Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Start of our New Zealand Christmas Adventure

We woke up pretty early to get our car packed to go on the ferry to the South Island. It was kind of nice knowing we would have our car as one gigantic suitcase the whole time we traveled. Took a little bit of pressure off. The Ferry was ginormous. It didn't even really feel like we were on a ferry. It was more like an airplane the way the seats were set up, but with hotel lobbies mixed in, and a cafe, and a movie theater, and a playground. It was HUGE! I love going on little ferries because I love the wind in my face and watching the water hit the boat, and the trail of white water it leaves behind it. Unfortunately, my sons do not share this love of boats with me, at least not so far. So, Matt and I took turns going to the top deck to see the sights and sitting with the boys and their iPads. Here's a few pictures from the top of the boat. Not too many because time was limited. It was very windy and pretty cold, and kids...

The ferry arrives in Picton and from there we drove to the west coast of the South Island to our accomodations, a little bungalow.  The next morning we went to Punakaiki, nicknamed Pancake Rocks. You will see why in a moment. It was rainy that day, but we were not deterred. It was our only day to see it, so we soldiered on in our raincoats. (I got the boys' raincoats at the very end of the winter when we first arrived in New Zealand and red was the only color available, which is why they match...)

 See how the rocks look like a stack of pancakes??

Across the street from this little hike to the pancake rocks, is the Pancake Rocks Cafe, where we ate some pancakes (I had gluten free toast and eggs) which came with the most delicious butter I have ever tasted. I honestly feel like they make their butter to order moments before they put it on your plate. Amazing. I also bought my beloved Aotearoa sweatshirt at a Global Culture Shop next door. Anyway....

 We drove a little further north and saw signs for the Truman Track, which said the trail was 30 minutes there and back, so we decided to check it out.
 It doesn't even look like the same country to me. And the weather changed a lot, too. It was really warm and humid after the rain.

 Marie was not a very fast walker at this stage, so she got to be in the carrier for a lot of it.
 If you look closely, you'll see a bird in the left of this picture. We were so excited at first because we thought it was a kiwi, but it's a weka, which is basically a New Zealand chicken. The boys were pretty excited to be so close to one in the wild.
 And at the end of the track... the ocean!!

 There was a hole in the rock so I took some photos looking down at my little family...

 Marie in good spirits even after Bobby put his muddy shoe on her face...
 I think this is New Zealand flax, which I have seen keas (native birds) eat, but it was everywhere and I thought it was beautiful.
 We walked down to the beach to explore.

 Very interesting "sand"

 And back through the jungle to the car...

 We drove a little farther and kept wanting to pull over because the views were just incredible. Everywhere you look! Beauty all around!

 We went back to our hotel to rest and eat lunch and then we drove to the Tauranga Seal Colony and took another short walk.

 Marie got really sick of the carrier... So here she is on her own two feet! Most of the walk was on these wooden platforms, so it was easy going.

 We went back and had dinner. We tried out the little hot-tub they had, which looked like a barrel and the boys loved it. Scott actually still talks about it occasionally. The next morning we drove down to Greymouth to do a little shopping before our trip through Arthur's Pass. We pulled over once for this spectacular view:

to be continued...

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