Good Bye Beast 2.0 – Auckland, New Zealand

Today we say goodbye to “The Beast 2.0”

We woke to some spectacular fog.  A truly beautiful gift from mother nature on this early morning.

Every minute the landscape changed.

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Today we return “The Beast 2.0” our camper that has been our home for the last month.

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Our plan of attack for returning the motorhome was going to be far less stressful than how we did things in Australia.

Step 1: get other people OUT of the camper.

SO, while I packed and Scarlet slept, Dan took Roland to the Museum of Transportation and Technology.

 

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Step 2: Get everything into carrying bags of some kind.  This was not our final packing.  We still have a few days in a hotel and access to laundry.  I separated the dirty and clean clothing. Kept the “electronics” together and bagged up the leftovers (our hotel has a mini kitchen too).

Once the boys were back we ate a quick lunch with leftovers in the fridge and headed off to the hotel.

Step 3: Drop off all our stuff at the hotel BEFORE dropping off the camper. It was SO much easier dropping everything off there and leave Dan with the kids.

 

Step 4: I dropped off the camper and simply walked the 1Km back to the hotel!  We had extra liability insurance so there was no walk around to check for damage and we had also purchased the express return package so I did not need to fuel up or dump water/sewage.  Easy Peasy.

I spied this while returning the camper.  This place looks interesting….perhaps tomorrow.

 

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Coromandel – New Zealand

After visiting Hot Water Beach we decided to take the scenic route around the top of the Coromandel Peninsula.

Named after the HMS Coromandel who landed here in 1820, the rugged nature of the peninsula has limited its potential growth, despite being relatively close to Auckland.

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We stayed the night and had breakfast in town before heading out towards and past Auckland.

 

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Sorry about the Google Image.  Apparently, we didn’t take any pictures at breakfast.

I have a love-hate relationship with cooking VS going out to eat.  I cook and it’s cheap vs the EXPENSIVE price of eating out. But, when we eat out we have some of the very best experiences and there are NO DISHES.

Today Roland had a blast with two ladies having tea.  He brought them magazines, cutlery and told them stories about feeding dolphins, swimming at the beach and anything else he could think of.  He generally bounced around and we all had a good laugh.
Scarlet worked on her crawling, pulling up to standing and I’m showing her how to use the couch to practice walking.  She shined her best smiles for the ladies and anyone else who dared to look at her.  She is such a ham for the attention.

We headed off in the direction of Auckland with the intentions of going right past.  We will leave the big city for another day.  For now, we are headed to “SheepWorld”!

 

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You say To Mata, I say Te Mata…

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Bugger!

We have such a hard time with pronouncing the names in both New Zealand and when we were in Australia.  We have taken to making up the names.  Puke Hole, for example.  Sorry.

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Thinking of home with these names.

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Massive number of ships

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Crazy Toll fees! (HAHA, someone should show this to the 407 at home)

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Interesting bridge

 

Getting into HOT WATER (Beach) – New Zealand

After leaving Hobbiton we headed out to the East Coast in search of the Hot Water Beach.

Located on the Coromandel Paninsula and known for having natural hot springs right under the sand at low tide, this would be an interesting way to spend a day at the beach.

Getting there is almost just as much fun too.  These mountains were definitely formed by volcanos (I’m guessing).  The area is quite remote and there are rest stops that double as an emergency helipad.

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Endless changing views

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Mountains to climb up and down

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Hair Pin Turns

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Clifs that threatin land slides

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Mirrors to see around the corner

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Don’t worry, the kids have a fantastic view too.

When you finally arrive at Hot Water Beach, you will see the beautiful beach from up high.  There are three different parking lots and I suggest you drive all the way to the farthest.  Here you will find a few resturants, cold showers and bathrooms.  There are also a few places to hire a shovel.  You might need one if you are early but there are so many people digging that you can grab a pool, pre dug, when others leave.  You can also simply use your hands, or anything you might have handy. (We brought a large serving spoon and a collander to dig our holes)

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Hot Water Beach

Pack a bag and get ready for a day at the beach!

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Roland took this photo, he’s stepping up his skills!

 

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Steaming hot water will help you forget about the 14C weather.

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Water seeps up  through the sand at up to 64C.  HOT!

Kid’s didnt seem too sure, lol.  Actually they had quite a bit of fun.  A word of caution, though.  The water in some pools is hotter than others and some of the water naturally coming up from the sand can get as hot as 64 decrees Celcius.

