10.16.2008 - 10.23.2008 50 °F
Hello from the South Island! It's officially spring here complete with blooming flowers, green hills, and lambs! We are having an excellent time, it's only been a week and we've done so much.
We started in Christchurch where we slept off some of our jet lag, visited museums, art galleries, the botanic garden, and generally had a good time roaming the streets. Apparently Christchurch is the most British city in the world, but we don't have much to compare it to. We went to a great restaurant that brews its own beer, and tested out a few...quite different from the Alaskan Brewing Co. One day we took a bus to Lyttleton, a beautiful port town with winding streets that reminded us so much of Juneau. We were lucky to stumble upon their farmers market, where they had fresh cheeses, vegetables, pestos, amazing pastries, and even chocolate! It was excellent.
Matt tasting brews at Dux de Lux
We picked up our rental car and headed out of town. Our car is has been great- it's a station wagon complete with all the camping gear we need including a fold down bed in the back. We still haven't named him yet, but Herbert seems fitting.
We headed to the Banks Peninsula, and old volcano crater that has been filled in by the Pacific. Our first day with the car was definitely the most challenging, driving on the left side of the road up steep winding hills, but we made it!
The town of Akaroa is adorable, lots of cafes with outdoor seating and beautiful views of the green hills and turquoise waters. We were able to take a tour and swim with endangered Hector's dolphins, the smallest ocean-going dolphins in the world. We suited up in wetsuits and they dropped us into the rough pacific where we had to sing through our snorkels to attract the curious dolphins...quite the experience.
We then headed west toward the Southern Alps to Mt. Cook national park. The first day we were there the mountain wasn't visible, apparently it's usually cloud covered. The surrounding mountains were spectacular though, and we did a short hike in the wind and the rain.
The next morning we awoke to blue skies and sun and Mt. Cook completely visible! We headed back into the valley and did an unbelievable hike through the alpine, over suspension bridges, watching small avalanches fall (not close by).
Because we were so excited to see the mountain, we drove a little farther than we had expected and ended up running out of gas...whoops! We hitched a ride with some nice old kiwis, both with really odd music taste.
After refueling we drove to Dunedin on the east coast to meet up with Molly & James, our friends from Juneau. It's been so nice to see familiar faces and explore their cute town. They took us to see glow-worms and penguins! We're now heading south to do some camping and then we're going to meet up with them on Friday to do a 3 day tramping adventure on one of New Zealand's famous 'great walks'. Penguin watching
Hope all is well back in the states. Miss you all! Cheers!