My parents flew in for a visit on Saturday, our first visitors to New Zealand! They flew in to Queenstown and we spent four nights there. We enjoyed a great view of Lake Wakatipu from our rental house. Sunday Jean and I went for a trail run and Mom and Dad walked by the lake. Monday was a dramatic stormy day, perfect for wine tasting so we went to Peregrine winery and had a wonderful tasting. I’ve never liked pinot gris before until trying theirs. Afterwards we ate at Amisfield, another winery with a very yummy restaurant.
Tuesday was our big day, getting on the bus in the morning for a trip to Milford Sound. Dad stayed in Queenstown and went for long walks and did his botanical drawings in the gardens. Mom, Jean and I took the very scenic bus ride to Milford Sound and then cruised out to the Tasman Sea on a boat. When we came back we decided to take the offer of a helicopter ride. It was amazing, our pilot flew us right next to the mountain walls to ride the thermals up and we landed on a glacier near the top of the Darran Mountains. We had a perfect day for it which doesn’t happen all the time. Getting out on the glacier was the highlight of the day for me. It would have been even sweeter if we climbed to it. Seeing what’s back there makes us eager to explore it more. Here is our landing.
Now Mom and Dad are back in Oamaru and getting the tour. Oamaru is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Antarctic Scott expedition’s ship, the Terra Nova, landing at Oamaru Harbor and delivering news of the polar party perishing on the ice to England via a telegraph. We saw some excellent photographic prints taken during the expedition at a museum in town today. Tonight we are hoping to see some yellow-eyed penguins.
We transferred in LA to our flight to Auckland. While we were waiting for our flight a man next to us asked if we were cyclists, nodding at the Ortlieb messenger bag Jean was using as a carry-on. He had just been in Portland for a wedding and was flying home to Wellington. Our flight to Auckland was not as bad as we were both fearing, we slept a good part of the time and enjoyed some decent meals. Mostly it was due to us upgrading to an Economy Sky Couch which meant that there would just be the two of us in the row of three and there were leg rests that you could put up to make it in to a small sleeping platform. We got to shift around and spread out more than normal. It was sort of like a red-eye with the night long instead of short.
We arrived in Auckland and customs was smooth even with all of our stuff. We found out in transferring our bags to our Wellington flight that Air New Zealand in LA had vastly undercharged us for our bags but they didn’t make us pay the difference, just said they would investigate the situation in LA. So we ended up saving about $600 in excess baggage fees.
There was a bit of a delay in our flight to Wellington which gave us a chance to talk more with our new Kiwi friend Andrew who was catching the same connecting flight. He invited us to a BBQ that his friends were having that afternoon. So we landed in Wellington, took a shuttle to the hotel with our massive amount of luggage and then quickly took a taxi out to a suburb for a BBQ at a cute place up on one of the many hills around town with very green trees and plants on the hillside and many new birds to me singing in them. There were friendly people there and really excellent food. We felt very welcomed in our new country.
Back at the hotel I got the news that Sam also made his trip safely and was getting settled at the quarantine facility in Christchurch. We will visit him next week on Friday.