The long white cloud

Monday, February 06, 2006

Something tells me we're not in Kansas anymore

In the deep south now, and the place definitely has a unique character all of it’s own. The other day we saw a man walking his sheep down the high street, and today we saw an old microwave oven that somebody had simply stuck on the top of a post and was using as a mailbox. To date no kids playing banjos or men in checked shirts talking about “purdy mouths..”.

There are billboard beer ads everywhere, showing beefy looking men wearing cowboy hats and riding tough looking horses. The ads tell you in no uncertain terms that these ‘Southern men’ drink a certain brand of beer, and that only this manly brand can satisfy their heroic thirst. Slowly, they are starting to unsettle me. I am starting to question the validity of my own thirst. Is it a real thirst ? A real man’s thirst ? Or is the fact that I drink that limp-wristed European stuff proof that I have nothing but a foppish girl’s thirst ?

And it’s starting to happen, slowly I am developing a thirst for this beer. Damn those oh so clever ad men....

Driving down the Southern scenic highway and the weather has taken a turn for the worst, we cannot complain though as we have been v. lucky so far. Stopped off at the appropriately named porpoise bay where despite the fact it was blowing a gale and sheeting rain there was still people swimming in the sea. Why ? because the bay is home to a pod of Hector’s dolphins, and these cute and inquisitive creatures will come right up to you if you are in the water. It is well to note though that touching or petting these wonderful creatures is an offence, and although they didn’t realize it , the two fully-clothed tree-huggers that were in the rainy surf today were being closely monitored by a bloke from the DOC.

Drove down to Owaka and have found a real gem of a campsite (Newhaven holiday park). We have just walked down to the beach where we saw several huge sealions basking on the windy beach (see piccie)

Took a hike in the ‘Catlins’ region today. A largely forested area which has some spectacular trails. The place was feared by the Maori as they believed it was inhabited by yeti creatures called Maeroero, similar to the North American Sasquatch. Lots of beautiful trout filled pools along the Catlin river, lucky for them though, didn’t have my rod.

Up to Dunedin now, and the weather just keeps getting worse (although to be fair you don’t go to Dunedin for the weather). Visited penguin place and saw the world’s rarest penguins, yellow-eyed penguins. The people there have built a quite impressive maze of covered trenches and hides that allow you to get very close to the penguins. Also took in a trip to the Cadbury’s factory, a good excuse to get out of the rain and see how chocolate is made. Er..except that we didn’t really get to see very much. The factory is pretty old and unbelievably still uses piped steam in order to run the machinery, the steam supply was broken today and so no chocolate was being made.

A massive drive today. From Dunedin all the way to Akaroa on the beautiful Banks peninsular, a volcanic outcrop southeast of Christchurch. We didn’t have anything booked and decided to book on arrival. Bad move. This weekend is Waitangi day, and the place was heaving, not a single bed in the whole town !! Drove back crestfallen to Christchurch.

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