Goodbye Australia and New Zealand

My final thoughts:

The flights to Australia and New Zealand are really killers, but these two countries are well worth seeing.

It took over 24 hours to get home. We left Queenstown at 10:30 am on Friday, March 10. At about 1:00 pm, we boarded Air New Zealand for the short flight to Auckland. In Auckland, we had to wait until 7:30pm to board our flight to LA. Note the photo of the airline reader board for gate assignments for LA. It’s at the bottom of the list. No gate, so it just says,”Relax.” We arrived in LA at 10:30 am on March 10. Another wait until 2:30 for our flight on Alaska Airlines home. Those countries are far, far away.

Flying economy on both Qantas and Air New Zealand is an ordeal. When I got on the flight to come home, I walked down the aisle of the Boeing 777. First came the luxury first class, and then comfortable business class. I nearly broke into tears when I saw the seats go from two to three in the aisle. Garrett, Carol, and I are all average size people with Garrett being thin. We are family and we like each other, and yet it was so hard to find room in those awful seats. I wonder if some studies need to be done to assess how these cramped conditions affect the health of passengers and crew.

If you ask me, “Which country do you like better?” I’d have to say that I don’t know . Australia is bigger, but its landscapes are as beautiful as tinier New Zealand.One thing I can say, however, is that Australia got all the nasty venomous creatures while New Zealand is much safer on that score. I understand that it has one native venomous spider, but the other two dangerous spiders have hitchhiked over from Australia.

Australia has its kangaroo, and everyone seems to enjoy eating it. New Zealand has its kiwi birds, but no one can see them.

Both countries are well organized and comfortable for travelers. I honestly did not meet one rude or unfriendly citizen of either country. Indeed, they seemed to be very proud of their countries and eager that travelers should understand what makes being “Down Under” so special.

One thing I really liked was the absence of sales tax on goods. If an item was marked $5, you handed the clerk a $5-bill. Likewise, there is no tipping. Apparently wages are high enough that tipping is unnecessary. We didn’t see any homelessness in Sydney or other areas, and the tour guide explained that their social welfare has a good system for dealing with this.

Prices seemed a little higher, but the US dollar is worth about $1.30 Australian or New Zealand. Lunch was usually around $15 to $20 Australian or New Zealand. I’m not sure what the hotels cost or many of the meals because they were included in the Rupiper package.

Food was interesting. We were all grossed out by the Vegemite which is brewer’s yeast with vegetables and spices. It’s eaten in many countries, but it takes yucky on my American tastebuds, and I’m almost a vegetarian! Eating crocodile is also difficult to contemplate. I, however, loved the pumpkin soup and all the ways they prepare sweet potatoes. They also eat beets! So yummy. In fact, they put beets in a lot of things including a hamburger order, “with the lot.” I also thoroughly enjoyed being in a commonwealth country because at breakfast I could get scrambled eggs, beans on toast, and a grilled tomato. Breakfast was my favorite meal on the trip.

Australia and New Zealand are also tea-drinking countries. I found good tea everywhere, and there was always an electric tea kettle in our rooms. So civilized.

They are also wool producing nations and had some wonderful wool clothing, yarn, roving, and felted objects. I have to tell you though that I had a little trouble adjusting to New Zealand mink, a blend of merino wool and opossum.

Lovely Ashford wool roving
Lovely Ashford wool roving

There were 41 people on the tour counting the tour guide, Brent Rupiper. Most of them were from the Midwest with just another couple from Washington and three people from Oregon. So, my husband is from South Dakota and he just has to be early to everything. It sometimes drives me crazy, but now I can see that it must be bred into Midwesterners. I remember coming down early to board the HSS Earnshaw and was among the last to get in line. One time we were waiting for the last person, Judy from Georgia, to board the bus, and she was four minutes early!

