Woke up after three and a half hours of sleep - still under the influence I think. Caught my shuttle to Te Anau and slept the entire way - nearly four hours (I almost never sleep in busses or cars). Checked in at a backpackers and walked in to town.
I checked in at the Fiordlands National Park headquarters just in case the unlikely occurred and there was a cancellation for the Milford Track - there was! Unfortunately it's for tomorrow and I've already paid to go diving. I talked to the boss and she said it was highly unlikely that there would be any other cancellations in the next couple days. The first day of the four day tramp was only five kilometers so I tried to talk her into letting me go a day late and do the entire distance to the second hut. She was unwilling to let me do this because with daylight savings, and the late arrival of the earliest boat to the trail head I'd only have five hours of daylight to do the twenty-two kilometers. She suggested if I could figure out how to get there earlier she let me go.
I spent the next four hours trying to find a ride that would get me there by ten. I talked to the sea plane company, but Tuesday is their service day. I talked to the helicopter charter people and that would work out - until I saw that the cost was going to be 700 New Zealand dollars! Finally I talked to a guy who runs fishing charters. He didn't want to do it, but he said he might be able to for $300 - but he also said that the first two days' trail were easy and doing the distance in five hours wouldn't be a problem. I went back to the park department and begged and wheedled, and finally she agreed to let me go - after making me promise to carry a flashlight and a spare set of batteries. Right after paying, and seconds after being handed the tickets a couple came in to ask if there was any space for two in the next week. There was only space for one of them since I had been granted one - if I had been five minutes later I wouldn't have gotten my spot.
I went back in to town to do some shopping for food and gear, but I ended up buying nothing. I'll do it all tomorrow after the dive. At least I know what I want for food. Had a brief nap, then got up to go to a pre-dive meeting. Got an orientation about the dive, filled out some paper work, and got all the gear together for the dive tomorrow. I had diner with one of the other divers (there are four of us), an Australian guy. We ate at an amazing restaurant in town. There was only one table left and two other people walked in at the same time so they asked if we could share - the food was great, and the company was fun - a perfect travel experience. I walked back to my hostel (just outside of town). As soon as I got away from the lights the stars were amazing. The Southern Cross was laid across the milky way and I had a total deja vue feeling - I remembered walking back to a village (Basse Santa Su?) in the Gambia late one night... and suddenly I was reminded of what an awesome experience I'm having.