A very happy New Year to you and I hope all is well at home.
I did hear that England has had a layer of snow in parts recently, which is quite normal for this time of year I suppose, but difficult for me to imagine scorching in thirty degrees of sunshine here in New Zealand.
Typical New Zealand home
A local duck variety
Janis and I are now well established in our tour of the South Island. We are currently staying with Janis’s niece Becky at a delightful little hamlet called Kingston at the southern end of the vast Lake Wakatipu. There are a few typically New Zealand single story houses here with a corner shop that also doubles as a cafe and a post office. There is a derelict railway line with an old steam locomotive called ‘The Kingston Flyer’ sadly rusting away there and we are surrounded by vast ranges of mountains some of which are still covered with snow in parts even in this height of Summer.
Fields of wild Lupin on the Canterbury Plain
Myself posing at Lake Tekapo
There are few roads in the whole of the area, one main one runs the full length of the lake through the largest built up area called Queenstown and up as far as Glenorchy right at the northern end, where we visited yesterday.
Mount Cook in the hazy distance
Most tourists visit Queenstown but we have the benefit of Becky, who is an excellent tourist guide knowing so much of the countryside around here. We were in a four wheel drive Suzuki and were able therefore to travel to all the normally inaccessible parts, up dusty gravel tracks and dried up river beds through narrow ravines. The flies bite like mad but it’s all been very exciting.
I have seen lots of strange birds, like the Tui, called the Parson Bird because of its white collar with a ruff at the front. It also has a very tuneful song. Also there is the small Fantail, about the size of our Robin with a long tail that he keeps spreading like an open fan. But most fascinating and amazing of all are the tall mountain ranges that completely surround us. This is real Hobbit country.
At and In Paradise
We spent over a week in Christchurch with Janis’s Mum, who apart from being a kind host was also an excellent guide. She took us to see the sad ruins of that once great, proud and pretty city before we set off south to Lake Tekapo. Here we stayed at a Backpacker's hostel for two nights and viewed the southern night sky from Mount St John alongside the lake.
All was perfect.
Dried up River bed or almost
Our next stop is Te Anau another little town at the southern end of the lake of the same name. We travel on there tomorrow, always hemmed in by mountains all around.
Even though we are enjoying a lovely time in NZ and everybody is so friendly and welcoming, I am missing you and will be grateful when we return safely home. Today by email I confirmed your dry docking with Tooley’s in Banbury for the beginning of April.
All the best old friend. I shall write again soon.