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New Zealand

March 2003

 

 

Mar 1 - 13

Dunedin

 

Mar 14 - 31

Dunedin to Timaru

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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March 1 – 13

OK .. you might have figured out that the dates don’t really match. We took the train in March, but it’s neater to do this by month. We like Dunedin and our little cabin in the Motor Park. We get to stay in it for 3 days. Then a Wonderful Kiwi tour takes over most of the cabins and one of the kitchens and we’re back in the tent for 4 nights. It’s cold and windy at night, so we go back to the cabin as soon as we can. Some have Flinstones characters and guess which one we get? Right … Betty!! You’ve heard our crazy neighbor Betty stories. She is no longer terrorizing the Yosemite Place neighborhood, in case you’re wondering.

We’re off in the morning to learn about Dunedin and catch the Speight’s Brewery Tour at 2pm. We just missed a bus, so we walk and stop at the Cock N Bull to say Hi to Jason’s Mom, as mentioned above. They have a nice Brunch menu, so we have a Full Breakfast and a Speights and scrambled eggs and coffee. Yum. We hit all the bike stores looking for tubes and mirrors. You can’t buy a bike mirror in this country, and we broke 3 of ours. They order some and when they come later in the week, they’re pretty funny. The mirror is on a 6” rubber stick and looks like a deedelybopper. But they may not break so easily when the bike falls over. Love the Brewery Tour and the Tasting Room. They have 6 samples on tap but we only sample 4. We’re a little slow on the uptake today.

The next day I stopped at a Blood Lab to see how my liver’s doing from the Hepatitis A I had in October. The lady takes me back, gets the blood without prodding and tsking or anything. When I said I owed her some money, she was surprised and had to check. Could have just walked out. Cost $24.20. The results show that my ALT came down to 84 from 235 late December. But normal is 9-50, so I’m still not healed. Damn. I’m sooooo wanting beers. Then we moved on and caught a tour of the Cadbury Chocolate Factory. They upgraded the tour a lot lately and it is nicely done. You see a film, then don hairnets and move to 3 floors of the factory. They have nice DVD setups to show what happens at each site that you might not be seeing live at the moment. Then you can go to their store and buy all the goodies for a good price. We got free samples along the way and I won an extra in the quiz at the end. They have a big silo that is part of the tour and we sang Happy Birthday to tour people having a birthday in the next few weeks. We sang to Jean and Regina.

Wednesday we got up early to move from the nice cozy cabin to our tent again. We walked for the only time in 11 days here up the sand hill, across the coast road and down big dunes to the sea. Beautiful. We met our tour group at the Octagon at 3 and after everyone was picked up, we headed out to the Otago Peninsula. First stop was the Royal Albatross Colony. This is the only place in the world where these Albatross nest on mainland. We got a wonderful introduction about how the birds mate for life, how the young birds leave when they can take flight and they spend the next 5-6 years fishing around the Antarctic, never touching land until they return to the colony again to look for a mate. They don’t have land legs after all these years and land like a 747 without wheels. It takes a week for their legs to get strong enough for them to walk again. They remain at the colony until they find a mate, then court for a year before mating to produce 1 egg every 2 years. The wingspan of the Albatross is 3 meters and was impressive floating above us. Then we had 30 minutes in a Hide to view the birds in their nesting habitat. There were only 2 chicks left that hadn’t taken off yet. The chicks are bigger than the parents up to leaving time, then a quick diet so they can fly. Then we moved on and raced down narrow windy gravel roads and saw Black Swans, Yellow-eyed Penguins, NZ Sealions and Fur Seals. All the Penguin chicks had just left too, so the parents were recovering and enjoying their empty nests. They rested extra long when they came in from fishing and didn’t need to hurry back to the nests to feed those starving babies. The Otago Peninsula is a wonderful remote hilly rugged scenic area full of sheep and cattle and the only pig and poultry farm we saw so far. We kept wondering where all this pork and eggs came from. There were 2 fun Holland women on the tour who have a website at kiwi-actions.tk if you want to check out more pictures or practice reading Dutch.

After these action packed tours, we just rested and putzed around for a week. It was gray and rainy several days and very windy and cold a few nights. A wonderful French family arrived Thursday night on 2 tandems and a single bike. They’re biking for a year and did Colombia, Peru, Argentina and Chile for 7 months, now in NZ, and off to New Caledonia and Indonesia to finish off their year. The children are 6, 7.5 and 9.5 and great little bikers. I tried my French on them, but it didn’t work so well. We hope to visit them in their Alps lake home in 2005 or 2006.

While looking up deadpeople one day, to see if Liz Taylor is still alive and kicking, we learned the most shocking news. Fred Rogers has left the Neighborhood. And did you hear that Skippy the Bush Kangaroo died in January at age 80? Skippy was 50 when he made those TV programs. Our condolences to our new Australian friends in Melbourne and Adelaide. Ruth and Sid, did you change email addresses? Your email was returned when our Webstress sent out “Those Whacky Yanks in NZ”. Oh ya … Rory O’Kiwi will morph to Rory K. O’Roo when we move on to Australia in May.

