Last Full Day in Paradise

We had big plans for the day, but our rafting trip was canceled. Instead, we drove into town for lunch and a bit of souvenir shopping. Something I really like about New Zealand is all the outdoor dining. I think almost every eatery we’ve been to from roadside cafe to brewery to fine dining has had both indoor and outdoor seating. When it rains, people either come inside or get closer to the umbrella. The outdoor wood furniture is made of local woods in rich red tones and is very heavy. After doing a bit of shopping (a few of you are hard to buy for), we went to Atlas Beer Cafe on the recommendation of the girl at the bungy jumping gift shop. You’ve gotta get the inside info from the locals (which she probably wasn’t). Shawn opted for lunch, while I had breakfast because I couldn’t pass up the last chance for smoked salmon.

Seagull taking a break on the giant kiwi sculpture
Atlas
Pork belly sandwich with Chimichurri sauce and jalapenos
Poached eggs over smoked salmon, kumara fritters, and spinach

After lunch, we walked through the open air market to see the local crafts. Lots of jade, bone and paua shell (abalone) jewelry. As you might imagine, wool products are prolific too. I found a woman who makes pendants from sand and microscopic rocks. She collects the sand and rocks from a specific beach when the conditions are just right and then she sorts the grains and rocks into sizes and colors. She arranges the sand and rocks in patterns in the pendants with tweezers then seals them in resin. It was hard to choose one, but I ended up picking one that she had pulled back because it was imperfect as one of the stones had moved when she sealed it.

The largest selection of gelato that we have seen in NZ

In the afternoon, we hung about on our balcony enjoying the cool breeze and the view of the lake. Transitioning back to work will be rough. For dinner, we went back into town, but this time we walked. There is a path from our hotel along the lake. It was about a 40-minute walk, so maybe two miles. There were some cool houses along the lake. The views are so spectacular that most houses have a lot of glass. Something we’ve noticed they don’t have: screens. We thought it was odd considering all the bugs.

Once again on the advice of Miss Bungy, we went to Smith’s Craft Beer House. Miss Bungy has been much more reliable than Yelp. They had 18 local brews on tap with the majority being Epic. We tried a flight of six and settled on the Epic Armageddon IPA and Groundup Midnight Lightning. Restaurant service is a bit different than we’re used to. In cafes and pubs, you typically order and pay at the bar. In nicer restaurants, they will seat you and take your order, but you still pay at the bar; they don’t bring your check to you. Tap water is usually available in large chilled bottles. You either grab it yourself or they bring it to your table.

Pulled pork sandwich, loaded fries, venison pot pie

Since it’s near the end of summer here, the days are still long and the sun doesn’t set until after 8:30. We strolled through the Queenstown Garden which included a Frisbee golf course, rose garden, English garden, and forest. Then it was back along the river to our villa. Not a bad way to end our day.

Queenstown

Fern sculpture in Queenstown Garden

Daily Ratings:
Atlas Beer Cafe – 4 Kiwis
Smith’s Craft Beer House – 5 Kiwis
Open air market – 4 Kiwis
Villa Del Logo Hotel – 5 Kiwis

Last gelato flavor: Marscapone, fig, and roasted almonds
Steps taken = 14,002

Final Destination: Queenstown

We left Te Anua this morning for the final destination on our trip…Queenstown. The countryside near Te Anua is very barren and dry looking compared to the green rolling hills we’ve seen during most of the trip. The hills are covered with short tufting grasses and smaller bush-like trees, but still you see sheep hugging the hillside with their heads buried in the grass. The wind was very strong in the valleys between the hills. Eventually, we emerged into greenery again and traveled along a beautiful lake.

Devil’s Staircase Lookout

Outside Queenstown, we stopped in Gibbston Valley for lunch and wine tasting. The area is known for Pinot Noir. Gibbston Valley Winery had a great outdoor restaurant and a cheesery (we could all use more cheeseries) along with their tasting room. We were lucky to finish our lunch before the rain came again.

