Today was a very pleasant day!! It started off a somewhat lazy morning, with minimal distractions from sand flies, a couple cups of coffee, and then off to our next destination: Arthurs Pass National Park. We drove down and had a lovely lunch at a café located in the village. Afterward, we went to the NP Visitors’ Center where I purchased my first Christmas ornament. A lovely ornament of the national bird, the Kiwi. In New Zealand, a Kiwi can be a fruit, a bird, or a citizen of NZ. How confusing is that? To make matters worse, the ornament that looked very cute hanging in the display, requires us to assemble the ornament! It comes as a flat cardboard sheet with pieces which you have to break apart and assemble. We then did a casual walk around town and were rewarded with seeing a Kea bird! This is a bird that can only be found here and is endangered. The bird is a large (at least 12” tall) green and orange parrot and is the world’s only alpine parrot. It also happened to be on a car near a local restaurant. They are known as “clowns”, and this one was acting the part, trying to eat the weatherstripping on the car.
We then decided to do a quick hike up to a local waterfall called the Devils Punchbowl. It was an uphill climb that ended at the base of some beautiful falls. We enjoyed a great conversation with someone from Toronto. Even though he was a Maple Leafs fan, we still enjoyed talking with someone from our neck of the woods. Someone who knows what hockey is, and not the type played on grass!!
On the road again, we were headed towards Christchurch. We suddenly stopped on the side of the road after we spied a trail marker. We hiked a short distance on the trail. It was in a lovely forested area and was more reminiscent of the trails in the US, versus the well-groomed trails that abound in many of the tourist areas in New Zealand. We did manage to meet three people on the trail, so even the quiet trails are being enjoyed in this beautiful country. Knowing that we still had a drive to go, we headed towards Christchurch, hoping to get there before dinner time. Dinner was late!!
Googling, we found a restaurant, but it was not to our liking (pretty fancy for a couple of campers who hadn’t yet showered!) We hit the magic Google again and we found a Lone Star Steakhouse. Kathy, who was familiar with the restaurant, punched the coordinates into the GPS and we were off again. This was the first restaurant we went to in New Zealand where we were, 1) seated, 2) had a waitress, 3) they took our order at the table, and 4) we got water. But this is where the similarity ended. Kathy had cajun chicken with rubbed spices. Why, oh why, did they put burrito sauce on top with jalapenos? Cajun and Mexican are quite apart from each other and the two menus do not usually go together. As strange as it seemed, it was still one of the best meals she had at a restaurant in New Zealand. Deciding to splurge and split a dessert, they settled on “Milky Way Pud” which was billed as vanilla ice cream with white chocolate pudding and butterscotch sauce. Can you picture it? Do you have the picture in your mind? Well, now, rearrange that picture and turn pudding into cake, drizzle some hot butterscotch over the top, and add a dollop of ice cream. Good – but had to be eaten with a tad bit of haste before the cake became soggy!! Still enjoyable. We decided that somethings don’t translate the way we would expect. The restaurant had all kinds of references to people like Jonny Cash, Glen Campbell, Judge Roy Bean, the Beverly Hillbillies, Gunsmoke – even the Theme from the Banana Splits! Alas, none of the young Kiwis serving us had the foggiest what any of these things were!
After dinner, it was off to our last Holiday Park to shower and bed down for the night. We booked online and drove to the spot. Unfortunately, we were unable to check in to the camp. Checking our emails, we were accepted, then denied. We needed to find somewhere else to lay down our heads. Using our CampMate app, we verified our next site was accepted and headed off, just a quick 4 minutes away. Phew – we had our spot!! Or almost…. Two large bus-type RV’s had parked in our spot, as well as several other spots, and we were blocked from parking. We made a quick trip back down to the office where the manager graciously gave us another spot. Time now to get ready for our last night in the campervan!! Kathy is very, very, very, VERY happy to be able say: she survived two weeks in a campervan with Dave!! (Dave is also happy, too, I guess…)
Two days worth of pictures