December 15, 2009 - Nelson, New Zealand
So far, New Zealand has been
everything that we had hoped that it would be and more. It is just a stunningly beautiful county with warm and generous
people. We are having a blast. After we arrived in Nelson, we did the usual post passage chores…..laundry,
grocery shopping, boat maintenance, etc. But we really just wanted to get out and start exploring the country. However,
we first had to make some quick decisions. The first question is “How do we get around this beautiful country?”.
We had been managing fine until now without a car, but being in New Zealand for 5 months and wanting to tour the country,
a car was necessary and we needed to decide whether to rent or buy an old used car. The same went for camping equipment.
We had so much equipment at home but just didn’t have the space to bring it all aboard Imagine. In fact, we don’t
even have enough warm clothes.
Well the answers to these questions came quickly when we were introduced to a Penny Sue and Franko & the Franklin
family through Marc’s brother in law, Ernie who knew Penny Sue from her time as a foreign exchange student in Wenatchee,
After exchanging a few
emails with Penny Sue to try to get a better understanding of the Nelson area and the South Island, she met us at the docks
in Nelson soon after we arrived. Penny Sue & Franko most generously offered us the use of their car while we
were visiting, and then proceeded to outfit the whole family with all the necessary camping gear, from sleeping bags &
pads to cooking gear.
We were simply amazed and so incredibly thankful for their generosity and grateful for the new friendship
with the entire Franklin family - Penny Sue & Chris (Franko) and their four children - Abby, George, Ollie & Daniel
ages 5 – 13, and their extended families as well. The kids have had so much fun playing at their house, visiting their
school, and doing sleepovers and the adults have enjoyed the company just as much.
Penny Sue and Franko - Thank You!!
Mount Arthur & Nelson Lakes
After we had
our transportation and equipment, it was time to get out and do some hiking or tramping as they call it in NZ. We've done
some absolutely beautiful hikes within two hours from the marina, Mt. Arthur Summit and Nelson Lakes. They have a wonderful
DOC (Department of Conservation) department in NZ and take much pride in their National Parks. There is a "hut"
system along many of the tracks which are actually very nice buildings with cots to sleep about 10+ people, heaters, kitchen
tables, and counters. It is communal living and it has been a great way to meet people. For both of these trips, we hiked
back about 3 hours, carried in all of our gear and then spent the night in the hut. Mt. Arthur provided us with our first
summit to reach and the 1795 meter (almost 6000ft) snow covered mountain provided us with our first challenge. The spectacular
views at Nelson Lakes provided the kids a perfect opportunity to sketch the mountains and lake. We have also found that the "hut system"
is a great way to meet fun and interesting people. We were fortunate to share the Nelson Lakes hut with a couple from AZ and
their friend from CA. Mike and Linda from AZ live a very interesting life of 6 months traveling in a campervan in NZ and 6
months traveling the US in a campervan. Their friend has actually emigrated to NZ and lives full time touring this beautiful
place in a campervan. We enjoyed playing "Aloha Bingo" with our new friends, reading books and as always enjoying
our time together.
We also had our first experience with New Zealand's interesting bird life. Prior to man arriving in
New Zealand there were no land mammals, only birds. So the birds are very important to NZ and they have worked hard to protect
them from the pests that are now present. The birds also tend to be larger and a little more menacing looking (at least to
your bird phobic author) but even I have to admit that they are beautiful and the singing in the morning is quite lovely.
We were exposed to Wekas and Keas through our recent mountain travels. The Kea is the only alpine parrot in the world and
with its large talons and hooked beak it doesn't look like the pet parrots that I've seen. We have all decided that
the keas are very smart and have adapted their life quite nicely to the tourism industry here. They often wait outside huts
and tents and actually beg for food or wait for us to leave something. When we were tenting, we could actually hear them walking
around the campsite looking for food. Charles Darwin would be so proud of their evolution.
We have thoroughly enjoyed our
mountain experiences so far. The beauty that we have seen is exactly what you would expect from the pictures of New Zealand.
We are excited for Lisa, Ernie, and Carter to arrive this week and to start seeing more of this stunning country. We have
also confirmed that Jane's Dad, Dave and brother Doug will definitely be visiting us in January. We are excited to be
able to share our experiences with our family and feel so fortunate that they can travel so far to be with us.