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August 2, 2001
Days of driving (Russell)

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Our worldly possessions, in the back of our rental car

We have now entered the part of our New Zealand adventure where we are making it up as we go along.

With only nine days to see the entire South Island, we stopped at a travel agent in Gisborne to discuss the possibility of booking an extra plane flight to the fjordlands.  We ultimately decided against it, for several reasons:

In the end, we opted for quality over quantity, and decided that we will see NZ’s fjordlands at a vague “some other time.”  For now, we will content ourselves with NZ’s glaciers instead.

Even so, our first day after leaving Te Hau Station farm ended up being more than six hours of driving.  We spent the night of July 31 in the little town of Woodville just long enough to sleep, and the night of August 1 outside of Wellington.

We also treated ourselves to an afternoon at Wellington’s Te Papa Museum, where we experienced motion simulator rides, simulated earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, fossils, and natural history.  The boys spent much of their time “inventing birds” on a PC program.

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Joss with two Moas
Building a bird

This morning, we turned in our rented silver Subaru station wagon, and took a three-hour ferry from the North Island to the South.  Our ship was the “Arahura,” which means “Pathway to Dawn.”  The boys started out with Game Boys, took Dramamine halfway through, and ended up asleep.  On arrival in Picton, we picked up our new rental car, which was – strangely enough – a silver Subaru station wagon.  As Gail says, “at least we know how to pack it already.”

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The Arahura approaching South Island
Cam on the Arahura

We are falling into a travel pattern of staying in Top Ten Holiday Parks throughout New Zealand – their “motels” and “tourist” flats are like small apartments.  The boys enjoy the playgrounds and trampolines, and we are able to cook many of our own meals and prepare picnic lunches for the road.  Our itinerary for the rest of NZ looks like this:

Perhaps to compensate for missing the fjordlands, we have reserved Aug 9 for an all day roundtrip excursion by train from Christchurch to Greymouth and back again.  The TransAlpine is considered one of the six most scenic railway trips in the world (we have no idea what the other five are), and we are very much looking forward to seeing scenery from a vista other than a station wagon.

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The trampoline at Blenheim Holiday Park

Strangely, it still doesn’t seem a reality that we are traveling around the world.  Currently, it just feels like we’re taking a driving tour in New Zealand.  We imagine that the entire year will just keep feeling like one country tour after another.

But we have learned several things from our days of driving so far in New Zealand…

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Yes... that's snow on the horizon


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