Hi from the South Island!
We are now on the Akaroa Peninsula, just outside Christchurch and have had many, varied adventures in the South Island. Some thoughts/ experiences:
-Abel Tasman national park is a beautiful area ~ we went on a catamaran up the coast, stopping at a few little bays with golden sand before disembarking at Bark bay and hiking for 4 hours through beautiful native bush. Part of the hike back involved a choice of going around an inlet (1 ½ hours) or across the inlet as the tide went out and judging how deep the waterwas - we only got water up to our nether regions! We were picked up again and taken back to Keiteriteri ( see why Malcolm thinks people here stutter?). It was a really nice day!
-The same area, Marlborough, has lots of wineries and some excellent sauvignon blancs which we only thought it was our duty as good tourists to try out!
-Roast lamb and mint flavoured potato chips! Again, being good tourists...
-There are many public toilets, especially in towns and at the beach but the award must go to "ExecuLoo" ~ when you go in and lock the door, a voice tells you the door is locked and will automatically unlock in 10 minutes then music starts to play. There is a recess in the wall and when you place your hand there first you get soap then water then a drier. When you unlock the door a voice tells you the door is open then the toilet automatically self-cleans!
-We really lucked out and had a brilliant sunny day for our cruise on Milford Sound ~ went under 2 waterfalls, one with a rainbow at the waterline, saw fur seals and amazing scenery
-Have seen 2 species of penguins ~ yellow-eyed penguins so close you could touch them and watched 50 blue penguins ( which weigh only 1 kg) waddle out of the surf up the their nests - pretty amazing
-The Shotover Jet boat at Queenstown ~ 360 degree turns at high speed, a jet boat that zips really close to rocks and cliffs as it only needs 10cm of water, 85 km/hour through a narrow gorge ~ soundlike we had fun??
-Roadside stalls with fresh strawberries, peaches, plums, corn, apples and plums ~ yummmm
-Earlier, when the kids were on holiday the campground were full of HUGE tents with families. Now, it is NZ retirees and us foreigners and the campgrounds are rows of campervans and occasional motorhomes. The campsites are pretty small but the facilities are great ~ usually have big kitchens, BBQ, internet, laundry and TV lounges and very clean.
-There is a motto we have spotted on signs "Be a clean Kiwi" and have to say it must be working ~ there is almost no garbage along the roads and the campground s are immaculate.
-New Zealanders talk funny! They camp in "tints", live in "New Ziland" and as my cousin's husband said, when there is an accident on the motorway, you need to look out for all the "rubber knickers" on the road! You need to stop to "have a squiz at" sights, try not to step on dead possums which have been "bowled over" on the road and turn off the radio when you have "had a gutsfull" of the talk radio host.
-Many of the native species of animals are threatened. We haven't come across mosquitoes, however 92 of the remaining 347 biting sandflies have takena liking to Malcolm's lower legs and he now has a southern hemisphere star map of bites!
-We are surviving the campervan!!The best way to describe it is "very cosy" but really, once we got a system organised and can now move easily from "daytime " to "bedtime" mode, the likelihood of a murder/suicide has diminished.
Hope all is well with you,
Love, Malcolm and Elinor