Shinns Down Under travel blog

Close View of a Bungy Cord (as close as I want to...

Post Box in front of Arrowtown Post Office

Tea by the Fireside at the Post Master's Residence

Wine Tasting beside the casks

Sat., Oct. 26th

Kia Ora! That’s like saying “Aloha” – it can mean many things, but most frequently, Good day! And it was a good day, although again drizzly and wet. We don't have many photos for you to see, because of all the rain. But it was a fun, fun day even so.

We boarded the coach for a short run up to Arrowtown, seat of the gold rush of 1862. We were scheduled for a walking tour, but instead viewed the miners’ cute little cottages of stacked schist stone from the bus. 30% of the town are the original buildings. We saw the Chinese village, where the Chinese lived with much the same welcome as the Chinese received in America. But they had one thing going for them: TEA! At that time, NZers had to get their tea from England, which got the tea from India and China, and by the time it arrived here, the tea was moldy and bad. So the Chinese who were importing it directly from families in China soo acquired a big business from the Pakea (white men).

Another fun fact: The “Lord of the Rings” was filmed here! So when we get home, D&I are going to rent the movie and see if we can identify some of the sights.

We saw the church and school Ste. Mary MacKillop served in. (Remember her from Melbourne?) She is Australia’s first saint, but NZers claim her as well, because she came here and started a school for the children of Arrowtown in what was then the wild, wild south. The Maori wars were going on, and she was a very early feminist, also.

We learned that in the early days of the gold rush the most usual crime was drunkenness. So the police set up a large log with shackles and would put the drunks there over night to sober up. One night, a big, burly guy was put in the shackles and, as soon as the coppers left, he hoisted the log up and went back to the pub shanty! Then they realized they needed a gaol (jail) which we saw from the bus.

Then we visited the Museum. Yvonne told us that there we could buy a special book, Shrek, written by school children about a lost sheep (not an ogre!). But the museum was sold out! I went next door on their recommendation to a gift shop – all gone! So then I joined Darrel walking through the best small museum in NZ. Nice displays and interesting history.

Across the street was the Post Master’s Residence, now converted into a tea shop where we had lunch. Choice of either pumpkin/coconut milk soup or seafood chowder (I’ll let you guess who ordered what), a plate of four quarter sandwiches: tuna, beef with a tad of horseradish both with field greens, tomato with field greens, and capsicum with field greens (capsicum is bell pepper, red, green or yellow). What we call “field greens” are called lettuce down here. But all were scrumptious!

We then boarded the coach for the winery. Driving past wine fields (actor, Sam Neill, owns one nearby called, Two Paddocks, because that’s how large it is!), we noticed roses planted at the end of each row of vines. This, we were told, is used for the mites, which love the vines, but love the roses more. It gives the winery a chance to stop the little buggers before they attack the vines.

Then we stopped at the first NZ winery started in the 1980s, Gibbston, taking its name from the whole valley. First we tasted cheese in their Cheesery, and bought some local “picnics” (cheese & crackers) for lunch tomorrow at the airport. Then we took a tour of the wine fields and had a wine/chocolate pairing in the wine cave. We learned NZ wineries do not use corks, instead a metal capsule was invented which lasts longer than cork, therefore protecting the wine longer, is more environmentally friendly, and does not affect the taste of the wine like a bad cork would.

First we sipped Pinot Blanc and nibbled white chocolate with bits of apricots in it. Then we were served Pinot Noir with a walnut-dark chocolate. Finally, sweet Late Harvest, a blend, and a chunk of milk chocolate with caramelized nuts. All were excellent, but the one I enjoyed the most was the second and Darrel the last, however at $60 a bottle we didn’t buy any.

On to bungy jumping! We stopped at the Kawarau River Preserve to let the youngest one of our group do a jump. I watched from the gift jump wide-screen.

On our way home, Yvonne hopped off at the hospital. One of our group was sick and taken there last night. We hope he makes a quick recovery, as we leave for Rotorua tomorrow.

D&I hopped off downtown Queenstown to see if the local book store had the little book – no such luck – and we walked home in the rain!

Dinner tonight here at the hotel is on Grand Circle. For the past two nights, D&I have had a light meal in their Fireside Bar – yes, with a good NZ pilsner and right next to the fireplace! Good food, good fun, and nice new friends to share it with.

TOMORROW: Flying to Rotorua on Air NZ and a home-hosted dinner with a local family.

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