We did bike to the Botanic Gardens and they are lovely. Also buzzed the University a little and visited Baldwin Street, the steepest street in the world per Guinness Records. But this claim has been challenged while we’ve been here, so stay tuned. We biked to Larnach Castle on the Peninsula yesterday, the only castle in NZ. We planned to take a flat coast road for 9km, then push up a steep 3km. But the Motor Camp guy sent us out the coast road behind us by the sea, along the 9th hole of the golf course for .4 miles, then up some windy, hilly backroads. I think the 3km push would have been easier, but it was a great ride. Crossing that golf course felt pretty naughty. Nice castle and beautiful gardens.

We’re heading north tomorrow towards Christchurch. We talked about catching a bus, but we’re going to just brave it and cross Mt. Cargill. It can’t be soooo bad. We’ll be seeing more yellow-eyed penguins, blue penguins and some round rocks. Stay tuned. They’re going to start celebrating St. Pat’s day here this weekend, in case there’s war by Monday. Smart thinking.

 

March 14 – March 31

Well .. we stayed in Dunedin one more rainy day. We tried out the Hot Salt Water Pool, which we had determined earlier is only lukewarm. But we did a few laps and it did feel good. Then we watched many surfers doing their thing right next to the pool. A giant roast beef sandwich with coleslaw in it and red wine gravy over the top with a jug for $10 at the Celtic Arms pub.

March 14 we spent my birthday going up and over Mt. Cargill. It wasn’t too bad but got to be rainy and windy. Our mapbook said there was a Motor Camp in Waitati, but when we located it found it there USED TO BE one. Wahhhhhhhhhhhh .. So we asked a nice man at the Dairy/wee shop if we could camp in his yard and he allowed us. We even had a little outdoor loo for our use. On the next day along a lovely coast road and camped in Waukouaiti. That’s 7 vowels and 3 consonants!! Beers at a Beach Bar and a local asked how our holiday was going. I asked how he knew we weren’t local .. and after a big pause .. said The Tans .. ya that’s it .. the Tans. Right!! He suggested that we might like the area north of Cairns for our next adventure to find nice hot sandy beaches. So we looked into that and booked a flight to Cairns May 13.

On the 3rd day … lots of traffic on SH1. More than 30 big double trailered sheep trucks with 4 layers of sheep in each, barreling toward the slaughter house .. or maybe some to winter pastures. Hilly, beautiful coasts. We got to Moeraki, 3kms off SH1 and fell in love with the town. We got a cabin overlooking this beautiful little fishing village and stayed for 10 days. They ended daylight savings March 16, so it is dark by 7 now so we’re staying in cabins. We walked a few times along the beach to the Moeraki Boulders, big boulders up to about 2 meters in diameter formed millions of years ago by concretions .. all these smaller rocks glued together into this round shape. Some are broken apart and look like something’s going to hatch. A nice tea room with nice food at the Boulders. We enjoyed a yummy St. Patricks dinner at Fleur’s Place on the harbor. Live music and Guinness and all. We hiked out to the lighthouse one night to a hide and saw more Yellow-eyed Penguins. We saw about 13 and for awhile 5 were playing around in and out of the water. We also heard several call, which we hadn’t heard in Dunedin.

On to more hills and beautiful coasts to Oamaru where we stayed 6 nights and saw Blue Penguins. Only 6 came in that night, but it was neat. They have a new grandstand that can seat hundreds of people and you just sit and watch and around dark the penguins come in from feeding and go to their nests. Cool. Beautiful town, big stately buildings built from Oamaru stone.

The roads are getting busier, but we plugged on to Timaru, because we met Lin and John Irving and Pam and Brian Wallace in Punakaki in January and they asked us to visit them in Timaru. We had tea with them last night at Lin and John’s house and had a great time. Pam and Brian have a motorhome in LA and have toured the US, Canada, Mexico, Belize and Guatamala in 3 long visits to the states. They leave May 13 to meet up with their camper again and will travel to Alaska this year. John just got drawn from a lottery of many to perhaps qualify for a green card to the US. They have a son and family in Muskegon, MI and would like to spend more time with them. They have an interview in Auckland May 6 and are scheduled to fly to MI May 13 also for 3 months. If they qualify they must move to the US in 6 months. So they have lots of exciting logistics to work out in the next months and they all depend on that May 6 interview. Good luck to John and Lin.

It’s really well into April now. We will bus to Christchurch Monday April 7 and stay at the Foley Towers Backpackers for 2 weeks. We chose this for Larry’s bud Inga Foley and for all you Faulty Towers fans, especially Assumpta and Kenneth. We saw the real Assumpta from Ballykiss Angel on a nighttime soap opera Hearts and Bones this week. She’s looking good. We’ll meet Shoshanna Hill’s parents for beers and new friends Kathy and Viv that we met in Middlemarch. Larry worked with Shoshanna at WHA-TV. Her family moved to NZ from Pennsylvania I think a few years ago. We’ll rent a car to go to the hot thermal pools in Hanmer Springs, see Arthur’s Pass and visit Bank’s Peninsula outside Christchurch. Then bus or train to Kaikoura for a few days to see if there are any whales about and on to Picton and back to Wellington to fly on to Australia May 13. Life is good!! We’ll have beers with new friend Danielle in Wellington.

Be sure to check out how cute Jaime Megan Mohs is .. with her big googlie eyes and 2 teeth. She’s visiting Brian’s relatives in New Jersey this week.