Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New Zealand take 2

Prior to going, the Morsch's had an idea of what we should do in New Zealand, but no one wanted to make a decision without everyone's input, so Monday was our day to discuss where we were going to go in our 5 day adventure. We came up with a rough plan, and then tried to see what was reasonable with the time frame we had. We ended up driving about 5-6 hours a day with stops in between to see various sights and do various things. One thing we had to adjust for was the short days. The sun didn't come up until 730 and it went down at just after 5 each day. Not only did the sun go down, but the villages and towns also went to sleep quite early and at times it was hard to find something to eat each night, or something opened in the am when we wanted to leave at 7 or even 8. Our travels didn't just take us to the big cities, but often took us to little towns or villages where not much was happening.
When driving for 10 hours in one day got vetoed, we got to spend the night in a small town called Garston with a population of 106. We stayed at an old hotel, Garston Hotel, which didn't have a very good heating system, but had a great cook in Alex. He was a chef in London for a while before running this hotel. We had the whole place to ourselves and he cooked a gourmet dinner and breakfast for us, it was quite nice.
I became the navigator of the trip and thus got to sit in the front seat as we drove. This provided me with a great view of all the scenery around us, it was breathtaking. I didn't want to look down at the map or tour book, but just wanted to keep looking outside. In one day, we could drive and see snow capped mountains and then turn a corner and see what looked like autumn, it was pretty neat. Thankfully, our weather was perfect, no rain or snow, just some chilly days especially when you are use to 80 degree weather most of the time.
One of the things we saw a lot of were sheep. There are 40 million sheep in NZ and only 4 million people, most of whom live on the North Island. As we were driving we saw a number of sheep, deer, elk, and cattle farms, and even saw a herd of sheep being driven on the road. I don't know where the sheep were going, but they were traveling along the road with Lake Wakatipu on one side and a mountain on the other. It seemed like they had quite a ways to go and were going quite slowly. We enjoyed watching them for a while, then we drove up to them and they opened us a small path for us to go through and quickly closed in behind us again. Hopefully they got to where they were going.