We called Jamie from Cedar Lodge to see if he was looking for helpers and whether he was willing and able to take in families. Yes!, was his emphatic answer, there was work, he would love to have us and there was plenty of room, so boom, out of nowhere we now had a place to go!
We arrived at Cedar Lodge mid afternoon, and my goodness were we taken aback. We knew from the website that Jamie was refurbishing an old hospital, but we had completely underestimated the size of it. It was massive, and to put it bluntly, a total effing mess. Jamie met us and showed us upstairs to his private wing of the old hospital, which he keep exclusively for himself and Help X guests. He then introduced us to his 12 year old daughter Brooke before showing us the communal shower, laundry, kitchen and 2 bedrooms that would be ours for the week.
Now Jamie is not the tidiest of fellas in the first place, but couple that with the fact that he is working pretty much all day and all night leaves you with the end result of, let's say, untidyness.
Jamie's Kitchen. Not to be confused with Jamie Oliver's TV show or restaurants.
Not entirely sure of how this was all panning out Dan confided in Clair that perhaps we had bitten off a little more than we could chew on this one and that we should go check out some nice B&B’s in the area instead. Clair told Dan to man up and deal with it, we had made a plan and we couldn’t walk out just because it was a little run down and messy. Amazingly she even held her nerve when Dan found a used condom under one of the beds once we had started arranging the rooms - ergh! (Sorry Jamie, if you're reading this - couldn't bring ourselves to mention it.)
Jamie then took us on a guided tour of the hospital and talked us through his vision. In 2 years he is hoping to have the place refurbished and running as 4 separate businesses. One wing for a retirement home, another wing for a backpackers lodge, another wing for government temporary housing and then also a cafe/restaurant.
‘Just piss in the paint if it is too thick.’ Or, if you prefer this sentence in the Kiwi tongue…
‘Jist puss un thi piint uf ut’s ti thuck.’
Pete helped us out loads and between us managed to get 3 rooms completely repainted during our stay.
We such had an awesome week with Jamie. He is a great guy with a huge heart and an awesome personality. He treats everybody like family and wants nothing more for them to be happy and enjoy their time in his country. He was really passionate about showing us New Zealand and would insist we had enough time off to explore the Catlins, he even took the time out of his ridiculously busy schedule to take us on a full day private guided tour of Dunedin!
Climbing trees in the Botanic gardens.
Kaitlyn enjoys the steepest street in the world.
Do you know the difference between a Sound and a Fiord (brilliantly incorrectly spelt by the Kiwis)?
Well fear not, nor did Captain Cook.
A ‘Sound’ is a large sea or ocean inlet that has been carved by water.
A Fjord (correct spelling) is a long narrow inlet formed by glacial erosion, in the case of The Fiordland National Park, this was taking place as recently as 150 million years ago.
Yes, as recent as 150 million years ago.
The biggest tourist destination of the national parks, or indeed New Zealand is that of Milford Sound, which is located slightly further north than Doubtful. In fact it is deemed so wonderful that Rudyard Kipling called it the eight wonder of the world. Viewing Milford Sound from the Tasman Sea, where Cook would have sailed past, the inlet is invisible and looks just like a bay. The fjord stayed a secret and undiscovered until many years later, when a sailor seeking protection from a violent incoming storm sailed towards the ‘bay’ and discovered the hidden fjord.
Luckily our trip to Milford Sound was a beautiful clear sunny day, which made for an amazing trip.
During our voyages we saw Seals, penguins, Albatross, waterfalls and were immersed in some of the most amazing scenery in the world.
"There are just a few areas left in the world where no human has ever set foot. That one of them should be in a country so civilised and so advanced as New Zealand may seem incredible, unless one has visited the south-west corner of the South Island. Jagged razor backed mountains rear their heads into the sky. More than 200 days of rain a year ensure not a tree branch is left bare and brown, moss and epiphytes drape every nook. The forest is intensely green. This is big country... one day peaceful, a study in green and blue, the next melancholy and misty, with low cloud veiling the tops... an awesome place, with its granite precipices, its hanging valleys, its earthquake faults and its thundering cascades."