Wednesday, September 20, 2006

20 - September 2006

We hated to check out of The Charlotte Jane (also known as Rangi Ruri--"wide sky shelter" in Maori--and serving as Miss Gibson's Private School for girls from 1891 to 1920, when the school outgrew the property and moved to another site in Christchurch, where it still exists today). The grounds of the boutique hotel are beautiful, and the staff (many of them part of the innkeeper's Japanese-Kiwi family) is warm, friendly, and eager to please.

We also hated to leave Christchurch, so we dawdled out of town. First, we rode the gondola, where you get 360-degree views across Christchurch, the Canterbury Plains, the Southern Alps (breathtaking!), Banks Peninsula, Lyttleton Harbour, and the Pacific Ocean.

Then we visited the 500-acre Hagley Park (the Avon River winds through it) and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, where spring has definitely sprung.

(Look closely--do you see anything unusual in those flowers?)

As we finally headed toward our next destination, we ran across "Sawyer's Arms Road," which we found rather fitting on the very day that Sawyer had his broken arm put in a cast (the poor little guy broke it on the playground at the end of last week)! (We hope it's not too uncomfortable to have that big cast on, Sawyer, and we think black is a very cool and distinctive color choice! Bet you're a star at school!)

As we passed sheep, sheep, and more sheep, we wondered whether the phrase "counting sheep" originated here. Certainly the task can become a tiresome one in New Zealand! The best part of these photos is what you can't see: the sound of the sheep, and especially the wee lambs, as they chatter incessantly across the otherwise quiet countryside.

Along the beautiful and sometimes rugged east coast, we also sighted seals!

(These were seal cubs, and they played and bickered--and then played and bickered some more--just like Sawyer and Sadie do!)

It was after dark when we arrived in Nelson, but The Honest Lawyer was awaiting us. It's a strange place--a country pub and rustic inn (wagon wheels, rusted farm tools on the walls, exposed beams, brick shower stalls, and all) set in the middle of a bustling, artsy beach town. But it's comfortable and friendly, and our cottage is private and cozy. We're ready for some tucker and a good night's rest!

Favorite signs of the day:

(These free-coffee signs are all over--very considerate country, no?)

(We'd been seeing sheep for the last, oh, 400 kilometers or so...but thanks for the warning all the same!)


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