It’s strange how it always seems that something goes wrong in every one of our trips. And I guess this was the bit of adversity we were faced with this time…
Day 1: RAIN, AGAIN
We arrived from our 12-hour flight out of LAX to Auckland at around 5:20am.
With this trip happening in late December to mid January (i.e. the Kiwi Summer), we hoped the weather would be significantly more improved than our rain-drenched honeymoon five years ago.
But our hopes were dashed the moment we looked out the window and saw wet pavement and grey skies. Clearly, there had been rain.
After picking up our luggage and getting through customs, we exchanged money (something like 1.3 NZD to 1 USD, which was less than I remembered five years ago when it was 1.41 NZD to 1 USD), checked in our big luggages for the upcoming domestic flight to Christchurch, then walked the 1.2km stretch in the mix of drizzle and rain to the domestic terminal. We were a little damp by the time we passed through security and found our departure gate for our Christchurch flight at 6:45am.
The flight went pretty smoothly, and we managed to get our luggage and our car by 9:40am.
We took our the car rental insurance by reducing the excess down to $0 from something on the order of $5000 NZD. But that was at a steep price of $33 NZD per day over 17 days. That was pretty painful.
Anyways, we were off and headed towards the Christchurch CBD under some pretty warm and sunny skies.
Along the way, we took a brief detour so we could pick up some water and some fresh fruits and snacks.
And by 10:50am we arrived at the Bella Vista Motel (fortunate they let us check in this early). Once we got settled, we decided to go for a walk into the Christchuch City Centre to see something we didn’t get a chance to do five years ago – actually tour the South Island’s largest city!
Come to think of it, I couldn’t believe that we went from Invercargill to Christchurch by way of the Catlins Forest in our first trip to New Zealand. No wonder why we arrived after 9pm despite our early 6am start back then.
In any case, we walked around 20 minutes from our motel all the way to the church right in the public square at the city’s centre. It was a bit dead as the large majority of the stores were closed with today being Sunday. But even some those stores that were supposed to be open as stated in their trading hours weren’t open on this day either. What gives?
So we couldn’t get the dining experiences we had hoped for, and we ended up eating some souvlakis at some food court. But adding a little life to the otherwise lethargic scene were some girls doing tap dances near a statue with plenty of tourist onlookers.
By 1:25pm, we made it back to the motel having concluded that there wasn’t much more to see. At this point in time, dark clouds had overtaken us and it appeared that rain will overcome even the usually-dry Christchurch.
By 1:40pm, we were about to head out to Akaroa, which was over an hour away from where we’re at. Unfortunately, it appeared that either our GPS died or our software on the computer wasn’t behaving correctly. Both of us were royally bummed that we wouldn’t be able to trip log and navigate with our GPS/netbook combo.
It’s strange how it always seems that something goes wrong in every one of our trips. And I guess this was the bit of adversity we were faced with this time.
Recalling that we had seen a Dick Smith’s around 2:30-ish somewhere near the CBD, we decided to drive back to the city centre and see if we can find a replacement GPS at the electronics sections.
We eventually ended up buying some Garmin Nuvi handheld and road navigation system. But I personally would’ve preferred the old scheme because I could at least monitor where we had been going. Plus, we were set back another $500 NZD.
So with the Nuvi armed, we follow its directions towards Akaroa by around 1:30pm. We finally got there at around 3:40pm.
Out at Akaroa, it was windy and partly cloudy. We did some brief sightseeing of some tower in a picnic area adjacent to the visitor centre. Apparently, we were too late for any dolphin tours, and I guess that’s what we get for not really planning this day prior to the trip.
So we killed some time after walking around the quiet waterfront town and ended up having a dinner at Bully Hayes. Once we were done eating the dinner (boy was it nice not having to worry about raw vegetables or bad water for a change), rain had arrived.
Since the restaurant was quite a bit of a walk from our car parked near the visitor centre, I basically took it for the team and got myself a bit wet walking through the rain to regain the car. And with the car, I backtracked and picked Julie up. We were off by a little after 6pm, and by now, it was raining quite heavily.
Both Julie and I wondered aloud if New Zealand ever gets a summer.
By 7:20pm, we made it back to the Bella Vista Motel in Christchurch. It rained throughout the drive so we didn’t bother checking out Summit Road for some nice views of Christchurch as well as the Canterbury Plains further to the south and west. The GPS also took us in front of some Gate of Remeberance, which we hadn’t noticed earlier today. But now that we know where it is, we’ll make a point to revisit that part of the city tomorrow afternoon.
