It’s been a while since I have been down to the South Island with work and other projects it was about time I went down there, and this time there was going to be a road trip involved, but before that happened we went and checked out Escape Artists.

How Escaping from a Prison Cell Went

It’s one of those room escape places, there seems to be a lot of them but you only really know about them if you look for them, and or if people you know will go and check them out, I know some people that would be keen as on them, and others that wouldn’t.  Luckily for me, I was with people that were keen, and we made the grand team size of 3 people.  Having the right people in the team is important I think.

It was a great experience and we had to escape from a prison cell, and my first tip for other people out there is that you need to have good communication skills, while I said I had checked the pillow, it sounded like I had checked both pillows, something which would have meant we could have been out of handcuffs pretty much straight away, and not 20 mins into a 48 minute escape, although it was interesting doing a lot of things with them on.

Escape Artists Christchurch

Another tip that can help other people is bringing along a teen who is a maths genius, or at least someone to help compliment any areas that you may be lacking in.  When facing a problem involving a maths equation just made up of images and then using that to work out a code, the teen blurted out numbers after a 10 second glance at the sheet, when asked if he was sure, he replied I can show you how I worked it out, there was no time for that and he was correct.

There are no photos of the room, and I’m not going to go into detail about any of the puzzles you had to solve, but it was a great experience and can’t wait to go back and check out more of the rooms they have.  Go to www.escapeartists.co.nz for more info.

Time for a road trip

I’ve been to Christchurch in the winter before and while it was cold, I’ve always been a little bit unsatisfied that there was always a lack of snow, this trip was going to change all of that.

The plan was to drive down to Alexandra from Christchurch as my travel companion Sarah has a friend named Sarah who is currently in Alexandra for work, was taking part in the local theatrical production of Grease, a good enough reason as any to travel for over 5 1/2 hours.

Our first stop was Geraldine where we looked at the museum, and as far as museums go this was average at best, and while it would have been good to look at more of Geraldine that will have to happen on another trip as we were on a mission.

Fairlie Museum

The next stop was at another museum and this time it was in Fairlie, it turns out the little café at the front of the museum was being run by two ladies one an ex Aucklander and another who was an Ex Hamiltonian, both adamant they would never return to the North Island after having been down south for almost 20 years, and to be fair I can see the appeal of these places down south, just seems so much nicer and less stressful than up here in the North Island.

The Museum itself consists of two parts, one part is the general museum and the second part consists of a vehicle collection across the street behind the museum, and as most of the vehicles are privately owned the place is locked up, but we got asked if we would like to check it out of course we would and a quick phone call to a local named Dick and a small 10 minute wait, we were then met by a grey haired American who showed us interesting items in the Museum as he led us to the building housing all the vehicles.

He was full of knowledge and it was great to see the interesting vehicles they did have, he was also able to show us through the old railway building and unlocked a room they were still in the process of sorting out all the old photos for on the wall, this room is one of if not the coldest places I have ever been.

While the day itself wasn’t too warm, with snow on the mountains and a very high probability of snow happening very soon, the rest of the building was OK as far as temperature was concerned, the one that was unlocked was a new kind of cold, it hit you suddenly, and almost took your breath as you stood there looking at photos of people who founded the town many years ago, and it was a relief when we finally left that room and carried on looking around, it was so cold that my brain wasn’t functioning properly and I didn’t take a photo of it.

Tekapo

After the museum it was time to carry on, a quick stop on the side of the road before going through the Lindis pass you check out the snow on the edges of the road like all the other tourists on the road and we made it through the pass OK and it was time to check out the Chruch of the Good Shepherd in Tekapo, this is a somewhat famous landmark for tourists and there must be a million photos taken of it by now, luckily there weren’t many tourists there at all.

We carried on and stopped off in Cromwell which is great as it has giant fruit, it wasn’t a giant pumpkin but I was still impressed with it as well as the old Cromwell Historic town.

We dropped our bags off at the little cabin we were staying at, which turns out was made from a whole bunch of interlocking pieces of timber, and I learnt is made by a company called Fraemohs Homes which you should check out if you are after a new kit set building.

We caught up with my best friend Sarah’s friend Sarah before the show, had dinner and drinks and then it was time to go see the production of Grease, it was really good and there were some super talented people in the cast and it was sometimes hard to believe that a lot of them were just high school kids.

While getting drinks from 4 square and drinking in the park was super tempting after the show, we decided to get some sleep as all the driving during the day sure can get tiring.

Back off to Christchurch

The plan for the next day was to head the way we came and get back into Christchurch as I had my flight out that night at 8 pm, on the way back we saw the Clutha dam which is a mighty large piece of engineering and looked really impressive.

