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Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand’


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My Favorite

Of all the pictures I’ve taken over the past nine months, this one is my favorite.

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Critters

I know that’s the way you like it, living wild, wild, wild, wild, life. -Talking Heads

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Ahh the things you stumble across on the road.  More highlights of our South Island travels.

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If you don’t get the title, then skip this one unless you want a great opportunity to make endless fun of me. If you do get the title, then go ahead and give into that girlish giggle, pour yourself a stout cup of coffee, and think of a witty comment.

Steve and I have been a little vague about exactly how we are spending our Southern Hemisphere winter. This isn’t intentional. We have so much to share, that important details can get lost. Important details like I’m living out my own Gilmore Girl fantasies casting myself as a nice combo of Lorelai and Sookie. If you aren’t familiar with this epic masterpiece of television dramedy then see first sentence.

So we are innkeepers, sorta. Now this isn’t the Dragonfly Inn. The place we’re minding is Kokopu Estate and it includes includes two rental cottages or in NZ speak holiday homes. One is a 100 year old cottage with full shabby-chic charm. The other is a romantic apartment attached to the main house. Even though it is the off season we regularly have guests at both accommodations. Along with looking after guests, we’re answering calls and emails about the place and confirming reservations for NZ’s upcoming summer season. For GG fans just imagine Emily and Richard’s house with a couple rental cottages and you are close to our setup, maybe a little less posh and and a bit more farm.

Did I mention that Luke, I mean Steve, makes me coffee whenever I ask? Nothing like all day coffee drinks to make you feel like a Gilmore Girl.

So you can’t reenact the Gilmore Girls without an adorable toy town. Surrounded by green hills and set at the water’s edge, Akaroa might be even cuter and quirkier than the fictional Stars Hollow. The local color includes notoriously grumpy laundry ladies, ever changing rules at the library, and the occasional boat being towed down main street.

The strangeness continues as this part of New Zealand was originally settled by the French. This left a proud and highly marketable heritage. Many signs are in French and all the streets are marked “Rue”. One day we saw a man wondering about in a Napoleonic era French army uniform carrying a large French flag over his shoulder. This town’s Taylor perhaps.

We don’t have Lane’s band to groove to, instead there are some local guys who get together and play the ukulele.

Good food, always essential to the Gilmore Gang, is covered with several fine restaurants and a cooking school. Imagine a tiny town with a cooking school and no chain restaurants. It is winter and most nights I’m happy to stay in with Luke err Steve. Even Sookie, Stars Hollow’s gourmet chef would approve of my boeuf bourguignon.

So, for now, that’s us. Before you decide I’ve completely lost my mind,  Steve thinks he’s Higgins from Magnum P.I.

Update 7/20/10 Learned that uniformed French soldier is the official town crier. This place gets more Gilmore everyday.

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Here are the results of a winter’s day spent cleaning out the photo files. Enjoy the sights.

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We headed out of Wanaka through the long river valley.  It was 51 km to the end of the road, our destination Mt Aspiring National Park.  We bounced along the narrow unsealed road, fording streams, dodging sheep and weaving our way along the braided plain of the mighty Matukituk.  Stunning mountains rose out of the broad river valley as we rounded the last bend Mt Aspiring, the second highest mountain in all of New Zealand, rose up to greet us.

Once at the car park we hopped the stile and walked toward an awesome suspension bridge.  We were on pretty good track, kiwi speak for trails, and made good time into the mountains aiming for the terminus of the Rob Roy Glacier.  Building good trails is tough work.  I used to build trails in the little patch of woods behind my house when I was growing up.  Jill and I built trails to climbing areas back home in the Red River Gorge.  Shovel, mc cloud, pry bar and old fashioned sweat labor where the tools of the trade.  But things are different in New Zealand.

A collapsible cone in a national park seemed a bit out of place, we were a few kilometers from the trailhead.  Several switchbacks later we came to the construction zone.  The mountain stream roaring with glacier melt and our labored breathing from the uphill walk masked the noise of the small diesel powered digger.  Mechanized vehicles in the backcountry of a national park?  Strange.  The two man crew were working with a small selection of hand tools, chainsaw and a tracked digger.  They paused as we passed and asked us to watch ourselves on the way back down.  I jokingly asked if they drove that thing in, “Helicopter.” was the response.  Only in New Zealand.

Once out of the construction, we made quick time to Rob Roy.  The chilly late afternoon air was a not so subtle reminder of the alpine environment we were entering. We broke through the bush line to see the glacier hanging high above.  Meltwater cascaded hundreds of meters down shear rock faces.  Kea noisily circled overhead.  Chunks of ice crashed down into the valley echoing off the surrounding peaks.  It was a clamorous environment, one with a natural earthmover at work.

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