May 16, 2010

Falling in love with Aotearoa - New Zealand

It's now been two full weeks since I arrived home from my wanderings around New Zealand and already my red shoes are twitching to return.
I made many new friends on my travels but none so significant as Kevin ... a Kiwi, native to New Zealand, who made the trip back home with me to learn more about the fauna and flora of Australia. It's been exciting having him here but I've noticed he's begun making some soft whimpering noises, which he's done his best to muffle behind a hankie.  I think he's homesick for the breathtaking beauty of home. I'm very teary about this but any day he'll be returning in a first class padded bag to his kin and country.
More about Kevin later!

So take a little stroll with me as I retrace our steps through a wonderful ten days ...

April 22nd 2010 - Auckland
Our journey begins in Auckland. What a beautiful city. We ventured out bright and early to pretty Birkenhead to visit Alison at Affirmations NZ HQ. When I saw the red door I knew it was going to be a good day. With some super coffee at the quaint cafe below the office, we mused over new projects and all the fabulous stores selling our products. 

April 23rd 2010- Auckland
We've caught the ferry to Waiheke Island and spent several hours hopping and grazing around the gorgeous MudBrick Vineyard.

Feeling terrific on a topiary tree!

Lunch ... just a small florette pour moi.

April 25th 2010 - Christchurch
Here we are in Christchurch on the south island!
Coffee and homemade baked beans at Dose cafe, the girls who work there were particularly friendly to me. I love this artwork on the window.
The River Avon in Christchurch. Just about to go punting on the river. I hear there are enormous eels and trout so Kate has instructed me to keep all fluffy white bits well in the boat. I'm actually very happy snuggled in her bag .... there are very large ducks too!

April 26th 2010 - Christchurch to Greymouth
Meet Kevin the New Zealand Kiwi!
Here we are traversing New Zealand from Christchurch to Greymouth on the TranzAlpine railway.
It's raining and very chilly so I'm giving Kevin extra cuddles.
 I've learned that this Kiwi enjoys a mid-morning coffee. He becomes rather animated and talkative afterward.
Keeping warm.
Being close to the ground Kevin misses out on much of the scenery so spends a lot of time seeking higher ground. He's asks so politely ... how could one refuse?!

April 27th 2010 - Franz Josef,  Wanaka then Queenstown
Gillespies Beach has cairns all along the beach foreshore. A cairn is a pile of stones created as an art form or memorial. I read the names and messages from people the world over. The ocean looks grizzly and grey, thrashing the beach with its thundering waves.

“Have a deep respect for the source of life and also for the ocean,
for the forest, for the stars and for the truth.”


April 29th 2010 - Arrowtown then Queenstown
A stop off at Arrowtown to see the fiery autumn colours. 
We eat a handmade chocolate each and go for an invigorating walk.
The weather turns!
It's now we hear Queenstown is flooding! Shouldn't we turn back? The weather ahead is looking grim.
Our arrival into Queenstown is met with the news that the lake is slowly rising and will flood the town! I'm suddenly all shivery as I imagine being swept from my bed into that freezing, deep lake. Kate assures me we are quite high and quite safe. The shore front is all a buzz as shops close for business and teams of locals fill sandbags to protect the town. I go to help but my red shoes are sodden after a couple of minutes. It's a perfectly awful thing to admit but I'm secretly hoping we will be stranded here and even more horribly hope it's all winter so I can learn to ski!
Look at our view! There's a fireplace and very comfy beds.

I think I was born here! How can I stay? I'm going to ask around town if there is any employment for a small, white hare. My species of origin is the arctic hare so I'm sure I would be good at something snowy, like operating the chair lift or taking hot chocolate drinking tours.
Anyone reading who may be interested please email!

Was there a white hare in 'The Sound of Music'? I keep breaking into song ... 'the hills are alive...'
The dinner steamer boat chugs out each evening. Adorned with it's necklace of coloured lights I imagine all the happy diners inside. Sometimes I'm up late enough to hear them come home.
Well here we are in the Gondola, ascending to the snow capped peaks. I look quite well here but Kate and I both turned a shade of parsley green as we get higher.
A few large gulps of seriously cold air and a cup of sweet tea and we feel somewhat better. We have agreed to close our eyes and sing silly songs the whole trip down.
Looking at these tranquil lakes from the sky I keep thinking of this line from a poem by Hilda Conkling ...

'The world turns softly
Not to spill its lakes and rivers.'

Kevin has quite an appetite for chips, or 'chups' as the locals would say. 
Our last day. The sun is out and the flood waters receding.

Goodbye Queenstown, Goodbye Aotearoa - New Zealand.

With tear soaked cheeks .....  Ruby

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