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Published: December 26th 2007
The most amazing scenery.
There is so much to see and to do in New Zealand that you will need more than several weeks we have to take a good look. We spent almost one week on the North Island and 3 and a half weeks on the south island and we feel like we are just getting a quick glance. It is a simply beautiful country and the roads curve through hills and mountains and it slows your travel so you can have a better view.
In our previous blog, we forgot to tell you a cute story. While we were in Wellington we were having lunch at the Paradise Café on the harbour. The waitress came up to ask Dave about the t-shirt he was wearing. It was from the Blake Street Brewery in Denver and she used to work there. Just another example of how small the world is at times.
Our 1st addition of our South Island blog will tell you about our adventures in Nelson, Kaikoura and Christchurch, New Zealand.
Nelson is a town of 53,000 people located in the north part of the island on the Tasman Bay. It is about an hour
39 million sheep
They are beautiful
and a half from the world famous Able Tasman National Park. “The Tasman” is world famous for the extraordinary hiking and kayaking that is available there. This hiker’s paradise can eat up a couple of days to several weeks of your time. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to explore the park.
In Nelson we stayed on a working sheep farm. It was located 750 feet up on top of a hill that overlooked the Tasman Bay. We had a cabin with outstanding views and many sheep in our front yard. We loved staying here because it had a kitchen and we have really, really missed cooking. We spent one entire day reading, watching the fog roll in and out over the bay, occasionally talking to the sheep and cook, cook, cook. It was marvelous!!! We had a bit of wind and rain on the day we hid out in our cabin cooking. Actually there was a torrent of wind and rain…..and then it cleared up.
We took a hike to the “Center of New Zealand” which was a magnificent lookout over Nelson. We spent some time in Starbucks in Nelson publishing our last blog and did
some people watching. We saw a guy dressed up as a snail walking down the sidewalk, a couple of mimes and several Christmas Carolers. We’ve enjoyed listening to other folk’s conversations in Starbucks, as they discussed their work. We felt good about being nothing more than semi-interested bystanders.
Our drive from Nelson to Kaikoura took a little longer than it should have because we drove through wine country and needed to do a little sampling. The Marlborough Wine Trail is world famous for its white wines. Since Dave and I both are red wine lovers we were in no danger of having any driving issues. We didn’t sample any wines that “wowed” us, so we left wine country empty handed.
Just outside Kaikoura we stopped twice along the coast to watch the seals frolicking along the shore. We saw at least 200 seals. They seemed to be having a great time.
Our first day in Kaikoura was beautiful even though the clouds were moving in and out over the bay. It is a uniquely beautiful part of the world, with its black pebbled beaches which look up to striking green mountains.
Our second day we
Nelson is a hiker's paradise
The mountains, the sea and the hiking.
went out whale watching and it was beautiful and sunny. We were in search of the great Sperm Whales. These are massive creatures weighing many tons and over 60 feet long. We were fortunate enough to see two of them. As large as they are you can’t see a lot of their bodies when they surface…..and because you need to keep a safe distance it makes the photography a little more difficult. But, it does not diminish the wonder of the beast!!! It is so exciting to wait for them to surface. It’s like having a school bus come up out of the water. We also saw a couple of albatrosses which have massive wing spans and can fly quite quickly for long distances.
The boat we took was in stark contrast to when we went to see the dolphins in Bali with a local guide. This boat was equipped with GPS and a plasma video screen which the guide used for education and computer animated images of the sea floor and its creatures.
Our next stop was Christchurch which is one of the largest cities on the south island. It has a lovely town square with the
Anglican Cathedral as it focal point. Locals and travelers alike spend time hanging out at local pubs, coffee houses, restaurants and watching musicians, jugglers and participating in a life size chess game.
We strolled through the botanical gardens with its beautiful rose garden, took a ride on the gondola which provides a stunning view from the top of the mountainous volcanoes just outside of town, and had a beer at the Warner Hotel, where MJ stayed on her way to and from Antarctica in 1989-90. It was an historic hotel that had aged and become a backpacker hotel when MJ was there. It has since been transformed into a 4-star hotel. Quite a difference!
We heard the choir at the Anglican Church in the city’s square perform beautiful Christmas music and even attended midnight mass at the Catholic cathedral where the bishop officiated services. We took a nice stroll on a sunny Christmas day in the town square and had a barbeque in lieu of turkey that night.
The day after Christmas is Boxing Day in New Zealand as it is in many British Commonwealth nations. As most of our friends are American, we thought we would
give brief history of Boxing Day. We ask forgiveness from our British and Canadian friends.
The more common stories from Wikipedia include:
• It was the day when people would give a present or Christmas box to those who had worked for them throughout the year.
• In feudal times, Christmas was a reason for a gathering of extended families. All the serfs would gather their families in the manor of their lord, which made it easier for the lord of the estate to hand out annual stipends to the serfs. After all the Christmas parties on 26 December, the lord of the estate would give practical goods such as cloth, grains, and tools to the serfs who lived on his land. Each family would get a box full of such goods the day after Christmas. Under this explanation, there was nothing voluntary about this transaction; the lord of the manor was obliged to supply these goods. Because of the boxes being given out, the day was called Boxing Day.
• In England many years ago, it was common practice for the servants to carry boxes to their employers when they arrived for their day's work
Sun setting in Kaikoura
The sound of the ocean waves in the pebbles in truly amazing.
on the day after Christmas. Their employers would then put coins in the boxes as special end-of-year gifts. This can be compared with the modern day concept of Christmas bonuses. The servants carried boxes for the coins, hence the name Boxing Day.
In modern times, it means the day off for most people. Right after Christmas, this means it is an instant two day holiday! Americans love holidays….and we were once a British colony so we were thinking we should start celebrating this holiday.
We celebrated by going to a movie and then a pet store so that MJ could hug a puppy, as she is missing our Miss Lillie so much…….who is currently being spoiled by her sister in Ohio.
In short, New Zealand is a thoroughly beautiful country with some very friendly citizens. Everyone is quite helpful and cheery. The fact that it is the holidays doesn’t hurt at all either.
We have missed our families and friends a lot this holiday season, but look forward to seeing everyone in about three months. Our time has flown by, but it has been an amazing journey.
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