March 3, 2008

Dawes Family In Te Wai Pounamu

We’re back!!! What an amazing time we have had…grab a drink, sit back and read on…

Thursday 28th February:
Started the morning with wishing my parents a Happy Anniversary; 32 years married! Packed and ready to leave at 6am we set off for the Interislander Ferry, we would be sailing on the Kaitaki.

Extremely excited we left Wellington heading into the sunrise. 3 hours went by so quickly as we explored the ship, and as we arrived at the mouth of the South Island we we greeted with amazing views of the Queen Charlotte Sounds. We watched in utter awe the amazing views, the blue skies and the pure serenity.

A few years back a relative of the Lee Family (my side) traced our family tree back and we learned that in the 1860’s our ancestors arrived in New Zealand and became sheep farmers. As part of all this we then learned that we had a distant relative living in Blenheim. After making a quick phone call we arranged a get together, at her home we met our lovely host Pam and her cousin.

We listened to stories of years gone by, saw photos of old family members and watched how the family tree had been brought together, and if that wasn’t special enough we were taken to lunch at a local winery! A truly memorable time was had by us all.

We said our goodbyes and headed onwards for Kaikoura, the journey went well basking in the sunshine and admiring the awesome ocean views. We stopped off on the way to throw out the picnic rugs, open some wine and sit back in the company of the rocks and the ocean, with the seals nearby.

We arrived in Kaikoura and checked ourselves in at The Anchor Inn Hotel. This has to be one of the most amazing places we have ever stayed. Super five star accommodation right on the ocean front with the sound of the waves playing the in the background.

Friday 29th February:
After the most amazing nights sleep listening to the waves, our day started by sitting out on the beach looking towards the mountain views, and one of the the most memorable moments was created – sitting watching the dolphins dancing in the morning sunshine whilst eating breakfast and drinking coffee – purely magical.

Again onwards we went, this time our destination was Christchurch. We sadly waved goodbye to Kaikoura and became excited once again for what was ahead of us. Arriving in Christchurch just after 2pm we checked into our lovely hotel which was called the Latimer Hotel, and made plans for the afternoon. With Christchurch being such a big city and us having limited time we could only plan in a few activities – although I think we picked the best!

First stop was the Antarctic Centre, the home of the little blue penguin and a place that was designed to support Antarctic scientific programmes. Despite being a little pricey it was utterly brilliant! We had the best time there, as there was so much to see and do, something for everyone. Our most favourite part being the Antarctic Attraction where the you could experience a real snow storm in the Antarctic. We suited up with boots and coats and headed into the snowy wonderland where we were treated to minus 14 degree temperatures, chilling winds and the darkness that comes with such a storm – fantastic!!!

After much more exploring we were then treated to watching the beautiful little Blue Penguins being fed and swimming around in their recreated habitat. We really did have a brilliant time here, actually well worth every cent!

We headed back to the hotel where we dropped the car off and then walked into the city. It had been recommended by all that the best way to see the city was to jump aboard the city Tramway which not only took you round in style but you were treated to an informative journey by the driver.

Sadly this is where the rain started! We knew it was coming and sadly it arrived in Christchurch, and when we say rain, well, we mean absolute pour down!! And it got worse and worse too, so much for the sunshine!!

We had a wet walk back to the hotel where we spent the night eating the most amazing room service meal and playing games.

Saturday 1st March:
We woke to another morning of rain, but undeterred we were ready to head off to our final destination – Greymouth. We were really excited about the drive as we knew it was going to be a good one, we would be passing through some of New Zealands most beautiful scenery, especially at Aurthur’s Pass, the home of picturesque valleys and ravines, roaring waterfalls and snow capped alpine peaks. HOWEVER, the weather was that bad, the fog was that low as the rain pelted that hard that we couldn’t even get out of the car!!

We did get to see some scenery but we were very disappointed that the weather, the only bad weather we have had in months decided to hit us now! Just after lunch we arrived in Greymouth where we found our accommodation for the night. After a ride along a dirt track and up a hill we pulled up outside the most stunning wood chalet that had panoramic ocean views – called The 12 Apostles.