We all got along well. I made friends with Joyce the 2nd, but she is really Joyce the best. Her husband, Roger, is almost a Ritzvillite because he went to Bethel College with so many Mennonites from my high school. I loved to saunter and chat with Joyce. Carol has invited them out, and I hope that they will come. Wendy, the nurse from Wisconsin, was an angel. After Carol fell, Wendy really looked after her. We enjoyed sitting with her and her husband John, who has a great sense of humor and a lot of curiosity. Wendy has made many volunteer medical missions to Haiti sometimes accompanied by her husband John, who, as a farmer, has valuable skills in land, water, and construction.

I’m so glad Judy and Gary got to come. Gary always knows exactly where he is. Judy pays attention to details and points them out to me. I always learn from them. My brother, Garrett, is a researcher and organizer. I think that Rupiper needs to hire him to make all flight reservations and organize the trip. Carol is the social bee, so when I’m with her, I learn a lot about people. She is so sweet and kind that people find her easy to talk to. I, for the most part, just like to sit back, watch, take photos, and write. I don’t think we had a moment of discord on this trip.

I thank Garrett and Carol for encouraging me to come and helping me at every turn. I will always remember Garrett helping me roll up my special incline pillow every time we went to a new motel or hotel. And he was the one to figure out how we could both get our pillows into our luggage.

My greatest disappointment was not being confident enough in ocean waters to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef. I snorkeled in Hawaii successfully, but the waters were very calm and a boat was nearby and I didn’t have to wear an ill fitting Lycra body suit. Yuck!

Maybe my most special memory was sitting out under the stars at Uluru. It was at that moment that started to appreciate the dots of Aboriginal design. Magic.

My beautiful aboriginal fabrics
My beautiful aboriginal fabrics

Since my WordPress blog plan would charge me for uploading videos to Mosquito Travels, I decided to make a movie and just include a lot of photos and video that you have not seen. It is long-sorry, but halfway through is the video of the kangaroo falling into the ditch. I also included didgeridoo performances, bungee jumping, sheep shearing, and dogs herding sheep. (In the first dog/sheep video you can see the lamb going away from the flock and how the dogs tried to bring it back.) Here is the link. (Just click on “link.”)

I think that I’m speaking for all of us when I say that Rupiper Tours was excellent and that  Brent Rupiper did a fine job of shepherding us Down Under. Rupiper Tours have a farm focus, and, wonderfully, farmers willing to take a bus load of hungry tourists into their homes and feed them lunch.

If you are contemplating a trip to Australia and New Zealand, I can recommend reading, In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson. He’s a travel writing humorist, and this book was out loud funny at times.

Thank you dear readers for taking this extraordinary journey with me. I’m not sure where Mosquito Travels will go next, but I’ll let you know. Actually I have to say that I’m a little disappointed not to have gotten more information about mosquitoes in the Southern Hemisphere. I know they are there, but for some reason, they seemed to be hiding under bushel baskets on our trip.

Last, but not least, is a thank-you to Ken, who made sure I took this trip. He knew I would enjoy it, and he unselfishly let me go. When I arrived home on Friday, the house was clean, dinner was in the oven, and the dog was groomed. I married a special guy.

I knew I was home when Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and finally Mt. Rainier framed the jet window. I was also served tea on Alaska Airlines that tasted like coffee (hot water obtained by pouring it through a coffee maker). Home sweet home.

We ate well today. Twice!

What a beautiful day in Queenstown! Picture perfect weather and a 9:40am start time. I needed the extra sleep this morning after yesterday’s long day going to and from Milford Sound yesterday.

We only had to walk across the street this morning to board the TSS Earnslaw. It’s an old coal burning ship launched in the same year as the Titanic, 1912. Sailing up Lake Wakatipu reminded me a lot of Lake Chelan. At the end of the ride is Walter Peak and a high country farm with sheep shearing and good eating, however, the only way in or out is by ship or flying, the same as Stehekin in Washington State.

We watched the sheep shearing first. A very amiable young man showed us the shears, both electric and manual. He explained that good shearers can shear about 300 sheep in a day. As he started the demonstration, I thought it looked like hard work. He put the lamb’s head between his legs, and he kept it there. He says that he does this to stay in control of the lamb. It didn’t take him long to cut off the fleece once he started either. I took a bunch of video of the sheep shearing, but you’ll have to check back in my final blog for some of the videos that I can’t  upload until I get home to my computer.

