FJORDS AND FRENCH TOAST

Be careful of your behavior while travelling.  You just never know who will meet . . .

After an early start in Queenstown we grabbed a $10 breakfast at a wonderful pub where the service was feisty and the food fantastic.  Ten bucks is a good deal for a breakfast in New Zealand – Even Marv had enough to eat.  A tip was warranted in a country where you don’t tip – I think the price of food and the included 15% tax might already look after the tip?  Food ain’t cheap in this country.

As I quickly walked to the ferry terminal for our early departure to Walter Peak Station, I glanced through the window of a bar just in passing.  There I saw a familiar back of a head.  I took a chance and banged on the outside of the window.  The man turned around and low and behold it was my friend, Mike McMullen, from Leduc.  Mike was in New Zealand fishing.  He had been on other bike trips with Marv and me.  I knew he was there but never ever thought I would see him even though I must say I looked for him at every stream and river we came across.  The planets aligned, I took a chance, and there was my friend.  Mike walked me to the wharf and it was a thrill to see him and Marv reconnect in Queenstown.

The ESS Earnslaw was a coal fired ferry that carried everything from sheep to people for the past 150 years to Walter Peak Station.  Walter Peak Station was a huge livestock operation and we were able to watch a sheep shearing demonstration (which we coincidentally missed).  Also there was a dog herding demo, deer with big horns, alpacas, and puppies.  The funniest thing however was free.  Have you ever heard a bus load of Chinese people calling sheep?  Priceless.  I’m sure they are saying the same thing about the round eyes as they write there blog tonight.

Marv and George had driven the van around from Queenstown to Walter Peak Station (3.5 hours) the night before so it would be there to meet us on the other side.  George kept Marv awake by feeding him by hand, melted Eatmores and Hawkins cheezies from his never ending supply.  Apparently they had to pass over many dusty roads as the van was engulfed with dirt upon our arrival.

Gas stations are not abundant in rural New Zealand and this was as rural as you could get.  We were worried we would not have enough gas to get to the next town.  Marvin finessed his way to a gas connection.  We were introduced to Regena.  She worked on a tremendous livestock station nearby and said we could buy gas from her.  When we entered Saint Nicholas Station we drove up to the owner’s house.  We should have known there might be some difficulties when Marvin asked her if this was Starbucks and she didn’t crack a smile.  After we got the gas and paid Regena, the owner approached and scolded us and Regena in a very awkward conversation.  We gave Regena a bottle of maple syrup for her generosity.  Pancakes will likely never look the same to her – sorry Regena – yikes.

After a long drive over many km’s on a gravel road we stopped at Mooeva Lakes.  My good friend in Leduc had warned me about the leeches in New Zealand.  She asked me if I had ever seen that special scene in the movie Stand By Me.  I told everyone they were swimming at their own risk as I would not risk the leeches nor would I perform any leech removal operations.  Just like in a movie we happened upon a boy scout leader who assured me there were no such things in New Zealand and the lake was safe.  The swimmers were into the lake without any prompting for a very refreshing pause.

Marv choose to ride from Marvora Lakes to the hostel.  He had no takers for bike travel companions as the road was gravel and we feared the potential of hills – this gang doesn’t mind going down the hill but coming up them is a different story.  This allowed us to bet for or against Marv in his absence as to when he would arrive in Te Anue.  He would never be the wiser. Winner got to choose their bed at the hostel that evening.  Carol took the cake.

We were greeted in Te Anau by our hostel hosts Bob and Maxine.  This was a 5 star hostel – I know one when I see one by now.  No pee on the floor –hot dog!  Bob graciously welded Marv’s broken bike.  Let me tell ya – this weld will hold.

The next day we awoke to French toast prepared by the Murray.  We packed up and headed to Milfred Sound.  We sailed on the Sinbad (appropriately named for the ‘Church People’).  We were greeted by Captain Dennis and essentially had the ship to ourselves.  The Captain had a fondness for the ladies and let them all take a turn at the helm.  The men were not offered the same privilege.  We had gorgeous weather – the scenery was spectacular and the passengers were entertained by a beautiful rendition of The Love Boat sung over the PA by Marv and myself.  Captain Denis allowed Marv to ring the ship bell.  This meant that Marv had to buy the entire ships passengers a beer – He somehow escaped that?

