Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A visit from mom

On June 22, Stephen's mom arrived at the Christchurch airport. She had just flown halfway around the world from Canada to come and see us in New Zealand. Stephen was on a break from school and I, well, graduate work is flexible.

We spent the first couple of days around Christchurch, sharing our favorite sights and sounds and places for feeding ducks. We also rented a car and did some out of town travelling. Which was great as it allowed Stephen and I to try driving for the first time here in someone elses car. We first went to Akaroa, a small french community on the southern side of the Banks Peninsula. The drive over was windy and pretty steep, as the peninsula is made up of a collection of old volcanoes, with Akaroa resting in one of the old craters where the ocean now caresses the tree covered shores. Once we got there we hopped on a boat and went out for a harbour cruise. The trip was wonderful, I hadn't realized how much I missed being out on the water until we got there. And to add to that, we also saw a couple of white-winged fairy penguins and a more than a couple Hector's dolphins (the smallest dolphin in the world at 1.2 meters long).

The next day we drove north to Hanmer Springs, a natural hot springs in the foothills of the Southern Alps. We went for a hike to see some unplanted forest and find a waterfall, and returned for the main attraction (the hot springs) before heading back home for dinner. On Saturday we took ourselves over to Lyttelton to partake of the farmers market there and get some food for our dinner and our trip north the following day. We hiked back over the volcanic rim (same peninsula as Akaroa) and into Christchurch, meeting hikers, runners, and a couple pigs along the way. That night we bundled ourselves up and tore our voices to bits cheering on the All Blacks as they played against Italy. The game was complete with opera singers, maori warriors and more than one haka. It was a great way to share our place before heading north for the rest of Jan's visit.

Early the next morning, Stephen and I trundled over to Jan's motel to catch the shuttle to the train station. We pulled ourselves onto the train and headed off into the dark morning towards Picton and the North Island.

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