Day 27, Feb 3rd
The storm passed and we headed up over Arthur's Pass to Christchurch to take the plane to Willington. We retraced some of the West Coast shore line. What a difference. The sun was shining and the Tasman Sea was calm. There was still a lot of evidence of the storm of the past days with downed trees on the roadside, partially washed out roads, and the rivers running high and muddy. Now the landscape was exciting, brimming with natural beauty with waterfalls and peaks hidden in the clouds. At one point we got off the beaten path(HW73) and traveled along a graveled road for an hour. The bus driver, trying to show off some of this countries hidden beauty, took the wrong turn. This is one reason we enjoy traveling with OATs- the unexpected. We stopped at the Otira Hotel. It was like you were in an antique museum, but with good coffee and scones. The vegetation changed as we topped the pass and headed down the east side of the New Zealand Alps. We stopped in the Rubicon Valley for a visit to a working farm. It was a sheep farm that run 3,000+ sheep. We had a nice lunch, lamb, ham or Veggie Burger. We then we received a two hour sheep-farming lesson, on the how and why they use sheep dogs, when and how they shear their sheep, when to have lambing time and what sheep to raise for what market - meat or wool. After this our tour guide said to be sure to check - "Had been at a farm" and be ready to show what shoes were worn there when we cleared US customs.
We only saw the airport at Christchurch before boarding the plane for Wellington then upon arriving in Wellington we took a short sightseeing tour before being dropped off at our hotel. We liked Wellington a lot. It is built on the water and hills with no straight streets, and most buildings and hotel being built on several levels. Wellington is a hodgepodge of buildings facing this way and that. Homes are built on the sides of hills with some of their own private cable cars and steps and steps and more steps. In the middle of downtown, almost under our hotel, there was a public cable car running up the hill to a suburb and beautiful gardens. Wellington is the Capital of New Zealand and has some nice public building. One being the Bees Nest. It is the Hollywood of New Zealand with a sophisticated infrastructure. Much of "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" were produced here. In addition to many other attractions, the New Zealand National Museum is outstanding. We spent one afternoon touring the capital learning the history and workings of the New Zealand Government. In the 50's, they did away with the upper house of government and only have one house. They say it makes the government run smoother. Maybe we should try it. Overall, we enjoyed Wellington and would consider going back.