The South Island of New Zealand -winter 2015/16 travel blog

Amazing Forest - Very tall century old trees

Great signage - no getting lost

A botany lesson around each corner

Christmas Eve dinner at PJ's Hamburgers

Singing birds, lovely walk, great Christmas Eve

It is Christmas Eve and we are in Hanmer Springs, NZ - a resort town famous for thermal springs pools and beautiful walking forests. We arrived yesterday afternoon and will leave on the 26th in the morning - Boxing Day in New Zealand. This spendy little town has close to 15 hotels, a dozen spendy eateries, 1 grocery store, three small churches and one bank. It is 90 minutes from Christchurch and 3 hours from Greymouth so it is in the middle-ish part of the island. The books say there are 1,000 residents of Hanmer Springs. Today Terry and I went on a wonderful little hour walk in the Hanmer Forest and it was spectacular. This forest is so peaceful with very tall trees and beautiful pine needle paths. The song birds are amazing and you just are so happy to be walking in such a beautiful place. Add to that, all along the path are excellent signs with information about the trees in the area and how long ago they were planted and what type of wood it produces. We walked elsewhere around the town with one more walk still planned for later this evening. Seth did another walk half way up a mountain that took about 3 hours and was really nice. Yesterday he went four hours up the mountain to some waterfalls.

Many shops and eateries are closed today and EVERYTHING IS CLOSED TOMORROW - even the housekeeping services of the hotel. So we had very good hamburgers for dinner around 4:30 and we have some groceries for making sandwiches tomorrow in our hotel room----it should be pretty quiet around town for sure. There is a 10 o'clock Christmas church service in the park tomorrow so we are headed that way then out to the forest again.

On Boxing Day the banks and many businesses are also closed. Boxing Day is the day after Christmas where gifts were shared with servants/workers in British society --and thus the tradition flows to the prior colony. In the 1800's an employer would give a servant a box to take home and not have them work the day after Christmas but spend it with their families instead. Now it is just a holiday with a lot of shopping and the day off for many folks. We are driving to Nelson on Boxing Day. Drive yesterday 3.5 hrs Steps 22,461. Today, no driving 21,000+ steps. Have a very wonderful Christmas and a good chance to be thankful for God's mercy and blessings in Christ.

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