For those of you who may be interested, here's a summary of the adventure I had getting up to Hamiltron. The times are just rough guesses, but here we go...
6:30am - woke up at the boys flat, realised this was the day of days. Grabbed my stuff and headed up to my house to finish packing my things.
8:30 - finished packing and doing the final walk through the house to check everything was spick and span. Went to put a couple of things in the recycling bin and heard a slam behind me. Had that sickening feeling when you realise that all your stuff is locked inside.
10:15 - after walking/running back to the boys flat, finally got in touch with the landlord and met him at home to get him to let me in. Quickly finished packing my stuff and got out to the road, where some other hitch-hikers had already beaten me to it.
10:40 - Got a ride to Palmerston with an interesting couple called Graham and Wendy.
11:30 - A truck pulled over with the name Stuart Orme printed on the outside, and the guy looked familiar when he jumped out to help me put my pack in the back. It wasn't until we got underway that we clicked that his daughter is one of Paula's best friends (and ex-flatmate), and that I'd actually stayed with them for a couple of nights a while ago. It's a small world!
12:30 - Turns out Stu was heading up to pick up Katherine at Oamaru, so I stayed and had lunch with them. 'Twas awesome catching up with Katherine and let Paula have a sneaky phone chat with her.
1:00 - Knowing I was getting behind on time to make it to Picton this night I didn't stay long and was back on the road. Didn't take long before I got picked up by a very talkative lady who sold advertising for the radio network. Very interesting hearing about what being in that field is like. She was only going as far as Timaru though.
2:30 - Timaru is definitely the worst place to hitch-hike from. Got yelled at to "Get a car ya bum" and had someone do the old start-to-slow-down-and-pull-over-but-then-speed-up-and-drive-away-laughing trick...it was awesome...and so original! Anyway, it felt like a while before I got picked up by a few people my age heading up to Christchurch to get drunk for one of their birthday.
5:00 - Got dropped off on the ring road around Christchurch, was freaking out that I was getting way behind schedule, but before I finished walking to a good hitching spot a car pulled over and it was a cool old Scottish guy offering me a ride to Woodend. Needless to say I took it.
5:30 - Got dropped off in Woodend. I was starting to feel pretty sweaty and gross so dug into my pack to find some deoderant. While doing so a car with some pretty gothic looking characters pulled over. The passengers were drinking and the guy talking to me had something tattooed on his forehead. They said they were going as far as Amberley, and when I asked how far it was he said he didn't even know where he was. With all my stuff still lying on the ground it was easy to tell them I'd just wait and take my chances of getting a ride going further. As they pulled off he yelled at me to get a haircut, at which point I realised that he was real-life skinhead, and had a wee chuckle at the whole thing.
6:30 - After what seemed like ages a friendly looking guy pulled over offering a ride to Amberley. I was pretty keen to get to a different scene so I accepted. He told me to mind the shotgun in the back, and sure enough there was a great whopping black shotgun sitting on the backseat. Turns out the guy sold suits in Christchurch but is a passionate hunter. He was good value and I really enjoyed the chat.
7:00 - The shadows were getting longer and I was still a bit worried I wouldn't make it up on time. The road at Amberley seemed pretty dead, but at this stage it only takes one good ride to go the whole way.
8:00 - Realising that my chances of making the 10:30 ferry were all but gone, I finally got a ride with a guy called Peter going to Cheviot. He's a consultant to the printing industry, and it was interesting hearing how it covers so much more than just newspapers and books and stuff! Cheviot wasn't really ideal but any ride was a good ride, and I'd basically resigned myself to the fact that I'd failed to make it to Picton that night.
9:00 - Got to Cheviot basically as it was getting dark. The fish and chip shop was just closing up but the lady kindly offered to turn the fryer back on to cook me some hot chips, which did a lot for the moralle. The road was basically dead and I decided it wasn't worth trying to hitch-hike there after dark. Ate my chips beside the road as darkness fell, eyeing up any parks beside the road where I could sleep.
