We Aren’t Always Off Gallivanting Around the South Island

 

A lot of our time is actually spent in our cozy little house on the hillside beside the goat’s pasture. Sometimes we watch “Top Gear” (via Netflix) in the evenings as a family. Natasha loves it as much as we do.

01-001

 

Other days we go to the little park at the end of our street, and meet new people. On one particular visit, we met a little girl and her mum, and one thing led to another, and before long we were sipping tea on their back porch, watching the little girls play. When they heard we had lamb in the oven at home, they gave us this hunk of pumpkin since they were going on vacation and wouldn’t be able to eat it before leaving. It roasted up lovely with our other vegetables as a perfect side dish for the lamb.

02-004

 

Another wonderful thing of our daily lives is breakfast. Sometimes I lay in bed thinking about what we might do that day, and the thought that actually urges me out of bed is: breakfast. This morning’s combination was exceptional:

03-006

 

Sometimes it’s dewy in the mornings and I get the camera out.

15-002

 

On cloudy days, we stay indoors and read Sherlock Holmes.

53-181

 

In the evenings Natasha occasionally helps our landlady, Beate, feed the goats, “Pasta” and “Cheese”. Or, just goes out and chats.

63-198

 

Every Wednesday is gymnastics, and so we walk down the hill to the preschool class. They are having a coloring competition, and this was Natasha’s entry:

64-201

 

And the newest form of entertainment for everyday life is watercolours (it’s kind of fun to spell things the Kiwi way). I’ve been enjoying it as much as Natasha. On the bottom page in the picture below, you will find Natasha’s illustration of saying she does not like the color green, (she crossed it out) but she does love pink (noted by the check-marks).

65-204

A {little} Journey Through Abel Tasman National Park

{Rewinding to a couple weeks ago…}

After driving under this boulder, we continued our drive to Abel Tasman National Park.

16-067

 

For those of you who don’t know who Abel Tasman is, ask Natasha.

In her own words, she says, “A man.”

Hmm..okay, ask it in a different manner: “What did he do?”

“He found….he found…New Zealand!”

18-071

 

Thus, this national park is named after him, and we explored some of it by walking along the coastal walk. It wasn’t very hard, and it calmly wound around the bay with the ocean on one side and forest on the other.

19-074

20-075

 

There are giant ferns here, the size of trees.

21-079

 

We could have gone on walking for days. Literally. The options for hiking and trekking are limitless and you can camp in huts provided along the way. Or, you can just hike a little ways to get the feel of it and return back the way you came. That’s what we did, since trekking 5 days into the forest wasn’t going to fit into our schedule. Plus, we ate all the carrot sticks at lunchtime…

22-080

24-084

 

(Above photo credit goes to 4 year old Natasha.)

23-087

 

So far, I’ve been rather impressed with the parks and places of interest here. You don’t have to pay to use the toilets, there are no entrance fees to the parks, and no parking attendant requiring you to pay to park, so aside from gas and the rental car, there are no outside expenses needed to enjoy the scenery. I take that back: We did rent the kayaks when we went to the Picton area. We have packed a lunch each time we head out, so eating out isn’t an extra expense either.

Usually we’re starving by the time we get home though since hiking and being out and about somehow makes you incredibly hungry. Still, it’s really easy to cut up some carrots, bag some raisins, almonds, banana chips, and carry along some cooked sausages or deli ham. Chocolate is always a good addition, and we’ve even fried up some sweet potatoes to bring along.

 

In Which We Observe a Rock Split in Two

Whenever we are in a rental car here in New Zealand, all I can think of is the second National Treasure movie where Riley assumes he will be the chauffeur, runs to the left side of the car, and hops in saying, “I’ll drive,” only to find no steering wheel. Not that I’m attempting to be the driver here, but I still find it amusing for some reason.

Daniel has done a fabulous job driving on the correct side of the road. I say “correct” in place of, “right” since that just makes things confusing because it’s actually the left side of the road, not the right, but the driver does sit on the right side of the car, which is not right in the States but is right here…

01-001

For our second day of sightseeing a couple weeks ago, we headed to Abel Tasman National Park. On the way, we stopped to see Split Apple Rock. I think I first saw this on Instagram, of all places, but immediately knew I really wanted to see it in person.

