Dolly Travels – Our Last Day in the South Island

Published Date Author: , October 1st, 2015

Dolly - Canterbury ChurchKia Ora,

It is now late at night. I am in my very comfortable hotel room in the heart of Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city. We had such a long day, I was certain I would sleep well. But, no. That was not to be. I was jolted out of a deep sleep by the sound of an emergency vehicle siren going past on the street below. I realized then, that we had not been in a big city since we left Auckland, which was nine days ago. How quickly my mind and body had adjusted to the quieter atmosphere of the smaller towns and the peacefulness of the great outdoors.

Early this morning, right after breakfast, we boarded our bus and left the west coast town of Greymouth. We had been blessed all week with sunny, pleasant weather. This morning, though, there were some clouds in the sky, and the air was quite chilly. With our excellent driver, Paul, we started going inland traveling a bit south and east, traversing the Southern Alps. We went over Arthur’s Pass, one of the highest mountain passes, driving on a steep, winding highway. Paul stopped the bus at a turnout, so that we could take pictures. The temperature outside was 34 degrees Fahrenheit, and a sharp, cold breeze blowing.

We each took a couple photos, and we’re more than ready to hop back on the bus. We went just a bit further up the road, and stopped again at a cafe, so we could all get a cup of coffee. Then Aaron, our tour guide, led us on a short walk to a small chapel, then to the Visitor’s Center The little church was very pretty, as the window behind the pulpit looked out at a grand waterfall. Unfortunately, my picture did not turn out well, as the sun was shining brightly on the waterfall.

This area has many different kinds of outdoor activities: hiking, mountain biking, white water sports (don’t think that tiny river below the highway is the only river here). There is river fishing, lake fishing, just about any kind of outdoor activity is available. This is very rugged country, so one has to be knowledgable and prepared for dealing with the elements. One poster in the Visitors’ Center was entitled, “How to Kill Yourself in Arthur’s Pass”.

Back on the bus again, we started our descent into the valley, leaving the Alps behind us.

This is prime country for Merino sheep, as they thrive best when they can graze on the mountains. We were told, later, when we visited the sheep station, that Merino sheep need a very different diet from the sheep that are raised in the valleys.

We visited a working sheep station, where the owner and his dog, Pete, gave us a demonstration of the herding qualities of the Border Collie. The shepherd actually use another dog, called a Huntawey (I don’t know how to spell that). The Huntawey barks, causing the sheep to group together in a herd. Then the Border Collie keeps them in a herd, and directs them towards the shepherd. We also got to see sheep shearing.

When we left this place, we continued on to Christchurch, on the east coast. Christchurch had been devastated by two earthquakes: the first, in September, 2010, but the second one, in February, 2011, caused the greatest destruction. For me, it was very sad to see the city as it is now. Rebuilding has been very difficult. So many buildings have been torn down; others waiting to be restored or demolished. We had stayed in Christchurch in 2005, and the vision I saw today made me very sad – a ruined cathedral.

We left the city, went towards the airport, and visited the Antarctic Center, which is right near the airport. I loved seeing the little blue penguins. That cheered me up. They are the tiniest penguins in the world. The ones we saw today have been rescued, having suffered injuries to their tiny feet or flippers, rehabilitated, but they would not survive in the wild again, so their permanent home is at the Antarctic Center.

After our visit there, we were taken to the airport; there we had to say goodbye to Paul, who had been our driver and companion for the past several days. We flew from Christchurch to Wellington, arriving a little after 8:00 p.m. As I said earlier, it had been a very long day, but with so many interesting stops and sights.

We will be here for the next few days, and then our fantastic New Zealand adventure will come to a close. I will fly back to the United States late Wednesday afternoon.

I will try to get another blog post written, after we have had the chance to visit Wellington.

I do trust you have enjoyed visiting this amazing country with me, and that you are planning your own OAT trip to New Zealand.

There is so much that I haven’t written about. I haven’t told you about the food, the cultural differences between our countries…I will try to write about those things, and more, after I get home.

So I shall say goodnight for now, and try to get some sleep. I can only hope another siren doesn’t go by and wake me again. I shall try to adjust to city life again,

Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | Canterbury Gay Travel Resources

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