Shawn had fresh blue cod and potatoes with chorizo, and I had mushroom soup, bread, brie, hummus, chutney, pickled veg and bread
The Cheesery!

We also visited Peregrine Winery. Their design is all about birds and their building is meant to take on the shape of a bird’s wing. The wines were good with the exception of one. The server handed me a glass of Riesling and I swirled it taking a good sniff. I usually enjoy the smell of Reisling, but this stuff smelled like asphalt to me. The server said the wine had aromas of kerosene which is wonderful and even comes through a bit in the flavor. Who the hell wants their wine to smell and taste like kerosene? It was hideous and went straight into the spittoon.

Queenstown is famous for bungy jumping, so we stopped and watched people fling themselves off a perfectly good bridge into a beautiful river.

This girl paid $199 NZD to be dunked in the river, the whole experience lasted less than 45 seconds

In the late afternoon, we arrived at Villa Del Lago on Lake Wakatipu. We have a great suite that looks out on the lake and mountains. We sat on the covered patio watching the rain on the lake before heading into the city center for dinner.

View from the patio
Dinner at Public – grilled filet, duck fat roasted potatoes, spinach, carrot and blue cheese salad, and corned beef with mustard sauce

A few more of my observations about New Zealand:

  • They don’t have seat covers in their public restrooms.
  • They have very nice public restrooms and they can be found everywhere.
  • Sinks are often tiny and the faucets are really close to the back of the basin making it hard to get your hand under the water.
  • Light switches are pressed down for on and up for off.
  • Electrical sockets must be switched on.
  • Crosswalks are few and far between and pedestrians are open game for cars.
  • They have cafes everywhere and they typically make great espresso drinks and have a fantastic selection of baked goods.

Daily ratings:
Gibbston Valley Winery & Restaurant – 5 Kiwis
The Cheesery – 5 Kiwis (just because it exists)
Peregrine Winery – 3.5 Kiwis
Public Bar & Grill – 4 Kiwis

Steps taken = 4,638
Times considered bungy jumping = zero

Sounds Like a Fiord

At 7:00 AM we were standing in the rain waiting for our bus to Manapouri and our final destination of Doubtful Sound in the Fiordlands. We switched to a ferry to cross the lake, and then back to a bus to finally reach Doubtful Sound. The sound got its name when captain Cook got close to its entrance in 1770. Fearing he would not be able to sail his ship Endeavor back out, he noted that it was Doubtful.

We traveled through the fiords for 3 hours. The rain was a curse and a blessing. There are only a handful of permanent waterfalls in the sound, but when it rains there are waterfalls everywhere. If it had stopped raining (which it did not), our guide said the waterfalls would be gone within 4 hours. So we had low visibility with the rain and mist but lots of waterfall sightings. The pictures do not do justice to the beauty and vastness of the fiords. You’ll just have to trust us, or better yet plan a trip!

We got up close to these falls, they were 50+ meters tall

Shawn has better pictures, but we’ll have to wait until we get back to the land of real computers and Internet to share those. In the meantime, click on the little picture to see a bigger one with detail.

Back in town, we opted for Italian food with a New Zealand flair: venison and gelato.

Venison in a berry sauce with a goat cheese tart and rocket salad
Homemade fettuccini with venison ragu

Daily ratings:
Doubtful Sound – 5 Kiwis
Birchwood Cottages – 5 Kiwis
Italian Restaurant = 4.5 Kiwis

Gelato flavor = Carmello
Steps taken = 1,631 (very few as we were on buses and boats all day)
Minutes without rain = none

Trump and Poo

This morning we had breakfast at the B&B (hence the second B). Our hostess Lisa was in a bit of a tizzy because she had forgotten the electricity would be turned off on her street from 9:00 to 4:00 today while they replaced wooden power poles with concrete poles. She was trying to figure out if she should wake all the other guests and let them know, and she was also trying to figure out how she was going to get all the linens washed for the next batch of guests. Maybe running a B&B isn’t as quaint as we thought, so we’ll have to come up with a new retirement plan (just kidding Carol and Martie, we’re not moving to NZ).

