Month: March 2014

Happy at home

Kate pointed out, and rightly so, that an important element was missing from my last post on reflections. The travel companions you choose for your journey are key to a great journey. We were blessed with wonderful travelling companions. A second note that I am compelled to add is that National Geographic publishes great maps. Our map of New Zealand was folded and re-folded many, many times and never ripped. It marks interesting sites to visit and has topographical markings as well as well defined roads. I highly recommend checking out NG maps if you are planning a trip.

After a couple of days of napping, Brian and I began crosscountry skiing again as there is no shortage of snow. Monday and Tuesday we did our 7.5 kilometres around the golf course.  Tuesday we probably had one of the best ski days all winter: perfect snow conditions, blue skies and sunshine. We still went to bed early, not quite back to the Canadian clock. Wednesday it drizzled most of the day, but not much snow disappeared. We read. I think Kishu was a little miffed that she had to share her chair with me.

On Monday evening we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in fine style with a great lamb stew dinner with friends. I baked a guinness  chocolate layer cake for the occasion.

Full moon over Georgian Bay, March 17

Full moon over Georgian Bay, March 17

Thursday brought snow and bus cancellations, but. to enough to close schools. I went to work as a supply principal and did the same on Friday. Staff and students welcomed me back. Friday the snow was especially good for packing and students rediscovered the joys of making snowballs. I kept reminding them that snowballs were for making snowmen,  but grade four to eight students are not as enamoured of this pursuit. They prefer perfecting their target skills.

Brian busied himself  with home projects and finishing Kate’s bathroom ceiling. He even made a shelf for our laundry room. One more item off the list!

I reconnected with an important person in my life after forty years of absence. It is hard to believe that I can talk about something that happened forty years ago AND that I was an adult then. I still think I am thirty, except when I look in a mirror. I am grateful for Google and long distance phoning.

We both got haircuts. Simple pleasures! An even better pleasure was having a Cobble Beach facial on Saturday morning. This involves a shoulder rub, hand and foot massage as well as having my face kneaded endlessly with a variety of oils and creams. Bliss. I never feeling like doing much after a facial, but I rallied and we went skiing at Sawmill Trails in Hepworth. Again, no absence of snow. It lies deep in the woods and is well packed and groomed on the trails. But for a Saturday there was definitely an absence of people. Two people were leaving when we arrived and two more were finishing just after us. There was no one else. Could people be tired of winter? Could they have moved on to spring pursuits although spring has not shown her face yet?

We skied again on Sunday at Cobble and I zoomed through three thousand travelling photos to pick out five hundred to share with friends that evening. In spite of Brian’s best efforts to show them on TV we ended up watching them on our desktop. The photos insisted on coming in reverse order on TV.

Pines Avenue, Colpoys Bay trails

Pines Avenue, Colpoys Bay trails

Yesterday we had our first long trip. We drove less than twenty five minutes to Colpoys Bay, just north of Wiarton to crosscountry ski in the woods. The roads to get there are all bare and dry. The ski trails are well groomed and perfect and no one else was there. The trails are mostly in coniferous forest, first balsam, then cedar then pines with other sections in mixed hardwood of maple, beech and birch. The 7.8 kilometre peripheral loop is gently rolling and squiggles among the trees in a most agreeable fashion. It is not a difficult trail. We basked in filtered sunlight and birdsong and saw evidence of several coyotes and a few tracks of two deer.

Colpoys Bay...I wonder how deep this snow is.

Colpoys Bay…I wonder how deep this snow is.

We tried to buy an ice cream cone at the smoke shop in Wiarton but apparently one does not eat ice cream until May. We settled for a chocolate latte at Tim’s. It was not the same as a NZ cappuccino, but it was cheaper!

In  the past week week we have revelled at the full moon over a frozen Georgian Bay, stood in awe of a full sky of constellations, marvelled at rosy sunrises and sunsets, been happy to be inside while the wind raged outside. This morning the sun began to rise in apricot hues, then changed her mind, hid in grey whiteness and now it is snowing.

March 24...it is not spring.

March 24…it is not spring.

Happy to be home.

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Reflections on our adventure

Should you be contemplating a New Zealand, here are some suggestions:

There is no place that we went that we regretted going to and many places where we wish that we had stayed longer…

Russell/Bay of Islands….instead of two nights, stay four nights or five nights (to allow time to go to Cape Reinga at the northern tip)- Calvert Cottage at Ounuwhao Lodge is lovely…the priciest place we stayed at $340 per night for the four of us, but it was a fully equipped cottage, very spacious, with a lovely host who was most helpful.

