20 February 2012

Couchsurfing in Otago

With Elise & Sylvain

We spent our last day in Christchurch tracking down a tent and lunching with our friends Elise & Sylvain, whom we first met in Auckland at Olive & Graeme's. It was so good to catch up with them again after all these months.

Hay bales and the ocean

The scenery on our first day was beautiful, as expected. We hugged the coast for a while, spotting hay bales beside the ocean before heading inland to rolling hills of bright green farmland.

Canterbury-Otago border

Walking back to the car carefully to avoid stepping in cow poo

Crazy mailbox
Taxidermy sheep's head wins the prize for strangest mailbox adornment I've ever seen.

Captured on film frolicking

First we traveled to Kurow, a teeny town (population 339) in the Waitaki Valley where we stayed with Peter & Piet. Kurow is so tiny I didn't even get a photo, but trust me, it was cute.

Dansey's Pass

Peter accompanied us to Dansey's Pass on his day off, where we drove through miles of beautiful mountains and the guys unsuccessfully panned for gold. Meanwhile, I was breaking in my hiking boots, hopping from rock to rock across the river and swelling with pride at my agility, when I slipped and went in up to my chest. Luckily the camera and lenses on my back stayed dry, thanks to a North Face pack I'm borrowing. I can now say with confidence that my hiking boots have been officially broken in.

Dansey's Pass

Sam the prospector Jolene from above

Dansey's Pass

Peter is a tour guide who grew up in the Oamaru area, so he gave us some great tips on things to see in the area. We stopped by the Elephant Rocks when we left his house and climbed around until the smell of sheep poo and our impending hunger drove us onward.

Sam at the elephant rocks

Pomegranate rock
I think this one looks more like a pomegranate than an elephant.

Sam found a seat
Boulder chair
Sam on the throne
Boulder throne

Our host in Oamaru is also in tourism, and she and her husband have been so welcoming and hospitable that it's hard to say goodbye. We ended up staying an extra night because we enjoyed their company so much. Did you know Oamaru is the steampunk capital of New Zealand? And thanks to the surrounding limestone, they also make whisky here!


Jalapeño jelly
I made more jalapeño jelly for our hosts
Sookie rolling around
Sookie the cat
Megan & Brent love spicy food, so we ate a lot of homemade jalapeño jelly, and I made some more to leave them with a jar. We also left them with seeds, so next year there might be jalapeños growing in a new location in New Zealand.
Steampunk taxidermy
Penguin beach, Oamaru
Yellow Eyed Penguin beach

Our first attempt at penguin spotting was less than magical, as we clustered on a cold and windy cliff alongside throngs of other tourists and watched the yellow eyed penguins from afar. I'm not complaining, though. These are one of the rarest penguin species in the world, and they deserve their space. Still, it made me wish I had binoculars on my camera.

Yellow Eyed Penguin

Our next penguin outing was at night, to see the nocturnal little blue penguins, the smallest in the world. While lighting conditions and my lack of camera expertise made for more abysmal photos, I can definitely say the experience was better. We were right next to them, and two dueling penguins went so far as to run over my tennis shoes in a scuffle. We also met a cat on the wharf and a hedgehog on the way back to the car, so it was a good evening for critters all around.

Little Blue Penguin
Little Blue Penguin
Harry's baby
Harry and his baby
Next stop: camping in Moeraki and more CouchSurfing further south. I'll try to keep the blog updated as best as I can, but I make no promises.

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