The couple at breakfast with us was from Scotland. They visit NZ quite often because their only child lives here. About ten years ago, she took a gap year after college and traveled down the west coast of Mexico and South America finally ending in New Zealand for the ski season. Unfortunately, it was a bad snow season that year so she decided to stay another year hoping for a good ski. Needless to say, she still lives here and her parents were visiting for her wedding.

Mr. & Mrs. Scotland asked us about our Trump. This is the first time we’ve been accosted regarding politics. We quickly renounced the Trump and breakfast was allowed to continue with civility. They said Trump bought land in Scotland and built a golf course and hotel. They were not fond of his bullying ways and fear for us all if he has access to the red button.

We stopped in Invercargill for a quick peek at their quilt shop and brewery. Kitz n Thingz is a very well stocked quilt shop. I liked the way they displayed the fabric on half height bolts (they re-roll all the fabric themselves). While many quilt shops in NZ are closing, they are expanding to Dunedin. I added a few more Kiwiana fabrics to my collection.

At the Invercargill Brewery, we turned away because they had too many people out sick today and were not doing tastings and tours. Oh well, on to Te Anau. Once again, our friendly New Zealand accented GPS sent us down a gravel road. It was a nicer gravel road, but still?? Once we got back on the paved highway, we were detoured due to a fatal accident. Getting to Te Anau today was not a straightforward excursion; however, have I mentioned the roadside poo bags? People will place plastic bags filled with poo at the end of their driveway with a sign indicating “Horse Poo $2”. And yes, the signs really say Poo. Chicken Poo is pricier at $4 a bag. We won’t be bringing home any poo bags.

Sights on the gravel road
Sights on the detour
Lake Manapouri

We finally arrived at our destination in Te Anua. It is a lake town on the outskirts of the fiordlands. We will be doing a full day fiord tour tomorrow to Doubtful Sound. Today, we walked around town and stopped at the Olive Life for a sandwich and then over to the Italian place for a gelato. Like you, we thought “Hey we should really do something about all this yummy gelato we’re eating” so we took a 90-minute walk through the fern forest along the lake. Our hostess warned Shawn to stay away from the beach because that will stir up the black sand flies. We were slathered in DEET, but we kept our distance from the shore. It was rather nice on the path in the shaded woods with the occasional sprinkles.

Seafood baguette (salmon, shrimp, blue cod, and squid)
Lamb wrap
Lake Te Anau
This must be why the fern leaf is the national symbol of NZ

Tonight and tomorrow we are staying in a cottage. It is very cute. We had dinner in while enjoying the sound and smell of the rain coming through our patio door. Hopefully, we have a bed more comfortable than last night since we will be up at 6:00 to catch the bus for our all day excursion tomorrow.

Our cottage

Dinner in: 3-berry cider, stout, NZ olives, sesame flatbreads, beet & garlic hummus, and garlic hummus (yes, the beet hummus is really that pink and kind of sweet)

Daily ratings:
The Olive Life – 3 Kiwis

Gelato flavor: pistachio (it wasn’t green!)
Steps taken = 10,239

Feeling Sheepish…or Maybe Salmonish

Today was our longest driving day. After a tasty breakfast at the Dunedin Distinction Hotel, we were on the road headed for the southernmost point in New Zealand.

Poached eggs and cured salmon rosettes on rye bread
French Toast with strawberries, apricots, mascarpone and salted caramel
All the elevators in NZ seem to be manufactured by Schindler. The first one we rode in actually said Schindler’s Lifts
Last sighting of street art leaving Dunedin

This country really caters to tourists. As you’re driving along, anything that might be a tourist attraction is posted on a brown sign instead of the usual blue and green highway signs. The first attraction that caught our eye was a sign for waterfalls (we’re suckers for waterfalls of any size). We pulled over and took a 35-minute return (round trip) walk to two beautiful waterfalls. Once again, the paths are well maintained for easy access to the falls.