Coromandel – stay four nights instead of two. We did not proceed south along the southeast coast of the North Island. It has much to offer.

Rotorua – stay outside of town as we did to avoid the sulphur smell…stay two nights rather than one if you want to visit the Hobbit Village just north of Rotorua

Tongariro – definitely stay at the Fergusson Motel, with all the amenities of the Chateau Tongariro…a great deal ($175/night for the four of us)….let them know ahead of time if you want to book the barbecue…stay at least three nights, not one, there are many walks and we wish we had done the Tongariro Crossing…11 miles

Wellington- we did not stay here, but if you want to visit the capital and museums and art galleries, spend a couple of nights here

Motueka – we stayed here four nights and that was about right for what we wanted to do. Had we stayed longer we would have paid a visit to Golden Bay. If we had wanted to do the whole Abel Tasman trek we would have had to stay longer. We stayed at the well equipped Avalon Motel, very helpful host, close to shopping. Would have been nice to find a place on the water but it would definitely have been pricier.

Wanaka – two or three nights rather than one- the smallest two bedroom apt we stayed in but right across the street from the park and Lake Wanaka, very friendly host (she was actually the niece of the owner who was filling in that week)- Wanaka View Motel

Queenstown – everyone says we should have spent a couple of nights here…we did not, but we certainly recommend a visit to Arrowtown, just north of Queenstown

Te Anau,- we stayed two nights…four would have been better. This would have given opportunities for more walks and/ or kayaking on the lake. Beware the sandflies…they liked Jim and Kate more than us; so, a good idea to travel with someone who has blood that is tastier for sandflies. These little beasts are most prevalent on the west coast of the South Island.

Stewart Island – 3 nights was good for us, but there are plenty of walking opportunities if you wanted to stay longer….and you could not beat the accommodation we had – The Bathing Beachhouse on Halfmoon Bay  – $200 per night for the four of us…a beautiful view, well equipped, colourful birds on the deck…and on our shoulders. Sit outside the library for a fast free internet connection.

Dunedin – stay three or four nights instead of one and possibly a night in The Catlins en route there from Stewart Island

Oamaru is well worth a visit…it could be another night’s stop

We did not go into Christchurch as it has not yet recovered from the earthquake but there are trips out from there, by train, to Mount Cook….you could also drive there from Sublime Wines – again a lovely spot with wonderful hosts!

Many have told us we should have visited Kaikoura for the marine life…whales, dolphins, seals…we saw all of these elsewhere on our trip, but this place was much recommended.

Many recommend the wine regions…Marlborough or around Napier…we did not do either as we are from Niagara where we have visited many vineyards, and we did stay at a vineyard…Sublime Wines.

Auckland – you may have noticed that ours was not a city tour, but Auckland is an interesting city to visit. As well as a fine art gallery, museum, aquarium, there are many boating tours and hikes available.

With the above additions in mind, you would have to stay in New Zealand 12 to 20 nights more than the month that we were there. Much depends on how much time you want to be there. I think six weeks would be good, probably more time to relax than we had. We did our relaxing in Hawaii, sort of, and have been pretty much out of it these past twenty four hours or more.

Food is expensive. We made a point of buying a soft bag cooler and two ice packs upon arrival and we made most of our meals including picnic lunches, although we also ate out about four or five times. Activities are expensive, but we chose to spend more money on the activities rather than eating out or spending extra on accommodations.

We tried a variety of accommodations with a variety of prices and were happy with all lodgings, certainly some were superb! In almost all cases we chose locations that allowed for cooking, had a fridge and possibly laundry facilities. Travelling as a foursome made staying in some of those superb locations more affordable. We travelled light, thinking we would rinse things out at night and hang things to dry overnight. Clothes do not dry overnight….generally the environment is humid. Best to use a dryer and bring an extra couple of t-shirts. Roll your clothes …they take up much less room in the suitcase.

Home again

View from the front of our house March 15 at 7:20 PM

View from the front of our house March 15 at 7:20 PM

We arrived home at 4:30 PM to snow conditions that look remarkably similar to six weeks ago. We will be skiing again, but not tonight! We are still somewhat groggy. I slept 14 hours last night in Niagara. I might still have been sleeping but Brian woke me up; so, we could go home.

We had a brief visit with Amanda and kids and dropped Brilynn off at her apartment, drove through blizzard conditions north of Flesherton, bought groceries in Owen Sound then drove home on dry roads but between snow banks that had a fresh white coating, probably ten centimetres worth.

