Friday, November 29, 2019

A Long, but Interesting Drive Up the East Coast

We had a few stops we wanted to make up the East Coast of New Zealand, so we awoke early, ate breakfast, and started our drive in our PJs and would change at our first stop.
Our first stop was the Moeraki Boulders.  These are huge spherical rocks on Koekohe Beach on the Otago coast of New Zealand’s South Island.  According to scientists, the formation of these concretions began approximately 60 million years ago within the muddy Paleocene marine sediments of the Moeraki Formation. Each concretion began with an organic nucleus, “such as a leaf, cone, shell, fish-bone, or other relics of plant or animal." Sedimentary particles and minerals, such as calcite, aggregated around the organic matter in concentric layers (layer upon layer). The process is similar to the way a natural pearl forms around a foreign particle within an oyster. In a complex chemical process, the minerals cemented the particles together. The process continued and the concretions grew slowly over millions of years. (Source:

Note, if traveling to this location...go straight to the car park, which is free, but a 3 minute walk up the beach to the boulders.  Or turn left to a car park with a cafe, where they charge a "donation" to use their stairs to walk to the boulders which are right below the cafe.

Our next stop was for the nerds in us....the Steampunk Headquarters, which also happened to be in the beautiful quaint town of Omaru, New Zealand.  It is in the Victorian District and lived up to its district.  This incredibly beautiful town left us yearning to come back.  Cafes, distilleries, and art galleries lined the cobbled street leading us to the very cool, but very out of place Steampunk Headquarters.  What a crazy place!  We got in for $20NZD on the family pass.  You were allowed to touch and flip switches if you saw them.  Apparently, their locals are known for being passionate and quirky.  We loved it and wished we had more time here.  For more info click here.  Mom and Dad were thrilled to finally find their art piece for this trip as well in a gallery here.  A canvas piece by Christchurch artist, Diana Adams will be hanging in our Kirkwood condo once it makes its trip across the Pacific.

Now the mad dash to Christchurch as we had a 5:15 booking for a Maori experience.  And currently our "navi" (their term for GPS) had us arriving just in time, but that was not driving a huge motorhome which wasn't allowed over 90km/hr.  So we drove and watched our buffer time slip away.  We finally called and canceled our ride from the RV park to the location for the evening's activity.  We learned schools let out about 3:30-4PM and we hit several towns which were completely stopped up.  Dad got very good at maneuvering the RV through the neighborhood streets in Christchurch to get us to the Ko Tāne  Maori Experience. We made it with 20 minutes to spare, so we freshened up in the RV and the manager was worried about us and was ringing Dad's phone as we walked in.

Kind of the "luau" of New Zealand.  We had a walk with our group and learned how tribes greeted each other, learned about their music, games, shelter, and hunting practices.  From there we went into a performance tent and learned more about their fighting tools and the best was the boys learning the Haka.  We had only seen it before matches of their National Rugby Team, the All Blacks, and in response to the Christchurch shooting.  Some of the most powerful hakas we watched before our trip were by students in response to the shooting:  These ceremonial chants/dances are an expression of emotions.  The most notable pieces other than the words are the shaking of hands, stamping of feet, beating on chests, enlargement of eyes, and the sticking out of the tongue, and the releasing of the breath/life.  After the performance, we went on to have our traditional Hangi, meal.  Another form of pit roasting we dined on lamb, chicken, pork, various salads, veggies, and the New Zealand sweet potato, kumara.  For dessert more Hoky Poky ice cream aside a traditional Pavlova, which is a meringue topped with fruit and custard generally.  Mom was super excited, so much so an Aussie Mom sitting across from her wrote down her recipe for pavlova that she fixes every year for Christmas.  Our experience was also in a reserve with native animals, so we got to feed the deer...yep those same ones that are raised by farmers for food. 
Stuffed full and back in the RV we ventured about 10 minutes up the road to our final Top 10 in Christchurch.  Gotta love the check-in  Very modern with electric glass sliding doors to the bathrooms, this was one very busy as a lot of people start their trips here...or like us, end it.  Our last night in the RV was spent talking about our favorites...favorite campgrounds, people we met, the food we ate, things we did.  Tomorrow we say goodbye to our home on wheels and head for Auckland.

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