The lovely path to the waterfalls
Horseshoe Falls

Matai Falls

Another tourist benefit is a blue sign depicting a shade tree and a picnic table. These are usually quaint little spots to pull over for a rest and/or picnic. Shawn refers to them as wine tasting spots because we saw two elderly ladies enjoying a bottle of wine under a shady tree canopy. He said that’s also why we carry a bottle of wine at all times. We’ve yet to stop and have a glass of wine on the roadside, but we still have a few days left.

Random scenic view of a stunning beach…
…with sheep

We continued on the scenic route through the rolling hills and over many rivers and through small towns until we came across a cafe in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. They were very much about natural food and sustainability, similar to our farm-to-fork movement. Their homemade bread on my salmon sandwich and Shawn’s burger was great. They marinate and smoke the salmon on site. The cafe is in an old schoolhouse, and as they say, they like to keep it old school.

Schoolhouse Cafe

Schoolhouse lamb (farm to burger)

Back on the road, we headed to Slope Point which is the southernmost point in New Zealand. We swore we would never go on another gravel road, but it was our only option this time. After winding 20+ kilometers through sheep country, we ended at a pasture and then took a 20-minute walk through the grasslands (and sheep and sheep poo) out to the bluff to see the sign (the sights were pretty impressive too).

Slope Point

Grasslands
Wind blown trees
Southernmost sheep in NZ

A few times during our trip, we have been getting close to our destination for the night and I wonder what have we gotten ourselves into? This is one of those days. We drove into Bluff and it has a very industrial look about it, similar to Alaskan fishing towns. There is a huge aluminum smelting plant that employs a large number of people in the area. We drove through the small gray town and just on the outskirts we came to Bluff Ocean Vista Motel. It’s really part motel and part B&B. We are staying upstairs in the main house, so the B&B portion. Lisa our hostess is very friendly and says she grew up in the hotel business. They’ve had this and a few other nearby properties for five years. She told us about the local attractions including the ferry ride to Stewart Island (but the water can be a bit “lumpy”) and shark cage diving (a 10-hour day and very expensive $700 NZD per person.

We opted to walk a kilometer down the road to the local eatery for fresh oysters and salmon and an ocean view. Aside from Stewart Island, Stirling Point is the bottom tip of New Zealand (not to be confused with Slope Point which is the southernmost point in NZ). From our table at Oyster Cove, we could see four islands: Dog Island, Stewart Island, Ruapuke Island and Bird Island.

View from the restaurant
Fresh oysters
Fresh salmon with a view

After dinner, we found another well-maintained trail and took a 600m walk uphill to see the old gun battery that protected the south. We made it home before curfew (10:00 PM) and we can hear the muted voices of Mom & Dad downstairs watching TV. Outside our bedroom window, the lights on the pier are twinkling.

Gun battery
View from inside gun battery

Daily ratings:
Dunedin Distinction Restaurant – 4 Kiwis
Cafe in the middle of nowhere – 4 Kiwis
Oyster Cove – 4.5 Kiwis
Bluff Ocean Vista Motel – 3 Kiwis

Steps taken = 10,314
Meals with salmon = 3 (cured, smoked and fresh)

No Cameras Fell Into the Gorge Today

We strolled through downtown to the railway station this morning to catch the train from Dunedin into the Taieri Gorge. The Dunedin Railway Station was opened in 1906 and is referred to as the Gingerbread House due to its ornate embellishments.

Dunedin Railway Station

We made the four-hour roundtrip through the Taieri Gorge in 1937 wooden body passenger coach. Wood was used to keep the carriages cooler in the summer months. The passage consisted of 12 tunnels and innumerable bridges (according to the brochure). We started in an industrial section of Dunedin before moving to the rural outskirts. From there the countryside included rolling hills, horse pastures, and sheep farms before changing to forests and the deep gorge of the Taieri River. I found it amazing that a railroad line was built so long ago through such rugged terrain. Often the train trestle was high above the canyon. We hung out the windows and stood between the cars to get pictures. I had a death grip on my phone/camera


The guide said most trout in the river die of old age because the only way to get to the river for fishing is via the train

