Yes, we have completed our lap of the South Island in New Zealand: Christchurch (Sumner), Lake Tekapo, Dunedin, Invercargill (via the Catlins), Queenstown, Franz Josef (via the Haast Pass), Punakaiki, Pohara (Golden Bay), Marlborough Sounds, Kaikoura and finally back to Christchurch after three fantastic weeks. Having organised this leg of the trip myself, I am feeling very relieved and rather pleased that everything went as planned and all the accommodation was pretty brilliant, even if I do say so myself! ( Thanks for all the help and advice Helen J and Helen M).
New Zealand itself was stunning. Spectacular views, empty roads, amazing wildlife and friendly people. It seems that the folk of NZ know a thing or two about service. Everywhere we went, locals bent over backwards to help us out and give us great local advice. They seem a happy, healthy lot who make the most of their fantastic country with an active, outdoor lifestyle (the TV stations are pretty awful which helps to discourage them from choosing a more sedentary life!) I can understand why us Brits decide to up sticks and move out here, if it wasn’t so darned far from the UK we’d think about moving ourselves! However, our eyes were slightly rose-tinted as we had glorious sunshine for the entire three weeks….. very lucky!
We also treated ourselves to some fantastic trips and activities like rafting in Queenstown, stargazing at Lake Tekapo, swimming with dolphins at Kaikoura (the girls) and a helicopter ride onto the glacier at Franz Josef (the boys). NZ is definitely the country to visit if you enjoy the great outdoors!
What I also love about NZ is their lack of health and safety rules and regulations. Playgrounds are fantastic! I took the kids to a school playground in Kaikoura and it was just what a school playground should be like…. a huge wooden castle with ladders to climb, poles to slide down and nets to jump into. Schools in the UK should take note as kids need to take risks and test themselves. Far too often we wrap them up in cotton wool for fear that they may hurt themselves. Not here (or in OZ) where you see tiny toddlers climbing up massive rope pyramids with not a peep of concern from their parents. And no, they don’t fall, they learn how to climb and hold on! Puts our little playground in Ogbourne to shame!
The kids were lucky enough to spend a morning at the primary school in Sumner (thanks for organising this Helen). There was no signing them in or CRB checks, they just walked into the classrooms to be welcomed by the teacher and class and both of them had a fantastic morning.
Having now arrived in America I am seriously missing the wonderful New Zealand coffee (see my next blog) along with some honest, friendly service (I thought that originated in America??)
It still amazes me that Americans drive EVERYWHERE. People stare at you if you are walking! Letter boxes are located with their own ‘drive through’ so that the driver need not leave their car to deliver their post! It’s also the opposite to NZ in that it is health and safety crazy with warning signs EVERYWHERE. I guess this is to stop everyone suing each other. Sadly, I fear this is the way we are going in the UK…..
So on reflection, please can all our family and friends emigrate with us to New Zealand? Come on, you know you want to………