New Zealand, Our Way


#1 - From Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand

Kia ora one and all,

btw-cc-d-2.jpg - 17915 Bytes This is the life. We're having an absolutely marvelous time. The people here have to be among the friendliest on earth. The scenery is incredible. Rolling hills of green instead of the rocky peaks of home. The pines are the deepest green you can imagine. It's fall and the fall colors are here in a riot of shades - greens, yellows, oranges, reds, rusts. It's very clear why the Maori call it the Land of the Long White Cloud. Clouds of white, gray, black and every shade in between stretch from one end of the horizon to the other with patches of blue in between [sometimes].

Ben and Mary Ann [the officer Matt's been working with and his wife] showed us a terrific time while we were in Wellington. New and good friends. They had us over one night for crayfish [ lobster ], pau [ minced abalone ;-( ] and smoked trout. Ummmm.

Matt enjoyed out ferry trip to the South Island, but I slept most of the way. Oh well, I'll be sure to stay awake on the trip back to the North Island. We landed at Picton and picked up our rental car - a Ford station wagon [It's called a Falcon here, but it's the Taurus we have in the states.] - and Matt drove for the first time. LOL LOL I navigated and kept reminding him, 'stay left, stay left'. Actually, he's doing quite well.

The next morning - in Blenheim {pass on Bing's Motel} - I joined the 50+ Aqua class at the public pool. It was really fun. Lots of the same exercises as I'm used to. Everyone was friendly, but I have to admit to being a wee bit prejudiced. I think my class at the Sports Club has the best people on earth and we have the greatest instructor alive.

Kaikoura was our next stop - after visiting a couple of wineries. *VBG My favorite was Montana. We got a beach front motel and watched the waves washing up to shore. If we ever come back here we'd both like to spend more time there. Missed the whale watching trip as all the morning trips were cancelled due to poor visibility.kaikoura-2.jpg - 15213 Bytes Drats, we really were looking forward to that. Instead we went to the local museum. And it's quite something. Loads of newspaper sized books filled with local newspaper pics and articles dating way back. Fun to go through. Good collection of local memorabilia - lots of interesting history. Then out back were three more buildings. A small one was an actual ships cabin from the 1800's. Lord, they were SMALL! A second large building was a collection of old objects. Buggies, ringer type washers, a printing press, side saddle, ect. We spent about an hour wandering about looking at it all. But the most fascinating was the 3rd building - an actual jail from who knows when. Trust me, you wouldn't want to occupy either one of the 2 cells. They looked to be about 8' square. The only light came through a grouping of drilled holes at the top of one wall which I suppose was supposed to pass as a window. The rooms were so dark. *shudder The first cell had a cot anchored to the floor and a chamber pot. Period. The second was a real honest-to-goodness padded cell! Leather covered padding about 5" thick covered the floor and walls. Boy, the sunlight as we left sure looked and felt good.

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Made a stop at Hanmer Springs on our way to Christchurch. They have the most wonderful thermal pools there so we both popped into the water for a bit. Heaven! Then on to Christchurch for a few days.

We spent our first day in Christchurch at the Antarctic Center. I'd never before read much about the early expeditions, and found it all incredibly fascinating. cc-ac-1.jpg - 10315 BytesOne exhibit listed all the supplies taken by one of these groups. Hundreds and hundreds of pounds or tinned meat, flour, lard, sugar, and on and on. But I had to laugh. Only one item was mentioned with a brand name - Lipton tea. They also have this neat room kept at antarctic temperatures with snow and a wind machine. Before going in you don actual antarctic gear. Jeez, was it ever cold. While we were in the room a group of guys from the forest service came in wearing shorts and t-shirts. Brrrrrrrrrrrr. The Center definitely got 2 thumbs up from both of us.

It's been raining here all day, but we're hoping it will let up by tomorrow. Our plans are for a visit to Akaroa -- the only French settlement in NZ. We also want to visit the Canterbury Museum and take a gondola ride before we have to leave here. Maybe go punting on the Avon. *grin So much to do and so little time - it's really flying by. Hard to believe a week is already gone.

We've seen a million or so sheep of the 69.9 million here. About 35 sheep per person is the ratio. Stopped at a lay-by and took a roll of pics of the seals. Was able to walk up within 15 feet of them. And they have deer farms here. Yup, that's right. Really something to see.

You're probably bored with my rambling by now so I'll just pop off.


Matt and Carole

P. S. Sorry for the generic letter, but there just isn't time to write everyone individually.

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