We paid $150 for groceries and we both remarked that we had far more bags of food for our money than what we had for the same amount in New Zealand. Food and drink are not cheap there.

Kishu did not even bother getting off the back of my (her) armchair to meow a welcome to us. We know that Corey did a great job of looking after her and our house. We can recommend Corey as a wonderful cat and house sitter. We are thinking we should hire Corey for regular house cleaning.

When I have had another night’s sleep I will post some recommendations and parting thoughts on New Zealand.

In a garden at Honolulu airport

In a garden at Honolulu airport

Some photos were never taken, but the images remain in my mind. Two nights ago, I think it was two nights ago, we were flying across the United States with clear skies and a full moon. Although the monitor in front of us said that we were flying at a speed of 960 to 990 kilometres per hour, at a fairly constant altitude of 39000 feet, it felt as if we were quietly floating above a magical black and white landscape that I could almost touch. In the west was mesmerized by the patchwork quilt of snow covered folded mountains and valleys with rivers threading in and out. There were very few human lights and only small square patches of towns. I referred to the monitor often to figure out what state we were hovering over. As we reached the midwest all was still snow covered but the light patches grew and their shapes were more random. New York was ablaze with light and visible from a considerable distance but as we flew closer a red band of sunlight stretched across the Atlantic and submerged the human light. Our captain flew us in a great arc over the Atlantic and landed us on dry tarmac. What a change from the blizzard conditions we left six weeks earlier.

Our flight to Buffalo was just over an hour, all in clear skies. Soon out of New York there was more snow covering the landscape. It’s great to come into the Buffalo airport as there are no Customs lines to wait in. That was taken care of in Honolulu. We had only to receive great hugs from my sister, Margaret, and collect our bags for the drive to Niagara.

We had a super amazing trip! It was the best fortieth anniversary gift we could have  given ourselves. I highly recommend it!

 

Flying

If the last month was an occasion to lose all track of date and time, the past two days were even more so. We are now at JFK in New York. It is apparently Friday, March 14th at 7:06 AM. We left Auckland on Thursday, March 13th at 11:55 PM. in the past 7 hours and 11 minutes we have travelled 15000+ kilometres at a jet speed of approximately 1000 kilometres per hour. We passed the international dateline and the equator and we did not notice either line on the Pacific Ocean. We spent six hours at the Honolulu Airport, mostly outside where the temperature was 27C And now here in New York it is minus 4C.   A shower and clean clothes would be delightful. Still one mor flight to Buffalo, but our plane does not leave until 10:35 AM. In Auckland it is now the wee hours of Saturday, March 15.

It was 25 C when we left Auckland. The check-in process started off very slowly, but once at our gate we were surprised to see that we were boarding an hour before the scheduled departure time. The plane door were closed twenty-five minutes ahead of time, but in the end we circled around the runways and left as scheduled.

Honolulu airport is quite confusing but it is easy to spend time outside in a garden. We lay flat on our backs on the grass and caught a few winks while small doves sidled up to our bodies in search of food. They were disappointed but didn’t take it out on us.

Hawaiian Airlines gives good service with lots of smiles and Mahalo (thank you) and good food for planes.

Sleep, where art thou? I did not sleep much on either flight. Brian dozed more on the first flight. We played Ticket to Ride against each other on our iPads. I have been listening to the novel, The Invention of Wings, while Brian has been reading his Zite articles.

Time to find a coffee and muffin.

Auckland

Last night we enjoyed a delicious sea food platter for two at Limon Restaurant on one of the many Auckland piers. Then we retired to our beautiful apartment in West Quai Suites where we could easily move in for a month or more. There was even a washer and dryer.

Sea food platter for two

Sea food platter for two

Today was a perfect summer day. We wore a t-shirt, shorts and sandals and took the 10:30 AM ferry to Rangitoto Island where the 600 year volcano is the youngest kid on the block. It is a very rugged island of black volcanic rock with shrubs and tree that are slowly covering over the rock. There are no concessions; so, we had to pack our lunch and water for the day. We walked up the black trail to the summit pausing to listen for and spot birds. After chatting at the top with an Aucklander who came from Scotland 40 years ago and never left, we skirted the crater then took the path to Mackenzie Bay then followed the coastal path back to,the ferry wharf. After four hours of walking we were happy to cool our black feet in the lovely sea water. I wished I had worn my bathing suit. No beaches on this island, just black rock.