Day 2: FIRST WATERFALL OF THE TRIP
Given the combination of a cold evening and perhaps a little bit of jetlag, we reluctantly got up at some time after 6am. Then, at 7:45am we finally left our motel room for our first waterfall excursion of the day.
During the drive from Christchurch to the View Hill car park for the Wharfdale Track (the starting point for Ryde Falls), I was pleasantly surprised that we were able to download the track log from the Garmin Nuvi into our Mapsource software on the computer. So now, we finally had a means of being able to log where we had been! Now, I finally understood why the nRoute software was no longer supported.
Eventually, we managed to catch the signs for the Wharfdale Track. After turning off Woodstock Road and entering Ingrams Road, we drove onto gravel road, and then through a series of four fences (to keep the sheep in) as we passed through private property. The part about driving through private paddocks full of sheep totally reminded us of our McLean Falls experience on our prior trip.
The trail looked like it was on a 4wd road as it followed the Wharfdale Track. Even after a half-hour, we went through another gate near some Cooper Creek Link Track junction, which we didn’t take. It wasn’t much later when we saw a signed spur taking us to towards the waterfall.
At 10:55am, shortly after making a very steep descent along the Cooper Creek Trail (which we junctioned with not long prior), we made a stream crossing. There were enough rocks to be able to keep our socks dry in this crossing. And right after climbing the embankment, we saw a camping area (though no campers).
It was a good thing that most of this trail was shaded, which kept the air cool and crisp. Indeed, morning was most certainly a fine time to go on a tramp. Julie and I eagerly anticipated seeing our first Kiwi Waterfall in over five years.
After the stream crossing the track continued to follow a shady path, and barely 10 minutes later, we finally started to hear the sounds of rushing water – a waterfall!
Finally at around 11:05am, we arrived at the Ryde Falls. It was too bad that the view of the falls were mostly obstructed by overgrowth. And a few small scrambles to unsatisfying viewpoints made me contemplate more dangerous scrambles. But Julie talked me out of that so I just scrambled back down the creek to get a bottom up look at the falls.
At 11:20am, we left the falls and quickly made our way back to the car park. We arrived at 12:35pm where a pair of Department of Conservation employees were present (it looked like they just got here).
Armed with a chainsaw, we engaged in some pleasant conversation. When I mentioned to them that we did the falls, they said they’d like to cut down some of the overgrowth so you could get a better view of the falls. That probably would be a nice thing, but we won’t get to experience it when it does happen. Anyways, they were trying to clear the dead falls from yesterday’s storm so the Wharfdale Track can be acceptable to mountain biking again (which we did see two such bikers on the way back). Apparently, this track was popular with mountain bikers.
When we were done with our conversation, I did notice that one of the employees had just finished eating a meat pie. Since Julie and I didn’t have one on this trip yet, we were determined to get some for lunch.
It wasn’t until 2pm when we finally got to have some at a Christchurch suburb as Oxford’s bakery (en route) was closed. About a half-hour later, we got to the South City Centre Plaza where we could take care of business doing groceries as well as getting a few more electronic gadgets (like a car charger splitter) at Dick Smith’s. We did manage to grab some decent meat pies in a bakery on the outer suburbs of Christchurch.
At 4pm, we went back to the motel to drop off the groceries, but not before making a short visit to that Bridge of Remembrance archway. And after a little bit of time recovering, we were back on the road en route to Lyttleton at 4:45pm.
Given the gorgeous weather today, we decided to take the scenic route along Summit Road instead of the tunnel towards the coal-based town. The hill we ascended at the south end of Christchurch was very reminiscent of Palos Verdes back at home, but the roads here seemed narrower and it was much colder that what we’re used to back at home.
Eventually, we’d get onto a narrow stretch of road where it followed a ridge with views on both sides of it. To our left, we could see Christchurch with the Southern Alps way in the background (kind of shadowy since the light was also coming from that direction). On our right was some really blue-green watered harbor with settlements flanking it. I think Lyttleton was down there somewhere. The color of the water was reminiscent of glacial sediment-laced types, but I reckoned this had more to do with the sediment from the erosion of this once-volcanic mountain since we were far from any glaciers in the Southern Alps.
