Author: skipper1

Captain Cook

We had a date with a ferry, and our discrimination against the north island would come to a close.  The windiest road yet was a proper farewell to the South Island, and I was thrilled we were traveling it in a smaller car versus a campervan. At the town of Picton, not only did ferries come and go but a cruise ship was also in town, and with it many folks looking for souvenirs.   We’d heard the crossing could be a little rough, so T had booked us on the larger ferry.  When we queued up, the announcements noted the weather was improving.  Leaving the South Island, the ferry exited though a scenic sound, which left it doing a few twists and turns.  When we entered the Cook Strait, an announcement suggested all passengers find a seat or the sick bay as indicated!  Mind over matter, my grandmother would say, but it seemed more than a few passengers did mind.  We arrived on the North island in about 3.5 hours, and were struck by …

Green with hops

T must have got an early version of the headline news in Nelson – the green hops were in!  He wiggled out of a second day’s boat ride up to the national park by saying he needed to carb load for the next hikes 🙂 He seduced me by saying I had yet to taste NZ’s Famous Savignon Blanc, and suddenly we were off to the nearby town of Nelson.   We got some lunch and strolled around town, and were informed we must see WOW! This phenomena is a wearable art collection that has transformed from an elaborate artsy fashion show to a museum which hosts the pieces from years past.  And if you are thinking “poor T”, I think they should call it the “his and hers” museum, as it is half cars and half fashion.  Given the bra art and the sheep dress, I’m not convinced the cars were his favorite!       We weren’t allowed to see if T would fit into the mini BMW, but it would have been a …

I heart Abel

We were working our way up to Abel Tasman park near Nelson where it is eternal sun, vineyards and beautiful views.  We apparently brought with us the night before their first rain in months.     To see Abel Tasman park, you need to take a ferry to a point in the park and either hike back or take another boat taxi/ ferry back.  Since the sun was out, I rushed us to the ferry.  We scored a caffeinated boat driver; when he realized he left without two booked passengers, he radioed base to say he’d asked about those two “but didn’t really put my heart and soul into it.”  A bumpy ride ensued, and T looked how I did at the base of Burj Kalifa.  Still our captain’s quips made T smile; when passengers kept their life vests on after they left the boat, he clarified, “though it might be dangerous out on the treks, those vests won’t save you!”   The views were amazing, and the water not too cold.  It’s a popular …

Nelson

I don’t know who Tasman (or Nelson) are, but we enjoyed their namesakes.  Driving past some small falls and small towns, we arrived at Nelson Lakes park, where we’d decided to seize a sunny day.   The climb up allowed views of the glacial lakes, and a chance for the few descending to stop and ask if we had extra layers for the top.  We did, we assured them as we put on more sun cream.  Seemed we still had a ways to go. At the brisk top where our extra layers came out, we pretended to be on one of the many “Great walks” which are 3 day tramping (hiking) treks where you overnight at huts.  Visiting the hut may be where our quality time there ends for the moment, as a nice hot shower and bed are still faves.   We failed to see a kiwi bird in spite of signs promising the possibility.  We also failed to find a lunch spot open at 2pm, so it as another pie for us.  The …

On the road again

We languished a bit in the morning, making our way around Christchurch a second time, wondering what the city will look like in the future should we get to visit it a second time. Eventually, we got into a much smaller car that was somehow now unfamiliar to us!  On a grey day, we were tracking north and as the sun is our favorite companion on hikes, we opted for the mineral springs instead of hiking.  So did everyone else it turned out!  After a while we made it to our halfway point, and with the sun’s return went for a stroll across a river. It was a beautiful night, and if I weren’t so scared of meeting a possum of enormous size we’d heard about the night before, we might have lingered longer.

Shaken

We’d slept in Christchurch upon arrival in NZ, arriving at midnight and leaving with the campervan the next morning.  Now back and saying goodbye to the van, we were happy pedestrians.  We both recalled hearing about the Christchurch earthquakes, but seeing the city changed that memory.  Construction cranes marked corners, sidewalks were being remade, and a centerpiece downtown was a container with video displays of rebuilding plans.  The first earthquake hit in 2010 and then a second round came in 2011.  185 died, nearly 2000 were injured and in the downtown and surrounding area many of the buildings that did not fall had to be brought down due to structural issues.  Slowly, methodically, urban planners seem to be making lemonade by building a new city of dreams.  Stadium plans, convention center, green spaces all look promising, but perhaps tough on the impatient. We saw a famous debated Anglican cathedral which is a central point in the debate.  Some say it is too damaged, and must be torn down.  Some disagree, saying large parts of the …

Steampunk

With time to spend on the coast working our van back to Christchurch, we stopped in Oamaru which was heralded for its old Victorian architecture.  A quaint town indeed, with a good coffee stop, a historic museum and pub, a radio museum, an art museum and… Steampunk! I’ve a bit of a novice, but this was a cool stop.  From the outdoor train where you could drop a coin and revive the train, all signs were positive.  We eavesdropped on the gatekeepers explanation enough to know he promised some transcendental experience inside.  When we arrived at the Infinity Portal, we realized the veracity of his claim.  A trippy, fun light show with mirrors and music awaited! And outside more exhibits made this quickly a favorite stop.  Even more than the cheese factory we frequented after, that’s just how good it was! We went to the next beach town up and kept playing peek-a-boo with the sun.  So we stopped in for a movie before our final night with the campervan.