One final thing about the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand before I go.  The country may not have leeches and pesky mosquitoes as in Canada, but neither pale in comparison to the carnivorous Sand Fly. These shysters are sneaky and leave a welt the size of a New Zealand $2 coin.  It was mentioned several times in passing, that only the females bite – yada yada.

We returned to Te Anue via the Hollyford Valley.  Along the drive there is a tunnel.  According to Marv, if you You Tube it, you will see a number of creative alternatives as to how to travel through it.  Because of logistics we unable to ride through the tunnel – This was really the only time I saw a sad Marv on the entire trip.  He had his heart set on biking through the tunnel.  We returned to Te Anue and had a wonderful Chinese dinner, got groceries for the next day’s jaunt.

By Cuddles

Murray's New Appendage

Murray’s New Appendage

Sweet Pea grabbing some love.

Sweet Pea grabbing some love.

Judy and George at Milfred Sound

Judy and George at Milfred Sound

Our wonderful hostel hosts, Bob and Maxine

Our wonderful hostel hosts, Bob and Maxine

Sports Balls, Maori Calls and Heart-Stopping Falls

Time to explore Queenstown! Off we went to check out the sights and find a coffee (which has turned into an expensive and delicious hobby).  Wandered along the waterfront and made friends with a giant kiwi. Pretty sure this isn’t to scale, but kiwis are nocturnal and we have yet to see a live one, so who knows?

A beautiful kiwi bird on the wharf.

A beautiful kiwi bird on the wharf.

Sandy and Murray had checked out the park and found the Queenstown Bowling Club, so naturally we decided to have a go. Not a soul to be found on the greens or in the clubhouse, but there was a closet of a room where we were able to self-register, get shoes and grab some balls.

How can this game for old people be so tough? It’s a cross between bocce ball, curling and five pin bowling. And yet I could not seem to hit the jack or keep the ball inbounds. I will blame it on my lawn bowling shoes, which were too big for me! Yeah, that’s it!

Good shot!
Good shot!
Murray checking the score.

Murray checking the score.

That Marv, ever the romantic at heart, booked a romantic evening for the group. Yes, Valentine’s Day is best shared with those you love.  Off we tramped to the gondola dressed in our best and conquered the hill in our cozy gondola pods and were treated to the most amazing view of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. We opted out of the luge and opportunity to mountain bike down the hill and headed for the Maori cultural show where we were entertained by strong Maori warriors and maidens, singing, playing guitar and showing off their fighting skills. Then came the call for audience participation and Sandy and I jumped at the chance to learn some dance skills. Have you ever seen a dance with poi balls? Not as easy as it looks, I can assure you! There was some concern over knocking the person beside in the head with our oversized marshmallows, but disaster was avoided and Sandy and I may work on a routine and take this show on the road!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Look out, Sandy! I'm gonna bust a move!

Look out, Sandy! I’m gonna bust a move!

Next up were our guys to be instructed in the fine art of scaring young children and warring enemies by doing the Haka. Eyes bulging, tongues sticking out, it was like a parenting nightmare gone wrong. Not only were the boys encouraged to make faces, they also shouted their intimidating Maori call, slapped their thighs and stomped their feet in the hope of frightening unwelcome visitors and avoiding war. Had I unexpectedly come across this sight, I most certainly would have turned tail and run.  Although Marv, dressed in blazer and bow tie, was most debonair in his presentation. Nicely done, Marv! Please ask any of the guys for a demonstration when we get home, as they seem happy to show it off at a moment’s notice!

What the haka?
What the haka?

There’s always the question of “How are we going to top that?” on these trips, and following up lawn bowling was no easy task. But the discussion was had and the decision was made to fling ourselves off the world’s highest cliff jump from a perfectly good platform jutting out over a 109 meter deep canyon the next day.

