Adventuring in New Zealand – part the 11th

•April 14, 2015 • 1 Comment

Things I have discovered when travelling in a country with more sheep than people: 

1. I don’t actually like lamb. It is ok (good, even) in a burger with the right spices, but as plain lamb shanks drenched in gravy, I didn’t like it. It was so rich I felt a little ill after eating it. 

2. Wool makes me itch. If it has come from a sheep, I don’t care how soft you think it is, as soon as it touches my neck it might as well be sand paper. 

So it’s really cold and I didn’t bring a scarf. Instead I had the forethought to send all of my winter(ish) clothes home with my sister in February. (You’re the best, Madeline!). And I’m not just winging. Today’s headline on the Nelson Mail:

 

It seems a little early to call that, but it was a brisk walk back to the hostel tonight. I could smell the frost in the air. It smells like Hallowe’en. 

Today took me from Renwick in Marlborough wine country to Nelson on the coast. A quick 10km stroll this morning took me past one last winery. This one also presses its own olive oil. Sadly they didn’t have any of that on tasting. They did have a lovely vista of the olive trees and grape vines. 

 

And little olive trees outside of the tasting room (Sarah, you should do this when you get your house.)

 

 

The ride was really hilly and the closest I’ve come so far to motion sickness this trip. I’ve spent hours on boats and buses, but it’s my 1.5 hour trip that almost did me in. In my defence we went through some pretty steep mountains. 

 

 

This was taken across the guy sitting next to me and out the window of the moving bus when we were near the top. Fast shutter speed for the win. 

But I made it.  To Nelson: gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park, and location of all of the hops grown in New Zealand. I learned that second bit at the Craft Beer College a few days ago. Nelson the town is cute. It reminds me of Bar Harbor – equal numbers of cafes and outdoor stores, with a few art galleries and clothing boutiques thrown in. Not to mention picturesque in autumn. 

  

 

One of these boutiques was of more interest than the others: Jens Hansen is the jeweller who designed The One Ring™. It took 15 versions, but they finally settled on one. It looked good on me. 

 

Personally, I like to think big:

 

 Preciousssssssss.  

Adventuring in New Zealand- Part the 10th

•April 13, 2015 • 2 Comments

So the part of the evening where I sit in the hostel lounge and madly type on my phone with one thumb is usually devoted to updating this blog for all both of its readers. (Hi mom! Hi Jen!) Tonight’s phone Funtime was dedicated to applying for a job. Because writing code and pitching a project is best done on a mobile phone after a day of wine tasting. 

Sadly this also means I’m too tired to write much and my typing thumb (which is missing a non negligible part of its nail from my caving adventure) is a little sore. Oh well. 

Today was notable for several reasons. I did a walking wine tour, visiting 7 wineries along my 16km route. I think this is a record for me. It’s nice to know I PB’ed in something recently. 

My first winery (and no, don’t worry – I’m not giving a wine by wine breakdown) was Whitehaven, which opened their cellar door today and I was their first customer- ever! They even took a photo of me for their facebook page. I felt a little special. 

The weather reports all said rain today – all day. And it looked like they were going to be right. 

 

It snowed in the mountains last night. I could see it from the valley. My first snow in 14 months!

 

 

Luckily, a few wineries later, the clouds cleared. Seriously, New Zealand, if you don’t stop being so picturesque I might not go home. 

  

This is definitely my kind of rainy day. 

  

Adventuring in New Zealand – Part the 9th

•April 12, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Here I was thinking that I wouldn’t walk that far today because I was spending the morning on a boat. Nope. I started by walking 2.5 km to the boat as the sun rose: 

 

Then I boarded the ferry, claimed a couch on the top deck, and took a nap. My not-a-cold is hitting its stride, with a sore throat and a bad headache. This nap also helped me avoid the open ocean and and waves that might or might have been there. I spent the last hour or so of the ride outside enjoying the sunshine and wind. We were in the Malborough Sounds, specifically the Queen Charlotte Sound. We disembarked in Picton, denoted by the green circle on the map:

 

This was a beautiful ride. 

 

 

After taking the bus from Picton to Renwick, I decided to take a walk around the neighbourhood. The neighbourhood, by the way, is the heart of the Marlborough wine region. Three wine tastings and many km later, I was very tired. The scenery and wines made it worth it. 

 

In general, lots of grapes, lots of mountains. Dark clouds started looming as I walked back to the hostel, so I went to the most English Country Pub to ever pub in any country. 

 

 

Beef stew, a local Pinot, and a roaring fire completed the evening. Throw in an early bedtime and I might be fully recovered from this not-a-cold tomorrow.  After walking 14.5 km, my feet will probably still be sore. 

Adventuring in New Zealand – part the 8th

•April 11, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I would like to preface this post with the declaration that I am not getting a cold. I refuse. 

Ok. Now let’s proceed. 

Today was my first sunny day in Wellington. And it was glorious. 

 

#nofilter

I could feel the achy not-a-cold setting in yesterday, so I slept in. Then, in an effort to not stress my system too much, I walked over to Cuba Street and ate brekkie at one of the “original cool cafes” in Wellington – Midnight Espresso. The bacon and egg bagel I had was good (I still don’t love bacon) and the juice was very good (I do love beetroot). I then wandered over to the harbour to go to the Museum of Wellington City and Sea. But that didn’t happen. 

For one, I was so excited to see the sun after several days. 

 

And I had a headache from my not-a-cold-I-don’t-know-what-you-are-talking-about. So I took some ibuprofen, bought an iced latte, and sat in the sun.  I also got a bit of Mother’s Day shopping done. I am so on top of things. 