Next we saw the shepherd working his sheep dogs. There were two and a small flock of five sheep. One of the two breeds barked a lot to get the sheep moving. One sheep got separated from the flock right away and one of the two dogs kept trying to bring it back. We finally lost sight of it, and the shepherd said that it is hard for the dogs to bring in a single sheep. I was surprised at how the dogs went up and over the fence to herd the sheep.  The demonstration was interesting and concluded with the second dog coming back in without that one lamb. Later I heard that the lamb got into the water, but since there is no place to go, probably headed back to land. The shepherd did not look distressed about the loss of that one sheep at all. (This is very unlike our tour director, Brent, who  gently rounds us all up without dogs, counts us carefully, and never leaves anyone behind. He stakes his reputation on that!)

After that, we went right away to our first buffet of the day. It was very tasty, and we ate outdoors in the glorious sunshine. I ate something called date pudding which I liked very much. It was sort of a date bread with caramel sauce poured over it. The pudding was hot.

We had to sort of hurry to get back on board the Earnslaw, but the trip back was spent in the forward deck singing old songs with the pianist. Brent, who is probably somewhere in his mid 30s said that the songs missed a generation-his! It was fun though.

When we returned, Judy, Gary, and Garrett along with 15 other members of the tour group hopped on a bus and went down to the Shotover Jet Boat ride. Carol and I took a nap and then shopped a little in Queenstown. Gary has a video of a Shotover Boat Ride, but I didn’t download it. I’ll see if I can get it for my final blog.

At 5:30, we met again after enjoying wine in Judy and Gary’s room. Nigel took us all to Skyline Queenstown where we took the gondola up the face of a mountain to an observation deck and restaurant. Our reservations at the restaurant were for 6:30. It was another buffet with wonderful food and a wonderful view of Queenstown, Queenstown Bay, and the Remarkables Mountains. My dessert tonight was a wonderful meringue, called Pavlova after the ballerina.

Brent warned us at the beginning of this day that we’d be eating well; he wasn’t kidding.

It was the perfect way to end our journey together. I will miss Joyce the Second and her husband, Roger Hofer, and Wendy and John Damm.  Tomorrow we head home, and somehow we gain back the time that we lost. I’ll be arriving home on Friday at 5:15 pm about the same time as I left New Zealand on the same day. How nuts is that!

I think I can safely say,”Where does the time go?”

One of the first things I’m going to do is check in with Weight Watchers. This trip, especially after a double delight buffet day, is bad for the waist. I’ll be very glad to see my husband, Ken, but thanks to WhatsApp, we have been able to talk almost daily. InguessI’ll be glad to see Diego, my little poodle again, too. Ken says that he sometimes goes out by the fence to wait for me. Tomorrow his wait will be over.

Judy and Gary and Garrett and Carol will also be happy to see loved ones again, too. We missed you all.

Don’t forget to check back in a day or so for my final observations and some videos. Thanks for following me and commenting. I love to blog, and it’s really nice to hear from you.

Milford, Garrett’s Photos

My brother, Garrett, sent me some photos by email to post. I’m going to put them in a separate blog post because I already have my photos uploaded to Milford is not Sound.

Milford is not sound!

Three things before I begin my blog.

  1. I have heard that some of you have not seen my March 1 blog on Sydney and the Opera House. My suggestion is that you go to the March archives in the left sidebar. If you see anything that says “show” like my friend, Anne, did, click on that. You should see it.
  2. If you do not see where to write a reply to one of my posts, click on the title of the post. You will be redirected to the individual post, and you can reply at the bottom.
  3. If you want to see the caption of a photo, click or tap one time on the photo. If you want to enlarge the photo, click or tap twice.

