Friday, April 27, 2012

The Joys of Housesitting

March 28th – April 27th
After three and a half months of living in the van, we moved into Chris and Christina’s house in Dunedin. It was amazing to sleep in a bed and to have a bathroom available at any time. What a luxury! Plus, the home they are renting has a sweet yard and garden, and they are just 2 blocks from an amazing stretch of white sand and waves.

Fuchsia at Chez Moy
I took daily walks on this gorgeous beach.

View looking back to St. Clair

View to a distant island from St. Clair beach
Besides many, many hours walking along the beach, I also walked into town a few times (or rode in with Darrell when he went to work at the university) and enjoyed the architecture, the shops and the Speight’s Brewery Tour. Speight’s is the South’s largest selling beer and goes for the Marlboro man image in its sales. Remember, the south here is like the Great White North back home!

The Speight's image of the "Southern Man"
It turns out beer has a long tradition in New Zealand. The brewery tour featured a recipe from Captain Cook. I think beer was used to help prevent scurvy, but I’m sure it also helped keep the men from potential mutinies!

Brewmeister Captain Cook
Captain Cook has always been one of my heroes. And I have to say he does look dashing here!

Though I realize it is really kitschy, I took a picture of “the world’s steepest street”, and I can assure you, whether or not it really is the steepest, there are a LOT of steep streets in Dunedin!

The World's Steepest Street
We also happened upon a gypsy carnival and got to see some folks with much more creatively decorated vans than ours!

Gypsy caravan in Dunedin
As soon as we settled into the house we put our van up for sale and cleaned it all up. We had a pretty serious bite, but it didn’t pan out in the end, so after three weeks of enjoying our house-sitting in Dunedin, we headed back to Christchurch and the North Island again.

We enjoyed a wonderful Vietnamese dinner in Christchurch with Margaret (Matt was at a conference in Kansas) and then drove past Kaikoura along a gorgeous stretch of the northeast coast of the South Island that we hadn’t seen yet. Purely by accident, Darrell stopped at a viewpoint, and we had an amazing wildlife encounter. During the winter months, baby seals (not adults) hang out in Ohau Creek, even swimming upstream approximately 300 meters to play in a pool under a waterfall. It is truly AMAZING! There are about 200 NZ fur seal babies goofing around in the water and on the rocks. After a few days they go down to the coast where their mom’s find them and feed them, and then they go back up to the waterfall “nursery”. Sooooo cool!

Baby seals playing in the waterfall pool!
Way way way too darling for words!
We made one more stop to pick up our favorite Maharajah Chutney at a gift shop in Blenheim. We've been tasting chutney all around NZ, and this is worth a special stop. Come see us soon to taste it before it is all gone!

Then we caught the Saturday afternoon ferry back to Wellington and met up with Heidi and Peter at a wonderful restaurant downtown called Chow. Then they welcomed us to their homey house in the hills above Wellington. We are now house-sitting here as Heidi and Peter had to go Lake Ohau where Heidi’s research is based. (See previous post)

Our first day here we went to the top of Johnston’s Hill and got some pictures looking back to town.

View of Wellington from Johnston's Hill
Wellington is also known as “Windy Welly” and they make good use of the wind with a series of wind turbines on the hills outside of town.

Windy Welly does its bit for renewable energy
Heidi’s and Peter’s house is also near the Karori Cemetery where some famous people are buried. If you are an Antarctic history fan you will have heard of Harry McNeish and his famous cat Mrs. Chippy. While the cat never made it back from Antarctica, Harry did – and now the likeness of Mrs. Chippy resides on his grave.

Harry McNeish and his wonder-cat, Mrs. Chippy
It turns out Mrs. Chippy was really a male cat, but sometimes it is hard to change your name!

No comments:

Post a Comment