One by one we made our way to the edge in our very snug and cozy harnesses. Our jumpmaster, Rob, had a way of making me feel comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time. Here I was, putting my life in his hands and he’s kibitzing with his coworker about who was supposed to have hooked my carabineer to the rope from which I was about to dangle from. We are not amused. Following my nervous laughter (why can I never cry at a moment like this?), I was pushed down a slide and sent on a big, scary 60 meter free fall ( can’t remember much about that, too busy letting out a warrior cry) and then swinging 200 meters over the Shotover River. Wheeee! Jaime followed, also being pushed off the slide (I guess she figured if I survived it, it might work for her, too). More screaming, eyes closed and whooping at the bottom.  Fearless Judy walked right off the edge without a peep. Murray and Marv, doing a little sideways hop off the platform in the Pin Drop, hands behind their backs and looking the canyon and death straight in the eye and laughing at it. Lyle, dangling over the canyon while doing the Haka (boy, did he get a look from the jumpmaster!) and plummeting downwards. We had so much fun than no one opted for a second go.  Great fun, seriously, and they even provide clean underwear, should you require it.

Careful, the first step's a doozy!

Careful, the first step’s a doozy!

P1050268

No day in Queenstown would be complete without a stop at Fergburger’s for one of their world famous burgers. They sell about 2500 a day, so they are doing something right. They are also open 21 hours a day, so there’s always an opportunity to indulge. We’ll be raving for weeks!

Love at the Fergburger

Love at the Fergburger!

What better way to finish off the day that with a beer and taking in a rugby game? We got to see a pre-season game between the Dunedin Highlanders and the Auckland Blues and had a cracking good time. Thankfully, there was no bone cracking in this game, although the Highlander fans were disappointed by a loss. We also supported a Kiwi ice hockey team making plans to head to a tournament in Canada next year.  Who knew ice hockey was popular here?

A couple of busy and adrenaline packed days in a fun city!

Cheers, Carol

 

The “Sweet As” Tour…Renamed!

February 12 & 13 2012

(We skipped the 10th & 11th as Marv wanted to do the post for those days however he has been unable to make the time to get it done. Therefore we had decided to move on and hope he will get his post done at a later date.)

“Sweet As” is a phrase that is turned quite often down here. The Kiwi’s will say that as an answer to a question, an exclamation, or for no reason at all. To them it means good, great, awesome, I’m happy, Etc. We as a group have decided that this best represents our tour of New Zealand so we have taken the phrase as the name of our tour.

Shane, the host at the Franz Joseph “Chateau Franz” Hostel must have said “Sweet As” at least 15 times per hour, he was a very happy, and very busy guy. His hostel housed up to 140 people per day and on our second day on Franz Joseph he had only one helper to turn around all the beds, change linens, clean bathrooms, answer the phone, answer questions from guests and check out and check in guests. He ran for the whole 12 hour shift he worked. I hope he gets a piece of the profits. This leads me into a quick side note about our hostel experience, it is quite varied. Some of the hostels are awesome, small quaint places with friendly hosts, some are terrible as they are filthy, broken down and too big. The best thing about them (besides the cheap price) is the opportunity to meet other travelers and swap stories. Carol & I have decided that it is fine in the hostels if we can have a private room, however the dorm room option is not for us. Thankfully, through proactive work we have mostly had private rooms with a few nights of dorms shared with others in our tour.

The 12th had our group travelling from Haast to Wanaka. First off we drove for an hour or so until we reached the top of the Haast past, and then Marv suggested that we take a quick hike to the lookout. Off we go for a little hike, A MONSTER PUKING HIKE more like. I am not sure what the elevation increase was in feet but it was 30 minutes of switchbacks with at least a 15% grade. It was a great warmup for climbing on the bikes and riding down the Pass towards Wanaka. The ride was a series of moderate ups and downs as we cruised to and through the Hawea Lake valley. From a scenic point of view this is my favorite ride so far, absolutely gorgeous. The rich hued blue water is contrasted by the sloped green pasture up the hills to the mountain peaks. While not as high or dramatic as our rocky mountains the overall image is fantastic. I will include a picture below however, sadly a picture does not do it justice. The 82km ride ended up at the Mountain View BBH in Haast, a very small town, one store and two restaurants  ( the restaurants share the trade as one is open through lunch and the other for the afternoon and evening). The next day we were off on a 69km ride to Wanaka with the first 30km uphill. Jamie toughed it out for 10km and then joined us in the Van, exhausted. Stubborn Marv kept going (25km total) and we cheered him on as he creaked into Cardrona a quaint little mining cum Ski hill stop on the highway. Marvs instructions for us were that the summit of the pass would be 5 km past Cardrona so as he kept riding we drove to the summit and then jumped out to ride down to Queenstown. NEVER LISTEN TO MARV!!! Carol & I made it 5km before we gave up, the reality was that the real climb did not start until 5km past Cardrona and then there was a very serious 7km climb that only George completed and even he had to walk his bike a few times as the wind was blowing him backwards. We all waited at the top and had a picnic lunch inside the Van as it was so cold and windy, eventually Marv finished the ride to the top and he commented that he was sure that he could have walked the last 2km faster than he pedaled, again due to the wind. Now the payback for the hard work. An 11km downhill into the Frankton Valley on the way to Queenstown was steep, fast and full of hairpin turns, I loved it! That left a 20km into the headwind cruise into Queenstown to end the hardest day of cycling so far.  All bow to Marvin, he rode the full 69km that day and proved to us that he is in fact, not human!

