Monday, January 12, 2009

January 12th, 2009 - Christchurch, New Zealand to Kaikoura, New Zealand

The twelve of us set off this morning in 16 seater van/bus, grabbing seats randomly only to realize that because of human nature, we would likely occupy the same seats for the next 14 days or so. Fortunately, we'd scared everyone off with Ann's threat of motion sickness, and they suggested it would be best for her to sit up near the front. We grabbed the two first seats opposite the door and accepted the door closing responsibilities that came therewith. Mom announced to the group that when it was available, she always took the front seat next to the driver on this kind of trip but that she would gladly yield it to anyone interested. No one seemed to mind.

Trip leader John seems to be a wealth of information, with answers to just about everything from history to flora and fauna having likely been asked it before over the years. He talked a little about the original large southern landmass he called “Gondwana” that made was made up of what is now India, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand. He said that at various times, New Zealand has been both farther north and thus more tropical and farther south and thus more temperate. Where it's ended up as of now I would guess is around the same displacement south from the equator as San Francisco is north, because the first day's drive was through rolling hills that looked a lot like Novato.

We stopped for breakfast after an hour or so which included a short lesson on the coffee of New Zealand. Short Black = espresso. Long Black = espresso with a small pitcher of hot water so you could dilute it to taste (this is basically what I have at home by brewing two shots of espresso in a little too much water). Flat White = two shots of espresso with hot milk but not steamed. The rest, cappuccino, lattes, etc seemed to be all the same.

We stopped a couple more times later in the day to check out some seals on the rocky beaches all along the coastal Highway 1 (sound familiar?) and took a nice hike along the shore of the Kaikoura peninsula. Apparently the Maori (pronounced as if someone called you while you were brushing your teeth and asked you what Alix P. Keaton's sister's name was) had found the peninsula easier to defend with land on only one side and no way for anyone to sneak up on them.

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

At the end of the day, we were set up in two bedroom apartments right on the beach in Kaikoura. Driving through town, there were plenty of backpackers and rented camper vans painted in elaborate graffiti paint schemes. The main drag of town had a few fun looking open air bars and restaurants that would be fun to check out. Apparently a lot of families had “batches” (vacation homes) in the area and would spend holidays there. Of course, Christmas in New Zealand means warm weather and beaches.
Tomorrow's an early morning swimming with the dusky dolphins. With a 5:30am arrival time, seems like ass-crack dolphins might be a more suitable name...

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