After a brief stop in the charming town of Lyttleton, we left at around 6:15pm and arrived back at the Christchurch CBD at 6:35pm. From there, we had ourselves a little bit of a Thai dinner on Colombo Street before returning to our motel at 7:30pm.
That was when we finally called it a day.
Day 3: NOREASTERS
The day began with an early morning wake-up at 5am. I knew we had a lot of driving to do this morning so the early start was necessary. However, we still had about 90 minutes left from the four hours of Wi-Fi Internet we purchased yesterday so Julie took advantage of that.
At 6:45am, we finally left our motel in Christchurch and faced the cold of the morning. Similar to yesterday, the weather promised to be sunny and clear skies. We sure hoped it would stay that way for we would be staying in Mt Cook (also known as Aoraki in the Maori language and the tallest peak in New Zealand) tonight.
The drive out of town went for a while as we zoomed past suburbs and even a town called Ashburton. Eventually, the Nuvi told us to make a turn at some point and make an entrance to the Peel Forest even though we didn’t see any directional signs on this route. I guess the GPS must have deemed this particular route to be the shortest, but it probably wasn’t what the folks that put up the signs had in mind.
Even though we entered the Peel Forest as indicated by some friendly-looking DOC signs, we just as soon left the forest and continued along the road following the river towards Mt Peel. Apparently, we must’ve overshot the trailhead for Acland Falls, which was the first falls we intended to visit today.
It wasn’t until 8:50am when we finally found the Acland Falls trailhead. However, we couldn’t figure out where we were supposed to park the car so we just parked it on the lawn in front of the trailhead. And from there, we quickly ascended the very steep first 15 minutes of the walk. At the apex of the steep climb, the trail joined up with some other trail as well as started to descend again as we proceeded towards the waterfall.
The descent only lasted some five minutes, but at the bottom, we could see that we had to do a little stream walking, which fortunately was in very shallow water and nothing our Gore-tex boots couldn’t handle.
A couple minutes later, we arrived at the base of the 14m Acland Falls. It was thin and wasn’t terribly impressive. Still, the surrounding ferns and dark cove in which the falls fell into was very quiet and charming. And after taking the obligatory photos and movie, we quickly headed back to our car (somewhat fearful that our parking job was illegal).
At 9:40am, we returned to the car. And 10 minutes later, after a futile detour across some stream and up towards some residences on an unsealed road, we finally took the Lookout Road briefly towards a car park at the base of a steep narrow gravel road. An earlier attempt at going up that road in search of a place to park the car closer to the trailhead (which was part way up that hill) turned up empty. Besides, the road was quite steep, and I wasn’t comfortable taking the rental car up here at all.
The hike continued in the sunny weather (it started to get hot, though 22 degrees Celsius was hardly a heat wave), and the uphill hike up the road to the trailhead turned out to be a bit of a foreshadowing of what was to come.
For once we got onto the official trail, it crossed a bridge then started to climb steeply for the next 20 minutes or so. Julie wondered what is it about the Peel Forest trails that have these steep ascents.
Anyways, once we got to the apex of this climb, there was a signed fork for Rata Falls, which was another 45 minutes from here. But considering our research suggested the Rata Falls hike involved some extensive boulder scrambling in the stream, we proceeded onwards for Emily Falls which was said to be another 30 minutes.
And as we continued on the Emily Falls track, the trail did a little more climbing before descending steeply towards a pretty loud creek. Once there, we knew we had to cross the creek at some point. In fact, we ended up crossing the creek two more times before we saw the reassuring arrow pointing the way out of the stream hiking. It was a good thing we were wearing our hiking boots.
From there, the trail once again climbed steeply up some muddy stairs and rocks before leveling out somewhat. Then, the trail undulated briefly for a couple of times before making one final descent for a couple minutes ending near the shady cove where Emily Falls fell right in.
It wasn’t easy getting a decent look of the falls from the end of the trail so we crossed the creek just a tad downstream from the falls before scrambling up some slippery rock for a decent view. Our hands and our pants wreaked of mud, but we weren’t going to be denied a decent look at the falls after all the trouble we went through to get here.
The falls itself was probably not much more than 10m tall if that. For all that trouble to get to such a small waterfall by our standards, it reminded us of the trouble we went through to visit the Enbas Saut Falls in St Lucia.
