Thursday, 31 December 2009

#12: Clothespins

Anyone reading this blog knows that I am in love with laundry. It was so good to be back in a land of laundry - I love to see clothes hanging on a line and NZ is simply full of it. Of course, with all the wind they get it's important to have good clothespins. A modest example are featured here. I did find them to be pretty darn effective. I brought back a goodly number of them to distribute to friends - what could be a more appropriate gift from the south when I blog as The Clothesline?

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

#11 South Island Cities

Today, I'm posting a bunch of photos from an album of visits to 3 cities on the South Island. (I'm finally starting to get some of my photos sorted). We visited Dunedin, "Little Edinburgh", the Scottish centre of NZ, Christchurch, a lovely city we saw on a dark and dreary day, and Wellington - forever in my memory as bright and breezy.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

#10 Beaches

Most of us enjoy the sand of a golden beach (and NZ has plenty of them), but I rather liked the unusual black sand found along the Tasman Sea on the North Island. Our route generally followed the coasts of both islands and if you are a beach lover, NZ is a very fine place to visit. It is windy, however (at least in the spring). We loved the coastline and didn't get to a couple of the really grand beaches - like 90 Mile Beach - which could be a bit of an exaggeration for a metric country! I don't like the fact that some of the beaches are "drivable" but our rig wasn't insured to be on beaches and I don't agree with vehicles on them anyway. Beaches are another great NZ walking opportunity too.

Monday, 28 December 2009

#9: Toilets!

I can't think of ever taking a picture of one of the many, many public toilets in NZ. You'd have thought I'd at least taken a picture of the sign! Alas, I did not do that. NZ has absolutely the best public toilets in the world, I'm sure. Every town has them and they are clearly labelled so access is readily found. It was such a change from travelling in Britain where it was difficult to find a toilet and it usually cost a few pence to get in. I saw two toilets in NZ that weren't topnotch in terms of cleanliness and there was one where I provided a couple of rolls of toilet paper. That is because I expected to need toilet paper while we travelled and it was one of the first things I put into my grocery cart on the day we rented our camper. On December 4th, 5 weeks, later I hadn't used any so left a couple of rolls at the FREE DoC campground we stayed in near the Tasman Sea on the NI. The country has figured out what is important to the tourist and it has been provided!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

#8: Wine

NZ is a BIG wine grower - it really made the Okanagan Valley look like pretty small potatoes (or grapes, in this case). We could usually buy a decent wine in the grocery store for under $10.00 kiwi. (There are no "state" liquor stores in NZ). We tried out lots of them. I liked this label design from the Marlborough area of NZ, close to Nelson, NZ. We're having a bottle of Oyster Bay wine for Christmas dinner tomorrow, which also happens to be in the Nelson area. From Nelson, NZ to Nelson, BC! Happy Christmas, everyone.

#7: It's Metric

For those of you who don't know what this instrument is, it's a metric needle gauge for knitting needles. I happen to own one. One thing I really liked about NZ is that it has gone metric, not in the half-assed way that Canada has. It's a bit of a shock to enter the grocery store and see that the price of bulk garlic is $19.95/kg, but the price works out to pretty much the same thing as Canada. Once I had made the adjustments, I was very happy to be able to purchase meat, veggies and fruit in kg, instead of pounds.

The knitting supplies were another NZ "buy" - I'd say the prices for yarn were lower, knitting needles and the like were cheaper and I guess with 40 million sheep, one really can't go wrong.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

#6: Botanical Gardens

The city planners of NZ obviously had a grand vision and a love of plants. There are botanical gardens in every city we visited and even small places with a population less than 10,000 people had impressive public gardens. This often included water features, as pictured here in Dunedin, NZ, a rock garden, herb gardens and ROSES were the big highlight. They were at the peak of their season and I saw so many varieties, most with names I'd never heard of. We were sorry to have been a bit late for the rhododendron shows but what we did see was impressive - luckily for us it was a late spring and lots of rhodos were still blooming. Absolutely hundreds of hectares are given over to the development of public gardens in the towns and cities of NZ and I applaud the fact that we didn't pay for entrance and every one that we visited was a delightful public space. Joseph Banks came with Captain Cook to collect plants in NZ - his legacy lives on!

