Thursday, January 11, 2018

Fun and Quirky Photos from our Trip

Simon sorting all the chocolate we'd gotten along the way-- tons of it!

A wonderful lasagna dinner at Sue and Steve's, the Page Bethel neighbors and landlords.

 Smiggles--Gwen's absolutely most favorite store in Dunedin--equally loved by Maddie and Max.
Simon's glee when his futsal team won the championship. 
Fluffies (steamed milk) -- the kids' delight.
The last hike: up the Organ Pipes--
crazy blocks of rocks,
and Sam at the top. 
Playground where kids vied to strike the riskiest position.
Maori tattoo-ing.
The iconic New Zealand curled ferns.
The cave on Rachel and David's favorite Blue Skin Bay walk in Waitati, just minutes from their home.
A very comfortable flight home because of a fortuitous mistake that put us in premium economy.
Rachel's photo--my very favorite: lush, lacy, cloudy, sunny, mysterious, serene--everything New Zealand is.

Our Last Day Trip from Waitati


to the Kapiti Lighthouse where we walked out on the peninsula in blustery weather, watching seals


and pausing at this bush where we got our first up-close glimpse of a penguin.


As we took our trail back to the van

we saw several penguins taking their own trail up hill. 
All of us--slowly trudging somewhere. 

Then on to the Moeraki Boulders--not as big as the Elephant Rocks but wonderfully round and climbable.

Next to Fleur's Restaurant


for our Thanksgiving feast of delicious seafood

and where you can write on the wall.

Theo and David chatting with Fleur.

Then a mad chase to get to Oamaru in time to see the little blue penquins emerge from the sea at sunset, 200 of them in groups of about 50, and waddle up the rocky beach to their nests.


Some veered off the usual path so cautionary signs were posted.


Closest Simon got to a penquin.


David's close encounter with a Wanaka duck.

Close cousin encounter.



Trip Back to Waitati

Stopping just past the mountains from Milford Sound,

we pulled into a car park for the view


and were lucky to spot this Kea, the world's only known alpine parrot species,
a very curious bird who will dismantle anything sticking out on a car like an antenna, and likes clothing (one once chewed a hole in Gwen's pants!).


Jess and Max looking for him under a car


while the cheeky bird is sitting on the hood. 

Then back into our trusted van

where Gwen's Raspberry, our constant companion, got warmly wrapped up and safely seat belted.

We passed fields of lush lupine which, sadly, are an invasive species in New Zealand.  But, as David says, NZ seems to have embraced them by now-- 

as did Sam and Jess.

Always finding Flying Foxes on our travels.  Always a delight to the kids.


Friday, January 5, 2018

Te Anau
Our next stop and B&B was in Te Anau, closer to the South Island's western coast and a jumping off point for several adventures. 
The first, boating to the amazing Glowworm Caves.
No photos were allowed but we entered the through a small opening in the rock, walked on a metal walkway over a rushing river to a large pool of water.  We boarded a small boat which circled the pool and where we could see thousands of pinpoints of light on the ceiling--the tiny glowworms attracting prey with their lights--but it looked like an immense universe with twinkling stars to me.
This was my very favorite, incredible thing we did in NZ!

The "official" photo as we went in.
The next day we drove to Milford Sound and boarded a boat

 that slowly took us down the Sound (which is actually a fiord, not a sound),
a gorgeous waterway with steep waterfalls,
dolphins, seals, even one lone penguin,
intrepid photographers,
and family shots.



We spent the day in Queenstown

up on a mountain with this amazing view


Taking the motorized luge ride halfway down, then going up and taking it down again
(I still haven't mastered videos on my blog).

The gondola ride down

and what happens when all four kids (with no grown-up) are in one gondola, 


one of them has your IPhone,


loves to take pictures


and ham it up for the camera.

On the way out we stopped at a beach along the beautiful Shotover River.

New Zealanders are so protective of their gorgeous islands but then you see insane stuff like these speed-crazed motorboats charging up and down the river, careening and making tight turns with lots of waves and spray all for the excitement of their screaming tourist passengers.

This is a tame view of one of the motorboats.