Today is the last day that my family are in New Zealand, so this morning we all went down to the Franz Josef Main Street, and enjoyed a massive breakfast together before they started their long drive to Christchurch. It's been ridiculously fun having them around, and the moment they left the hotel driveway - I already missed them.
My drive today would take me all the way back up to Reefton, via Hokitika Gorge. So after packing all of my things back into the van, it was off for a quick fuel stop (this will be important later) and I was on my way.
How awesome is the colour of the water!? Supposedly this place is usually bursting with sandflies, but with the cold weather we've had the last week - I was free to hang around as long as I liked without being forced out by the little shits.
Once I'd had my fill of the views, it was on to Reefton - a town that I'd already passed through nearly three weeks ago. For anyone following along on a map, it should now be pretty clear what the final plan is before heading home. With my main loop of the South Island complete, it's now on to Kaikoura via the Lewis Pass, and then south to Christchurch, where I'll wrap the trip up on Saturday.
To celebrate the completion of my South Island loop, I decided to sort my accomodation for the night, and climb the hill that looks out over the town. I handed over the last of the cash in my wallet to the Reefton Motor Camp (this will also be important in a minute), and headed up to watch the sunset.
It really is a lovely town! With the sun setting, and being in good spirits - I decided to try and plan out the next few days with a bit more precision. I got out my phone, and started putting together a budget for the time I had left. That's when I noticed the colossal fuck up that had occurred this morning.
It's fairly typical in New Zealand to prepay your fuel at the petrol station. Basically you swipe your card, they hold an arbitrary amount of money - usually around $100 - and then deduct whatever your total fuel cost was from that. The rest of the $100 is then transferred back immediately (if not immediately, it's a small enough sum of money that you don't notice anyway). This morning I filled up at the truck pump, which apparently has it's own set of rules. They're much the same, with the main difference being that the amount held is now $500, and that the remaining balance of that isn't transferred back for several days.
So there I was, sitting on top of this hill watching the sunset, when I realised that every single cent I had for my last week in New Zealand was now being held by the Franz Fucking Josef Petrol Station. I was totally broke. I'd even just handed the last bit of cash I had over to my accommodation.
Several frustrating phone calls to the bank later (and an even more frustrating call with the petrol station), and I was still no closer to figuring out how I was going to get out of this mess.
It turns out I have one heck of a business partner. Steve, you totally bailed me out today (and on a Sunday too, what a standup guy!). A quick phone call with him, and by the time we'd hung up - the problem was solved. Holy shit was that a tense hour though! As much as I like Reefton, I really, really don't want to be stuck here. A special thank you to my family, too - who had to put up with me freaking out over the phone just before their flight!