Rangitoto Beacon

Rangitoto Beacon

At 3:30 PM we got the last ferry back to Auckland where we sipped a cappuccino on the wharf overlooking the sailboats that were part of the marine museum. Auckland has a beautiful waterfront, very people-friendly with walking paths, a pedestrian lift bridge, awesome sea creature playground and billions of dollars worth of yachts and sailboats. We could not decide which sailboat we wanted….the sleek 210 foot one or one of the small 100 footers, or maybe we should get the three storey yacht that had a helicopter parked on it. The yacht was only 240 feet long. After two hours of boat ogling with no invitations on any of them for dinner, we made our way to a restaurant on a pier and secured a table in the shade. We had had enough sun for the day. I had another superb sea food chowder while Brian ate a large plate of fish and chips. We shared his salad and I made sure to eat all of the cucumber slices.

Waterfront, Auckland

Waterfront, Auckland

We made our way to our hotel where our baggage was stored for us. We gave ourselves a sponge bath in the washroom and changed into clothes more suitable for travelling. Hello, long pants!

 

Bus to Christchurch

March 12, 2014

Sunrise at Sublime Wines

Sunrise at Sublime Wines

Fenella drove us to Oamaru in standard kiwi fast speed, not hesitating for curves and zooming past other motorists, probably tourists. Yan survived his bouncy ride in the back of the truck. First she dropped Madeline off at her school, St. Kevin’s. Madeline just started secondary school there at the beginning of secondary. Fenella rejoiced that she is getting better at dropping Madeline off on time and with later and later starts from home. We were next to be dropped off at the bus stop then Fenella was driving the “Frenchies” to the edge of town to hitch hike to Dunedin. It was sad to say good-bye.

Merino sheep

Merino sheep

Our humourous knowledgeable bus driver provided commentary on our journey. He pointed out when we crossed the 45th parallel, placing us closer to the equator again rather than Antarctica. He told us about the meaning of Maori place names, facts about the seven hydroelectric projects on the Waitaki River, introduction of wallabies…a pest like the possums…although they bring in a few tourist dollars. They are very destructive for farmers. We stopped in Waimate, the best place for strawberries, to pick up a passenger. It used to have several sawmills but a fire cleared out the forests and shut down the mills and the town.

The drive to Christchurch on Route 1 has been the busiest road we have seen in New Zealand, especially going north from Timaru. It is also the straightest, travelling mostly between pastureland being irrigated, passing herds of dairy cows and some flocks of sheep, a few potato fields, corn fields and swede fields. Nothing too exciting. The Southern Alps are visible in the distance when not disappearing in clouds.

A wide load headed south held us up on the highway for thirteen minutes. This meant a shortened stop at Timaru, not the half hour forecast. We descended for a washroom break and to stretch our legs in the sunshine. Saw a bronze sculpture of a bearded worker in front of black stone Speight’s Ale House. T-shirt weather again. 21 C.

We crossed the Rakaia Bridge, at 1700 metres, the longest in New Zealand. When it was built in 1936, it was the longest in the Southern Hemisphere. Right now there is not much water in the river. It must look quite different in winter.

When we arrived in Hornby on the southwest fringe of Christchurch at 1:45 PM, we decided it would be a waste of time to go downtown only to come back out for our airport transfer. Everyone has told us that there is very little to see in Christchurch since the September 2010 earthquake.

So we have had a lamb burger at the airport, checked our bags, browsed the shops, gone for an outside walk and are now waiting for our 5 PM flight to Auckland.

Sublime Wines- Waitaki Valley

March 11, 2014

End of a wonderful journey together

End of a wonderful journey together

After a comfortable sleep and a hearty breakfast we bid farewell to our travelling companions and our suspension-less Camry. Jim and Kate headed for Kurow and the scenic route past Lakes Pukaki and Tekapo to Christchurch. They fly tomorrow morning to Singapore then home to England. We were to get a ride with Fenella to Oamaru tomorrow then a bus to Christchurch then plane to Auckland for one more night before leaving NZ. We just learned from Fenella that she is driving their two HelpX French lads to Oamaru along with Madeline in the morning. We might be hitch hiking! We have not done that yet in New Zealand!

Ah, problem just averted…we are all going in the club cab truck with the smallest of the French guys going in the “boot”…he volunteered.

One of 7 dams on the Waitake

One of 7 dams on the Waitake

This morning, Brian and I borrowed Steve’s truck and drove to see two of the hydro dams and reservoir lakes, then rode mountain bikes for an hour along Lake Avemore. Lots of suspension on those bikes, but definitely lacking the cushy gel seats we are used to.