The Maori legend is that two gods were fighting over who would take possession of this boulder, and to settle it, they used their power to crack it in half. We still think it looks a little more like a broken egg shell than a split apple, but it doesn’t matter. It’s a cool rock whatever you call it. The best way to see it is in a kayak, up close and personal. That is a very popular manner of viewing it, but we chose to stay dry this day. Supposedly at low tide you can wade out there, but it would have to be in summer for me to attempt that.

11-044

The beach was awfully fun to walk along and since we were there at high tide, it was a fun challenge to dodge the ever approaching waves while exploring the beach.

03-004

02-003

06-016

04-009

05-012

07-017

08-022

 

The youngest member of our party got into a singing mode and thus, following pictures are of her singing. Not yawning from boredom.

09-032

10-039

12-048

14-064

 

While here, I created a hashtag of our very own. Fun huh?

1-051

Kayaking With Seals

It’s still winter here. It’s not a winter like Michigan, so there’s no snow, and while everyone else here is typically wearing wool coats and fluffy parkas, we’re enjoying the mildness of their cold.

So when it comes to kayaking, the nippiness can be a good and bad thing. Good in the sense that had it been summer, we probably wouldn’t have even been able to rent a kayak since it would be so busy with other people doing the same thing. Aaron, from Sea Kayak Adventures, said they are “essentially closed” right now. But as Daniel said, Aaron seemed like it was pure joy for him to introduce us to kayaking, and even talk about the possibility of us kayaking. So he didn’t mind opening up shop for us at all.

The bad part of the chilly weather I mentioned, is that self-bailing kayaks have a built-in water drainage and bailing system which in turn creates very wet bums. Aaron kindly suggested that we do “the Kiwi” thing, and go barefoot. That was indeed a very good idea. He also commented, “I’ve heard it’s a rule in the states, ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service’, and if that’s the case, I’d never be served because from about November to March, I’m always shirtless and I never wear shoes!” He was barefoot even as he spoke.

05-082

We however, had an entire end of Queen Charlotte Sound -near Picton, New Zealand- to ourselves.

03-092

 

And…the part that kept us from thinking about our really wet bums and Natasha’s uncontrollable quivering chin and purple nose, were the seals that swam along with us.

13-106

 

They seemed to think two kayaks bobbing along beside them were the best thing ever. They loved showing off for us, swimming underneath the kayaks, following us along, jumping and diving, and coming up blowing out air behind us.

14-123

15-127

12-101

 

There were even starfish. Natasha was thrilled and kept saying, “I didn’t know I was going to see my first ever live starfish!”

16-136

23-116

18-142

17-139

 

It was a really cold and wet first kayaking experience, but really memorable for sure.

19-147

In Which We Play Hobbit

Last week was the first we rented a car and did some proper driving on the left side of the road. For the first day, we headed over the hills, to the Picton area. Daniel did a fabulous job maneuvering the hairpin curves, steep bends and slopes of the road, all while sitting where I normally sit when we go on car rides. ;) The only continual mishap is the mistake of turning on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signals.

I was rather unprepared for the amount of pine trees along the drive. There are plenty covering the hills (these aren’t mountains, according to locals) and logging can make some hilltops looks like a man’s shaved head. Wherever they stop logging, the pine trees suddenly spring up and look like a mohawk.

The first stop of the day was at Pelorus River, right at the bridge where the recent Hobbit movie filmed the “dwarves in barrels” scene.

11-046

There were no barrels handy to amuse ourselves with, so we skipped rocks instead. Since I’m the manager of this blog, I get to select which pictures make the cut for each post, and the ones of me skipping rocks did not make it. Daniel by far, won the best-skipping-rocks-award for the day. And Natasha, the best plunk-a-rock-and-make-it-splash award. I came somewhere in the middle.

10-060

09-064

08-065

07-068

06-077