The water is whiskey colored due to the peat
Train lunch: ham, cheese and pineapple sandwich with mini bottle of Sauvignon Blanc
Racehorses
Sheep outside the race track
Modern house outside Dunedin

Back in Dunedin for the afternoon, we had a quick ice cream at the train station. We’ve seen “fresh fruit ice cream advertised everywhere, so we decided to give it a try. They have a cone-shaped machine that they add vanilla ice cream and the fruit of your choice to, then they lower an auger into the cone and fresh fruit soft serve comes out the bottom into your cone. Brilliant! We walked about downtown and did a bit of shopping. There is a lot of jade and bone carved jewelry and merino wool and possum fur knits. I scored a sterling silver fern-shaped pendant (the fern seems to be the national symbol for NZ). There is a local quilt exhibit going on, but sadly it has been closed both times we walked by.

We ended our day with a 90-minute tour of the Speight’s Brewery, the nation’s largest brewery. While our guide was very entertaining, he wasn’t too informative about the beer making process. One interesting story was about the coopers who made the wooden casks. They worked in pairs and were expected to make five 30-piece casks per week. Each day they were given a cooper’s cask of beer to share, that is 5 gallons of beer every day! Captain Cook brewed beer when he arrived in New Zealand to revive his crew who were suffering from scurvy.

Casks of varying sizes: copper, hogshead, barrel, butt
Captain Cook’s beer recipe

Until recently, Speight’s delivered beer to pubs via tanker truck

Weird: chicken flavored chips with a penguin on the label and made by Bluebird

After the tour, we stopped by Speight’s restaurant for dinner. We sat near a couple of women who had just dropped off their daughters for college at the University of Otago. They had just met and I’m not sure if they were celebrating or commiserating, but they were very friendly. Dinner was fabulous. I had venison with a blueberry and plum sauce over kumara (definitely sweet potato) mash topped with walnuts and a hunk of blue cheese paired with the Speight’s porter. Shawn had beef schnitzel over potato mash with peas followed by a slice of lemon meringue pie ala mode.

As we waddled back to our hotel, we saw a few more street art murals. Another great day. Dunedin and the surrounding areas are beautiful (I know I’m overusing “beautiful” but everything is so).

Tomorrow it is off to the southernmost point of New Zealand…

Daily ratings:
Taieri Gorge Railway – 5 Kiwis
Speight’s Brewery Tour – 3.5 Kiwis
Speight’s Restaurant – 5 Kiwis
Dunedin Distinction Hotel – 5 Kiwis

Ice cream flavor: fresh apricot
Steps taken = 8,088

Boulders, A Castle, and a Bunch of Churches and Fancy Buildings

I was probably a little harsh about the B&B last night. We got up this morning and Norman and Stephanie had prepared a lovely “Kiwi Lite” breakfast for us. It is their take on the continental breakfast, but Norman said he can’t call it that if they’re not on a continent. The table was laden with fresh raspberries, rhubarb, fruit salad, granola, toast, yogurt, cheese, butter, cream, custard, and jams. Then they passed around hot cross buns. We shared the tiny dining room with two couple from China. One couple from Hong Kong spoke English and told us about their trip. They left their one-year-old son with the grandparents so they could take a 2 week holiday.

On the way from Oamaru we stopped to view the Moeraki Boulders on Norman’s recommendation. The boulders jut out from the beach. Scientists explain the boulders as calcite concretions formed about 65 million years ago. Crystallization of calcium and carbonates around charged particles gradually formed the boulders in a pearl-like process that took as long as four million years. The soft mudstone containing the boulders was raised from the seabed around 15 million years ago; waves, wind, and rain are excavating them one by one.

Cracked boulder
The inside looks like brown sugar
My artistic photo of Shawn
The beach was covered with this pinkish-red fern-like kelp

Back on the road, we took the scenic route and stopped a few times along the way to admire the view.

