Apparently I haven’t posted anything since Wanaka. Oops. And the posts even have the dates on them, so you know exactly how long it has been. Sorry. So much has happened since then that a brief summary seems required. So, here we go…
I turned 27. We rode over the highest paved road in New Zealand. We explored the gardens around Queenstown. I jumped out of a plane. We rode through the rain and wind to Te Anua. Chris got a flat tire and pushed his bike for 8 miles in the rain. We took a bus to Milford Sound and then cruised around the fiord. We rode to the coast. We took a ferry to Stewart Island. We swam in Lee Bay. I saw the motorcycle Burt Monro rode at Bonneville Salt Flats. We saw a sea lion, a fossilized forest, and a yellow-eyed penguin. We watched a triathlon and a field hockey game. We rode to Dunedin. I saw a castle. We took a tour of the Speight’s Brewery.
I guess that sums it up. For those of you keeping track and planning future trips: see Wanaka, skip Queenstown, Milford Sound is a must, go to Stewart Island for more than a day, take trip through Curio Bay, see Dunedin.
Well, now that I’ve got you up to date, I feel permitted to pass on a selection of my thoughts and some fun facts that I’ve learned. A) There are only two land mammals native to New Zealand, and they’re two types of bats, so I’m not sure they even count as land mammals. B) Over the last few millions of years, every section of New Zealand has been under water at one time or another. The result was a staggeringly diverse aviary. And then the Maori came and brought dogs and rats. And then the Europeans came and brought everything else. The result: an aviary that, though still impressive, is no longer staggeringly diverse. C) 80% of all species found in New Zealand are not found anywhere else on the planet. D) Kevlar-lined tired are more expensive but worth the price. Chris has had nine punctures to my one. Worth the money. Okay, so you get one thought and three facts, and the thought is probably a fact as well.
I guess I’ve delayed for long enough, and you’ve been a great audience, so here are the pictures you’ve all been waiting for:
The aptly named mirror lake on the roadside towards Milford Sound.
Milford Sound is, in fact, not as sound but a fiord. A sound is shaped like a “V” and is formed as river cuts down into the bedrock. A fiord is shaped like a “U” and is formed as the pressure of a glacier shaves down into the rock. Fascinating, I know, but increasing the world’s knowledge is my duty.
A waterfall in the fiord that is three times taller than Niagara Falls.
As we rode south from Te Anua, the sun came out and the mountains became hills. Of course, the wind remained in our face, but we got to chat with our shadows for a few minutes, so that was a nice change.
The end of a chess game on Stewart Island. Chris was left with a king and all eight pawns, but I took the victory. Not capturing a pawn was surprisingly difficult, especially when Chris found out what was going on and tried his best to sacrifice one. Playing with large pieces (they turned out to be painted traffic cones) made us feel like kings of old, directing people across a large chessboard.
The scenic, calm, and amazingly clear Lee Bay.
Burt Munro rode this bike 193 miles per hour at the Bonneville Salt Flats. “The World’s Fastest Indian” is a wonderful movie that tells his story.
Riding through the Catlins, the region between Invercargill and Dunedin, was wonderful. The rolling hills are covered with sheep and cows. It was nice to be close to the coast and look out to the ocean.
The Larnach Castle, the only castle in New Zealand, was constructed in 1871. It’s not much of a castle, but come on, let’s call it one rather than “The Larnach Manor” or “The Larnach Mansion.” I’m also not sure how many castles have been built in the last 140 years, so it may be the world’s youngest castle as well.
A collection of 300 bottles of Scotch. I apparently don’t know much about whiskey regardless of the origin. There are single malts and blends. You apparently age it for twelve to twenty years. People are willing to pay lots of money for small amounts. That’s what I knew going in. Well, not the part about the blends. I figured there might be double malts, and that’s a common misunderstanding, but there aren’t.
A very large barrel at Speight’s Brewery. The tour ended in the sampling room, as any proper tour should. The beer was tasty and the tour educational. All in all, a pleasant way to end our visit to Dunedin. Tomorrow we’ll head north to Christchurch. The next post will be from there, so you’ll only have to wait a few days. Sorry again.