After a relaxing few hours it was onwards once again to our new tourist spot, this one Michael had been waiting for anxiously, it was the Monteith’s Brewery Tour!! The tour lived up to our expectations, we learned everything we needed to know about how the beer started it’s life right through to how it made it onto the shop shelves. Finishing our tour was the tasting, 7 varieties of their precious beers to try, and not only that, you could then get behind the bar and pull your own!

As part of the tour we were treated to a BBQ at the local pub where again we were again given a free pint of the good stuff!!

Everyone except the designated driver (me) rolled back to the Chalet in style that evening, but of course I certainly made up for it when we got back!!

Sunday 2nd March:
We started Sunday morning with a huge fry up and wishing Happy Mothers Day to Grandma. It was Mothers Day in the UK so of course we couldn’t let the occasion pass. Once again it was time to hit the road, on to our last port, back to Picton to catch the ferry back to Wellington.

The drive wasn’t too bad, it was a long journey and the rain didn’t help but we made it fine, arriving to a very bright, hot and sunny Picton! We enjoyed a drink sat outside a local pub whilst listening to some music from the festival on the green, Bethany danced in the sunshine and we clung to our last moments on the South Island.

Before long we were on board the Aratere, bound for Wellington. We had a lovely meal and then headed upstairs with a bottle of wine and sat out on the sundeck (in the first sunshine for days) and watched the stunning sights of Charlotte Sounds pass us by once again.

THEN, from nowhere, a big black cloud took over the ship, everyone ran inside and we were hit with a storm! It was actually really exciting and despite that all was fine and we made it back to Wellington where it was raining again!

Of course there are a lot of photos, so I have created a folder so you can view them all. We had the most amazing 4 days, the time literally flew but I think we crammed a huge amount into it.

Thanks New Zealand for making beautiful memories easy…

South Island Trip – Feb 2008

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  • Sarah Lee

    March 4, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    Hello! I’ve been madly checking your site since yesterday; hanging out for a post on your SI visit and what a fabulous read!

    Your write-up is so vivid that I had wonderful images floating through my mind as I read. But, I also kept thinking, ‘Where’s the photos, Marrisa always posts tons,’ and then – the big finale at the end – wow – what a wonderful collection of amazing pictures!

    I’m deeply envious and wish my parents were still here. I feel incredibly empty and lost. I need this feeling to go away soon – or I’ll be wanting to jump on a plane to Blighty! Charlotte keeps saying, ‘I want to go back to England…’ which isn’t helping me keep the teary eyes at bay much!



  • JG

    March 5, 2008 at 9:44 am

    What a great account of a lovely trip. Really enjoyed reading it. How great to have a branch of your family here too.

  • Akoni Chaput

    March 5, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Wowser!!! you sure did have a good time! Love the jounalistic stories of what you where doing, it was like I was there the whole way through….one of my faves stops I’d have to say was the brewery…hehe.

    Sorry to hear about the rain, but I have a slight feeling that you all made the best of it and had a blast anywho.

    So “VERY” many places I’d like to go before I die…and you just got back from quite a few of them.

    HUGE HUGS and Welcome back Sugar!

  • Prin

    March 5, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Awesome, awesome. It sounds like so much fun. Smile

    Congrats to your parents! Smile

  • Anonymous

    March 5, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Ah thats brilliant, sounds like you had a great time. Have been waiting for the update!

    The Beswiches

  • Dawn

    March 5, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    We were so worried the storm/rain would affect your trip! Glad you managed to see Kaikoura in beautiful weather and also had good weather for part of CHC.

    Welcome back! Let’s catch up soon!


  • Anonymous

    March 6, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Ola! Found your site via expat blogs – brilliant blog by the way!

    Loved reading about all you do, I even went as far back to when you moved to NZ, very interesting!

    I live in Epsom in the UK and hoping to one day joing you in NZ, currently pregnant though so could be a few years yet.

    I am currently doing a baby blog via WordPress and when I publish will send you the link.

    Well done on making a go of it and giving us a good read.

    Michelle, Steve and bump number 1

  • Tondy

    March 10, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    Oh yah, I was going to comment a few days ago on this post and this is all I had to ask? Did you win Lotto by any chance? I’m glad you had fun.