This rooster and his buddies were not happy about me stopping to take a picture


We stopped at a cafe in Port Chalmers for lunch. Kiwis like dips. They do not serve bread at the table before your meal, but you can always order it as a starter with dips. Shawn has olives, garlic hummus and pesto dips for his rosemary flatbread. I had the kumara (pumpkin?) soup.

Walking about Port Chalmers, we found a picturesque church, but all the churches around here are photogenic.

Unloading logs and shipping containers in the port
The houses are built on hills in town

Our first stop in Dunedin was the Larnach Castle. New Zealand’s only Castle, built 1871 by William Larnach, merchant baron, and politician, for his beloved first wife Eliza. It took more than 200 workmen three years to build the Castle shell and master European craftsmen spent a further 12 years embellishing the interior. Larnach spared no expense on his dream home, which features the finest materials from around the world.

Entryway
Carved wood adorns the ceilings
The game room
View from the third-floor solarium

 

Wedding dress of one of William’s daughters
The tile floor looks like quilt blocks to me
The gardens are beautiful and have views of the peninsula

I’m in a hedge!

The ballroom wing that William built for his daughter Kate

Walking about downtown Dunedin, we saw lots of ornate architecture

 

A carved lion and unicorn adorn this building
I really don’t think they have building codes
The First Church of Oatago, Presbyterian, founded 1848
Beautiful wood ceilings
One half of the pipe organ
Cathedral Church of Saint Paul
Dunedin Town Hall

Daily ratings:
Moeraki Boulders – 5 Kiwis
Larnach Castle – 4 Kiwis
Port Chalmers Cafe – 3 Kiwis

Steps taken = 12,309

Penguin Hunting

Today was a driving day, Christchurch to Oamaru. Once again lots of beautiful countryside, green rolling hills, agriculture, sheep, cattle and hecka hedges. The drive was mostly inland, but we stopped at the seaside port town of Timaru for lunch.

Monteith’s apple cider and lemon/lime radler bier
English garden in Timaru

Considering we booked all our lodgings via the Internet, we’ve been pretty happy with our accommodations. Sometimes they are a bit less desirable than portrayed on the Internet but they’re usually pretty close. We’re at a B&B today and it’s a little funky. I feel like I’m staying at my grandparents’ house. Norman greeted us at the door, and that grandparent smell just wafted out of the house. It seems that Norman and his wife Stephanie live downstairs and rent out the 3 rooms and two baths upstairs. We got the room with the ensuite bath. They carved out 3 feet under the eaves and tucked in a skinny bathroom. You step down about two feet from the bedroom to get to it. The bedroom door knob is located about 4 1/2 feet up the door and the only chair in the room is 8″ off the floor. Shawn looks like he stepped into Alice in Wonderland.

Pretty cute from the outside
Grandma’s room
View for Grandma’s room (this picture was NOT on Expedia)
3-foot wide bathroom with slanted ceiling
Shawn in Wonderland, note position of door knobs

The town of Oamaru is a bit odd too. It was like a ghost town for a Saturday afternoon. We had a quick stop at the Whitestone cheese factory to taste some local cheese. Delicious double cream Brie and blue. We had their special: a ginger biscuit (cookie) with a slice of blue cheese. Weirdly tasty.

Ginger biscuit with blue cheese

The downtown area is known for its Victorian limestone buildings. They also have this odd steampunk theme going on in many of the shops and outdoor art. We killed as much time as we could waiting for the infamous blue penguins to make their walk up the beach. Unfortunately, there is only one place to view the penguins and they charge you $28 NZD per person for the opportunity and they won’t even let you take pictures. We decided to skip the show and headed to another beach lookout reported to have yellow-eyed penguins. After waiting about 30 minutes at the top of a bluff, we saw a speck of a penguin walk up the beach. A little anti-climatic, but hey we saw a penguin in New Zealand.