Back in Kurow we had meat pie for lunch while sitting on an overstuffed couch reading the Otago News. On the front page was an article about the old railway station in Oamaru being put up for sale. This is where Fenella has her art studio.

We walked about downtown Kurow, all two blocks of it. Many of the few shops are only open four days a week and this was not one of them. Very tranquil.  The Kurow Museum of Social Security records that Kurow is where the National Social Security began. There was a very interesting story about one of the original inhabitants of Kurow, Christian Hille. He shepherded one thousand sheep from Australia to here . The boat couldn’t land In Oamaru because of bad weather; so, he had to land in the north at Blenheim. By the time he herded the sheep to Kurow, he had two thousand sheep.

Pom, waiting for a walk

Pom, waiting for a walk

This afternoon, we took Pom, a German short haired pointer, for an hour’s walk down by the river. It would be more appropriate to say that Pom took us for a walk and with all of her meanderings, she certainly had more exercise than we did.

Steve and Fenella's flock of sheep

Steve and Fenella’s flock of sheep

We moved in with the family for our second night. The Barbie is ready for steaks. Steve has steaks in hand. Fenella is working miracles in the kitchen.

After a scrumptious repast, Fenella and I played tarot with the three helpers. I have not played in years. I was the big loser.

Getting to Sublime

Sublime Wines B and B

Sublime Wines B and B

March 10, 2014 It was a misty morning when we left Dunedin headed north. Fortunately the mistiness and drizzle had stopped by the time we got out of the car at the Moeraki Lighthouse at Katiki Point just south of Moeraki. Without paying any kind of admission we walked along the bluffs and saw eight individual yellow-eyed penguins and multitudes of bull seals, some lying on the grass beside us, some on the kelp and some on the rocks below. image We had cappuccinos at the Moeraki Tavern then carried on to Oamaru. We had our picnic sandwich at the most wonderful children’s playground by the harbour. I know that our grand kids would love it. A sculpture of a gentleman atop a penny-farthing cycled above some saucer swings. A huge elephant was ready to be climbed on the inside or outside then slid down. There was a giant tower to climb then a twisting tunnel slide, a zip line, and a giant guinea pig wheel to run in as well as a pirate ship. Delightful!

Julie and Alex would love this playground.

Julie and Alex would love this playground.

It was very interesting to walk down Harbour Street where the whole street has been returned to its former architectural glory and filled with art galleries, museums, craft shops. Much of Oamaru’s main street has beautiful 19th century buildings made of cream coloured Oamaru limestone.

Brian trying a penny farthing

Brian trying a penny farthing

Sadly we did not know that Fenella has her paintings on display in the Grainstone Gallery. We took photos of the store but the day was wearing on; so, we continued to Okiate to Sublime Wines Vineyard and B and B. Four years ago Brilynn stayed here at Steve and Fenella’s twice for a few weeks each time. Brilynn connected with Fenella through HelpX.net and a fine friendship was born. I think Brilynn was more envious of our visiting Steve and Fenella than our trip to New Zealand.

 

We are excited to be at Sublime Wines and hug Steve and Fenella for Brilynn. What a wonderful couple! Kate and Jim connected with them right away as Steve and Fenella once worked three seasons in Scotland for the same people who own Muncaster Castle in Ravenglas close to where Jim lives and where Kate used to live. Brian and I visited the grounds of Muncaster a year ago. We have met their daughters, Madeline and Cassidhe, both of whom were happy to meet Brilynn’s parents and to receive maple syrup for Kemble Mountain Maple Products. We were served an awesome meal: sausage made of pork, paua, chicken, pork belly served on a paua shell with autumn jelly, merino lamb shoulder with chorizo sausage and scalloped potatoes and hazelnut almond cake with fresh whipped cream, all served with copious amounts of Sublime Wine…Chardonnay and Pinot Noir plus some of Steve’s brother’s Australian Chardonnay from near Melbourne.

Hazelnut almond cake

Hazelnut almond cake

Otago Peninsula

Another incredibly awesome day!

Sandfly Bay Beach without the sand flies

Sandfly Bay Beach without the sand flies

Any day that begins with a beach walk is going to be great! Ocean Beach did not disappoint. It was Sunday and we crossed a big walk/run event with hundreds participating…an annual Dunedin that let participants choose anything from a walk to a half marathon. We chose the beach for our personal walk and viewing of fabulous waves. We met a German immigrant who came to Dunedin to live two years ago. He was totally pumped about the area. He has a million dollar view of the ocean with a middle class purchase and so many great walking, swimming, cycling opportunities close by, a university where his girlfriend is a scientist and where there are frequent lectures one can attend. He is a IT guy who spends more time walking and feeding his beagle than working. He is sliding eagerly into retirement at a young age.