Today we left at 6:54 am for Milford Sound. We were bundled up as it was very cold at the start of the day, perhaps only a little above 0C or 32F. Brutal, eh? However, Brent complimented us and said that even a few minutes of a head start would be good, and he was absolutely right. This road and its destination, Milford Sound, attracts thousands of visitors and we were always a little ahead of the group, thanks to Brent’s early wake-up call.

We followed State Route 94 from Queensland through Te Anau into Fjordland National Park where Milford Sound is located. According to a little research I did, the road climbs to 940 meters above sea level in the Southern Alps. Along the way, we made stops at some very picturesque places, but honestly, none of us knew it was going to take all morning to get there by noon.

Two notable stops inside the Park were Mirror Lakes and The Chasm. Since we happily had a gorgeously glorious sunny day, I had a lot of fun photographing the reflections of the mountains in the beautiful clear Mirror Lakes water. At The Chasm, we walked through a rain forest of beech trees and ferns to a fast-moving waterfall.

We had to go through Homer Tunnel in the Duran mountains. It is slightly over a mile in length, and traffic is routed one way through the tunnel. It was started back in the 1930s, but it wasn’t completed until after WWII in 1953. It has about an 11% gradient, which is about the steepest any road will get in New Zealand.

Then Homer Tunnel was followed by some very narrow switchbacks  Nigel was thankful for the special system on his bus what helps him negotiate the very steep curves. After that came some switchbacks until arriving st our destination Milford Sound, which really isn’t a sound after all, but a true fjord. Sounds are made with lake water, but fjords are made by glaciers. However, nothing has ever been done to try to change Milford Sound to Milford Fjord. The guide told us that the water on top of Milford Sound is fresh several meters down, but salt underneath. This is common for fjords apparently as the fresh and salt water meet, but remain separate. This is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site to conserve and preserve its beauty.

We boarded our cruise ship only to discover that we had been issued the “no food” included ticket. We ate anyhow and then settled back to enjoy the scenery of Milford Sound. I was having a little trouble with my camera as my polarizing lens is at home in at Renton, and the day was sunny. Still I got some nice photos for you to enjoy. Notice that Milford Sound has some resident seals. They look pretty happy.

We headed back to Queenstown after we came to shore about 3:00. We didn’t arrive in Queenstown until after 7:00. We ate some po’boys at Smiths for dinner. I’m sorry that I had to shoot so many of my photographs through the bus window and in motion and that I’m too tired tonight to give you more written description. The landscape is beautiful and how I thought most of New Zealand was going to look.

I included a photo of a bottle of a deer velvet horn supplement that is sold here in Queenstown.

Lord of the Rings

We were all ready and out the door on time this morning. We had on our warm clothing. It was really cool this morning, probably in the low 50s.  Nigel drove us from the charming home of the Blue Penguins, Oamuru, into the Southern Alps region of New Zealand. And yes, this is the area where the Lord of Rings and the Hobbit were filmed. The country was amazing as you’ll see from the photos.

Our first stop was  Lake Benmore and the Benmore Dam. For the longest time I thought Nigel was saying, “Beemore,” which is the name of my friend, Aloma’s house  on Lake Kachess. I thought is was a remarkable coincidence until I fact checked. The New Zealanders say /ey/ as in bee instead of /e /as in bed. Benmore Dam is part of the Waitaki Hydroelectric Scheme.

Then we kept driving into Mackenzie Country until we came to Omaramu. This area is famous for gliders, and we learned that the late Steve Fossett tried to break a glider record here. Nigel, our driver, said he couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to live in Omaramu with the severe weather and living conditions. Since it was overcast, we were worried about seeing Mt. Cook. Sure enough, it wasn’t visible, so I snapped a photo of Judy and Carol instead. Mt. Cook is fickle like Denali, and according to Brent, rarely shows himself. We did miss a gorgeous sight though. I uploaded a photo of Mt. cook taken by someone named Marc Dove.

