New Zealand Travel Log Day 2: Rainy Day

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20061201 NZ 007 Hotel Room view.jpg (1111065 bytes)Woke up on day 2 (or 3?) to another cold, rainy day here on the lake, and SNOW in mountains starting about 2000 feet up the hills!

20061130 NZ 001.jpg (2745672 bytes)The TV announced that this is the last day of Spring, and tomorrow officially starts summer in NZ. It is unseasonably cold up here in the mountains, with the temperature now only 3 Celsius and the high today to be only 9 Centigrade. (And we brought clothes more suitable for Tahiti!)

In reply to Glen's questions about newspapers: there are several here in NZ. Here I am reading the Southland Times, presumably a South Island paper (remember that the entire south island has only 1 million people), and also the Otago Daily Times newspaper. Then there are the national papers (NZ Herald and The Press), so that makes at least four full-size dailies to choose from, plus a myriad of tiny local papers, some weekly. 20061130 NZ 031.jpg (2746833 bytes)

We took this hotel with breakfast included, so we were in the restaurant this morning when it opened at 6 AM for a very large, multi-course breakfast. We shared the dining room with a Japanese tour group, so much to our surprise there were 50 others having breakfast at the same early hour.

Because of the rain/cold, we spent the day on a boat trip across the Lake Wakatipu to a remote "country farm" where they raise sheep, the Walter Peak High Country Farm.

20061201 NZ 009 coal steamer pollutes.jpg (1062688 bytes)The boat, named TSS Earnslaw, was built in 1912. It is a coal-fired steam engine with two propellers, called a "twin screw steamer." It was an historical experience to watch the engineers shovel coal into the furnaces, and watch the steam engines drive the huge pistons that turned the 2 crankshafts which in turn drove the propellers. Very complex original mechanical system, but it worked. The ship cruised at 13 knots across the lake (that's fast). And it belched a lot of black coal-soot smoke.

20061130 NZ 025.jpg (2920345 bytes)Upon arrival at the sheep "station," we had demonstrations of what essentially was a huge sheep farming operation. What a fun experience. We saw the sheep dogs herding the sheep in for us. The dogs are well-trained.

We watched a demonstration of the sheep being sheared; we saw wool being spun into yarn; we had tea in the farmhouse; we had a tour of the farm with native NZ animals they raise for food (such as NZ red deer).

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Incidentally, there are 1.75 million red deer in NZ, so it is a big business. Not as big a business as sheep, however... (New Zealand has 40 million sheep).

Tomorrow will be a long day for us. Due to the weather, we have cancelled our airplane travel to Milford Sound, and instead booked an all-day bus trip there and back. The weather has been so bad that they haven't flown to Milford Sound in more than a week, and it doesn't look like it will be clear enough tomorrow. It is a very short flight, but a 5 hour drive each way from here. Even though we have a rental car, I didn't want to drive (especially on the left side along curvy mountainous roads) for 10 hours, so we are going by bus. Leave the car here at the hotel.

20061130 NZ 036.jpg (2124900 bytes)Speaking of driving:

This is Nancy driving in New Zealand. I think it's the first time she ever drove a car with "right-hand steering" and driving on the left side of the road. It's an accomplishment. Very exciting driving on the left, because it takes your full concentration at all times.

20061130 NZ 037.jpg (2701713 bytes)In today's local newspaper (the Otago Daily Times) was an article about the New York Post announcing the five best wineries in the world to visit. One is in California, two in Spain, one in Chile, and one here in Queenstown. So, naturally we had to quickly drive to Peregrine Winery, about 20 minutes east of here.

Yes, that structure is the entry to Peregrine's cellars. This winery building is only 4 years old, designed by a well-known nouveau architect from Wellington. The wines they make here are good, but not particularly special. Nonetheless, we had a great time visiting the winery building that is one of the "five best in the world" as published in the New York Post!

So with our 13-hour excursion planned for tomorrow, I won't have time to put together a travel letter tomorrow, but maybe over the weekend...


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