NZ South Island

11 April 2016

We said our goodbyes and made our way to the Ferry Terminal to begin our journey to the South Island.  There was an earthquake that morning about 7:30 am north east of Wellington but we did not feel it.  The weather forecast was for some rain and wind but the 3 hour ferry ride over to the south island was smooth and uneventful. The ferry is huge carrying cars, people and luggage from the North Island.  It has a movie theater and several eateries and bars.  Much more comfortable than the airplane!

It took awhile to get our car but we finally left Picton at 2:00 pm and started our drive to Westport.  It’s not very far but the mountain roads are slow going.  It was a beautiful drive through the Marlborough wine region then over the mountains to the west side of the island.  We went through the beautiful Buller Gorge, with fern covered limestone cliffs and herds of cattle, deer and sheep.  Yes, deer.  There are fenced pastures full of deer, we assume being raised for food as there is a lot of venison on the menu here.  Why they don’t jump the fence and leave we are not sure unless they like being fed?!  (It turns out that the fences are high enough that the deer cannot jump them.  I thought deer could jump higher than they apparently can!)

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Westport is a tiny little berg.  The main street is about 13 blocks long.  There were a number of restaurants in town but only 4 of them were open at 5:30.  We chose one and had a nice dinner.  American sized portions meant we were too full for desert but they had boysenberry pie on the menu so we asked the nice young waitress if we could get it for take out.  She said something that neither of us understood and then said she would be back.  We were both cracking up because we had no clue what she had just said to us but when she returned we figured out that they did not have take out containers.  She asked us if we would bring the dishes back before leaving town tomorrow.  We agreed and got pie to go in ceramic bowls

12 April 2016

Westport to Hokitika today.  After returning the dishes to the restaurant, we followed the coast and stopped in Punakaiki for coffee and the pancake rocks.  We were lucky to see blowhole activity.

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We made several stops along the coastline to take pictures and then stopped in a little place called Shantytown to visit a family owned Maori carving shop, Garth Wilson Jade.  Garth and Joanne, were so nice.  We watched Garth do some carving work and talked with them about the stone and the Maiori customs surrounding it.  Pounami jade only comes from this region and only the Maori people are allowed to mine it.  It is very strong and was used by the Maori for weapons, tools and ornamentation.  Lynnette and I both left happy, our wallets a bit lighter!

Joanne gave us some tips on places we should not miss and one of them was the glow worm dell in Hokitika.  It was a very short drive from our hotel so we visited it after dinner.  We were so glad we did!  We used a torch and walked into this grove of trees that created a tunnel, completely dark.  The worms hung in the trees shining their star like light all around us.  Above there was a small break in the foliage that revealed a patch of sky with real stars shining in abundance.  It was magical and I will remember it forever!  This was far more impressive than the cave tour we paid to see.

The next morning we had breakfast and did a bit of site seeing and shopping in Hokitika before leaving town.

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