Te Anau - a quiet, flat community in the middle of nowhere, whose purpose quite completely eludes me. It seems to be a way station for people headed elsewhere, but the elsewheres in question (Milford, Doubtful Sound, Keppler Track) are all a good distance further away. In the meantime here’s Te Anau, a town made up entirely of restaurants. Our demographic at the YHA hostel is downright odd - residents from ages 18 to 80. The six-bedroom dorm next to ours was occupied by a half dozen septuagenarian Kiwis and Aussies, like some outback reunion of the Royal Fusiliers.
Replacing Katie as the unwanted fourth member of our 3-man band is Lars (not his real name, because no one’s bothered to ask his real name), who is sharing our 6-bed dorm with us and is the living embodiment of a kind of consensus shared nightmare of every man, woman, and child who has ever stayed in any hostel, anywhere on the earth. Lars - who passed out on his bunk at 8 pm the night we arrived and proceeded to snore like a locomotive gone off the rails for the entirety of the next ten hours (or at least, whenever he wasn’t farting) refuses to make eye contact with anyone and should come with a medic alert bracelet forbidding him from sharing accommodations with any other humans. He doesn’t seem to do anything besides lay on his bed playing on his laptop, and snore. “I am Lars! I check into hostel and lie on bed! This is vacation for me!”
A little further down the road from Te Anau is Manapouri, which has a small beach - stumbled upon by accident. This beach was, from the moment I saw it, the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, whose description I shall not utter here. A bit further down the road than that was the rocky beach behind the Possum Lodge (!), which is - by our rough Google mapping - the furthest from home I’ve ever been, and likely to remain so, unless I eventually get in that trip to Australia I craved in my youth. Though if I ever do come this far and farther again, there are other things from home I’d bring with me.
I was at world’s end on 3/7.
If Te Anau has one thing to recommend it, it is the food truck down by the water called Mainly Seafood, manned by a kindly, bald Kiwi who has ruined me for fish and chips for the rest of my life. I have never, ever, EVER had a piece of fish like the blue cod this man sold me; it redefined the art form to such an extent that I will not order fish and chips from anyone else I ever encounter. Lightly battered, requiring neither salt nor sauce, and falling apart in juicy morsels with every single bite. The fish and chips of the gods.
I’ve been the furthest I’ve ever been. From here, I am - torturously slowly - following the cookie crumbs home.
The furthest away from home I’ve ever been
I’M GOING TO NEW ZEALAAAAAAAAAAAAAND