Lyle

Jamie coughing up a lung after the Haast Pass hike!

Jamie coughing up a lung after the Haast Pass hike!

Trick riding during lunch break.

Trick riding during lunch break.
View of Lake Hawea. .Awesome!!!

View of Lake Hawea. Awesome!!!

Quaint Cardrona Hotel!

Quaint Cardrona Hotel!

Lunch at the Summit!

Lunch at the Summit!

Look who joined us in Queenstown! Sandy, put down the knife!

Look who joined us in Queenstown! Sandy, put down the knife!

 

Where the Left is Right

 

February 8 &9, 2012

Wow, Ms. Simmons, you are a hard act to follow!  I lead a much more, shallow existence-not too many deep personal insights from me, but then again I am on vacation.  First of all, greetings to my favourite Grade 2 class at Caledonia Park School who have been faithfully following my journey.  Wow, your painting of the continents was magnificent.  Ms. Grace is teaching you so much about the big world that we live in.  It was cool to see the views from the space station.  Things look much different from here.

When we left Murchison, Jamie was eager to take her turn driving and in her honor I re-wrote a song for the occasion (sing to the tune of Carrie Underwood’s-Jesus Take the Wheel.)  Here goes…for you Jamie…

Let me take the wheel

Take it in my hand

Think that it’s my turn to drive

I’ll stay on the left

I won’t try to turn around

Still I can do this on my own

Let me take the wheel.

In the absence of a full time support driver we have all agreed to take our ‘turn’ behind the wheel,  a little unnerving for us Canadian drivers to drive a van, towing a bike trailer, on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.  We are mostly travelling on very narrow, 2 lane highways that include one way bridges where you frequently must ‘give way’ to oncoming traffic.  (Still haven’t figured out how it was decided who should have the right of way.)  So, Jamie “took the wheel” for the first 30 kms out of Murchison, at which point we traded out drivers, myself, then George, alternating for the rest of the day until we ended the ride in Westport.  Jamie joined Marv, Carol and Lyle, who toughed out the ride into Westport and completed a Century ride (100 kms) for the day.  The town of Westport (pop. 5000) was a very busy place as they were preparing to host a large marathon run the following day.  Thankfully we were not planning to stay overnight, everything was full.  Our short transfer took us to the seaside town of Punakaiki, on the coast of the Tasman Sea.  We were able to join other travelers on the beach to watch the sunset (all 4 minutes  of it).  That is how quickly the sun drops below the horizon of the sea.

Unfortunately for Lyle his long biking day resulted in severe muscle tension in his back making it very uncomfortable for him to sit, bike or even walk.  Needless to say he was game to ‘ take the wheel’  the next morning.  Our morning transfer led us to the famous Punakaiki Blow Holes and Pancake Rocks where the limestone rocks have formed into what looks like stacks of pancakes.  When a good tide is running the water surges into caverns below the rocks and squirts out in geyser-like blowholes.

From there it was on to Greymouth, the largest town on the west coast of NZ with a population of just over 10,000.  Lyle took the opportunity to look for a chiropractor or a massage therapist, but to no avail.  We soldiered on, stopping for gas at a small gas station where Marv thought it would be nice to ask about the weather forecast.  The young girl behind the counter was quick to report that “if you can’t see the mountains it is raining and if you can it’s not”. Those ever helpful Kiwis, eh?