We returned to Omaramu to eat lunch at The Wrinkley Rams. Right inside of the door were raw merino fleeces. I played with the locks a bit and tried to draft them;  it was difficult because the fleece had a great deal of lanolin in it. This would be very hard for me to spin. My spinner friends with the great deal of experience say that spinning with a raw fleece like this is called “spinning in the grease.” I completely understand what they mean.

Still in Lord of the Rings country, we passed through Twizel. It started as a temporary town for the workers on the hydroelectric dam. Once their work was completed, the government was going to tear it down, until the townspeople stopped it. Once again Nigel said that this would be a terrible place to live. He’s a bit opinionated.

Next we went through Lindis Pass. Nigel told us that the European immigrants founded settlements north (Omaramu) and south (Cromwell) of the pass, but it took them 15 years to actually find this pass through the mountains, thanks to an old Maori trail. Nigel was hitting a high with his storytelling right around this time as he said that the Maoris did not like the Aboriginal people here and simply killed and ate them.

Nigel also explained to us the deer situation in New Zealand. A plaque on Lindis Pass commemorates the release of the red deer in 1871, but like the rabbits, they had no natural predators, so they quickly overpopulated New Zealand destroying forests. Many schemes were tried to control them, but the most successful one has been to capture the deer and simply raise them on farms. They can be hunted, and venison is sold like beef here. Deer farmers also take the velvet horns (the time that the horns are still soft), cut them off (poor deer), and sell them in powered form to the Chinese as part of their traditional medications.

Then we went on our way into Cromwell, the fruit city in Central Otago, and stopped at Mother Jones Fruit Orchard Stand for specially mixed fruit ice cream and a stroll through the gorgeous rose garden. We stopped at Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge where people pay $195 to bungy jump. We watched some of the action, but no one from our group wanted to try it. I took a lot of photos of people trying the bungy jump. (The New Zealanders spell it bungy, not bungee as we do in the US.)

Then we passed through wine country on into Queenstown, our home for the next three days. We drove over the Shotover River where people apparently do some sort of dangerous jet skiing. I guess Brent has tried it.

Queenstown looks like an upscale ski resort. Our hotel is very nice, and there are thousands of tourists here.

Tomorrow it’s another early call. I hope that it’s warmer than it was today. On the bus at 6:58. We will go to Fjordland National Park and cruise Milford Sound.

Roving with Blue Penguins

Honestly, it felt good not having to get up quite so early. When I did wake up, however, I tried to call Ken on WhatsApp. We have been having great luck connecting, and we have been talking every day until today. Our phones rang, but they wouldn’t connect. Both of us tried multiple times, so I hope to have better success tomorrow morning from Oamuru. Over the phone on this app, Ken sounds like he’s right in the same room with me. I was surprised with the clarity, and, best of all, it’s free.

This morning, we headed out to a cropping farm not too far from our motel in Ashburton. A farmer hopped on the bus and took us around his farm. He was growing grain, fodder beets, and corn. We were all curious about the fodder beets for animals. He jumped out of the bus and invited us all to eat a little piece. I thought it was delicious. I’d put it out on a relish tray. Apparently it is very similar to a sugar beet.

The farmer had a quick wit. As we were just about to get out to inspect the corn crop, he said, “Corn is on the right. Maize is on the left.” Of course we asked what the difference was. He laughed and said he had no idea.

He showed us his irrigation operation with pivots (circles) and talked about water. We learned that it is very dry on the Canterbury Plain right now. Where there’s irrigation, crops are green, but there were many dry, brown areas. It is also windy here, but because of the need for irrigation, farmers are taking out trees because they use up the moisture. (Not sure about that as a conservation practice!) We also drove over bridges with dried up river beds underneath. This area like the one around Sping Field, Australia needs rain.

We went to Peter, the tour guide’s house, for lunch. We knew immediately when we met his wife Bev and saw their house and garden that we were in for a treat. I snapped a lot of photos of the house because Bev absolutely has an eye for color and design. The garden was immaculate but beautiful in every detail. Here Peter and Bev have hedge rows that give the flower beds a backdrop. They do the work themselves, so it must take a lot of time.