9:30 - After talking to Paula, opted to head to the camping ground to see if any cabins were available. Turns out they were all booked up for Guy Fawkes but the lady was super helpful. She tried getting me into an old house bus at the back corner of the camping ground but the key didn't work. So she got me heaps of tarpaulins and blankets and left me to sleep on the ground. Had some trouble getting to sleep as the bag I was using as a pillow had some muesli bars in it, and I was freaking out that possums or rats might smell them and try to get into them. But I eventually got a bit of sleep.
5:30am - Got up as it was already reasonably light. It was a beautiful morning, and turns out it had been a light frost as my pack and drink bottle had ice on them. Had a really nice shower to take advantage of the camping ground facilities.
5:50 - Walked out to the road, and there was certainly nothing much happening. The volunteer firefighters were called out while I was there.
7:15 - After a long and cold wait, and feeling pretty stupid wanting a ride from Cheviot at such a crazy hour, I got a ride with a cool guy called Dan. He'd just finished his second year of Civil Engineering at Canterbury uni, and was heading all the way to Picton.
7:17 - Had a sickening feeling when I realised that my wedding ring wasn't on. I immediately realised I hadn't put it back on after using the shower at the camping ground, and asked Dan if he'd be happy going back.
7:20 - Back at the camping ground went to the guys showers and looked where I knew I'd left the ring. To my horror it wasn't there, so I went and rang the bell at the office and sheepishly told the lady what had happened. Once again she was very helpful, and took my details but as I well knew, she couldn't do much about it.
7:30 - Got back on the road with Dan. Was pretty hopeful of making the 10:05 ferry.
9:55 - Got to the ferry terminal, quickly said goodbye to Dan and ran inside. Asked if it was too late to book a ticket and got told the ferry was delayed by 2 hours. This was pretty gutting as it meant my chances of making it to Tauranga that night were shot down. Booked a ticket anyway and checked my luggage in.
10:30 - During a phone call with Paula, we decided to see if I could get a refund on the ferry tickets and cough up for a Nelson-Auckland flight. It turned out I could get my luggage and money back, so was back on the road, pacing it for the road leaving Picton to get to Nelson that afternoon. Had to stop in a stationery shop to buy a vivid to make a new sign.
11:15 - after frantically walking through Picton, was out on the road again. It wasn't long before a truck pulled over with a couple of people inside. The driver had his hood up so I hardly saw his face at all, and the guy in the passenger seat never said a word nor turned around at all so I don't know what he looked like either. That said, the hooded guy was pretty friendly and was good at keeping a conversation alive. It was him and his Dad heading off to Blenheim. They dropped me off on the main road out to Nelson.
12:00 - Got a ride going to Renwick with a lady called Hellie or something. She was interesting but it was a pretty short ride.
2:30 - The wait in Renwick was the longest and most frustrating wait I think I've ever had! I'd been hoping to make the 4:10 flight from Nelson, but was starting to despair of that. The last chance was a 6:00pm flight, which I was still fairly confident about. Nonetheless, at 2:30 a car pulled up ages away from me but tooted to let me know they were there for me. Ran down and jumped in the car. Turns out it was a couple of young guys dropping off a trailer at Havelock and then on to see a friend at Rai Valley. They were really cool to chat to.
3:20 - Got dropped off in Rai Valley, a random little town in the middle of lots of hills. The road seemed pretty empty so was freaking out that it'd be another long wait, but thankfully it wasn't long before a car pulled over. It was a nice couple by the name of Astrid (the girl) and Zed (the guy), she was from Holland and he is from New Zealand. They had some interesting stories of hitching around North-East Australia
4:00 - Got to Nelson Airport. Quickly said thanks to Astrid and Zed and ran inside to see if it was too late to get on the 4:10 flight. Turns out the Auckland flight was actually at 4:45 so there weren't any dramas there. The lady at the desk was super helpful and did some weird deal with transferrable flights that meant I got the fare a bit cheaper.
4:15 - While waiting for the flight to leave I got a phone call from the lady at the camping ground saying she'd found my ring, which obviously made my day. I started feeling quite good about this trip which, which a failure in the sense that I didn't make it all the way up, was nonetheless a pretty sweet adventure!
6:00 - Touched down in Auckland after not talking to anyone on the plane. It was a short wait before Paula arrived to pick me up. It was flippin amazing to see her again, and was just the most perfect way to finish the adventure.
So anyway, there you have it! Sorry its not exactly short, but it was fun.