We were picked up at our hotel this morning at 7:40 am by a nice lady in a van and taken up to
Springfield which is about 1+ hour across the Canterbury Plain. There we were picked up by "No Hassle Tours" who took us to the Waikamakiri River for a jet boat ride with "young Matt," an experienced jet boat "driver." The river is run-off from the snow fields in the Southern Alps, and aqua blue with a little milky cast. Absolutely beautiful. Of course, we were given the usual thrills of running up to cliff-sides on the river and swerving away at the last possible second and 360 degree turns in the middle of the river. You've seen it on tv. It was great fun and the scenery was spectacular. (Sorry, I keep using that word.) It was rough coming back against the current, but exhilarating.
Then, we were taken in a unimog (a big four-wheel-drive army vehicle) up to a sheep and cattle station owned by an individual family for the last 4 generations. It is 10,0o0 acres with 7500 sheep, and I don't know how many Aberdeen beef cattle. Gorgeous country and gorgeous livestock. The ride was really rough. Would rather have hiked in, and could have done it in the same time, but we were captive. Lunch in a cafe, then by van to Arthur's Pass (look it up on internet) to catch the Alpine Express back to Christchurch.
Now, what a day! This country is so un-spoiled. It reminds me of the countryside in the US in the 1950's. The houses are all small, though nice, and there are no inter-states or big subdivisions, and absolutely no billboards. It all look vaguely familiar, which only you of our generation and older can understand.
More things we like about NZ:
Every restaurant puts a big pitcher or carafe of fresh tap water on the table, no questions asked. It is cold and clean (sometimes iced), and one doesn't have a choice of "gas or no gas," for goodness sake.
You can bring your own wine to most restaurants - and the corkage fee is usually $5.50 NZ. That's a lot less than we pay in Cashiers.
Every motel and hotel, so far, has had laundry facilities. Pay attention Europe. You can't find a washing machine there at any price.
We also love the Kiwi slang:
Stickies - after-dinner sweet drinks
Sallys - Salvation Army charity shops, every town has one
Puku - bellies, especially on men, it's a sign of prosperity
Road maggots - big camper vans (or SUV's in our country)
Now, we'll see who is following this blog. The BIG question - What are "bingo wings?"
Whoever answers correctly in 24 hours gets a free flight to NZ. (NOT)
Check out Mansion House Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, 2007 (Savvy). It's soft, well-balanced, and delicious. That's for all of you who love good sauvignon blanc. I hope it's available in the US. Neil?
Will try to download and upload some pictures tomorrow. Just haven't had the time or energy. Also, will tell you about the incredible Burmese restaurant we ate dinner in tonight. One of the best meals, Bill reports, that he has ever enjoyed. I'ts called the Bohdi Tree and has a website.