I’ve stayed in my fair share of weird hostels and the High Country Lodge in Twizel surely ranks up there with the strangest of them. There is a clock on the wall with no hour hand and even though it still ticks every second, the time never changes. That’s not really why the hostel is so weird, but it’s sure the icing on the cake.
After a too long and too frantic day of scouting, driving, backtracking, and front-tracking I checked into the Lodge because I was too dang tired to continue on. The reception was brightly lit and the clerks friendly and helpful, so nothing seemed amiss at first. It was when I went on a search for my room that I started to get the heebie jeebies. The High Country Lodge resembles a prison more than a hostel, with cell block after cell block stretching away to the horizon. You’d think with this much lodging capacity the place would be bustling. But as I made my way through the labyrinth of buildings it was so eerily quiet I could hear the proverbial crickets chirping.
I spent the whole day by myself in the car and was hoping for a bit of company and a bit of conversation. But there were only two other people -an Italian couple who promptly disappear once I show up- in the whole wing. The rest of the building was as silent as tomb. Seeking some form of human contact I walked back to the large common room where I saw a tv flashing earlier. I pushed through the swinging doors only to be greeted by the stares of a dozen elderly folk, all of whom seem to be mentally disabled. I admit (with no offense intended) that I found this moment to be slightly unsettling.
So I tossed a few smoke bombs and a yowling cat into the air as a distraction (not really) and ducked out of the room. I walked back to the kitchen to make dinner, my only companion the ticking of a broken clock.