Friday, September 22, 2006

22 - September 2006

We'd heard a lot about WoW, the World of WearableArt and Classic Car Museum, so that was our last Nelson stop before hitting the road. What a place! WoW is an annual award show that has grown like hotcakes since its inception in 1987. People from all across the world create elaborate costumes--out of everything from metal to paper to plastic to foam to paper clips to fabric--that are totally unique, inventive, and cool. There are funny, whimsical, meaningful, and jaw-drop gorgeous entries in all sorts of categories like illumination, reflective surfaces, bizarre bras (yep, you read that right!), children's wear, oceania, avante garde, and more. And the museum houses some of the best entries very theatrically--it's a fascinating and inspiring multimedia experience. One day we'd love to attend the show itself (which recently moved to Wellington on the North Island). Next door is a very slick car gallery with fully restored models from the early 1900s to today. (This place is the ideal blend for Sadie and Sawyer--sparkly costumes in one gallery and shiny cars in the next!)

Then we hit the road, where we passed glass blowers, potters, and stalls and honor stands selling fruit, juice, vegetables, honey, hen and duck eggs, and even manure! There were also more than a few catteries, vineyards, cattle and deer farms, and golf courses. And, of course, there were plenty of green pastures filled with--you guessed it--sheep. The weather was outstanding with bright sun, rich blue skies, and fluffy white clouds.


We passed through all sorts of sleepy little towns (and modest, cute homes with laundry hanging on the porches just like in Tasmania) and then started climbing densely forested mountains and seeing beautiful rivers, creeks, and gorges. We stopped for the Kawatiri Historic Railway Walk, where we went through a v-e-r-y long, pitch black, dripping wet train tunnel from 1923, hopped rocks along the water, and even found a little cave!




The highway here is a twisty two-lane road with narrow, one-lane bridges after every other bend. And yet there's no alternative, so this main New Zealand thoroughfare is where all the truckers and moving vans and everyone else travels from Point A to Point B!

We caught sight of a swing bridge on the side of the road, and we had to walk across it. It turned out to be the sand-fly infested Buller Gorge Swingbridge Adventure and Heritage Park, where you can walk across the bridge (supposedly the longest swing bridge in New Zealand), take various hikes from there to catch amazing views and learn about the area's gold-mining history and earthquake-filled past, and, if you like (and we did!), ride a "comet line" back (fast and fun!).






From there, the forest started to turn from tightly packed trees to mossy rocks, ferns, palms, and calla lilies, with glimpses of the beautiful Tasman Sea in between. There were caves and waterfalls right along the road, and we could see amazing rock formations as the famed West Coast came into full view. What a stunningly lush place--even the rocks are covered with vegetation as they spout from the sea!

Tonight we're staying at the Punakaiki Rocks Hotel & Villas. We love how unique each accommodation has been on this trip--from drive-up motels to city sky rises to beach bungalows to rainforest hideaways. Our room here has an amazing view of the rainforest on one side and the beach on the other (we caught a lovely sunset from our balcony tonight), and the dining room where we had dinner (and shared a delicious chocolate and orange tiramisu with deep-fried chocolate truffles) was right over the water.




Mike developed hives or some sort of rash on his torso and arms last night--we don't know if it's a reaction to food, drink, laundry detergent, soap, or some sort of bug. There's no pharmacy (or market or anything but a visitor center and internet cafe), so the best the hotel could offer was what we think was a Claritin. Let's hope it works, and he's spot-free tomorrow!

How to speak Kiwi:
--"thanks" = "cheers" (it's used more as a simple thank-you here--as in thanks for handing me your credit card, thanks for signing the slip, etc.-- than as the greeting it was in Australia)
--"you're welcome/no problem" (in reply to "thank you") = "not a problem"

Favorite signs of the day:

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