Marv even tried to bribe them by sharing our Hawkins cheezies, or maybe he was exploring the possibility of starting an import/export business, since they are only available in Canada.  Not a bad idea.

Our day ended in the delightful town of Franz Josef, a resort town adjacent to the Franz Josef glacier (reminiscent of Banff).  I think Marv has big plans to try and talk us into a helicopter ride to the glacier tomorrow, but we’ll see about that!

Judy Reynar

Van and trailer ready to go

Van and trailer ready to go

One way bridge

One way bridge

Blowhole at Punakaiki

Blowhole at Punakaiki

Carol and Marv exploring the pancake rocks

Carol and Marv exploring the pancake rocks

PRUNES AND PRIVACY

February 7, 2013

A vacation is not always entirely about a destination.  The most meaningful parts can come in little snippets of experiences, knowledge and lessons acquired along the way.  Mostly lessons about oneself mixed in with experienced gained from the location you have the pleasure of meeting for the first time.

Some lessons are merely refreshers of something you knew and enjoyed in a simpler time.  New Zealand reminds me of that.  This is a culture that has not been swallowed up by the prepackaged promise of a faster and happier life.  Kiwis seem to still be able to find the pleasures of life easily as I was reminded on a water break as we set out from Nelson Lakes on route to Hamner Springs.  Small family campers reminiscent of those of my youth are the norm here.  These units lacked complexity and are often personally customized by the family they house as they enjoy their summer holiday together.  As I stopped for water I met Marshall.  He was a young bloke enjoying a camping trip with his family on the last few days before he set out to grade 4.  We chatted with Marshall’s dad for awhile.  He gave us the low down on the upcoming kilometers ahead.  As we chatted, Marshall easily offered me some of his sausage sandwich.   I told him I was from Canada.  He told me I sounded exactly like a teacher he had long ago in grade 3.  Her name was Sarah.  Did I know Sarah from Canada he asked?

Prior to meeting Marshall however I was previously reacquainted with simplicity in Christ church when I enjoyed my first meal with Marv, Judy, George, Carol and Lyle.  A few avocado and tomato slices on a piece of whole grain toast never tasted so good in the sun in the company of friends.   A wonderful experience does not have to be complicated.

After travelling for a few days the fact that some of the things we take for granted, when they come to a screeching halt, can cause havoc.  An easy North American solution would be to reach for a pill for the promise of overnight relief.  My mother’s practical preaching’s offered the simple solution – prunes.  After purchasing some in bulk I had forgotten how delicious they were and within days all of nature’s ebbs and flows were restored.  A simple solution to a very restrictive problem.

Lessons about me are learned from something unexpected.  Distress started to percolate by the time we got to Murchison.  I was beginning to realize that the hostelling experience was becoming overwhelming.  My privacy was being compromised nightly.  I am shy and I have discovered at this point that I cannot socialize for 24 hours.  This is something I did not plan for. To most probably, this wouldn’t be an issue.  To me it was becoming a real problem.   I gently tried to explain  this to the group, worried very much about hurting the feelings of others.   I told them I needed time to be alone and that perhaps privacy is more important to some than others. I discovered that friends will accept, respect and accommodate your differences no matter how odd they may seem.

So by the time we finish up in Murchison I have enjoyed 3 nights to myself.  I’m happier and better able to enjoy this fantastic opportunity.  My travelling companions have supported me in getting my needs met.  Nothing personal really means nothing personal.  It is a great relief.

Our second day in Murchison found several of us apprehensive about the day’s activity we were about to partake in – white water rafting.  To my surprise not only do I reluctantly commit to go but all the rest do also.  This 4 hour trek along the Buller River is led along by Tim.  His knowledge of the ever changing river and the elements that compose and surround it are presented in interesting vignettes whilst controlling a raft full of 6 Canadians.  Tim tells us tales and facts about gold miners, pink quartz, farming, livestock, and earthquakes.  Low and behold we float by the fault line of the Murchison earthquake of 1926.  I can say floating over a fault line is a first for me. Tim is not a Maori person but is proud to speak their stories and knowledge.  He says he would be described by the Maori as one who knows the land.  I agree.  He makes me want to know more about these people.  He takes my fear of the white water away.  Love of all water returns.  Safe to say that fun and excitement were had by all.  The biggest thrill for me being the go ahead by Tim to jump in the river and freely float in the Buller

Tonight the hosts of the Lazy Cow Hostel are preparing a gourmet meal so perfect that Marv dons a dinner jacket atop his formal t-shirt.  He has the lamb which he thought he had ingested days before for the first time in his life. He was very relieved at Fiona’s when the lamb tasted like the pork – turn out, it was pork.  He never chose the pork at all.  The meal at the Lazy Cow is perfection.  Many of the items come from the host’s garden.

