New Zealand 2012
Monday, January 23rd, 2012
It’s now less than two weeks until our departure to New Zealand. We are excited at the prospect of spending time with our daughter Kim. NZ has been Kim’s home base since Oct 2010 and other than a brief visit in August 2011 we have not seen her and are somewhat thirsty for her. We will certainly have the opportunity to slake our thirst as the three of us will hold ourselves captive in a small RV with which we plan to explore the south island over a period of about 10 days. The glories of the day followed by campfires at night only this time exploring down new Zealand lanes.
Saturday, February 4th, 2012
Departure day is finally here and after months of wait our New Zealand adventure is about to become the present for us. Dave will be by in a few hours to pick us up and take us to the airport for our Air New Zealand flight. As it happens Mary Apps is on the same flight en route to Australia & her daughter. Hmm. Seems to be a theme here: The Daughter,s Tour. However, truth be known, the similarities end with the flight, given than Julie & I are about to travel about New Zealand in an RV exploring the south island with Kim, finding new roads and new vistas. Mary, in contrast, will be in Australia to greet then help welcome her fifth grandchild into this world. Fifth! And only two daughters! However, she assures us grandparent wannabes that’s it’s not all a bed of roses. Sure Mary. We understand that it can a tough row to hoe. I am now sitting in the departure lounge a short while ’till we board what will be a 13 1/2 hr flight to Auckland. The girls are off browsing while I take advantage of this new communication device and complete this short installment. It’s still hard to grasp that in such a short time we will be half way around the world and reunited with out Kim.
Saturday, February 11th, 2012
I have to say it was difficult as we inched our way towards the customs official. As if a thirteen hour flight was not enough it was looking like it would be another hour or more standing in line. Perhaps it wasn’t an hour but it sure felt like it. However, all the interminable waiting was forgotten the instant we spied our Kim and the fierce embrace that shortly ensued. All this and it was only 6:00 AM. After a short flight from Auckland down to Christchurch and an early check in at our hotel we set off to wander about the city. As I recall it was around this time that I realized that an uninvited and unwanted visitor had decided to join our merry threesome – but more about this later. First I want to say a little bit about Christchurch. The city is now defined by it’s different color zones – green zones, blue zones, yellow zones and the worst of them being the red zones. Red zones contain buildings that are either beyond repair or are in an area where it is still unsafe to enter. There are several residential area where homes have been purchased by the government. These subdivisions will be razed, never to be built upon again. There were lots of letters to the editor and articles from homeowners unhappy with their zone designation for a whole host of reasons. Several city blocks in the downtown core are red zone. It was very odd to walk for blocks beside the chain link fence that rings the out of bounds area. Inside the fence one can see buildings with huge cracks and fissures or areas where large sections of brick had fallen, but most looked normal, just utterly deserted. We came to a shopping area where the shops and the restaurants were ‘chock a block’. The only difference was that the shops themselves were made from what were essentially shipping containers stacked on on top of the other.
Tuesday, February 14th, 2012
The following morning a cab arrived at the crack of 9:00 to take the three of us to Kea Campers where we were to pick up our camper van. Our trim little 20 footer is quite new with something like 20,000 km on the odometer. Shower, toilet, microwave, cooktop, TV, stereo system, 6 speed standard transmission. We might be turtles, but, man, we would travel in style!
Saturday, February 18th, 2012
I’d like to tell you what the road was like between Hanmer Springs and Motueka (moe two EEK ah) but I can’t given that I was stretched out on my back simply enduring. Enroute Julie had made contact with the friends we were planning to visit and managed to arrange for me to see a doctor when we arrived.
Sunday, February 19th, 2012
From Motueka which is at the northern end of the south island along Tasman Bay we headed southwest with the objective of getting to the west coast to then journey south along hwy 6 towards the southern Alps. The roads are largely two lane, twisting and turning with no shoulder to speak of. Passing lanes are infrequent but slower vehicles are given the opportunity to pull over to the side to allow faster traffic to pass by. These are needed as there was seldom the opportunity to see far enough ahead to know it was safe to pass. This trip took place on Friday Feb 10th and while I was still not able to comfortably stay in a sitting position, my horizons were expanding beyond the confines of my own body and our campervan turned out to be the perfect vessel to make it possible to do this in comfort. Lying on my back with my head propped up a bit I was able to see out the back window which was very large and thus was able to watch in comfort as the miles spooled out behind.
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012
It’s confession time: I am woefully behind in my journal entries. We departed from Hokitika for Queenstown on Saturday Feb 11th. Way back then I was still only 59 years old, although now that I think of it I felt much, much older then than I do at this moment, which, chronologically makes me 11 days – and one big birthday – older than I was for the day I am about to recount. How is this possible, you ask? Well it’s quite simple really. Eleven days ago I recall being grateful for the fact that our assigned site in the campground was only one site away from the showers which meant I would only have to walk about 15 meters or so. Yes, there was a shower in our campervan but it was such a small space I was not sure I would be able to do it without twisting, pretzel-like, thereby causing further pain & injury. Today, in contrast, Julie & I walked from our campsite into Whangarei’s (feng air RAY – and you have to roll the r) Town Basin, a two hour return trip. OK, back to the day at hand, which is an excellent illustration of the astonishingly rapid changes in topography in this country.
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012
Queenstown is New Zealand’s adventure city. Just name your outdoor thrill and you will very likely be able to indulge it here. Skydiving,parasailing, bungee jumping, hiking,climbing, four-wheeling, Quads, trikes, ziplining, waterskiing, boogie boarding, jet boating, caving and the list goes on. We got mixed reviews from many kiwi’s (from other parts) who were concerned that Queenstown had grown beyond all recognition and with so many pubs and taverns was now simply an adventure tourist destination. One of the games played In town is ‘spot the kiwi’ given that there so few relative to the out of country thrill seekers that worked in the shops so as to support their particular addictions. It was a lot like Whistler. While Kim and Julie did a bit of shopping, yours truly was parked in a chair on a field where the hang gliders came in for a landing. Once down the guides would pack up the chutes and then walk to the gondola for a quick ride up to latch onto the next customer.
Friday, February 24th, 2012
This is going to be my third (and final) attempt to describe the events of the day we traveled to Invercargill. The previous two attempts simply vanished when our wifi link coughed. Couldn’t even find an auto saved file. Twice. And I have to say I was rather pleased with both attempts. I did not react with equanimity. However, I didn’t break anything. OK, here we go again. I am hoping there is truth to the ‘third time lucky’ adage. While Invercargill is the southernmost city there is another community further south called Bluff and it was here we decided to make our first stop. The Stewart Island ferry departs from there and while I had been warned about the bone-jarring passage in rough weather it was a fine, sunny day with only a light breeze. I had already made up my mind that I was not going to chance it in any event and as it turned out we were too late to go that day. Thus we carried on down the road to the ocean facing side of Bluff where we were able to park and enjoy an incredible view out to sea. Bluff itself is well named. As we approach from the north side the community hugs a lagoon and protected harbor with houses rising up the gentle slope of a single large hump of land. However, when you get around to the ocean side this large hump of land, I’m guessing 250 meters high or so, drops precipitously into the ocean. Where the road ended a walking path began.
Friday, February 24th, 2012
Today is Tuesday, Feb 14th and with our destination not that far distance-wise we decided to Get off the main road (such as it is) and instead travel closer to the water and explore the Catlins. Our first stop that day was Curio Bay, a beautiful spot where the fossilized remains of a Jurassic forest is laid bare at low tide on a rock shelf jutting out to sea. Yes, it was low tide and the fossilized tree trunks and other bits of interesting stuff was clearly visible.