I had emailed Brent about finding some merino wool in New Zealand, roving to be exact, to spin with. At lunch, Brent asked Bev about where to get roving. She knew exactly where to go. The Ashford Company Headquarters is located right there in Ashburton! I couldn’t believe it. This is nearly ground zero for spinners. I have an Ashford spinning wheel as do many of my friends.

Bev took Judy, Carol, Joyce the 2nd and I to the Ashford store while the rest of the group went to a dairy farm. I was able to purchase beautiful roving at good prices, and Garrett and Carol and Judy and Gary all promised to help me get it home.

I also discovered that Bev Macauley was, at once time, a renowned weaver in New Zealand. She has won awards for her work. I took a photo of one of her weaving that she displayed in her house. She weaves no more because of shoulder problems, but once I realized her background, the superb interior design of the house and garden made sense.

After all the roving excitement, we met the others, and then Nigel drove us all south for about 2 hours to Oamuru on the coast of the South Pacific Ocean. Our goal was to get to our motels, put on our warmest clothes, eat, and then go see the wonderful little blue penguins. The blue penguins here are the smallest penguins in the world, and they swim in from the Pacific every evening and climb the beach rocks to find their nests. 149 came from the ocean to their wooden box nests on land. Brent said that this is the largest number of them that he has seen. We sat in some bleachers to observe them moving out of the water onto land and up over the rocks.

No one is allowed to take photos or video of any kind, but, of course, you can find most everything on the internet, so I found this home video of the penguins. The video was shot at Oamuru, so you can sort of see what we experienced tonight. Click this link. All I can say is that spending time with the blue penguins tonight is a highlight of the trip and the perfect ending to a wonderful day. I asked Garrett to snap a photo of a model of the little penguins on their box nest.

Tomorrow we are headed for Queenstown and the last leg of our journey. We will see some beautiful mountains. Sadly it is another somewhat early call: 6:00 wake up for 7:30 breakfast.

A Wee While

At home today, family and friends of Bob Templin gathered for his memorial in Couer’d Alene, Idaho. I assume it was a large gathering as he was a very prominent and influential man in Idaho, Eastern Washington and beyond. Garrett, Carol, and I were there with all of you in spirit.

All I can say is that getting up at 4:45 am is a bit brutal. Garrett came down to help me get my pillow rolled up, and when we put my suitcase outside of the door for the porter at 5:10, the door closed behind me. I had to walk to the lobby in my bare feet to get another key.

The rest of the day went fairly smoothly though, and let me commend Emirates Airlines for a first class flight. I had a lot of complaints several days ago with Virgin Australia, but I have a lot of compliments for Emirates. First of all, we were on a nice, well-appointed Airbus 360. (Sorry Boeing.) We actually had fairly roomy seats in economy class. We had a wide range of movies, including some of the most recent releases. The breakfast was appropriately hot and very tasty. And at the end of the flight, the woman in our group who has trouble walking, was seated in a wheelchair with a flight attendant who saw to her needs until after baggage claims. This was the first airline that did this correctly, and that includes Qantas. I was impressed, and so were the others. We were actually all wishing that we could fly back to the US on Emirates.

We went through customs without a hitch except for Carol. We were warned to fill out our immigration forms honestly or face a $400 fine. We did that, but for some reason, security pulled Carol’s suitcase over. We had to wait because another passenger had an undeclared jar of honey in her baggage, and security had to deal with her. As it turns out, Carol had a bag of trail mix in her suitcase. She had declared it, but security wanted to check it. Never mind that I had my own sack of the exact same mix in my bag and went right through. We don’t know what happened to the woman with the honey, but a guy with a banana, presumably a snack from the plane or some such thing, was immediately fined $400 when security found it.

I dressed for cooler weather, but it was a very nice 79 degrees F and sunny when we landed in Christchurch. Our bus driver is Nigel, and our guide is Peter. My ears need to adjust now to a slightly different accent again. After we got some New Zealand dollars, we set off to see a bit of Christchurch.

