Our whirlwind of packing and planning completed at last, we headed to SFO on January 15th for our evening flight. Excitement was definitely in the air as we boarded the plane bound for Fiji!
After our layover in Fiji, we landed in Christchurch on January 17th, beginning our six weeks of travels in the Antipodes. Penelope paused to pose with one of the painted poles at the Christchurch airport, and then we headed to our hotel and a delicious steakhouse dinner at Bloody Mary’s. That evening she told everyone we encountered (from the customs agent to to the waitress), “You have a New Zealand accent!” You’ll have to imagine her tones of surprise with each encounter. 🙂
Friday morning we started the day with brunch at a local cafe (where Penelope discovered bacon is a term used rather loosely in New Zealand), then headed to the Botanic Garden. A wonderful reminder that we’re in the middle of summer here! The hydrangeas were especially beautiful….
Afterwards we headed to the Margaret Mahy Park, which is the largest children’s playground south of the equator. Penelope gives it two thumbs up! We ended the day with a round of mini-golf and a delicious dinner at Thai Kitchen.
Saturday morning we repacked our bags and went to pick up our car, eager to head out of town to see more of New Zealand. As we left the garage on the left side of the street, Jeremy drove with unaccustomed caution (for which I was QUITE grateful). Before leaving the city, however, we stopped at the local grocery store to lay in supplies for our travels. We’ll mostly be staying in holiday parks and doing our own cooking, so we needed to stock up! And to be honest, browsing grocery stores is one of my absolute favorite things to do when traveling. There are so many kind of condiments here that should be available at home.
My new favorite road trip snack:
En route, Penelope read the book we bought for her that afternoon…
…all 489 pages of it. Fortunately, one of Penelope’s new travel toys is her very own Kindle. Otherwise we’d be in real trouble…
After a little over three hours of driving through lovely cow- and sheep-spotted countryside, we arrived at Lake Tekapo. It was absolutely pouring rain on the drive in, but just after dinner Penelope spotted a rainbow out our cabin window, and sure enough the sun had come out and the turquoise lake water was shimmering. Absolutely lovely!
Sunday morning we explored Lake Tekapo and environs, visiting the Church of the Good Shepherd and heading to the top of Mount John to see the views. A beautiful day, but very windy!
So in the afternoon we decided to spend a few hours at the Tekapo Hot Springs. Then we stayed up way past Penelope’s bedtime to see the night sky, since Lake Tekapo is an International Dark Sky Reserve. Alas, the almost-full moon and cloudy sky obscured most of the stars, but it was still a gorgeous view.
On Monday morning we bid a fond farewell to our first holiday park cabin– especially our “outdoor” toilet–and hit the road again, this time heading south to Queenstown. Stay tuned to see whether or not we are brave enough to ride the Skyline Luge!!