Wednesday, January 12, 2011

How We Spent Our Summer Vacation

 From December 21 (our thirteenth wedding anniversary) through January 8 we car-toured on the South Island of New Zealand. (A Picasa photo album has many more photos; click the link on the left.) An 18 day odyssey that encompassed not only our anniversary, but Christmas, New Year's and Rob's 64th birthday. 

We were blessed with a good look at the lunar eclipse from the balcony of our room at the YMCA, and after a day of shopping and sightseeing headed South to Lake Tekapo.

 Lake Tekapo has the Church of the Good Shepherd, tastefully decorated for Christmas with paper peace doves and pine cones.  The view of the lake over the altar is spectacular.

On to Mt. Cook for Christmas.  We joined an avid group of carolers in the lobby of the Hermitage on Christmas Eve, and were treated to a spectacular look at Aoraki from our hotel room window on Christmas Day.

We worked our way South over the next few days to Te Anau, where we connected with our overnight cruise to the magnificent Doubtful Sound.  We were lucky to have a little bit of all the weather Fiordland is famous for; rain, wind, mist, and even some sun.

After an overnight to Stewart Island for New Year's Eve (see my last blog post) and hiking on Ulva Island and Horseshoe Point, we worked our way up the Catlins coast to Dunedin.  Lighthouses, waterfalls, and more, including the Southernmost point on the South Island.

A few nights in Dunedin, with a full day of sightseeing, including a long stroll through the Botanical garden, where summer flowers were in full bloom.

Our last days included stops in Oamaru to visit the wonderfly kitschy galleries in the Victorian Precinct, and then a night in Timaru to check out the Caroline Bay Festival, a two week celebration of Christmas and summer complete with carnival and entertainment.  Our evening there was rainy, however, so there wasn't much festival to see.

Our journey ended where it began in Christchurch, with a stay at my old favorite, the Windsor, still pretty much the same as when I first stayed there in 1992.  Scaffolding on several walls attest to earthquake damage, mostly from several chimneys that toppled and damaged parapets.

A stage production of "Cabaret" at the Arts Center was the highlight of our final days, an energetic, sexy, and disturbing romp through the decadent side of Berlin in the 1930s.  The cast, in character as performers at the notorious Kit Kat Club, mingled with the audience as we arrived and made us into their accomplices.  A thoroughly entertaining evening.

As we said goodbye to New Zealand we visited our old friend the blind pilgrim to reflect on our return to Tonga.  What are we in for next?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

How to Party on New Year's Eve, Kiwi Style

We've been traveling in New Zealand for the holidays, and we came across this prescription for a great New Year's Eve party.

1. Find a nice little community, preferably on the water on a pretty island, one like Oban on Stewart Island.

2. Have at hand a big pub/restaurant with ample food and drink.

3. Mix in a local band that can play a little bit of everything and put them up on the balcony overlooking the beach.

4. Let this brew simmer; no need to add any extra ingredients.

5. Build a great big bonfire on the beach and light it off after sunset.

6. At midnight, finish it off with everyone singing "Auld Lang Syne" at the top of their lungs.

7.  Enjoy the afterglow!

 Oh yes: don't forget to bribe Mother Nature to provide pleasant weather, especially when it has rained most of the day.

Happy New Year, everyone.
Rob & Kathy