It’s Christmas morning here in New Zealand and all are talking about it. Some simply cheerfully cry, “Merry Christmas”. Others lament at how odd this is to have Christmas so far from home and without the snow. I had the chance to compare notes with one Kiwi from Milton near Dundedin. I mentioned that it was difficult with so many wonderful things to do in summer to focus on Christmas. I’m sure that’s why many, many years ago those who picked December chose it because it was winter and there was nothing else to do. “Aye, here we try to so it all at the same time, the summer holiday and Christmas.” She thought it would be nice to have a white Christmas and asked what Christmas was like in the northern hemisphere in winter. I told her of how hectic it can be and about the fun of NOT having to deal with Christmas decorations this year. “Ah, she said it’s somewhat a law to do all of this. Here the holiday [vacation] is more important than Christmas.”
And that is very true. We have seen one nativity scene since we got here and I honestly can say that I’ve only seen a handful of decorated trees. Now Christmas is still honored. All the stores were closed – (although the tourist attractions were open). But the hoopla that we have in the US is not here. After that first outdoor concert in Auckland, we have really not even heard any Christmas music. It’s merry, but just a little Christmas. I think I like it and I’m interested in seeing what I choose to adopt for next year.
Still heading south from Wanaka towards Queenstown. We took the Cardrona Pass – which is another popular ski area. Lots of mountains and valleys to explore. Queenstown was at the end of this trek so we stopped in the city center at the Botanical Gardens. Many families were about with the kids playing in the playground. It was a bit odd to smell fish and chips on Christmas day, but if one was caught unaware, one makes due with what’s available! Here’s a look across the pond and then a glance in the rose gardens. Some Christmas roses for you… We continued our adventure with the campervan. With all the stores closed we knew that our only option was to provide our own meals. That also allowed us to stop nearly anywhere. Here is the end of Lake Wakatipu at Kingston looking back towards Queenstown. Being here also meant there was no auxillary power. Our adventure then was our first try at the gas hob (cooktop) and grill (oven). I can gladly report all went well and we enjoyed the lunch and view.Te Anau is our stop for the night. The lake here is the second largest in New Zealand, but first when considering the volume of water it holds. There are portions that are 300m deep! This is where the Fiordland National Park begins. Much of this is only accessible by boat or by foot. Essentially we are far west as we can go in the campervan.
This remote location also means that the National Park is a great place to go hiking. We chose to try out the Kepler Track, which is supposedly maintained like the Milford Track. The stretch we took followed the lake through a beech forest that were full of ferns. We were able to catch a glimpse of a wood pigeon. I never through I would take the time to try at get a shot of a pigeon, but here it is. This one is quite large and colorful. It also sounds like a set of bellows being pumped as it flies. There was also the call of the tui and signs that this are has a kiwi. It was quite beautiful and was a great way to stretch the legs after a day in the van. We’ll leave you with this. We went to see the Te Anau glowworm caves tonight. The caves are 6.4 km long, but we only were able to see about 250 meters of it. It was nice to end Christmas Day with the natural lights of the glowworms. No pics, but here was the poem in the waiting area…. Need more? Click on:http://picasaweb.google.com/jjpeavey2/20091225JRP?feat=directlink