Our destination was Dunedin, a university town on the southern tip of the South Island, in a region known as Otago.
As per usual, we did lots of sight-seeing, taking in the albatross and the rare yellow eyed penguin on the Otago Peninsula, the dramatic coastline of the Catlins, the world's steepest street, and the very tasty oysters in Bluff.
My favorite three stories from the trip:
Story #1--G'day, cityslicker
We stop to fill our tank in a very small town on the way back from the Catlins to Dunedin. A little old lady--easily in her seventies or eighties--totters out of the gas station and proceeds to try pump the gas, an attempt I categorically refuse. We get to chatting, and I remark that for a Saturday, I was surprised that there weren't more people on the local rugby pitch.
"Well" she says, "you know there just aren't that many people here these days. Most are moving to the city." I nod sympathetically, silently bemoaning this modern world's cruelty to the rural life. "And besides," she continues, looking at me accusingly, "no such thing as weekends for farmers. The sheep don't know it's Saturday, do they?"
A thoroughly humbled city boy, I pay, say thanks, and hit the road again.
Story #2--Bath Search
Karla loves baths. Like, really loves them. And she hasn't had a real bath for a very long time. We're a shower only household. There is no tub to be found here.
We're driving through the Catlins, in tiny remote places where everything shuts by seven, but we decide it's time to find Karla her bath. So we search and we search. We stop at one hotel, right on the water, but it only has showers. We press on into the darkness, hoping the next place will do.
Lucky for us, it will. But only if we have cash. We don't have kiwi dollars (hey city slicker, don't you know they don't take bank cards out here? Why didn't you take some money out before you hit the road, ya silly bugger?), but how about I rummage through my backpack to dig up some of Dave's emergency US bucks? Why, yes sir! That will work nicely.
Karla gets her bath. And Dave wins brownie-points for making it happen, barely. Hooray!
Story #3--Dolphin spotting
Sitting over lunch we're watching the local fish boats come in. We notice one of the guys on the boat is leaning out over the bow. To our amazement, there are dolphins escorting the boat into Bluff's harbour! What enterainment...it was almost like they knew we were coming. One of the women that works there said: "You sure are lucky, I work here everyday, and hardly ever see them."
Lucky? I'd say blessed.