Storytelling

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  • Stories from New Zealand: The Departure



    We had already driven two hours away from the Christchurch airport when we found out the unfortunate news. Our airline moved our flight back. An entire day. Our departure was now less than 12 hours away. As you can imagine, our future bookings and travel plans were officially a huge mess. If the airline was a person, I would have been tempted to plot revenge… like dying all their shirts pink, or snipping off all of their pant pockets.

    Needless to say, our time was cut short in Kaikoura- a seaside town best known for whale-watching and all manners of sea-life encounters. Luckily, the owners of our charming bed and breakfast (where we were, again, the sole occupants) had excellent advice for our unexpectedly brief visit. The next morning, we took a quick drive in hopes of catching a glimpse of a New Zealand fur seal colony.

    We had two chances to see the seals: Directly off of the coastal highway, or across the road by a waterfall down a forest path. The baby seals sometimes played in the later area, so we heard.

    You could say serendipity had found us, again. At Ohau Point, there were seals of all sizes bathing in the frothy waves of the South Pacific Ocean.

    There was time to spare, so we said, Why, not. We’re here already, and wandered down the forest path. It was simply opposite the point, afterall.

    “Unbelieveable!!! You’re in for a real treat!” exclaimed an apparently flabbergasted man who we passed along the way. Hm. I shifted my eyes over to David’s, raising my eyebrows.

    However, it didn’t take long for us to start understanding the man’s reactions. First, there were a handful of seal pups in the stream. Hands down, it was the closest we had ever been to such an animal. Then, we saw a seal sitting in the middle of the forest. By himself. Weird. And then, we arrived at the waterfall…

    Oh, my goodness. So many seals!

    There were more seal pups than I could count, and they were splashing and jumping and playing like truly wild children. We could have very feasibly touched them. However, I imagined my finger as a fish, and decided to keep my hands to myself.

    Nearly every New Zealand experience we found was unexpected. We knew a beautiful land awaited, but my! what a trip this turned out to be. It was all a sort of weird and wonderful time.

    Thus, we had many kiwi visions dancing in our heads for our journey back… A trek which became a 42-hour calendar day.

    It was time to turn right-side-up again.

  • Stories from New Zealand: Part VII

    Driving, driving, driving, and more driving. To fully experience New Zealand, you are obligated to take a serious road trip. At least, it gave us plenty of time to practice driving on the left side. We started to actually turn on the blinker instead of the windshield wipers!
    After another stint on the highway, we arrived in our Fiordland hub- Te Anou. It was the off-season, and we had the entire Cosy Kiwi “bed ‘n’ breakfast” to ourselves. We did everything there was to do in town: We saw the scenic short film of Fiordland, Ata Whenua - Shadowlands; We had coffee and another pumpkin pastry in the town’s sole cafe; And, we checked the conditions of Milford Road- the only driving path to Milford Sound.

    Luckily, we had exceptional weather for the season and the drive proved to be another highlight. We found numerous forms of terra, fauna, and flora along our way.

    Milford Sound is actually incorrectly named, as it is not a sound at all. I will allow you to look up that definition on your own, if you’re curious. Milford Sound is a genuine fjord, formed by glaciers tearing through the earth.

    To sum up our experience, Milford Sound was spectacular. We saw dolphins, seals, waterfalls (and rainbows exposed through their mist) amongst the awesomely carved passageways to the Tasman Sea. Words pale in comparison to the physical visions of the fjord.

    Afterwards, we had a light trapse through a moss-covered fairy forest. A serendipitous finding that easily sat amidst my most enjoyed New Zealand moments.



    To maximise our time, we took a flight up from Queenstown to Christchurch. It was our first zero-security flight experience to our memory. Neither our carry-on luggage, or ourselves were screened or inspected. Unbelievable and honestly confusing.

    Upon arrival in Christchurch, we got back in a rental car and drove north to Kaikoura. We anticipated spending two night in the coastal town… Yet, we had no idea of the looming kerfuffle in our very near future.