We had heard of it, and one Sunday morning we decided to skip church and enjoy God’s creation by heading to the beach. We started at the playground, where we promptly found a family with a couple little girls (one Natasha’s age) and we hung around the ever-expanding playground for the entire morning. I say “expanding” because it just kept going and going! Fun climbing apparatuses, a castle, a caterpillar to ride, mushrooms to sit upon, things to spin on, and on and on.
Of course, we walked along the sandy beach and wrote in the sand before deciding we were hungry and headed back to the bikes to go home for lunch. However, on a whim, Daniel decided to walk across the street to the Fish and Chips restaurant to see what the prices were. So far, upon every investigation of this type, the prices scare us right back home. It’s rather expensive, this eating out business Down Under.
Natasha and I played on the stumps while we waited for the verdict. Either he’d come back empty-handed and we’d proceed home as planned, or he’d return carrying something. (I hoped for the latter.)
Cheerily, it was the latter! It was the restaurant’s birthday. And prices were 50% off. :) So we enjoyed gluten-free whiting with chips and even tomato sauce (ketchup) for dipping. Oh, and even a fresh lemon to squeeze over it all. Cost: $7.90 NZD. Hurray for takeaway in the sunshine.
A little more exploring and climbing was done before we properly were worn out and ever so slightly sunned, and we biked back home.
We did stop to watch a bowling match on the way home though. It was curious to watch for a little while although I wasn’t making much sense of it. It seemed to be a sport for the older generation. A quiet, easy-going, not rushed type of sport.
Nelson Lakes are actually not right near the town of Nelson. They are about an hour and a half drive southish of town and are made up of several lakes. We visited the larger two, starting with Lake Rotoiti. We really wanted to see the clearest lake of the world, which has been properly noted and documented, but it is a two day trek deep into the woods and mountains.
So we first drove up the mountain so we could look down and see the whole scope of the area.
Then we went down to the far side of that peninsula above, and did a little walking.
We skipped more rocks… and I laid directly on the rocky shoreline attempting to get the perfectly timed and perfectly exposed photo of a rock skipping. It’s harder than I thought…a slow shutter speed in daylight creates…a picture in which is looks like I was shooting the sunshine.
There seemed to be a dreadful black mold that was taking over the trees and shrubbery, but turns out it’s a perfectly normal process done by some kind of insect and the trees are quite healthy despite the appearance.
We ate our lunch on the rocks overlooking the lake, before heading over to a certain dock where we searched for eels.
It didn’t take long to find them, because they were all hanging out under the dock in the shade. Are they allergic to sunlight? I don’t know, but they weren’t too eager to go out into the sunshine. Daniel still doesn’t like them whether they’re in sunshine or shade.
Since we were in the area, we decided to check out Lake Rotoroa too. Such. Amazing. Scenery. Also: Black Swans.
And, more sand flies, just like we were warned. :) Scratch, scratch, swat…
Following our seal-watching and standing-in-awe-of-the-view at Cape Foulwind a couple weeks ago, Daniel gave me the descriptions of two other places we could visit. One was another scenic location with rocks he described as looking like a stack of pancakes with ocean waves splashing up in between and around them. The other was about a 15 minute drive up the mountain to an abandoned historic coal mine.
Since we just came from a really scenic ocean view, I selected the mine, for variety. (I love variety.) The pancake rocks will have to be another time. Denniston Mine was very deserted and we were the only people around so we had the whole place to ourselves.
It operated from 1879 to 1967, and was actually a thriving little community. I guess we didn’t read the info boards thoroughly enough, because we didn’t find out why it shut down… I’m almost glad it did though, because it was a really cool place to wander around freely without wearing hardhats or some such thing.
As you can see, we were witnesses to a fair amount of “Ta-da” moments.
The site of the mine is up the hillside about 2000 ft. in elevation and it gave a terrific view of the coastline and ocean beyond.
This might very well be my favorite family picture of us from our trip so far:
The main entrance to the mine is that dark hole at the top left of the stone arch (in the photo below). I think they might offer some kind of underground “experience” but we weren’t there at the right time and enjoyed the outside free experience of exploring on our own just fine.
I admit, kiwi fruit are something I didn’t know much about till coming to New Zealand. I assumed they grew on a tree like peaches or apples. They do not. They’re actually grown on vines very similar to grapes, and are really hard to pollinate. So hard in fact, honeybees have to be brought to the fields in such great swarms that they are forced to pollinate the kiwi flowers out of desperation. Apparently the kiwi fruit flower isn’t very agreeable to begin with.
Another fact I didn’t know is that Kiwi fruit are grown abundantly here in New Zealand, and that makes them very cheap at the supermarkets. Approximately $1.99 a kilo for green and $2.99 a kilo for the golden ones. (Just to help you with the math, there’s 2.2 lbs. in a kilo.) Therefore, they’re much cheaper here than in the States and so we try to take advantage of this fact and are eating them quite regularly.
We have traditionally always peeled kiwi fruit and sliced it before eating. But when we were invited to couple’s home after church a few weeks ago for lunch, they told us of another manner in which to eat kiwi fruit. It was new to us, so maybe it’s new to you too. It works well and eliminates the slimy peeling method if you just feel like eating a kiwi fruit as a snack.
First, just cut the kiwi fruit in half.
Then run a spoon around the edge, near the skin to kind of loosen it.
You can then proceed to scoop out the inside, as you might eat a grapefruit.
At the end you’re left with an empty kiwi fruit skin “bowl” and less juice all over your hands.
Another little note: The people of New Zealand are commonly called Kiwis, but that’s not because of the Kiwi fruit. It is because of the little flightless bird called a Kiwi (which also lends it’s name to the fruit). So, we are not eating Kiwi people here, nor the Kiwi bird. Just to clarify. :)
Last week’s 2 day-rental car expedition took us to Cape Foulwind. With a name like that, we weren’t sure of the weather, and indeed it was windy, but the sunshine was fabulous. We went to see the seal colony, but were in for a surprise with the amazing scenery along the coastline.
This is a closeup of the boulder above. See all the seals? I promise, they’re there; I counted at least 15.
My only regret about visiting here, is that I don’t think I savored it enough. I wanted to capture the beauty so we wouldn’t forget it, but in my haste, I fear I rushed myself too much. I’ve since made a note for myself to slow down. Not everything has to be captured with a camera; the memories made together, just living in the moment, are worth more.
The walking path actually goes up through a pasture and it was one of the nicest places to walk. Soft and cushiony (is that a word?) under our feet.
To get over the fence (not electric; no insulators on the posts), you just climb over the steps.
This is what I imagined New Zealand looking like. Simply stunning.
So this is our second beige rental car. It’s kind of nice that it’s so commonplace; you just blend right in with the locals. Except that there’s a big rental sticker on the back window. Ah well, at least we aren’t driving a lime green camper van around! On the other side, I think they say, “The glass is half full. And the other half was delicious.”