You CAN get a burn from this water!!!  Mind your children carfully!!

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Plenty of pools ready to go or simply dig your own.

Kids had a great time today, digging in the sand, splashing in the water and I even got a quick swim in the ocean.  We grabbed lunch at one of the local spots before heading out.

Roland knows how you might look if you actually need to find this sign!!! He is soooo tired.  Apparent we played way past nap time and he is in meltdown mode.  He was also super HANGRY too.

He is soooo tired.  We played way past nap time and he is in meltdown mode.  He was also super HANGRY too.

Bonus to traveling in the camper: you can get your food to go and eat in a quiet low stimulation environment.  Plus you have your own TV with his favourite movie already loaded!!!

 

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1930 Architecture – Hastings, New Zealand

We stayed in a small campground on the East coast.  You can hear the waves crashing on the shore some 50 ft away.  It poured rain all night and looks as though it will do the same for the rest of today as well.  The place we are staying happens to have a little restaurant that is open for breakfast and lunch, the Snapper Cafe.  I expected the typical home cooked, greasy spoon, dinner food but what I got was something totally unexpected.

This is Roland’s Muesli.  It has flower petals.  It is beautiful, to say the least!

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We finally got a chance to check out the beach.  It is hard to see for all the rain but it is long and narrow.  Apparently, they have a patrol during the summer to keep swimmers safe.  The beach itself is made of small smooth pebbles and it quite soft to walk on.

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As is was pouring down buckets of rain, we decided to head out for a drive through this area’s towns.

The interesting thing about this area is an earthquake in 1931.  It was a 7.8.  It shifted the sea floor up and out.  It devastated Napier and Hastings.  It remains the worst natural disaster in this nation’s history.

There is so much added land from the earthquake that they were able to build an airport among other things.

Basically, everything affected was torn down and replaced with the style of the 30’s.

 

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Downtown Hastings

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Notice how it says Established and not built.

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It looks as tough there was one very popular architect who provided the new plans for all the buildings.

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This is a water feature in the center of downtown Hastings.  The traffic flows in one direction on either side.  What we didn’t notice on first glance are the working train tracks that run right down the middle of that water feature!

There is also current work being done around Hastings.  This is a first for me.  A tire as a temporary roundabout.  Love the ingenuity.

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We also saw this little gem riding around.  I have seen something like if online.  It is likely peddle driven and qualifies as a bike.  Such a great idea for dealing with weather.

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Just enough space for one!

While some towns have prospered, rebuilt or repurposed to stay alive, we do see evidence of the towns who have moved on.

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There are still people who are holding on and keep these small places from becoming a ghost town.

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Many of their buildings, however, have seen better days.

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They are found if the most beautiful of settings.  Surrounded by mountains or valleys, the scenery is breathtaking everywhere we go.

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Geothermal is the way to go in this part of the world.

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Porirua – New Zealand

We found ourselves in the town of Porirus for no reason than a place to stay that had us heading north of Wellington.  Turns out it’s a great little town.

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We stayed at Camp Elsdon, a fantastic little place with a big heart.  Situated at the top of a hill, it is surrounded by bush and just a short drive to town.  We even found a Denny’s to eat at for dinner!

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They have some great little ponies too.

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Last night I had some wonderful conversations with some other travelers.  We seriously get some of our best information from people on the ground.  There is just something special about a personal recommendation over a Google search.  So after our walk this morning we headed for the community pool!

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With a heated large play pool, separate lane swimming pool, lazy river, big and small slides, kids hot pool, separate adult hot pool and saunas you would expect to pay big $$$  but, it is seriously cheep!  Less than $10 for all 4 of us to go swimming.  Also, there are no set times or limits.  It was simply open.

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Scarlet hasn’t  been feeling great today.  She is super tired and just fell asleep on Dan.  She was nice and warm too.

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There is also a cafe where we could grab some grub before hitting the road.  Now I knew this was going to be a drive where Roland falls asleep FAST!

Roland made sure to request we take as many pictures of him as possible before leaving too. ( A well-known stall tactic of his)

Our drive started costal before we headed inland towards the east side of the island.

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As per usual New Zealand driving, we headed up, down and around.  When they tell you to go 25 km/h around a corner they meant it.  The speed limit otherwise was 100km/h.NZ Day 18NZ Day 18NZ Day 18NZ Day 18

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That road down there is the continuation of the road we are currently on.

