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Published: March 15th 2013
Today after breakfast, we were picked up promptly at 9:00 by our Coast to Coast Tour bus driver. We were the first couple to be picked up. After picking up 2 more couples in the city (also from the US), we were on our way. It wasn't long before we realized that we were on an exceptional tour. Our host, Stu, was knowledgeable about New Zealand and gave us a wealth of information as well as anecdotes with some humor thrown in for good measure. Our first stop was to the Arataki Visitor Center and Rain Forest. We learned about many of the trees and plants in the area and the opposum which is one of the biggest pests that New Zealand has. They are trying to find a way to get rid of them because they are a big problem and are destroying the forests.
Back in the van, we headed to Craftworld which actually had arts and crafts made in New Zealand. We were each given a 15% coupon which, of course, I didn't want to go to waste. Next stop was wine tasting an Nobilos and we learned about which wines were exported and which ones never
left New Zealand as well as tasted quite a few wines. Stu had to drag us out of there.
Next stop was for lunch aat BeesOnline where we also did some honey sampling. Another stop was at the Muriwai Beach and Gannet Colony. Muriwai Beach is a black sand beach caused by certain metals in the sand that make it sparkle. This beach was the site of a fatal shark attack about a week ago. No one is sure why the sharks came in so close to shore. So sad.
Our last stop was at Stu's and Donna's farm. Donna is of Maori descent. She greeted us in the Maori language before taking over for Stu by giving us a tour of the house and explaining that it was special because Stu was born there and she had all kinds of memorabia as well as artifacts from her culture. Next, we went out to meet the sheep. It was very evident that Stu and Donna loved what they did and they loved sharing it with each tour group that came through. They brought us in where they shear the sheep and showed us what is entailed in gettinng
Black Sand Beach
the wool to market. We went inside and were served tea with some tasty treats before it was time to say goodbye. We felt that we had made new friends.
We were dropped off at 7:00 p.m. back at Ponsonby House to visit with Bernadette to make arrangements for our ride to the airport in the morning and have a glass of wine. We hadn't really seen her since we got here and it was nice to sit and chat and let her know how our stay was. She recommended a place for dinner in the neighborhood (Prego-Italian) and so bleary eyed we went to have a bite to eat before heading back to Ponsonby House.
The time has gone by fast, and I can't beleive how much we have done. When people ask what we have done and I tell them all we did in the South Island, their jaws drop a little and they ask how we got around and I tell them that we have some very good Austrailian friends who helped ou a lot and made sure that we could see as much as possible. So, a great big THANK YOU to Deb and
Greg for a trip of a lifetime.
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