Then I went to the activity of the day – a beer tasting. One of the many awesome parts of the Great Australian Beer Spec-Tap-ular (GABS for short) is the awesome people who work there. I’ve made several friends through the festival, including two who live in Wellington. And one of whom was running a Craft Beer College event today. She even reserved a seat for me. 

  

So I got to sample a bunch of beers from a local brewery and hang out at the cool kids table. The one where my other GABS-Wellington friend AND the brewer were sitting. Talk about the in-crowd. 

After we even sampled a sour beer featuring the (official? Unofficial? Anyone know?) fruit of NZ: the feijoa. If you are wondering, yes you pronounce the j. You also put the e before the i. 

  

I have not yet eaten a feijoa, only its derivatives in the form of ice cream and beer. So basically all the important ways, right?

Adventuring in New Zealand – Part the 7th

•April 10, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Today I got lost in the woods. Although I suppose if I’m going to get lost in the woods (which I almost certainly am, as I have a negative sense of direction) I chose the right place for it. Zealandia is an inland bird sanctuary located in the city of Wellington. There is a free shuttle going from the city to the front door. The main path is paved and there are free guided tours twice a day. Today was a delightful day for a walk in the park. 

 

And by perfect I mean gross and rainy. The upside was I was the only person on the guided tour – personal tour of the bird park! The downside was I was walking around in the rain. The birds were out too. I got to see a parakeet (kakariki) and a parrot (kaka), as well as most of the birds I saw last Sunday. 

 

The forest was REALLY green and REALLY wet. After the tour was officially over the guide showed me the feeders he monitors. Apparently there have been several birds recently that he has found twitching on the ground. After a night of observation they are fine. A few days later he saw another bird of the same type eating a mushroom and later falling ill. Turns out the birds were tripping. The fungi are loving the rain. 

 

Which makes one of us. 

 

  

The path up to the feeders was pretty steep and slippery so he pointed out the was back that would take “a little longer”. Please note, I was planning on the 2-3 km loop on paved and gravel paths. Instead, my day became a 10+ km trek up to the ridgeline, along the fault, around the lake, and wherever else the path led me. I became the person (ok one of the people) my mother warned me about: a hiker with inappropriate footwear. 

  

My feet are sore (total walking today was over 16km) but it really was a beautiful walk. Just better done with hiking boots. 

 

Before embarking on some work at an Internet cafe I decided to reacquaint myself with city life by visiting Wellington’s very own artisanal soda company, Six Barrels Soda. The ginger ale I had was excellent. I also stopped around the corner at the artisanal chocolaterie. The praline-raspberry mallow was also excellent. 

  

Dinner and a drink with a friend from GABS, and I feel like I’ve experienced Wellington. I’ve even heard it is not supposed to rain tomorrow. A girl can dream, right?

 

Adventuring in New Zealand – part the 6th

•April 9, 2015 • 1 Comment

Weta Cave is pretty neat. Now for those of you who are not as intimately aware of the New Zealand movie prop scene as I am (as of today), Weta Cave is the tourist arm of the Weta Workshop. And what, you ask, is the Weta Workshop? Why it is the prop/costume/set/prosthetic/cgi effect/monster/puppet workshop that has done work on small unknown films like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Hobbit (Peter Jackson is one of the cofounders), Avatar, District 9, assorted scenes from the Avengers, and more horror movies than I’ve ever heard of. Among others. 

   

 

Luckily I was able to get a ticket on a tour today. Unluckily, it was for 2 and a half hours from when I got there. There was a (very) mini museum and gift shop as well as a 30 minute DVD to kill time. (The DVD was pretty interesting). 

  

But once the DVD had been watched, and the gifts perused (postcards for $2.50?!?), I might have gone on a bit of a selfie binge with the statues they had scattered around. 

 

 

 

 

  

The tour itself was also fun. Our guide had worked on the Hobbit, specifically the Orcs. She is an expert in blood and gore and gross stuff. No photos were allowed, so you will just have to take my word about how cool it was. My take away it that I haven’t seen enough movies and making monsters is exactly as fun as it looks. 

Coming back into the city, I got on a different bus that took me to the  botanical gardens. They have a fantabulous view. 

  

And they are connected to the CBD by a cable car. So I took that down the hill, walked back to the hostel, and headed out for dinner. Tomorrow’s plans involve visiting (another) bird habitat and finding an Internet cafe to get some work done. And maybe brush up my CV to make it more monster-making-centric. I live a rough life 😉

Adventuring in New Zealand – part the 5th

•April 8, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Greetings from sunny Wellington!

 

And by sunny, mean rainy. And by Wellington, I actually do mean Wellington. 

I spent most of the day at Te Papa, the national museum. It is a fantastic museum.  I took the guided tour which was led by a man named Virgil. Apparently I was secretly in the Decameron. 

The tour covered the geology, flora, fauna, and some human history from the Maori. This included the Moa, which was related to the ostrich/emu and associated others, and which was hunted to extinction before Europeans arrived. 

 

The eagle in this diorama died out shortly after the Moa because the latter was its main food source. The eagle in the diorama is not to scale – its wingspan should be ~3m. 

I also saw a Maori meeting house and food storage building. There was also a war canoe:

 

And several examples of Maori flat clubs: 

 

 

It is a really beautiful museum. I have been awed since arriving at how much New Zealand as a country acknowledges and accepts its Maori past and present. It is so different from Australia and the USA.  

I finished the day with a beer with a friend from the Great Australian Beer SpecTapular. What better introduction to Wellington?

 
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