Sunday, February 15, 2009

After getting a couple of good night's rest in Christchurch, it was time to begin exploring New Zealand's south island. An internet search revealed a real bargain – about $22 day. 
I got a Mazda Dimeo, a small four-seater with a hamster-powered engine. He picked me up, just like Enterprise, and whisked me to his office. To call it a hole in the wall is to exaggerate it's good points. With the car signed, sealed and delivered, it was putt-putting my way to the USAP NZ offices. There I checked in with Leeann and got the latest update on the two providers, one for South Pole, the other for McMurdo, and checked my USAP email.

Back on the road I pointed south toward Dunedin. After a quick stop at a small town along the way for lunch and to pick up a disposable mobile phone, I continued on what ended up to be about a six hour journey. Once in Dunedin, I went to the Otago Albatross Center, a recommendation from Steve and Carol Jones. As usual, they were spot on. It was very interesting to learn about a fascinating bird that heretofore had only been known to me as something worn about one's neck.

After a nice fish dinner, it was off to sleep at a cheap motel. In the morning I awoke to find a puddle of antifreeze below the car. After a series of back and forth phone calls (thank goodness I got that cellphone), the car was off to the repair shop and I was on foot. Fortunately, Dunedin was having a huge street festival in the center of town, about a fifteen minute walk. There were musical performers, arts, crafts, clothing, games, and food. I also walked down to the Farmer's Market where local growers sold fresh foods. I bought lamb-on-a-stick. Wow, was it ever delicious. 

By five o'clock p.m. the Troublemaker was fixed and I was back on the road headed to Te Anau, a small tourist town at the gateway to the Fiordlands. After a night's rest at yet another cheap motel, I took off in the morning for Milford Sound. This is a very special, almost magical, place. Tall mountains jut abruptly up from fiords. Fresh water lakes wind along to reach the ocean between New Zealand and Australia. There are waterfalls and clouds that cloak the mountain tops in a misty lace. A nature boat cruise up and down the fiord gave an appreciation of that special place.

There were fur seals sunning themselves on rocks.

Back into Troublemaker and back to Te Anau for a quick dinner and a pricey internet connection I went.

Tomorrow I am off for my next destination, Queenstown.

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