South Island New Zealand
Well again it is the holiday of contrasts. NZ South Island can do 4 seasons in one day. We have gone from glorious sunshine to torrents of rain to snow and below zero temperature!
South Island is truly beautiful and I feel that I am overusing the word. The southern Alps which we passed over on our flight into Christchurch are magnificent, snow capped and are the spine of the country which we have crossed three times. The west coast is wet, very wet! We landed in Hamner Springs after a soaking journey through mountain passes to a pleasant evening. Hamner Springs is a charming spa town with streets named Leamington, Cheltenham, you get the picture. We strolled round and discovered a hospital that was used initially as a convalescence home and then as a sanitarium for soldiers from World War 1. It is still set up as in those times and was most interesting.
We woke up the next morning to find the mountains covered in snow and hastily fled for the East coast and warmer temperatures. Wrong, Blenheim was wet and freezing, but offered great wine tasting at Wairau vineyard, (available in London Jess and Nat). I personally recommend the rose! Picton where we stayed overnight was pretty cold, however the sun shone in the morning and we began to warm up.
We visited a fascinating museum dedicated to a ship built for the East India Company, the Edwin Fox. The ship has had a varied history from transporting convicts, one from Lincoln for sacrilege, to immigrants for NZ to the Crimean War until it finally came to Picton to be used as a refrigeration ship. A conservation society has lovingly preserved it and has built museum around it. We spent an absorbing morning there before catching the ferry through Marlborough Sound to North Island, Wellington where we are camped for the night.
Andrew has just reminded me that I have said nothing about my birthday. How remiss, I had a lovely day, the sun shone and it was warm, the champagne and my dinner were superb and I did still receive some cards and very lovely presents secreted over here by himself. Andrew topped it with a beautiful silver ring with an inset tourmaline, my birthstone. Who says he can't be romantic!
Onwards into North Island and more adventures.