Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Our New Zealand Vacation: Day Nine

Day Nine:  29 December 2013

We slept in!  We signed up for breakfast at 08:30 this morning, so we each got about half an hour more than usual.  Whoopee!

When we got to the table (a wee bit tardy), there were already two other couples at the table and it was drizzling a bit.  But we were all under an umbrella and you couldn't feel a drop.  We had ordered our breakfast the night before, so no surprises there.  Kees offered quite a variety of offerings.

I want to comment on the cultural differences here.  On the menu, he had listed "pancakes or crepes." Mr. Smith and I decided that we would order the same thing to keep it simple.  We decided on plain pancakes with maple syrup and ham or bacon, whichever they were already preparing.  I went to the kitchen to let Kees know what we had decided.  I was quickly informed that he does not make "American pancakes that are all thick."  He only makes crepes.  And when I mentioned the ham/bacon, he says, "Oh, so you want savoury crepes?"  Okay.  Never mind.  Just plain crepes.  LOL!  Believe me, this is not poking fun at either him or me.  It's just interesting to me how different people can be just by where they grew up and the things they grew up with.  (By the way, the crepes were delish!)

On the table, there was a lazy susan full of at least 5 different kinds of fruit, two flavours of yogurt (lemon and rhubarb), cereal and homemade muesli, toast, butter, various jams and coffee and tea.  It was all quite wonderful!

We left by 09:15 and drove to Picton.  We took the Queen Charlotte Road short cut.  This road was the worst one ever.  Very narrow lanes and continuous switchbacks.  Mr. Smith made the comment that the roads in New Zealand were too much of a good thing.  Motorcyclists like twisty roads, but it turned into quite a workout.  Almost sweating by the time we got to the bottom.

Like the time we went to the Ben & Jerry's headquarters in Vermont.  There was an ice cream eating challenge where they give you a bucket with a ridiculous amount of ice cream, like 58 scoops.  Then they throw in a bunch of bananas, brownies, whipped cream, cherries and sprinkles.

See?  Too much of a good thing.

We went home on Monday, 30 December 2013.  Just in time for the fireworks on Sydney Harbour.

Various photos that I couldn't place, but you may enjoy:

There were so many sheep on the mountains.  I think that all these sheep have lil stubby legs on one side and big long legs on the other.  Otherwise, wouldn't they fall over?

I rarely saw a sheep that wasn't eating.

These flowers grow WILD in New Zealand.
If I wanted to grow these in my yard, it would never work out.

Lily has another new friend!

So we stopped off at Mirror Lake, but there was so much wind
that the pictures didn't turn out as they are supposed to.

The vineyard at Mt Rosa Lodge

Our favourite road sign

The glow worm grotto during the day.

Our New Zealand Vacation: Day Eight

Day Eight:  28 December 2013

Today's drive is not as long as previous days.  We are driving to Nelson today... about 5 hours away.  So last night we stayed at Gables Motor Lodge - not a bed and breakfast.  We were on our own for brekkie.  Mr. Smith had been very excited to see McDonalds aka Mickey D's aka Maccas last night.  So we decided to eat breakfast there.  It had been a really long time since I've eaten at a McDonalds, except for the 30 cent cones.

Mr. Smith ordered the pancakes and black coffee.  They gave him white coffee.

I ordered an egg mcmuffin with hash browns and a mochaccino.  I ordered the large coffee, thinking that I could take it with me in the car.  When they brought it over, it was in a real glass.  And it was a GLASS... like for water.  So every time I would pick it up to drink, my fingers were scalded.

Just out of curiosity...  have you ever had a mocha from McDonalds?  I think they may have been trying to kill me with sugar.  I could not have had more sugar unless I had decided to take Karo syrup and drunk the whole bottle.  Honestly, I felt like I was going to get sick and I never want a coffee from Maccas ever again.  Greymouth is going down in my books as the home of the worst coffee I've ever had.

So now we are back on the road and I am ill.  I went into a sugar coma until Mr. Smith pulled over to walk through the pancake rocks and blowholes.

We stopped somewhere that I can't remember and found these stones on the beach.

I thought they were pretty cool.

Lucy loves the beach

Okay... this is some signage about the Pancake Rocks

Our next stop was at New Zealand's longest swing bridge.  To see this, you had to pay.  It was $5 to walk across the swing bridge and it was $30 to take the zip line back to the other side.  (Of course, you didn't have to take the zip line.  It was free to walk back across the bridge.)  So, what the hell... it's our vacation so we paid to take the zip line back.  And it was fun.  Especially the part where I was eaten alive by the sand flies.  I'm still scratching like a mad woman.  We even paid the $25 to get the USB stick with stills and video of us taking the zip line.

My feet on the swing bridge - it's pretty high up!

There was a little walk on the other side of the bridge.

On the zip line

We stopped in a cafe for lunch.  Mr. Smith had fish and chips and I had a toasted ham and cheese sandwich.  Honestly, the name of the town and the cafe escapes me.  The only thing I can remember about this place is that we continued to be eaten alive by sandflies.

We continued driving to Nelson, but kept driving through town to get to the Happy Valley Adventures for the skywire ride.  For $75 each, they drive you up a mountain in a rickety old van through a sheep farm and a stream to a place way above the treetops.

Four people are loaded into a row of chairs and harnessed in.  Then they unhook it and you race down and across aided by gravity.  We went over 90 km/hr!!  Then it slows down and you look down over the trees.  It was so peaceful.  Then over 90 km/hr backwards!!  You are then all driven back down the mountain.

No idea what I was doing here.  LOL

Over 90 km/hr!!

After this we drove to our bed and breakfast called Ambleside.  It is owned by Robyn and Kees.  Chelsea, their Maine coon cat, is also in residence.  We stayed in a lovely cream coloured room.  The bathroom was a bit tight, but the towels and the Linden Leaves products they provided were top notch.