Limestone buildings
Whiskey tasting room
Yellow-eyed penguin beach, prior to penguin arrival
Sleepy seal
At Scott’s Brewery waiting out the rain
Steampunk art
Swingset at the local playground
This slide was crazy tall and steep, no way they would let us build something like this in a public park in the US
Shawn: “I wonder if this moves?”
Shawn: “How does this stop moving?”
Trust me, there is a tiny penguin walking from the shore to the hillside in this picture. I will just assume his eyes are yellow.
Cute sign, but no penguins

Daily ratings:
Monteith’s Brewery and Grill – 3.5 Kiwis
New Zealand Whiskey – 5 Kiwis
Scott’s Brewery – 3.5 Kiwis
Highway House B&B – 2.5 Kiwis

Steps taken = 5,989
Penguins spotted = 1

Oh Yeah, Grandma’s Doing Donuts

There are about a billion different adventure activities you can sign up for in New Zealand. Unfortunately, many of them involve great heights which are not my thing. Why jump off a perfectly stable bridge, building, mountain, etc.? However, today we found earth-based adventures: drift carts and wind-powered sail carts. We arrived at Velocity Karts in the Bexley Preserve just as they were opening for the day. There wasn’t much wind, so they suggested we try the drift carts first. The three-wheeled carts don’t have any traction on the back tires, so you drift around the turns. My specialty (whether intentional or not) was 360s (oh yeah, Grandma’s doing donuts). You kneel in the cart and can use your hips to throw your weight around and get the cart to drift more. Who knew a bit of extra junk in the trunk could be advantageous? We raced around the track for about 20 minutes. We were the only people there, so he gave us more than our allotted three 3-minute sessions. When we got off the carts our legs felt like Jell-O. You don’t realize how many muscles you’re tensing while driving.

Put on a helmet and elbow pads, no signing silly waivers

The wind was still light, so the proprietor suggested we go down to the pier for a coffee and come back at 12:30 when there should be more wind for the blokarts. A couple other fellows had shown up on foot, so we drove them into town. Raymond and Patrick are from Switzerland and traveling around New Zealand for two months. They don’t have a car, so they’ve been using the local buses and hitchhiking to get around. They said it’s working for them.

The morning was overcast, but the temperature was perfect and the humidity low (Kristin’s way of saying her hair was not frizzy). We strolled along the pier and watched surfers and a couple fishing for crabs.

Our first whale sighting

Back at Velocity, as predicted the wind had picked up. We lost Raymond and Patrick in town so we had the course to ourselves. We geared up in helmets and gloves and got a lesson on driving the blokarts. Let the rope out, pull the rope in. Got it. We started with smaller sails and then advanced to larger sails. It was a kick and our 30-minute session sailed by (yeah, bad pun intended). I would definitely do this again.

The little sail
The big sails

Once again we found ourselves looking for lunch a bit late in the afternoon. We stopped at The Twisted Hop in the Woolston suburb of Christchurch. They have a brewery and restaurant. We sampled their brews, a selection of keg and cask beers. The bartender/owner explained that keg beers are served colder and more carbonated because of the higher pressure of the CO2. The cask beers are traditional English style and are fermented in the cask which produces less carbonation. I liked the dark Twisted Ankle cask-conditioned ale and Shawn liked the Hopback IPA.

A great looking bar and restaurant with beautiful wood bar, tables and chairs
Today’s selections and the owner

Beef cheek and roasted kumara (sweet potato) and lamb curry over saffron rice

A block down the street is Three Boys Brewery. We had been told of their Oyster Stout. They actually add raw oysters to the boil for a few hours to give the beer a briny flavor. We’ve been told that when they remove the oysters after boiling for a few hours and dump them on the floor, they end up like hard rubbery golf balls and they call them “floysters” (floor oysters). All staff has to try at least one, and they are nasty. I didn’t taste the oyster in the beer, but the stout was good and we were told it is the most award-winning beer in New Zealand. We also tried The Smoked, Hoppy Porter and White IPA (a seasonal beer brewed with mandarin oranges, very tasty).

Daily ratings:
Velocity Karts – 5 Kiwis
The Twisted Hop – 4.5 Kiwis (the food was great)
Three Boys – 4 Kiwis

Steps taken = 4,054
Beers sampled = 11
Aftershocks = many, highest 3.8
Flat tires changed by Shawn = 1