What is immediately evident is that Christchurch is still recovering from the terrible earthquake that hit on February 22, 2011. I remember reading about it, but seeing the after effects is quite sobering. 70% of the downtown area came crashing down, and 185 lives were lost, many in Latimer Square. Today an Empty Chair Memorial stands in that area. Especially poignant was a child’s car seat. The Cardboard Cathedral designed by Shigeru Ban was also constructed there. It is a temporary place of worship for the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch and seats 700. An empty space with a few flowers in the center is where the Canterbury Television Building came down, killing 115 of the 185 people.

Evidence of the “carnage” as Peter called it is all over the city though. Nearly every building we passed by was damaged. Only the casino and another building escaped. Apparently the 6.3 earthquake was shallow, only 3 kilometers below the surface,  which meant it struck with great force. It lifted the ground up about 2 feet before the ground crashed down again. Gary, our earthquake expert, said that there is no real protection against this type of earthquake. New Zealand is now using a type of rubberized pad called a base isolator as they rebuild. The base isolators at the building’s foundation work a little like car suspension. It gets fairly technical fast, and I don’t want to take time to explain it here, but if you are interested, you can check this link for more information. The reconstruction effort is insanely expensive, as you can imagine, but the bus driver said that one positive aspect is the rethinking of land use.

We stopped at the badly damaged Christchurch Cathedral in the center of town. It reminded me of the bombed-out WWII church, die Gedächtniskirche, in Berlin that the Germans left standing as a remembrance of an evil time. The people of Christchurch have not yet quite decided whether to tear it down or rebuild.

The tour guide said that people have moved out of Christchurch because if the devasting earthquake. It fell in population from New Zealand’s 2nd most populous city to 3rd place.

After the Cathedral, we visited a beautiful botanical garden, Mona Vale. The roses were fragrant and colorful, and the gardens looks like something right out of England. The little river through the park is even named, Avon.

Then Nigel drove us out of Christchurch for our evening’s destination in Ashburton. We passed by some of the newly-built suburbs that people are moving to out of earthquake fear. These developments are creating bad traffic jams now. Peter gave a thorough commentary of New Zealand on the way out, but don’t give me a quiz. I was out “a wee while” while I took a nap. I surely hope I didn’t snore!

We are staying in a sort of Travel Lodge. I thought that my room 303 would be on the third floor, but actually it is one wing of a hotel maze on ground floor as were all other rooms with this odd numbering system. We had a great dinner tonight! Freshly cooked wonderful vegetables and meat and a meringue for dessert.

Tomorrow we get to sleep in a little  because we won’t take off until 9:45. We will see a farm with some crops, eat lunch at Peter’s home, and see a dairy farm in the afternoon. Moooooo!

Rebound Mall with businesses operating out of containers, Christchurch NZ
Rebound Mall with businesses operating out of containers, Christchurch NZ
Empty Chair Memorial, Latimer Square, Christchurch NZ
Empty Chair Memorial, Latimer Square, Christchurch NZ
Explanation of Empty Chair Memorial, Christchurch NZ
Explanation of Empty Chair Memorial, Christchurch NZ
Cardboard Cathedral, designed by Shigeru Ban, temporary structure, seats 700
Cardboard Cathedral, designed by Shigeru Ban, temporary structure, seats 700
Latimer Square where the earthquake hit hardest and killed the most people
Latimer Square where the earthquake hit hardest and killed the most people
Christchurch Cathedral
Christchurch Cathedral
Christchurch Cathedral
Christchurch Cathedral
Christchurch Cathedral
Christchurch Cathedral
Explanation of artwork around Christchurch Cathedral
Explanation of artwork around Christchurch Cathedral
Flags at Christchurch Cathedral
Flags at Christchurch Cathedral
Mona Vale Botanical Garden, Christchurch NZ
Mona Vale Botanical Garden, Christchurch NZ
Rose at Mona Vale Botanical Garden, Christchurch NZ
Rose at Mona Vale Botanical Garden, Christchurch NZ