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I don’t get it.

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Dan and I have noticed a lot of the grass covered “hills” have a bee hive like look to them.  On closer look, you can actually see that the lines are indents and paths caused by the sheep walking on the steep hills.  I wonder how long they have been using these paths to make such an impression.

As it starts to get dark (earlier and earlier each day) we quickly called it quits on our drive.  Our original destination had been Waipukurau but we will stay the night in Dannevirke instead.

As we travel with no reservations booked we can easily drive into a caravan park and if we don’t like it, we simply turn around and leave (yes, we have actually done this).

We’re staying at Dannevirke Holiday Park and if the drive in through the park is any indication we are going to love our morning walk tomorrow!

Driving Nelson to Picton – New Zealand

We start our morning with an early walk around the park and beyond.  Roland had a great time running through the leaves, dropping things into the stream and clucking at someone’s backyard chickens.

There was a large soccer pitch across the street and Roland desperately wanted to go see it.  I tried to get him to head back to the camper but he had other plans.  He stopped for two pictures and kept going until I had no choice but to run after him.  This kid has little fear of going off on his own.

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I thought of my cousin Pat as Roland played with this one.

Finally, back at the park, we played on the rather we playground, fun none the less though.

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He is starting to love the trampoline.  Today I told him to hop like a kangaroo and got him really jumping!NZ Day 15

A quick drive has us at the waterfront.  The harbor is protected y a boulder bank that is 13 km long and created a beautiful calm water and beaches.

Established in 1841, Nelson is the oldest city on the south island and the second-oldest city in New Zealand.  It is currently known for its arts and hosts plenty of local events.

 

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A short drive out of Nelson and we were once again surrounded by mountains and crazy roads.  You can look ahead to the road you will be driving on by looking to your side rather than straight ahead.  This has the added advantage of letting you know when the big trucks are coming.

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We also drove through some pleasant valleys and into some lingering clouds.

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As we do every day, we found somewhere for Roland to play.  He now identifies McDonald’s as a place to play.  He could care less about the food, he just wants to play.  Every McDs we have seen has a playground of some kind.  (He will be so disappointed when we go home, they are harder to find).

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Scarlet is really getting in the solid food phase.

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You know when you order a burger and it is sooooo big, you’re just not sure how you’re going to fit it in your mouth?  I’m sure that is what she is thinking here.

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As we entered or final destination of Picton we were greeted by this park surrounded by some very large trees.  Like, I cannot even begin to describe how big they are.

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We checked into park super early and had plenty of time to run around before making supper.  Roland immediately challenged this little lady to a game of chess.  Unfortunately, it appears she actually knows how to play!  We also had a family of 5 kids come along.  It was so fascinating to hear them all yell “YES, THERE”S CHESS” followed by the decision on how to take turns playing.

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An actual operational phone booth.  Old booth, new phone.

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Dan had 8 channels to pick from and one of them was Dinsey.  So, he kept tricking Roland to go back to Disney but Roland kept asking for something else.  What did he want?  Teenage drama held his attention for a few minutes.  He didn’t want News, he didn’t want music videos, he didn’t want FROZEN (I think I just made every parent jealous).  He wanted car racing.  Nothing else would do.  Cars and bikes racing in the desert.

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Dan had heartburn. We’ve had too much to eat and not quite the most healthy of diets lately. He seems to be living on pop and coffee here. He decided while I wrote he would go out on a foot tour to have a look around and find something to help.

He asked at the campground front desk where he could get some Rolaids, or Tums or something for heartburn. He received detailed directions to the grocery store that would be open until 8 pm. All of the chemists/drugstores in town were already closed.

And as luck would have it, so was the grocery store. (6 pm) Like everything else in this town. A few variety stores, a gas station, a lot of lights from the ferry terminal, but nothing else at all is open.

Fortunately Dan saw through the grocery store and out to the other side to see what he thought was a fire truck at a gas station and sure enough, it was. He walked around the block past the closed medical center with an ambulance entrance right up to the gas station and bought these Qwick Eeze for his heart burn. 🙂

He had a chance to check out the local fire trucks, the fire station, and the rest of the downtown that had locked up and gone home at six pm. It was so quiet in town.