And so after getting our fill of the falls, we hastily made our way back to the car thinking that weather like this wasn’t going to last forever especially since we’re supposed to be seeing the usually hidden-behind-clouds Mt Cook this afternoon.
So we decided not to spend another couple hours going for Rata Falls.
And by 11:20am, we were back at the car. And from there, we made haste to leave the Peel Forest and head straight for Mt Cook, which was around 200km according to some signs.
By about 11:50am, we were in the town of Geraldine. It was bustling with tourists and tour buses. Julie and I decided to make a brief stop here to eat some meat pies for lunch. She also picked up a crepe as well as a lemon marengue; none of which we were that impressed with.
At 12:10pm, we left Geraldine and continued to head closer to Mt Cook. We were surprised that 90.9 ZM was still getting decent reception this far out from Christchurch, but we weren’t complaining since this was the closest thing to Triple J that I guess New Zealand has, though it was a bit of a mix with some popular stuff that say LA’s Star 98.7 FM used to play.
At around 1pm, we saw stretches of highway heading to the snow-capped Southern Alps. It was easy to imagine them as the Misty Mountains in the Lord of the Rings because these mountains were certainly dead wringers.
At around 1:15pm, we started to see turquoise glacial lakes fronting the majestic snowy mountain range. And not long thereafter, we saw signage pointing the way to the Church of the Good Shepherd, which was a famous stopping point for visitors to this area.
Not surprisingly, it was crowded. So we didn’t quite get the desired church and Lake Tekapo shots. But we spent some time here trying to compose the wildflowers with the glacial lake or trying to use the sun’s angle to shoot the church away from the lake.
So the long drive continued as headed north on the Mt Cook Road not long thereafter, and then followed and passed a few caravans of campervans and slower moving cars en route to the Mt Cook Village. We also made a stop at Peter’s Lookout which showed Mt Cook towering over Lake Pukaki. And at about 3:20pm, we finally arrived at the Hermitage Hotel where we checked in and promptly dropped off our luggage before heading out again.
At 3:50pm, we were heading for the Tasman Valley even though we had just learned that we were too late for any boat rides to get closer to the Tasman Glacier. The road through the Tasman Valley was on a dusty gravel road. Along the way to the car park where a few walks could be taken, we saw Wakefield Falls against the sun.
I knew not why there weren’t more photos of this falls because it certainly looked like a pretty impressive alpine cascade. Except this one seemed to exhibit a bit more volume than most of the run-of-the-mill mountain cascades fed by snowmelt.
At 4:05pm, we arrived at the Tasman Valley car park. We decided to do a walk up to the top of the nearby bluff, which was stated to take 15 minutes each way. But after about twenty or more minutes of climbing, we concluded that the sign was a lie.
In any case, the view at the top provided a pretty commanding view of the silty glacial lake resulting from the melting of the Tasman Glacier, which looked more like a rock quarry than a glacier thanks to its dirty covering concealing the ice beneath.
At around 4:45pm, we returned to the car and headed back towards Wakefield Falls. Even though the lighting wasn’t up to snuff (we were practically looking against the sunlight), we seized the moment and took photos of the falls anyways not knowing what tomorrow would bring.
It wasn’t easy photographing this falls because one part or another of the falls was always hidden by the cliffs around the falls given its twisting and turning action. At least we had our mind made up to try again tomorrow morning under more favorable lighting conditions despite the difficulty in getting a real satisfying view of the falls.
At 5:05pm, we were back in the car and decided to check out the Hooker Valley even though a slow campervan in front of us was making us bite the dust it was kicking up while on the unsealed Tasman Valley Road.
We made a few brief auto stops photographing some impressive glaciers that look like they could tumble at any minute down some of these rock faces. Again, this was scenery reminiscent of Patagonia, which also featured high snowy peaks and turquoise blue glacial lakes all within a normally dry climate in the rainshow of the towering mountains.
At 5:45pm, we made it back to the Hermitage. And fifteen minutes later, we called it day and spoiled ourselves at the Panorama Restaurant in the Hermitage Hotel. There, we had an expensive but quite delicious meal, which lasted about two hours (something that tends to happen in fine dining establishments).
After dinner and getting cleaned up, Julie and I noticed that the color of the snow on Mt Cook was changing colors as the sun was setting. So we seized this moment trying to get photos from our room at around 9:30pm. We figured late sunsets are the norm in very high or very low lattitude areas.