Monday, 21 December 2009

#5: Roadside Flowers

I think that of all the Canadian provinces, British Columbia takes the prize for the best roadside wildflowers. NZ has got tons of good ones too. The picture here is really a "dandelion" - the leaves are identical to the dandelion "weed" we have here, but these flowers are much nicer. I had the opportunity to always have a bouquet of flowers in the camper - sometimes it was colourful lupines (and yes, they have yellow lupines in NZ) and sometimes it was calla lilies or osteopernum plucked right out of the ditches. Geraniums grow wild as do freesia. There are also lots of beautiful natural grasses which get to look very elegant as they blow around in the mighty winds of the 'Roaring '40's'.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

#4: Walking

I'm not sure if I can clearly identify the difference between a "track", a "trek" and a "tramp" but let's just call it walking! It's alive and well in NZ. Of course, my favorite hikes were in the mountains of Fiordland but I had quite a few gorgeous coastal walks, notably in Abel Tasman National Park. Another favorite was at Cape Foulweather, partly because the place so suited its name (named by Captain Cook, of course). We had plenty of opportunity to walk in wind and I was so played out by the wind at one point that I didn't actually walk down to the most southerly point in NZ that is not found on one its more southerly islands. Dave did so with difficulty.

Nearly every little town and every city has historic walks, nature walks, and tramps to simply be outdoors. If you love to walk, visit NZ.

Friday, 18 December 2009

#3: Te Papa Atawhai or The DoC

The Department of Conservation is the sort of "state park" or "national park" area of NZ. They offer very basic camping in a number of locations, although we found some of them difficult to access. It was the only time I really felt as if I was actually camping in NZ - they only offer an open field, a toilet and water with a suggestion that it be boiled (and in some instances it was get the water from the stream or lake).

The Department also manages thousands of trails on the two islands. We found all of them to be in excellent condition and they are absolutely free. Many of them had interpretive signs along the way. The only "tracks" that we did were part of the Abel Tasman Track and the Routeburn Track. The day that we hiked on Routeburn there had been a big rainfall and the trail had to be rerouted around a 176 m waterfall which was taking over the trail - but within several hours, they did have it done. I really have to applaud the Department of Conservation in NZ!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

#2: The Food!

I've always loved food. NZ is a good place to be if you're a so-called "foodie". This is a picture of the seafood hotpot that Dave ordered in a restaurant known as Fleur's Place in Moraki, SI. The Lonely Planet led us to this establishment and I think it was a real find. Since our visit, I've learned that the woman who owns the place has put out cookbooks (hope to find those through our library system) and been awarded all sorts of prizes. We didn't eat out at a lot of different places, but I enjoyed every meal we ate. We had Thai food in Rotarura and Dunedin (both excellent) and our friend Bede took us to a Chinese food restaurant in Auckland. I'd say it was the best "Chinese" I've ever had and I loved how we could bring our own bottle and pay a corkage fee. Seafood is superb and all the produce in the grocery stores was beautiful to look at. The quality was good as well. I'd say that the local food movement is alive and well in NZ. I guess it has to be! My only regret is that since Dave isn't a lamb eater I didn't get to cook lamb chops 3 times a week. Luckily, the fish helped to make up for that.


Things I Love Best About New Zealand. I'm not doing these posts in any particular order, but as a prairie girl, I have to say that NZ has fantastic skies. I often feel pretty hemmed in living here in a steep mountain valley and being in the wide open spaces of NZ felt like freedom. The forests there are really dense so that closed in feeling dominates when away from the coast, but most of the time I got to appreciate sky.

It was rather weird that we saw very few good sunsets, however. This one was probably the best one at Fox Glacier on the South Island. The Tasman Sea was probably 15 km to the west. The next morning the skies cleared completely and we had fantastic views of Mt. Tasman and Mt Cook. NZ skies are changeable and dominate the landscape.

Monday, 14 December 2009

32 000 Kilometres Later

We arrived home last night and figured that we travelled about that far during the past 7 weeks. Our trip to NZ was 11 500 km each way, we put on 7, 200 km driving around the two islands and we drove from here to the west coast, over to the Island, and back here again.

Over the next few weeks I'm planning to write a number of short blogs about the things I loved best about New Zealand so if you're one of my readers you can hunt me up and read what I have to say.

It was so very good to sleep in my own bed last night - in fact, it was so good that I'm heading that way now.