What a wonderful flight on Air New Zealand. It was a new plane, had plenty of leg room, my own private movie screen with hundreds of movies, TV shows and CD’s to play. I could order what I wanted from my seat, I didn’t have to call the attendant over every time I wanted a glass of water, I just placed my order on my personal screen and it showed up two minutes later!! The flight was only 12 hours, not 14 like I thought but I slept and meditated for 5 of them and the rest went so fast.
I was more scared of driving in New Zealand than of anything else. The representative assisting me was wonderful and made me feel more at ease but I was still so nervous. He showed me how to put the snow chains on my tires and said I would almost certainly need them at some point during the journey over the Southern Alps. When I finally got in the car, on the wrong side, I was so scared, I almost didn’t start the car. So, I just started talking to Michael….”Honey, I really need you here now, I know I can do this but I’m FREAKING OUT a little!” I put lots of light and protection around the car, said a prayer, imagined Michael in the front seat and off I went. Once I actually started moving, it really wasn’t bad at all. Of course I had a roundabout (traffic circle) to deal with almost immediately but my mantra all day has been, “Stay to the left” and it worked. I was so proud of myself I started singing “Baby you’re a firework” at the top of my lungs in the car. I was so off key, I couldn’t even stand my own singing and had to find something on the radio!
I am currently in Oamaru, a place I chose to stop for the night because it has a colony of blue penguins, one of the smallest penguins in the world. I watched them come in after they spent a day at sea fishing. They are so cute but I had to stand out in the freezing cold for almost 2 hours in the dark waiting for them to come in. There were parking lot type of lights around the area where they come in, so I could see the penguins, but you really couldn’t tell they were blue. Still, it was pretty cool. Was not allowed to take pictures…bummer. Was supposed to stay at a hostel tonight but ended up at a cheap B&B. Noone was at the house when I got there and I waited 30 minutes so I canceled the room. I was so tired I just wanted to lay down. The owner got really pissed and told me off on the phone. I have a lot to learn about New Zealanders.
On the way to Oamaru, I went to Timaru to walk around the town and have some lunch. Timaru is a working harbor town, with trains that ride right up to the docks, just like in Norfolk. I had the best meal at a place called Fusion, which overlooked Caroline Bay. I had chippies, which is what they call Fish and Chips here. That was my meal for the day, I spent my dinner money to see the blue penguins!! Nothing is free here except most of the scenery. The drive from Christchurch to Timaru was beautiful. On my right were the Southern Alps, a range of 10-12,000 foot tall mountains. They were completely white with snow and the tops were covered in clouds. As I went further south past Timaru, the Alps were still on my right but then I could also see the blue Pacific on my left. The mountains became less tall as I continued south and had less and less snow on them so to me they weren’t as pretty. It is very cold here when the sun starts to go down but no snow on the roads yet…Tomorrow off to Te Anau.