we spent a decent part of the day in oamaru. we started off with a quick view of the beach and then we were on our way to the moeraki boulders. the water was high and it was very drizzly out, but there was enough space to walk on the beach down to the boulders and see a bit of them. gum boots would’ve been a good idea. . .
the moeraki boulders gift shop was my first gift shopping experience in NZ. . . my eyes glazed over pretty quickly. as i stocked up on postcards and such camille and holly reminded me that there would be more shopping elsewhere. (oh and there would be so much shopping)
we headed back to the downtown victorian area of oamaru. we drove around it a bit the night before, but i really looked forward to seeing it in daylight. all the buildings are made from the white limestone native to the area. there were tons of shops and artisan galleries about. there were also historic monument type places, but a lot of it was shut down on monday. kind of a bummer. . . and the worst part was that the whole steampunk headquarters bit was also closed on monday. the libratory that holly was excited to show me was closed for the whole of july. . . so had my whole vacation just been shifted a few days, there’d be a lot more pictures and talk of the stuff i saw. i dropped a few more coins into the outdoor displays outside of the steampunk headquarters and took lots of pictures.
we stopped at the whitestone cheese factory. in the back you could see trolleys and trolleys of blue cheeses curing. . . and there were samples inside. it was so hard to keep in mind that many of our meals were preplanned as part of our travels. so buying lots of cheese wasn’t prudent. . . yet i wanted to buy lots of cheese. we kept it to a few small bricks that would travel along with us. then on to a grocery to get a few more things for lunch. again, i wanted to buy all the things and definitely ended up buying more than we would eat. . . you have to understand, it’s so overwhelming to be in a grocery where i can read the ingredients, the directions, the contents. i wanted everything. on top of it, there were NZ based flavors that i’d never had and wanted to try. . . i didn’t get to try a fresh feijoa, but i had feijoa flavored cider! there’s only so much time and so much money in my wallet, so i had to make some compromises.
we went back to holly’s house for lunch (which is also called tea, but it’s not morning tea and it’s not afternoon tea. . . yeah, the whole tea thing just kinda confuses me but i like how it sounds.) camille was looking forward to cheerios. .. which isn’t what you think. baby sized red wrapped franks and sauce is delightful, but a very different flavor from the cheerios i’m used to. we included some of the cheeses and cake we got from whitestone and a handful of our groceries. everything else was packed for travel (included a lot of food that holly’s mom snuck in that would surprise me later.)
holly’s family were really fantastic hosts. so sweet and welcoming. i feel bad that i didn’t get a family picture of them while i was there. i was still feeling a little sheepish (see what i did there?) to be up front with my camera. they watched us pack up holly’s car and wished us well on our drive.
the scenery was so beautiful. green rolling hills and rocky over-hangs here and there. we passed an area that pointed to the elephant rocks which i could just see the edge of. . . which is a pretty good metaphor for site seeing anywhere. my mom was amazed at how much we got to see and do on this trip.. . . and yet, it always feels like just scratching the surface. but it was a lovely surface.
a few things that caught my eye. . . yeah. . . there’s a lot of sheep. seriously a lot of sheep. also, the sheep look ubercreepy if they are all facing in one direction. i even saw those black faced white body sheep that i only thought existed in picture books. along with sheep, cows and deer are kept in fences. also, hedges are enormous. i guess farmers use them like boundary lines. where we usually have hedges that can be talked over (or not). . . the hedges i saw on the first leg of this trip were easily between 20 and 40 feet high. when i see that in the states they are usually just trees lined up to create a tree wall. .. . but these were trimmed and boxy like hedges.
i think camille and holly missed a golden opportunity to play me the fool while we were driving around. each time i asked a question about something they would try to answer truthfully. i reminded them that they could really take advantage and make me out to be a completely gullible traveller by just making shit up. they tried here and there, but the laughing gave it away. i asked about the coin money, i wondered if the one and two dollar coins had names like canada’s loonie and toonie. they didn’t, so we decided to make them up. the cranie was the two dollar (since it had a crane on the back) and the kiwi-e as the one dollar (it had a kiwi on the back). . . though for short i called them both queenies since they have the queen on the front.
once in tekapo we checked into our backpacker’s stay. we had a room to ourselves in the main building. we shared a bathroom with another room, and there was a dorm type building next to us that shared the kitchen and living room area. it was dark enough that we couldn’t see much of the town so we dropped our things off and got ready for snow tubing and hot pools.
it was lightly raining and kinda cold when we pulled up. it looked like the snow tube hill was closed. we asked and they said there’s still an hour left but no one was going. they opened it back up for us. holly was so excited to be there. she had missed out on it during another trip. we were warned of the dangers of stepping off the lift. . . but it turns out getting on the lift was my downfall. nearly took a plunge before we even got started. after getting my balance, we got to the top of the hill and i expected holly or camille to jump at the opportunity to go first. suddenly both of them were nervous. i hadn’t been nervous before, but them backing off made me nervous. . . but what the hell. i went down first. the attendant told us it would be slower due to the rain. seemed a perfect speed for me. i imagine that when that place has a decent number of cliental that each person only gets a few times down the slope in their allotted hour. with just three people. . . no lines, and the attendant (while cold and wet) got to chat friendly and coax us into trying different formations down the hill. we probably got nearly a dozen rides.
i was also pretty wet from the rain and snow. thankfully camille had loaned me another jacket while i was in the rain. our hour finished and we headed directly into the hot pools. there were three pools each with a different temperature. the coolest was covered. there was still a cold light rain coming down, but those pools were wonderful. the only thing that sucked was putting still damp or wet clothes back on. we thought we’d fight the chilly with a pre dinner drink at a pub. i had a rather strong ‘godfather’ and found it difficult to perform higher functioning tasks for a few hours. luckily we were just headed back to our room. we had thought to make use of the common room for dinner, but there were other people about and we wanted to be anti-social. so we had a dinner party on the floor in our jammies. avocado spread, bread, sausage rolls (home cooked by holly’s mom), salt and vinegar chips, ciders, cheese. . . and still plenty more left for breakfast.
a pretty fantastic first full day. there was even a little snow during the night, but not enough to stick around.