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Published: October 7th 2014
September 29 – Before I start this day, I should talk about how we came to be at Brian and Diane’s home. Almost three years ago, I attended the Association of Personal Historian’s conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is a conference that brings together people who are interested in collecting, recording and publishing the stories we often cherish, but don’t always write down. Most of the people at the conference come from across the United States with a smaller contingent from Canada, and even a smaller number from other countries. Two of these people were Brian and Diane, and I happened to sit at their table. In the course of conversation, I mention that I had an aunt in Auckland, and someday hoped to visit New Zealand. Well, not needing any further explanation, they pulled out an 8 X 10 envelope filled with maps of New Zealand and gave them to me saying, “If you’re ever in New Zealand, come and stay with us!” I said that I would while thinking they were really nice people, but really, NZ is on the other side of the world, and I could barely afford the time or money to get to this
Our barefooted guide
Brian on Allan's Beach
conference a scant three-hour plane ride from my home. However, I kept in touch with Brian via email from time to time and, ... one day, the world changed, and we found ourselves able to take up their offer.
Now, you never know what will actually happen when you arrive at someone’s home you’ve only met briefly and corresponded by email. In our case, it totally exceeded our wildest dreams. Diane couldn’t do enough for us, was knowledgeable of a variety of plants and trees, and seemed to be versed in just about any subject that came up. Brian has so many interests it would be hard to list them all. He was educated and worked as a geologist, and lived in New Guinea for over a decade. He also taught school and, sold, wrote, and published books. His knowledge of the South Island is vast and both he and Diane were eager to share. It was like having two living encyclopaedias tour us around. I will admit that there were times they completely wore me out! (Okay, those who know me well will say, that’s not hard, but I really tried to keep up!)
Our first day started off with a visit to some gardens a short distance from Brian and Diane’s home. As it is Springtime here, there were trees covered in beautiful blooms and early spring flowers like daffodils. It was like a little oasis.
Our next stop was the Royal Albatross Centre to see if we could catch a glimpse of a Southern Royal Albatross, the second largest albatross in the world. It was a windy day which is not a problem for the albatross, but there were none to be seen. It seems that we were in between seasons. Albatross come to the site to lay their eggs. However, they won’t come until all the chicks from the last year are gone, and there was one chick still left (somewhere). It was unfortunate, but David still got some great shots of the windy weather.
Allan’s Beach was our next stop where we hoped to find sea lions and penguins. It was a nice walk down to the beach where we watched the waves roll in. The penguins were shy today, however, just as we were giving up hope on the sea lions, we
spotted a pup lying in the grass waiting for its mother to return.
Sandfly Lookout was next. We took a short walk down and viewed the ocean. David returned to this location the next day, and got a great shot of the sunrise.
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