In our foreign travels we are always amazed how technologically advanced most countries are over us. Three years ago we watched old ladies getting on busses in Seoul and tapping their cell phones on monitors to pay their fare. Here in New Zealand, chip readers on credit card machines process in less than 5 seconds. In the photo above, all McDonalds have ordering stations where you touch the screen, place your order, pay on your credit card and receive a paper printout with your order number. Move forward to claim your order.
Here is a grocery store with an entire aisle (both sides) of just wines!! Adult Disneyland.
No other photos, cities are cities. We fly home tomorrow with tons of fond memories. Will definitely return. I hear that most countries will not rent cars to people over 75. Have to look into getting a fake driver’s license which says I am younger than I am. I am summing up the trip as follows:
A) A stunningly beautiful country geographically.
B) The warmest and friendliest people of all races (tons of Asian and Indian immigrants) all seemingly living and working in harmony.
C) The most gluten free option restaurants I have ever encountered. They all have gluten free breads and rolls ( slight upcharge). Most entrees and mains have the option of being made gluten free. Pizza parlors all have gluten free “bases” as they call our crusts. One even had non dairy mozzarella.
D) Logged 3,500 km (2,200) miles on our rental car odometer. Hope they made money. Really got good at left hand driving on two lane roads at 100 km/hr (62.5mph) with 3-4 feet between oncoming cars.
Christchurch, what a sight. They were devastated by two earthquakes 4 months apart in 2011. All the buildings, pre 1900, were destroyed or damaged to the point that they had to be torn down. The central downtown area is block after block of emptiness.
A few 10 story plus hotels are yet to be torn down. On a positive note, the few older buildings which were earthquake retrofitted all held up fine. It does work. The people move on. Great restaurants operating where they are the only building on their block. The federal govt. bought entire city
blocks and will develop them. The second devastating quake hit at 12:45 on a weekday afternoon. The above photo is an art installation called “185 Chairs” commemorating the 185 people killed in the second quake. On this corner, stood the 7 story TV Building which pancaked killing 100 plus people inside.
Yesterday we drove up to Kaikoura which was the epicenter of a 7.8 quake about 9 weeks ago. The coast highway north to Kaikoura just reopened a few days ago. Lots of one lane only areas due to landslide damage to roadway. Some bridges damaged. A slow trip. Lots of damage to buildings in little touristy Kaikoura, many red flagged. The entire land mass in that area raised 6 feet. Previous under water rocks with seaweed attached are now lifted out of the ocean.
Writing this blog from Christchurch Airport awaiting our flight to Auckland. Turned in our Toyota after logging 3,500 KM or 2,200 miles. Did the southern island justice.
Drove today through more beautiful scenery on our trip from Dunedin to Lake Tekapo by way of Mount Aoraki for lunch. New Zealanders are reverting back to the original Maori names for lakes and peaks. New Zealanders embrace Maori culture as their own. Museums are signed and descriptive text is done in both English and Maori even though the Maoris are bilingual. They have an accepted blended culture. New Zealanders know how to do things right. Shame that the US and Australia didn’t do the same.
This was our first glacial melt lake. Forget its name.
This was our first view of Mount Aoraki with Lake Pukaki to the foreground. We stood on Pukaki’s shore.
Mount Aoraki is covered with glaciers. As we drove in the clouds were thickening. After lunch at the park hotel it was raining but Pukaki still was in full sunshine. We drove on to Lake Tapeko and our Airbnb abode. Following pictures are at Tapeko.
Dunedin is named after the Scottish town. The town has about 160,000 residents. The terrain is steep and hilly like SF. There are some more boxy contemporary buildings but the majority are of the pre 1940’s era. The churches and govt. buildings are all 1800’s. Residences tend to be Victorian. A beautiful mix. Bottom line, they haven’t had their 8.0 earthquake yet. Christchurch lost most of their 1800 buildings about 6 years ago. We only had one full day in Dunedin but it was great. Walked the town for hours.
Most of our contacts are with restaurant staff. There is no tipping in NZ. They team work. They are paid well, around $15-17 USD per hour. They are as kind and friendly as can be and their service is on par with the US where they work for tips. Literally every restaurant in NZ we have dined in has music in the background. Whether 5 star or 2 star, whether small town or big town hotels restaurants the music is the same type. Contemporary top 40 or the contemporary versions of 1920-30 band music. No soft mood music. Lots of white haired diners listening to rap. They like it. A sign of an unstressed society. No wonder Ruth Nader Ginsburg said she was moving here if Trump won.
