Saturday, 19 February 2011

Onwards and Eastwards....

Well, I'm sitting where I started.  In my Aunt and Uncle's house in the same clothes in which I arrived.  And here I am reflecting upon the last 4 weeks in Kiwi Land.

First, a brief summary of the events since the last blog.

We left you at Cloudy Bay...I navigated us (navigated is a strong term, more like informed Tim that he should follow the 1 road that there seems to be going south...) to Kaikoura.  The coastal road boasts exquisite views of both sandy and rocky coast line and Tim's favourite feature, seals.  

As we remember from the last blog, Tim has a love of all things living (the ducks) and likes to really bond with them as closely as possible.  Make no mistake, seals still fall under this category...  After stopping on the side of the road we found a seal rather close to the layby...snappy snap went the camera and I was set.  But Tim ventured.  Course he did.  He found another, slightly more awake one which was hopping (do seals hop?) from rock to rock - in my view trying to get away, but Tim wanted to follow.  So I went on with him and to my surprise, a seal was hiding under a rather large rock (seals are surprisingly well camouflaged) and I got the shock of my life.  Tim thought it was hysterical.  I was terrified.  The seal didn't seem too happy either.  I decided to head to less rocky pastures and use my long angle lens, Tim thought that using close proximity instead of the zoom was much better.  We left unscathed but upon our next (much more official seal sighting area) stop we learnt that one should stay about 10 metres away from the seals.  Oops.

We made it safely to Kaikoura.  Nothing untoward happened there so we'll move on.

Christchurch-ho!  The last time I went, the directions to my now 90 year-old great aunt Marion were 'keep the mountains on your right and the sea on your left and   you'll be fine'.  Super.  One way systems and ring-roads don't always behave according to such directions.  But we pressed on hoping I'd recognise something.  I did-ish...after a quick look at a map in an information centre we were on our way.   Marion gave us a guided tour of the earthquake aftermath of Christchurch, its so sad to see some of the oldest buildings turn to a pile of bricks.

We spent Sunday in Akaroa - a peninsular nearby and Tim swam with some dolphins.  He was told by the guide that if you sing in the water that they come closer to you.  He sung the theme tune to Emmerdale and up came the dolphins.  I cannot explain how such a song entered Tim's (I'm-super-talented-at-music-and-can-play-a-million-songs-on-the-piano) head, but it certainly did the trick.

We left our little blue shoe of a car in Christchurch, 3,000km older and headed back to Auckland.

We planned to explore some of the Coromandel but a dodgy tummy on my part led us to the doctors and a nice B&B for 2 nights...yesssss...hill top, sea view, a golden retriever called Bailey, a kingsize bed, ensuite, tv and dvd player, dressing gowns and tea and coffee making facilities.  It'll do.

Our penultimate night in NZ was at my Uncle Simon's where we were to camp again.  The long and short of that night was, we managed to pitch our tent on a slope, it had a hedgehog at our door when we finally went to it that evening and my uncle's last words were 'you won't have any problems camping here except for the wild animals'.  Super.  Wild boar, possum, rabbits and seemingly hedgehogs were on the list... 

As with all our stories, we survived that night and were greeted to a kipper that had been imported from Aberdeen.  My uncle knows what he likes and sources it accordingly.

So, as I started this blog, here we are, 4 weeks older and more travelled, browner and warmer than before.

We've loved it.  We could stay longer, perhaps forever.  We constantly window shop at estate agents dreaming up our future.  But for now, let me muse on what we've learnt.

- That Dr Pheasant's (my Geography teacher) teachings on longshore drift, meandering rivers, stumps, stacks, arches and caves at sea, tectonic plates and deforestation have all come in handy when gazing over the astonishingly varied landscape of Aeotearoa (Maori name for NZ).

- The Maori language will never cease to amaze me.  Seasoned with vowels like you wouldn't believe - Tim's pretty sure that all rivers have the same name.  And indeed in some cases it's true.  There are names in the North and South Islands that are the same because the meaning of the word makes sense in 2 places.  That's really helpful when you can't remember the name of a place and you're trying to tell someone about where you've been and it turns out there are 2 of them anyway.

- My family will always inadvertently call me by my mothers name, Julia.  It'll never change and I'm absolutely fine with that.

- Tim will always try and befriend any creature that moves and endeavour to learn it's 'noise'.  His hedgehog hiss is coming on nicely...

- Quote of the trip:
(whilst Nicola is driving the windy roads)
Nicola:  You ok Tim?
Tim: Yup....a little less lateral g-force would help...

I'm sure there's more.  One starts to think in blog as I'd love to share more of this trip with you.  But by now I'm sure that your coffee/tea is cold or your internet connection has timed out or you're losing sleep that would make tomorrow a much brighter day.  So til next time....


Tic Toc xxx

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