By the time the sun had finally set, we could hear the annoying cries of the mischievous keas (alpine parrots native to NZ) from time to time, but they weren’t in the same quantity nor anything like the noise and mischief they caused throughout the Milford Track and Arthurs Pass when we encountered them five years ago.
One thing that caught my eye as the warm glow of the sun had long since gone was that the sky behind Mt Cook was a strange light purplish color. I don’t think sights like this were very common so I seized this opportunity to take more photos of the country’s highest peak under these circumstances.
And so ended a rather busy sightseeing and driving day. My tank was only half-full at this point. Tomorrow, we’re making the long drive south to Dunedin. We’ll see how things play out over there.
Day 4: INSIDE THE OCTAGON!
We awoke at 6am to the alarm, and immediately I snuck a peek outside our window just to see how the weather would be. To my surprise, there was alpenglow on the tip of Mt Cook!
So as quickly as I could, I got dressed and armed myself with the camera, then went outside into the cold to take photos. By the time I was dressed in something warmer, the pink color on Mt Cook seemed to have given way to a brighter color and wasn’t quite the reddish color I was hoping for.
Ten minutes later, we drove back into the unsealed road to the Tasman Valley, tried to avoid the numerous hares scampering across the road, and returned to the familiar Wakefield Falls. And as predicted, the morning backlight was shining beautifully on the east-facing waterfall.
So we took more photos of this multi-tiered waterfall to the best of our ability knowing that we couldn’t get the whole thing in one shot due to obstructions either up top or at the bottom depending on your angle.
Immediately thereafter, we made the long drive south to Dunedin, which I personaly looked forward to especially since our last visit to the city about 5 years ago or so was so rushed that we didn’t really get a chance to enjoy it.
The drive was mostly uneventful but always seeing the imposing Mt Cook juxtaposed against the clear blue skies in the rear-view mirror as we left made it difficult to resist the temptation to stop and take more photos. But resist we did since we had hundreds of Mt Cook photos like the one seen in our rear-view mirror.
It wasn’t until around 12pm when we finally arrived in Dunedin by way of Oamaru and checked into our motel. When I filled up gas in Oamaru, the lady working there offered to wash the car seeing that it was caked in dust from driving the unsealed Tasman Valley Road in the Mt Cook area. But I declined jokingly saying, “Ah, the rain will wash it off.” After all, I knew full well that the weather changes on a dime in New Zealand.
Once we got settled, we started walking to the city centre at 12:25pm.
The walk to the Octagon, which was a city block shaped like an octagon with a pair of attractive buildings (and I’m not talking about the octagon in the mixed martial arts league called the UFC), passed through some quiet city blocks of what looked like Victorian homes fronting more Victorian homes seen further up hills. In a way, it reminded me a lot of what San Fransisco was like. Except here, we had a genuinely Scottish city with its unique blend of English and Kiwi influences.
Then, as George St got progressively busier, we passed by the Knox Church before we passed through a pretty happening area which was lined with cafes and shops and was full of people (mostly young to middle aged). Straight away we could see that Dunedin had way more energy than the larger Christchurch city centre (though we did do our walking of the city on a Sunday when most things were closed).
And by about 1pm, we were once again at the familiar Octagon, which we had visited five years prior. But the previous visit was a rushed one since we were busy zooming our way all the way to Christchurch after starting in Invercargill and passing through the Catlins.
The light wasn’t the most ideal this time of day to take photos of the church and the attractive visitor centre (and museum?) building right next to it. But the lawn with a statue right in the upper half of the center of the octagon remained peaceful and full of people either picnicking or just chilling out with friends.
We continued walking around the Octagon area going as far as Moray Pl, which circled back on itself as it, too, was an octagonal street. Thus, we passed by the First Church en route to Stuart Rd, which eventually ended right in front of the attractive railway station.
As we took photos of the building and lawn area fronting this bustling scene full of people in transit as well as others just loitering around like we were, we stumbled across some street stands on the north side of the station. And upon closer inspection, we realized that it was a Farmer’s Market!
So we entered this small but bustling scene buying a kilo of cherries from one stand plus a delicious chocolate banana with whip cream galette (a gluten and wheat free crepe) made by a French family in another stand, which unsurprisingly was very delicious albeit messy.