The Kiwis have a beautiful country and they are aware of it and fiercely proud. Many have commented that they appreciate that we have taken 2 weeks to really see it. The country is also amazingly clean. In Picton, we parked the car and walked a block to have lunch. As we started walking, we were with a 16-17 yr. old guy carrying an armful of freshly laundered tablecloths. We enquired about the linens and he said they were for his parent’s restaurant. He walked further ahead of us. I watched as he bent over and picked up a paper cup on the sidewalk and deposited it into a street garbage can on the corner. That would NEVER happen at home.
The city funds a graffiti arts project where international artists paint murals on the sides of buildings. There are now over 40. The tourist brochures show the walking route to view the art. We covered the route and were impressed by their urban canvases. One is shown below. I put a few on my business Instagram.
Tomorrow we are off to Mt. Cook and Lake Tekapo where we will sleep.
Yesterday we did a full day trip to Doubtful Sound. Even more impressive than Milford Sound. Two days of drizzling rain but stunning scenery. Check me out under the waterfall on YouTube (Tom Brodehl).
Why build a two lane expensive bridge when you can build one. All rural bridges are like this. If you have the black arrow in your direction you have the right of way, red, you don’t. Have crossed at least 50 bridges so far. It works.
Our drive today was over 8 hours ( inc. lunch & photo ops). Made it into Dunedin (done eden) at 5:45 PM. Really got down the driving on left (leafed) side of road. Our route today took us away from the west coast (Tasmin Sea) and brought us around the southern tip of southern island to the Pacific Ocean. We hugged the coast for hours traveling through the most beautiful farmland. Following are some shots of today’s drive.
We are staying in a small town called Te Anau, on Lake Te Anau, second largest lake in NZ. It is a 2.5hr. drive to Milford Sound. Our cruise on the sound is at 1715. We left the room at 1000. Objective was trekking or as the Kiwis call it, tramping along the way to Milford. The scenery is stunning. As they say about Milford Sound, no picture does it justice. They are right.
Our first trek was through an amazing moss forest. When a tree falls, it becomes a host to hundreds of plant life.
That was an easy trek, about 45 minutes. Our next one was a two hour trek called the Routeburn. We only did the first hour of what is a 4 day hike and returned back to the car park. The first one hour was completely up hill to above the tree line. Felt 70 for the first time.
We drove on to Milford Sound for our cruise. 2 out of 3 days are raining. The other drizzles. A clear blue day is once every 10 days or so. We lucked out!! Ours was drizzly. 4days before was cloudless sunshine. The pics speak for themselves.
The last photo was while driving out of the park. Tomorrow we are off to Doubtful Sound.
This is our Airbnb 16′ X 16′ cube. This is in the rear yard of an architect’s home. A loft up a ship’s ladder for sleeping but we have a mattress on a sofabed down below. Includes a kitchen (with pull out drawer dishwasher). Really cute interior. The cube is across the road from the Arrow River with hiking paths on either shore, connected with cross bridges and full of brown trout. The human access and comfort level are immense in NZ. The government spends a lot on its people. Clean and well stocked public toilets are everywhere.
The town is an 1860’s gold mining town architecturally preserved on the main street. It is a 20 minutes drive to Queenstown and is a weekend home and restaurant destination for people from Queenstown and Dunedin. Very expensive homes. Fabulous restaurants. The downtown has a real Nevada City quality to it. It doesn’t get totally dark until 10:30-11:00. Liking the long evenings.
Tomorrow we head out to Te Anau, gateway to both Milford and Doubtful Sounds. Will do boat cruises on each.
80% of Kiwis live on the northern island. The only fair sized towns in the south are Queensland and Christchurch. Almost all towns are under 5K population. Every town that has at least two blocks has a free standing building which houses public toilets. Each stall is stocked with hand soap dispensers, paper towels, ample tissue and they are CLEAN!!
The beauty of this island is overwhelming. Every minute offers a new panorama. We are always surrounded by steep mountains and beautiful valleys. Everything is brilliantly green. I finally have the driving thing down. I know my 4 corners. Wiz along at 100km on their 2 lane winding roads, and mom has quit yelling that I am too close to the left shoulder.
We drove down the coast for two days. Spent the first night at a B&B in Moana. Beautiful home run by a couple. We had dinner with them and two other couples around a hugh dining table. 2Kiwis, 2Aussies, 2Germans, 2Americans. Trump dominated the conservation as expected. We all got along splendly since we were all on the same side. Brekkie was just as much fun.
- Today we drove down the rugged West coast. Stopping for numerous photo ops. The water is cold and the beaches are rocky and windblown.
- The west coast is all rain forest. The vegetation is really lush. The roads are lined with a forest of ferns. Must be hundreds of species.
- The beaches are all rock. Beautiful rocks though, all flat and rounded.