#2 - From Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand
Kia ora once again,
Oh what a trip it's been so far. Wish you were all here to enjoy it with us.
I think I left you as we were headed for Akouroa, which means 'long harbour' in Maori), a French settlement dating back to 1840. It's lies about 1 1/2 hours from Christchurch through rolling hills, low wispy clouds, lots of sheep, and gorgeous autumn colors. Was misty for most of the drive and started a very light drizzle just before we got there. Now you've all probably been wine tasting, right? Well we stopped for cheese tasting. Barry's Bay Cheese has several types available and a large window so you can view the cheese making process. Quite interesting. My favorite was their Gouda, which I just had to buy of course.Unfortunately, quite a bit of the town seems to close down for the winter -- that's right, it's getting onto winter here. We strolled through the quaint township and out one of the piers for a light lunch. Then drove over to the old lighthouse, which I'd been looking forward to exploring. Wahhhhh, it was closed too!! How dare they!! *grin A local woman was out for a walk by and we asked if she knew if it would be open later, or was closed for the winter. After yakking for 10-15 minutes, Anne invited us back to her house for a cuppa. Turns out she and hubby Jack own a beautifully kept 1908 home they've turned into a B & B. Original panelling up over the doorways. Original wood ceilings. Gorgeous. They've turned a separate building down by their salt-water swimming pool into a summer house room. It's fantastic. If you ever decide to stay in Akouroa, Mulberry House is the place to be. We met Joe, a guest from Minnesota, and the four of us sat around the kitchen table for most of the day talking about everything under the sun. We were able to meet Jack just as we were leaving.
Back 'home' to Christchurch. Wow, it the time ever flying.
Up the next morning, cleaned up the house and packed up the car for the next leg of our journey ... that is after a couple more stops.
First to the Canterbury Museum. Definitely a 'don't miss'. It's not overly large, but the displays are both interesting and informative. We were finally able to identify some of the birds we've been seeing. A sad fact is that so much of the wildlife introduced into the country by early settlers has eradicated most of the native wildlife.
Then outside to wander the Botanic Gardens. What a park. Over 400 acres. Super maintained with ponds, flowers, trees, birds, etc. We took tons of pics. It's a park where you can roam freely without fear for your safety or running into hoards of druggies, panhandlers, skateboarders, etc. A place you'd love to go for a picnic or to just contemplate the universe. And it has the most incredible old Victorian fountain at the entrance.
Finally, we went punting on the Avon. Oh, this was absolutely marvelous. We took a small bottle of bubbly and Conway, our punter and guide, told us all about everything. *VBG He's originally from Aussie and wants badly to come visit the states. Had our pics taken by several tourists along the way, but we don't have one! ;-(
We'd planned to head for Oamaru, but it was almost 4:00 by the end of the punting trip so we decided to try for Timaru instead. However, by 5:30 we decided to call it a night in Ashburton after finding an ad in the AA [AAA] book about Hotel Ashburton. Good decision! Beautiful hotel and room with all the amenities and great restaurant at a super reasonable price. [$80NZ = $42.50US] Terrific service from everyone. Sits on 8 acres with it's own tennis courts, 7 hole chip and putt, pool, spas, trampoline, etc.
Stopped by the Ashburton Craft Village on the way out of town and it was their Market Day to boot. What a find!! I bought an absolutely gorgeous loose-knit natural jersey [sweater] and matching cap from Nancy. She not only knitted it, but raised the sheep and spun the wool. Honest to God! And, hold on to your seat, the total was $92NZ, inc tax [about $50US]. I got her address as I'm fairly certain I know a couple people who'd like to order from her.
And off we go again. We arrived in Dunedin about 5:00 and booked into the Alcara Motel for a couple of days. We walked a couple of blocks down the street to the New Dynasty Restaurant for dinner. We highly recommend it. And if you want to hear something really weird - it turns out this was the very house Nina [from the 50+ club] was raised in. Visited the new 50+ Club chat room for a few minutes and actually ran into Bonnie, Tink, Willow and a couple of others. It's neat!
Well, it's a little after 9:00 am and I need to close so we can be off again. Visiting a castle, a woodland garden, an albotross colony, and a penguin sanctuary, etc. Will send another report in a few days.
Miss ya all and keep in touch.