We leave our mark on Murchison as Carol and Judy design a logo for the concrete pizza oven under construction at the Lazy Cow.  This logo will be tiled later by the hostel host’s daughter. As our time in Murchison comes to an end I can say that I learned as much about this part of New Zealand as I did about myself.

To recap a few things I picked up or reacquainted myself with:

–          Prunes are good for your poopie pipes

–          Good friends will ask you few questions about your quirks but will assist and support you in doing what you need to be comfortable

–          If you push past your fear you may just enjoy yourself while free floating down a river over a fault line

 

Avocado and tomato in the sun!

Avocado and tomato in the sun!

White Water Rafting on the Buller River

White Water Rafting on the Buller River

Facing Our Fears

Facing Our Fears

Pleased With My Privacy

Pleased With My Privacy

The Road to Murchinson

The Road to Murchinson

How Sweet it is!

The rain continued Monday night while we slept. Things were very wet when we woke up. We prepared a standard breakfast, Fruit, yogurt, cereal, coffee for the addicted, made up the sandwiches, fruit and veggies for our picnic lunch. It is much more convenient and nourishing to pack a lunch than hope to find a restaurant on the road when we are hungry, not to mention a heck of a lot cheaper. That brings me to the topic of groceries. It is amazing how expensive groceries are in this country. Ground beef is $16.00 per Kg, Avocados were $2.49 each and those were grown in NZ, eggs are as much as $6.60 per dozen of you want free range. Overall I am sure the prices are at least 30% to 50% more than at home…Craziness!

Anyway we were ready to go and hit the road, driving that is. We drove to St Arnaud against a stiff headwind and then jumped on the bikes. The rain was finished and the sun came out and we had a swweeeeettt 32km downhill pedaling most of the way but at speeds of 30-35 KMH followed by a difficult 12km uphill against the wind and a crazy steep 3km uphill (I had to walk almost ½ of it)on gravel before a beautiful graveled downhill along a power line through four river(creek) fords before we again hit the pavement. In total we had a wonderful 73km day in the saddle before we reached the lovely town of Murchison and spied the Lazy Cow BBH, a welcome sight . Then the bad news hit, Marv shared that we had a 2 hour (166km) transfer to Hanmer Springs where we were staying that night.  There was talk of mutiny as we were all tired and not interested in 2 more hours on the road. Marv was lucky that while not one person wanted to do the transfer, out of respect for him we all kept our mouths shut, climbed in the van and headed out. (As a side note, the reason for the crazy schedule was that Marv had to switch our planned ride/transfer because the heavy rains had made a shortcut over the mountain to Hanmer Springs unsafe to drive without a 4 wheel drive vehicle.) We finally pulled into the “Jack n the Green” hostel about 8pm, checked in and went looking for a meal. As it was so late when we finally hit the hay we again decided on a late start and were at the Thermal Hot springs at 10am the next morning for a pleasant soak. 2 hours of relaxation later (with Marvin continuing his sunburn habit as  he burnt his back while swimming) we packed up and started our 2 hour, 166km drive back to Murchison (yes a complete backtrack from the day before) so we could finally check into the Lazy Cow  BBH. About 50km out of Murchison we dumped off the bikes and started our ride for the day. It was an overall pleasant if undulating ride in the sun as we rode into town. The terrain is beautiful, have I mentioned how much it reminds me of British Columbia? Another late check-in followed by a late dinner disallowed any evening socializing. We really have to get our schedule straightened out!

On a further side note I must say that overall the hostels have been a great experience. While a couple of them have been very large and too darn busy, most have been small, quaint, and very full of character. It is a special treat when one of gets an en suite bathroom.

