New Zealand: 27 days of visitors

Yes, 27 days in a row of visitors. It actually sounds bad written out, but it was a blast. It all started the day we after we got back into New Plymouth after our Hawaii trip, and we decided to move again.  The decision was pretty mandatory, either that or move into Yoshi, our Prius. House #1 was on the market when we moved in, and we paid below market rate rent for a house that is near the top of the market in New Plymouth, but they sold the house.   The rental market here has very few furnished places, and they tend to not be very nice, but we did find one that was nice and in a good location, but it wasn’t available until December 22nd.  We temporized by moving into house #2, which just seems to shed dirt and grow cobwebs in a manner that I thought only South Mountain hunting lodge could.  House #2 does have the advantage of being two blocks from the coastal walkway and a big backyard and patio area, but hopefully house #3 will be our last one…

When we finished moving, we then had the privilege of cleaning our old place, and we got all sorted by around 9pm and started to settle into house #2.  We had a big decision on our hand when we moved in and that was which of the four bedrooms to have as ours. My vote for the bunkbed room was quickly overruled (I am not sure why Katy has veto power).  My suggestion of the room with bunkbeds and a queen bed was also over turned.  I then decided to let Katy choose, and her choice was the room with the most spiderwebs in the closet, and my job was to remove them before we could start unpacking.  

The next morning we started a three week stretch of visitors.  Katy’s aunt and uncle, Lynette and Dave arrived first.  I scurried off to the airport to pick them up, and immediately Lynette went to get into the driver’s seat (left hand cars are tricky).  She quickly realized that old habits are hard to break (Katy and I play the whoever-goes-to-the-driver’s-seat-is-the-driver game, regardless who actually intended to drive) when you are driving on the left, and then we headed to the house.   I made them do a couple detours on the way to pick up some avocados and suss out a pepper stand that I haven’t seen before since the road to the airport has a couple good produce stands.  

We had a good three days with Dave and Lynette before Katy had to go back to work, and they set off to explore more of the North Island.  The most memorable, and either the best or worse, part of their New Plymouth portion of their trip, in my opinion, was our White Cliffs hike.  It is a hike that you need to time with the tide since part of it goes along the beach.  We did our Boy Scout due diligence and arrived at the trailhead at the appropriate time in regards to the tides, and yet the water had not receded to the normal low tide level.  We were perplexed as to why the tide wasn’t as low as we thought it should be, and in not the most intelligent move of the century, we decided that we must have read the chart wrong (since it is New Zealand, we don’t have cell coverage at the trailhead, seriously it is pretty terrible here) and went on the hike.  We came to the last section of the hike, along the beach, and started out.  The last 300 yards back to the car, the waves were crashing across the entire beach.  At first you could miss the waves if you timed it correctly and sprinted to the next inlet, but the last 100 yards, the waves were breaking all the way to the cliffs.  I waded through the waves and made it without falling and only got wet up to my waist. 

The other parties in the group did not fair so well, and it was scary at times.  It was not the best decision that I have ever made.  It turns out that it was a “spring tide”… What does that mean?  I had no idea until I consulted The Google and discovered that it just means a high low tide, which frequently occur in the spring.  The moon does confusing things.  We ended the trip with a stop at Mike’s Brewery and a beer before continuing back to New Plymouth.

Then Dave and Lynette headed off to explore more of the North Island, Katy went to work for two days, and then my parents arrived.  The weather in New Plymouth had been really nice while Dave and Lynette were here, but as soon as my parents arrived they got the Taranaki special.  That means rain, lots of it.  Since Taranaki is one of the wettest places in New Zealand, it has taken a little bit to get adjusted compared to the dryness of Boulder.  We spent four days on the North Island around Taranaki with my parents, and then we went to the South Island for ten days.  My mom did a great job blogging about our South Island adventure, so I am just going to show it in photos.

A stop at the Three Sisters, where we timed the tide a little better. We only had to take off our shoes and roll up our pants on the walk out, and by the time we went back to the car the tide had gone out.
Coming off of the stay at the bird park, we continued the theme with a stay at a miniature animal park in the Waitomo region. Our stay even included a tour of the 50+ miniature animals on the farm. Katy was delighted.
Katy was not allowed to take it home, and she may have her coffee cup filled with wine.
We went for a little more adventurous cave tour than normal. Our gum boots were filled with water by this point, so you got a good squelch with each step.

Please note that I am not showing any photos of all the rain in New Plymouth before we headed off to the South Island.

Our whale watching adventure got rained out, so we changed our itinerary last minute and ended up on a working sheep ranch in Arthur’s Pass. It may have been raining at this point, and some people in the group may have been in the lodge drinking wine.
Monro Beach Fjordland Peanguins
This is the viewing spot for the Fjordland Crested Penguin, which is a thirty minute walk from the lodge that we were staying at. There may have been man eating sand flies at this beach the first time that we attempted to see the penguins there.
Heading to Wanaka we stopped at a waterfall. The water was Soca River colored and the waterfall was not that impressive. We of course ended up behind a really long line of campervans when we left the car park.
Our plans to take a tiny plane to the Milford Sound and do a fjord cruise were thwarted by these low clouds and the accompanying rain.
We did this hike overlooking Wanaka lake instead of the trip to Milford Sound. My parents are really striking out with the weather this trip. No sun in New Plymouth, no whale watching, and no Milford Sound.
We left the cloudy weather of Wanaka and headed down to the Caitlins, which were having unseasonably warm and sunny weather.
We did a hike to another waterfall, and Katy found a tree where she could pretend she was a hobbit.
That large blob in the foreground is a sea lion, and that stuff that looks like rain and clouds might actually be rain and clouds–or I photoshopped it in.
We were all informed by my mom that this is not a sea gull, but a specific type of gull. I have no idea what type of gull it is, but we saw them at the Royal Albatross Center. The Albatross Center was actually a lot more exciting than I was anticipating, and we got to see a lot of small blue penguins that night.

We had a great trip with my parents, and at this point we split off, and Katy and I went back to Wanaka to spend two more days with Dave and Lynette, while my parents began their trek back to the States. We had a great trip that was marred by a lot of crappy weather, but the company made up for it.

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