Dunedin Steam Train

Dunedin Steam Train

A steam engine on narrow gauge whistled to a stop near the beach before returning to downtown Dunedin. With all the hills around Dunedin, almost everyone has a great water view.

We met an event marshall who was eager to chat with us about how much he liked living here and how much he enjoys annual visits to Buffalo/California for December/January. He has friends and relatives there.

We drove onto the Otago peninsula, pulling over where possible for breathtaking views looking down on beautiful beaches across hilly fields of sheep and the odd cow.

Now is that not a cute sheep!

Now is that not a cute sheep!

At Larnach Castle we strolled around well maintained gardens overflowing with complementary colour, height and depth. When the damp cold had chilled us to the bone, we enjoyed a cappaccino with scone, cream and jam by the fire in the wood panelled ballroom bookended with stag’s heads.

Larnach Castle with Thalictrum Delavayi blooming

Larnach Castle with Thalictrum Delavayi blooming

At Sandfly Bay, Brian and I slid down the steep sand dunes to the shore where the whitecaps rolled in, one sea lion lolled on the beach and another growled at Brian from the rocks. Kate and Jim started down the Sandy path but stopped at the steep descent, figuring they could make it down, but the ascent might kill Brian and me as we hauled them up. Good decision!

A sea lion resigned to Brian's presence

A sea lion resigned to Brian’s presence

A highlight among many highs was our hour and a half guided tour of Penguin Place near the end of the peninsula. Our guide, Dan, took seven of us on a walk to visit yellow-eyed penguins on the cliffs above the ocean in their natural habitat. The PP is privately owned and relies on guided tours to care for damaged, orphaned or under-nourished penguins brought to their hospital by the Department of Conservation. They currently have 80 penguins in their care.  We also saw two tiny blue penguins in their nesting box. Unlike sociable Emperor penguins that live in colonies, the yellow-eyed penguins are territorial; so, you do not see them in crowds. Fascinating creatures!

Yellow-eyed penguins out for a stroll

Yellow-eyed penguins out for a stroll

An excellent red cod dinner prepared by our chef capped the day. We played our last game of Hand and Foot for this trip. We only have one more night together and we will not be playing cards.

A friendly game of Hand and Foot at Te Anau

A friendly game of Hand and Foot at Te Anau

Dunedin

Although it looked very calm when the ferry pulled out of the harbour at 8 AM, there were easily three to four foot swells as we crossed Foveaux Strait, but the fifty minute trip actually felt shorter than the same time taken for the opposite journey on March 5th. It’s a good thing they cover the storage bins with heavy rubber sheets or our luggage would have been soaked.

Loading the ferry

Loading the ferry at Stewart Island

It would appear that sheep are thriving in the south end of the South Island, more so than cows, cattle or deer. The lamb export market is still safe! Speaking of lamb, we will be having a stuffed rolled roast of lamb this evening.

Instead of mountains we drove through large variegated green hills of pastureland from Bluff to Dunedin. There were a few towns marked along route 1, but none were thriving. In fact it was tough to find a place that had a cafe. In Motorua where we did get a very hot, but very weak cappuccino, the cafe was the only store that was open. More than half the stores were empty and available for lease or sale and the rest were closed on Saturdays. Apparently people do not work on the weekend. It looked as if a number of towns were one industry towns and the industry had either down-sized or pulled out…pulp and paper, fertilizer, dairy production.

We stopped for a picnic by Lake Waihola, but it was so windy that we huddled together in the shelter of eight foot tall New Zealand flax.

Dunedin Railway Station

Dunedin Railway Station

We visited downtown Dunedin where we walked about viewing the Victorian, Georgian and Greek architecture. The railway station is especially spectacular inside and out. The mosaics of trains and train related items covering the floor are superb. We are sorry that we will not have time for the train trip into the Taieri Gorge with the return trip by bicycle. That would have been fun.

Our view of Ocean Beach, Dunedin

Our view of Ocean Beach, Dunedin

We are comfortably installed in a three bedroom house high on a hill overlooking Dunedin and Ocean Beach where the white caps just keep rolling in. It is warmer here and we have shed a few layers of clothing. We are even thinking of switching from our hiking boots back to sandals.