By the time we were done checking out this area, we began our long walk back to the motel some time after 2:30pm. Our walk was slow and deliberate as we returned to the Octagon for more photos while scouting out some possible restaurant candidates for tonight. It was too early in the day to stumble into any happening cafes or bars with live bands, which was what Dunedin was known for what being a quirky university town. I figured there’s bound to be one tonight, but I wasn’t sure if Julie would be up for that kind of scene.
Eventually by 3:40pm, we finally made it back to the motel. And by this time, it was quite warm. One of the owners of the motel was chiding Julie for still having her jacket on!
At 4:05pm, we decided to drive towards the Otago Peninsula in the hopes of seeing sea lions, albatross, penguins, and other wildlife. Where else could you have a happening city within reasonable driving distance to some wildlife areas?
Anyways, after a little bit of indecision on the order we should be doing things (sea lions first? penguins?), we eventually arrived at Larnach Castle at 4:50pm. It was just in time before they stopped accepting guests at 5pm.
The $25 NZD per person seemed a bit steep, but we payed it anyways and went onto the complex, which was a cross between Hearst Castle (what with the numerous rooms and posh decor) and the Villa Toscana Lodge, which Julie and I got married at in Whitianga on the North Island as this place also had accommodations.
We spent some time checking out the various rooms (almost imagining what it was like playing hide-and-seek or Dungeons & Dragons as we were trying to see every nook and cranny of the big castle) before climbing up to the top of the tower, which was partly infested with bees or wasps, but did have attractive and commanding views in three directions of the Otago Peninsula. But we could see that dark clouds were rolling in, and it was a sign that the fine weather was about to come to an end.
After a brief moment checking out more views from the garden area and the front part of the estate, we finally left at 5:40pm. About ten minutes later, we took a nearly straight shot road descending steeply downhill to a car park for Sandfly Bay.
There, we got out under the now-cloudy skies and made the steep descent right onto the beach. The last half of the climb was on sand dunes, and we knew it was going to be difficult going back up when we were about to leave.
Anyways, we saw a couple of sea lions lying on the sand looking to have a sleep. With telephoto lens in hand, I took what photos I could of them without pissing them off, knowing they can be very aggressive. Then, I tried to walk along the beach towards three other visitors who seemed to be approaching the lone sea lion that was active.
But after a few minutes of walking, I could see that long before even the three tourists could get close enough to take photos, that sea lion had already flopped its way back into the water. So that was my cue to turn around and rejoin Julie to do the gruelling climb back up to the car park.
Indeed, it was certainly easy going down, but going back up was very difficult as it seemed every step we took to go up was lost by at least a half step as the sand (and ourselves) was sliding back down. So we easily worked twice as hard (if not more) just to get out of the sand dunes and back to the narrow trail.
Nonetheless, we continued onwards towards Pilots Beach. We had read in LP that penguins like to gather at Pilots Beach right before dusk. But when we got there at 7:15pm, we saw that the gate to Pilots Beach was closed since 6:30pm, and no one bothered to climb the gate and walk closer to that beach. Instead, we checked out the scene surrounding the Albatross Centre where on the opposite side of the bluff, we saw a lighthouse as well as numerous cormorants and gulls. A pair of sea lions were also on the rocks way down below, and one even flopped its way into the water where we could see it swimming.
By 7:40pm, we decided not to wait for the penguins as it was getting late, and we still wanted to have a dinner somewhere in town while still doing one last grocery and gas run knowing that tomorrow was Christmas Eve and many places were sure to be closing. Of course numerous other cars and campervans were doing the opposite as the car park quickly started filling up probably looking for those penguins as we were. Oh well.
By around 8:15pm, we ended up eating at The Rainforest, which apparently replaced a place that the LP authors liked very much. Still, the Malaysian food they served here hit the spot and wasn’t overly expensive. It finally did rain a bit as we re-entered the city, but when we were done eating just after 9pm, the rain stopped.
The next half-hour was spent doing our grocery and gas run as planned. But we did catch a very high arcing rainbow before the Countdown supermarket, which I tried to photograph without becoming roadkill on the one-way street facing northeast.
And finally at 9:40pm, we were back at the motel, thus ending a very long day of sightseeing. Tomorrow, it seemed like we’re about to enter a phase of our trip where we’ll be seeing familiar haunts in Southland, Fiordland, and Westland. It’d be interesting to see how things have changed (or not) since our time five years ago…
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