Godspokingly yours, Lyle

PS. You will be glad to hear that others with wore writing talent than I will be contributing to the blog. I believe Jamie will be posting Thursdays entry. Wooo Hoo

Judy, the pied piper of Lake Rotoroa!

Judy, the pied piper of Lake Rotoroa!

A Kiwi Lawnmower!

A Kiwi Lawnmower!

I WIn!!!

I Win!!!

Hanmer Hot Springs!

Hanmer Hot Springs!

Maruia River Falls! Created by the 1929 Murchison 7.8 Earthquake

Maruia River Falls! Created by the 1929 Murchison 7.8 Earthquake

Cruisin into Murchison!

Cruisin into Murchison!

Wet and more wet!

February 3rd & 4th

Sunday started out beautiful if a little late as we slept in due to a late arrival at the Anakiwa Backpackers hostel. We had a leisurely breakfast as Marv called the Kayaking company to push back our departure time from 8:30 to 10:30. Hanna showed up to collect us and take us down the road to their shop to get outfitted in skirts, lifejackets, and hats for our grand adventure. We signed the standard consent forms and loaded up to return to the beach right outside our hostel for orientation on our kayaks and away we went. We had a great six hours of paddling up the Queen Charlotte sound with our guide Russell. He and Hannah are Brits working for the summer here as Adventure guides and they were great fun. Russell was very knowledgeable on the flora, fauna, and critters and continually kept us going with stories and anecdotes. We were able to paddle right up to 3 different Fur Seals, those things have huge teeth, basking on the rocks, we saw 3 different types of cormorants, and numerous other seabirds like herons and gulls. It was hot and wonderful on the water. We stopped for a shore lunch and a swim before we made our way back to the hostel about 5pm. I then jumped into the water with my snorkel and explored around the jetty near the hostel. I pulled up Starfish as big a dinner plate to show Marv & Jamie as well as Sea Cucumbers, clams, black mussels and some huge “green lipped mussels”. This region is famous for these mussels and they are quite delicious. After we cleaned up we went into a town called Haverlock to the “Mussel Pot”. This spot was recommended by Hannah and Russell for dinner as a lower priced restaurant with good food. Good it was, but being lower priced is subjective. Bottom line is it is very expensive here in NZ. We ordered a $15.50 plate of Calamari for an appetizer and the amount on the plate would have fit in one hand, about 2 pieces per person. George had  a $18.50 Chicken Burger and  Marv had Fish & Chips for $22.00. Good thing we did’nt go to the higher priced spot recommended by the Hostel owner. Oh Well, you can’t take it with you!

We woke Monday to rain and diligently got ready for the first ride of the trip. As we rode away from the hostel the clouds were low, the rain was coming down, but it was warm. Even though we were completely and totally soaking wet we did not get cold. The terrain was similar to Italy with steady uphills and downhills as we wound our way through the sounds towards Nelson. A good steady pace enabled us to reach our primary destination, the “ Pelorus  Bridge” ahead of schedule however the rain meant our ride was over as an optional 40km extension (shortcut) over the pass to Nelson was deemed too dangerous. 39 km for day one was good enough given the nasty weather.  We happened to meet up with a fellow cyclist during the ride. Johnny is a 35 year old Brit 3 months into a 5 month cycling tour through Southeast Asia and New Zealand. He rode the last 15km of the ride with us, was equally soaked,  and we offered to haul him and his bike to Nelson which he gratefully accepted. He is a great guy with interesting stories of his travels. The guys decided to treat the girls to a nice dinner in at the Hostel and cooked up Bruschetta, Sautéed Chicken legs, Roast potatoes, Squash, followed up by Marv’s special dessert (Ice Cream). Time was taken to dry everything out and get ready for tomorrow.

Faithfully Transcribed by Lyle

Jamie getting wet!

Jamie getting wet!

A Friendly Fur seal!

A Friendly Fur seal!

Sun deck at the Anakima BBH. Awesome!

Sun deck at the Anakima BBH. Awesome!

The end of our first ride!

The end of our first ride!

Pelorus swinging bridge!

Pelorus swinging bridge!

Our Brit Friend Johnny!

Our Brit Friend Johnny!

 

Dinner Anyone?

Dinner Anyone?

Green Lipped mussels, delicious, right George?

Green Lipped mussels, delicious, right George?