
Me: Oh, that's okay. What about the 4?
Agent: There's space, but you're getting on this flight. This will be the weather for the next six weeks. Here's a pair of ear plugs.
Me: ummm. okay. How's the plane with water landings?
Agent: About 50/50.
I'm not a very nervous flyer, but since the trans Tasman flight from Sydney to Christchurch, I'm feeling a little more weary of small planes. As we taxied down the runway, I seriously considered pulling a Whitney Houston a la Bodyguard and making them stop the plane. Except instead of me jumping off into the hands of my one true love, I could jump off in search of a brown bag in which to breathe into. Unfortunately for me, I missed my window and quickly our wheels were pulling off the ground.
We flew at the low level of 1000 feet on the 25 minute flight to Stewart Island. I decided to use the journey as a great white shark siting adventure. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it, all I could see were waves crashing in the water. So much for my great expedition! But one perk of almost having a panic attack before the flight is that the pilot let me sit in the co-pilot seat. It was actually pretty awesome. By the end of the flight I was thinking maybe I should have paid more for the perk.
After landing, we were picked up and brought down to the main township of Oban. Upon arrival, I was greeted by my woofing host. We made a quick stop at his house and then on to the restaurant. The Church Hill restaurant sits on the hill overlooking Halfmoon Bay. It's a quaint space with an open fireplace, tastefully decorated interior and breathtaking vistas to enjoy. We started off with 3 woofers and by the end of my week there we were up to 6 total. The instructions from my woofing host were, there are no instructions. Pitch in where you'd like and do the work you think you should do. Excellent. The perfect making for my communist world. I ended up taking over the role of cookie maker. This then included a daily walk down to the arriving ferry to pass out free cookies to welcome tourists to Stewart Island. I also revived my bread making skills. It started off a little slow, or perhaps I should say dense with my first loaf. Yes, I forgot that important ingredient called yeast. But from then on, each loaf just got better. Even experimenting with some fruit and nuts by the end. I also learned the fine art of smoking salmon. From deboning to packaging. And a great perk of working in a restaurant - delicious meals three times per day. One of the woofers was a french pastry chef which only added to all the culinary delights.
Most mornings were spent doing a bit of work and after lunchtime, we'd be off to do whatever we pleased. I went on some great hikes around the area, explored the native birdlife on Ulva Island and we did a driving tour of the island. Definitely a fun part of my trip and a tough place to leave. There are only 300 year round residents on the island so to say the pace of life is slow might be an understatement. But alas, after a week, I was on the plane (riding shotgun) to Invercargill.
The weather picked up dramatically and spring does finally seem to be on the rise.