That Night We Slept in Our Car
It goes without saying, THIS WAS NOT PLANNED! When we started this day of adventure, we had no idea that we would be spending that evening sleeping in our car! On our travels, for a variety of reasons, we have slept in a few interesting places. In Switzerland we ended up sleeping in Barn, in Austria we slept in a Treehouse, and just the night before this evening, we had slept in a caravan.
Of course, none of those were terrible… in fact, we really enjoyed all three of them. This crazy night of sleeping in car was, however, not as exciting. We did giggle about it later, but it wasn’t the most comfortable (or peaceful) of nights.
But Why? What happened?
Well, after a long day, packed full of explorations and adventure, we realized that we would be driving well into the dark night. Our next stop was Queenstown, where few would be staying with some friends. Actually, we would be staying with the parents of some friends we have here win China, but nevertheless, we were heading to a home-type environment, and we really didn’t want to delay that by anther night.
Knowing that driving times generally took much longer than maps showed, we knew that we should consider stopping along the way to sleep, but we couldn’t find much on-route. There were a few $250+ options, but since we would be pulling in late, and leaving at the crack of dawn, the budget-travelers in us just couldn’t bring ourselves to pay that for a few hours.
We therefore decided to just push on, drive carefully in the dark, and get our butts all the way to Queenstown!
A Stressed Driver
Everything would have gone okay, with us arriving in Queenstown at about 9-10pm, but it soon dawned on us that after 5pm…. almost all the stores were closed! This wasn’t the first time that we had noticed that New Zealand goes to sleep REALLY early. But since we hadn’t done any night driving, we had never thought about the fact that the FUEL STATIONS CLOSE EARLY TOO!
Yes, you read right!
There are numerous warnings about making sure that you are all filled up on the West Coast of New Zealand. We were cautious and completely filled the tank wherever we could, but after numerous closed stations we began to realize that we were just not going to make it to Queenstown.
At Least the View was Good
The views on New Zealand are simply spectacular! The sunset on this particular evening was amazing, but each time I looked over at Justin, I could tell how stressed he was. Me, on the other hand, I really didn’t care too much. I kept telling Justin that we would get there, find a place to fill up, or park off and sleep in the car.
We eventually got to a small town about 30km from Queenstown. The only problem was that our car said that it only had 20km of fuel left (fancy car, right?? Or maybe Im just out of touch with car technology since we haven’t had a car in 8 years).
A Glimmer of Hope
We found a fuel station that looked like it might be open, but alas, it only had self-service and the machines wouldn’t take any of our foreign cards. A couple of truck drivers stopped in for fuel, so we tried to see if one of them would fill us up on their car and allow us to give them cash. That didn’t work since most of theM use business fuel cards and they are only allowed to fill up on diesel. It didn’t seem like we were going to have much luck with this approach as there wasn’t much traffic going through this little town!
We found an informal-looking police station and tried to get some help there. There was a number on the door of the office, so we called to see if they could tell us what to do. An unfriendly lady told us that we should sign up for AA and that this wasn’t an emergency. hahahaha…
Feet Up Seat Down
The above picture is dark, but basically it shows my view as I closed my eyes that evening. Eli woke up just as we decided to park off for the evening (awful nap-timing, I know) so we put a movie on the iPad, lowered our seats a bit, and closed our eyes. We were both exhausted and going to sleep just seemed like the most logical solution.
When the petrol station opened at 5am we didn’t even wake up. In fact, I don’t think that either Justin nor I woke up until the sun was well up, and there was quite a bit of movement outside. We filled up and got back on the road.
Home Sweet Home
When we arrived at our friends, in Queenstown, it was simply amazing… It felt like we were arriving home!
We were sooooo incredibly grateful to be welcomed in with big smiles and happy face. There was also comfort in the knowledge that we could nap, unwind, and relax for the rest of the day.
What a blessing!
Eli had LOADS of toys to play with, a big dog to cuddle and a large house to explore. He was in heaven!
So there you have it! A crazy night, but it really wasn’t awful and we laugh about it now (well, Justin still cringes a bit). It really could have been much worse. We could have run out of fuel as we were coming around those hairpin bends on the coastal road.
The funny part about all this is that Justin is super cautious and always makes sure to fill up! It is me who lets my phone run on 2% battery. I also don’t feel bad to ride around with my fuel tank on E. My husband is the opposite though, so I know that he was really beating himself up for this. The truth is – we couln’t have anticipated fuel stations being close before the sun had even set! That’s New Zealand for ya!