We also made a stop to get food at Twizel, which upon driving around and interacting with the staff at the café we stopped at could possibly hold the 1st place award for the most depressing place I have ever visited, it might have been the weather, but I’m not sure.

Snowed In

Next stop on this whirlwind trip of fun was Tekapo, this time there was a fair amount of snow around the place and we knew it was going to be touch and go if we would be able to get over the Lindis pass, when we got to the start where the big electronic sign was, it said snow chains were essential and to drive carefully.  Now we didn’t have snow chains, and we had discussed these before the trip, but snow chains from shops are super expensive, and well how often do you really need them?

We went back to the Challenge petrol station where lots of people were buying snow chains and learning how to put them on, after a bit of a wait, and a small learning curve we had chains on the car, and I can now say I have learnt that life skill and now know how to put snow chains on, at the same time the fire siren was going off next to the petrol station and both fire engines ended up going out.  We found out later that one was going to a car crash on the pass, while the other one we learnt was blocking the road next to the large sign as we made our way back.

A bunch of people got out of the car to find out what was happening, and we learnt that the road was closed for the night.

We turned around and headed back into town, and found ourselves sitting in the lounge area of the Godley Hotel, the largest accommodation place in Tekapo, but without any spare rooms, and people making phone calls and texting in the hope of trying to find somewhere to stay for the night, we made phone calls to let people we knew what was happening, and I had resigned to the fact that I was not going to be making my flight that night.  People were helping us try and find a place to stay, and there were lots of great suggestions being mentioned, but at that point, there were no solutions, and we were looking at staying the night in this hotels lounge.

At about this point I realised that my finger was somehow bleeding, I blame the snow chains for that and I went off to the car to apply some first aid to myself and to also get a chocolate bar from the petrol station.  When I came back into the hotel lobby I saw someone checking in, and I asked if they had rooms now or what the story was.  It turned out that with the road closed a whole bus load of people were unable to stay that night, so what was their misfortune was good news for us.  We had a room for the night.

The room had this strange wallpaper everywhere, which looked like it either belonged in one of those magic eye books from when I was a kid, or it may have had some sort of subliminal message contained within it, it also had an old radio from around the 70’s that didn’t work, and for drinking purposes it had a bottle opener attached to the wall above the bathroom sink.

We partook in the buffet dinner on offer from the hotel and could pick from an interesting selection of food they decided to present us.

The snow outside was still falling heavily and it looked very nice, some kids were outside rolling a rather large snowball around, it’s final size was almost waist height to me, I forgot to get a photo of it though, and after dinner we went outside to make a snowman, where I got mocked for just piling snow into a heap on the nearby picnic table, and got informed that to do it properly I was supposed to roll a snowball around until it got big enough, screw that I thought and I just kept heaping snow until I sculpted my own special deformed snowman.

In the morning we had heard the road had opened, and we were taking no chances as it could close again at any moment, the first step was to try and get one of the doors open to the car, which was covered in snow and ice.  I managed to get the back door open, and even with all of my delicate manoeuvring from the back to the front seat, I managed to break the rear vision mirror off of its mount.

The drive back was slow, and we were reminded of the conditions when we came across cars crashed due to not having chains, or abandoned as the conditions were so bad, and the boggled at cars overtaking us at great speed, some with snow chains and some without, it seemed like these people were rolling the dice if they were going to make it back in one piece just so they could get to wherever they were going slightly faster.

While entering Fairlie again it was good to see they were only letting people go through the pass if they had chains on, and while some people who didn’t have chains didn’t know what to do and looked anguished it was a lot better than trying to tackle the mountain pass without the right gear.

After a quick stop in Fairlie and catching up with Mel, a person whose wedding rings I had the pleasure of holding during a ring warming ceremony at a wedding where I knew no one, we were on our way back to Christchurch, we stopped for food a Te Muka, and I got a lotto ticket and 2 instant kiwis.  I scratched one of the Instant Kiwis later on that day and my heart was pounding as I got the maximum 3 complete words a ticket would allow, something I have never ever seen, if you’re lucky enough to get one word you might get $5, so with great trepidation I scratched off the prize panels to see what I had won, could this be the big one, could this be the amount to pay off everything, and become part of the already awesome story that was this trip, no.  In total, I won $40, which nothing to be scoffed at, and with the lotto ticket, I won $15.  The most amount of money I think I have ever won on either of these.

I booked a flight for that night, and after some delays due to the plane needing to be defrosted in Queenstown, made it back to Auckland, and then drove home, getting into bed after midnight, it was a great trip, and I’m keen to explore the area again, but probably in the summer for a change.