We arrived in our new home of Oamaru last night! Traveling from Wellington was fun but also a schlep with all of our stuff and the transfers we had to make. But we got the beginning of a feel for the South Island and all there is to explore. We were blessed with a fair day for the ferry crossing of Cook Strait. We took the first of many Super Shuttles to the ferry station that morning. They have been great because they have a trailer which fits our bike box and all our other luggage. We brought a lot of luggage, but we are planning to be here a year and it’s very expensive to ship things over.
After the three hour ferry crossing we transferred over to the train from Picton to Christchurch. We ran by lots of beautiful farm country with sheep and vineyards and along the coast where we saw seals. Here’s a very brief clip from the open air viewing car on the train.
We stayed in Christchurch one night and had the chance to walk a little in the Botanic Gardens which were beautiful although we only saw a small part of them. In the morning we drove out and saw Sam in quarantine. We rented a car as it was the cheapest way to get out there and I got some experience driving in New Zealand. After visiting Sam we transferred to a bus in the pouring rain. I think they used to have more of a bus station before the earthquake but now it’s a small container pod that doesn’t fit the people waiting for the bus and their luggage. The bus trip was another four hours and the rain passed and finally we were in Oamaru.
So far, we love it. We were met by the manager at the clinic and also our landlady for the beginning of our stay came and helped us carry our bike box back to our apartment. We had dinner with her and her husband who moved here from England ten years ago. Our place is on a big hill right near town and there’s a great view of the town and harbour.
This morning we looked at several rental houses we might move to over the next couple of weeks. We also got a better sense of where things are in town and saw the old historic section. There are magnificent preserved buildings in Oamaru made with a special kind of limestone. We ran in to a shop called Oamaru Cycle Works and met David Wilson who has toured New Zealand on a penny farthing bicycle. He was very interesting and welcoming and gave us two safety bicycles from the 1920s to use and gave us a suggested route around the Oamaru streets and harbour.
So not even twenty-four hours in and we were bicycling around the town. It seems like it’d be great to get around town in a bike, it’s pretty compact. Jean has her bike here, I will probably have to pick up one sometime soon. And we will definitely go back to Oamaru Cycle Works, he’s turning it in to a museum of penny farthings he’s built and collected. He was teaching someone how to ride one when we were there and I’d like to learn myself. Perhaps so I can ride in the Victorian celebration parade next year.