Friday, February 29, 2008

Dunedin NZ, March 1

We left Tauranga Feb. 20 and are now in Dunedin, in the southern end of the South Island of New Zealand. The roads are slow and windy; even the main highways have "oh my God" moments when a big truck rounds a turn. Until today, the weather has been spectacular for viewing mountains, hills, azure seas and lakes, wildlife, vineyards, and sheep, sheep, sheep.
The big struggle has been finding places to stay during high season in the cities. This is an "improv" trip, we are making it up as we go. The first day we spent an hour on the phone and an hour at the tourist bureau only to find there were no rooms at all in Wellington due to the opening of the biannual Arts Festival. We detoured to Napier, a sweet seaside town that is the center of the Hawkes Bay wine industry, ran to the tourist bureau, and got the second to the last room in town at a bed and breakfast on the water (sweet!). It turned out that day was the big cricket match in Napier, between the NZ and England national teams. In Christchurch we got a room for one night but there were no rooms the next night because the big cricket game (same teams) was coming to Christchurch. Yesterday we arrived in Dunedin after having no success finding a place on the phone. Once again, the tourist bureau found us the last room in town. It's not what we consider a room in town - it was about 40 minutes down the coast along the scenic route they recommended. Turns out today is the big rugby march between NZ and Australia, here, in Dunedin.
For the past week we have been travelling in tandem with our friends Jim and Katie, other American yachties. In the countryside, we have been "tenting" and "tramping", as they say in New Zealand. Glorious. By the sea we have seen blue and yellow eyed penguin, fur seals, and hopefully this afternoon, albatross. We are becoming conversational in local jargon ("dodgy", "lovely", "the cricket")and must be losing some of our Americanisms because people have assumed we are Canadian or Australian(??). (It's either that or they can't believe Americans would be traveling overseas these days). Our car is performing very well especially for the $2300 US we paid for it; we cross our fingers it continues to chug along until we leave NZ.


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