He checked out the marina and somehow figured out a different way home that likely no one else in the world would have tried or figured out. (It involved a man bridge that was high enough for sailboats to sail under it, and figuring out his way through a marina that he has never seen before, that has dozens of buildings and service roads) Dan loves his little adventures.

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Driving to Nelson – New Zealand

Today was a day of driving.  We headed from Carters Beach to Nelson, working our way through the scenic roads where we will ultimately end up in Picton to take the Ferry over to the North Island.  We only have a few short days left here in the South and it is happy to throw everything is can at us.

Framed with light clouds and blue sunny skies, warm temperatures and dry roads, we drive up and down mountains, along rivers and through small towns.

Surprisingly we fit underneath this rocky overhang.

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Beware of SLUMPS!

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Driving INTO a cloud.

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Believe it or not, they strung the hydro wires from mountain to mountain ACROSS a river and road!

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Some Clouds just did not want to give up the day.

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There is evidence of logging in this area as well.  Not all the replanted trees survive.

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We do make sure the kids have time to play.  Roland and I got out the first ting in the morning and explored the campground.  We met a goat and a cat on our travels.

 

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We also try to find a place to play at lunch time so everyone can relax and stretch out for a while.NZ Day 14

That’s the sugar bowl she is eyeing…

 

We continue to encounter crazy roads.  This is a One Lane Road.  It was two but the mountain got in the way.  The corner is so tight you can’t even see the oncoming traffic!  There is actually a stop light to control traffic too.  I guess you will have to cross your fingers if it’s not working!

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I think this is my favourite picture of the day.  Still a working farm, this home looks like it must have a century ago.

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Complete with working horses, I wish we could have stopped and explored their home.

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks – New Zealand

As we head north of Greymouth we feast on the spectacular ocean views of Punakaiki and the Paparoa National Park.

Know for pancake rocks and blow holes it is easy to see why they say it is a must see on the West Coast of the South Island.

 

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The Pancake Rocks that Punakaiki is famous for, are limestone formations that began forming 30 million years ago, when lime-rich fragments of dead marine creatures were deposited on the seabed, then overlaid by weaker layers of soft mud and clay was raised above sealevel by earthquakes to form the coastal cliffs and coastline. The sea, wind and rain have since etched out the soft layers to form the unusual rock formations we see today. When conditions are right, heavy ocean swells thunder into the caverns beneath the rocks and huge water spouts blast skywards through the blowholes in a truly spectacular sight. (http://www.punakaiki.co.nz/about_punakaiki/)

There is a short 20-minute walking trail that is paved.

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It would have been easy to take the kids but everyone decided to have a nap while I went for the walk.

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What do you see?  Some people have a great imagination and can see all sorts of creatures in these rocks.

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Did you see any of these creatures?

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The wind, rain, and sea constantly change the formations and leave behind the harder stone.

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Unfortunately, there was no activity at the blow holes.  I imagine a higher tide would have produced some great sprays to see.

We rounded out our drive by heading a little further north to the small town of Carters Beach.  Know for their sunsets and spectacular star gazing, we were not disappointed.

As we marveled at the wonders of nature we were also left wondering just what happened here.

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ShantyTown – New Zealand

Just a short drive from Greymouth is the heritage park of Shanty Town.

Here you can Ride the Steam Train, Pan for Gold, Watch a Holographic Show, Walk through China Town, Get and Old Time Photo, Eat at King Dick’s Cafe and Play at the Park.  Oh, and of course you can get a cat to give you a tour of the museum…

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We started off our visit at King Dick’s Cafe for breakfast before heading off to explore the town.

There were toys for both Roland and Scarlet to play with.

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Roland just loves finding toys that Scarlet will love.

 

We had some time to explore before catching the next steam train.

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I guess we will catch the next one!

While Dan watched the Holographic movie, Roland, Scarlet and I found ourselves a tour guide.

This is Mr……I can’t remember.  He is the resident cat of the town and he also runs the joint.  He truly did take us on a tour.  We followed him to several buildings.

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The town is set up with all the little stores you would have found in a gold rush.

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Roland getting the cannon ready to fire

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early examples of doctor equipment

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There are many people who made places like New Zealand work.

Surveyors, police, blacksmith, robbers, all types of people.  Some did well and some, unfortunately, did not make it at all.  You can learn about many of these stories around Shantytown.

Here are some great examples of Old Time Medicine.  How far we have come.

 

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We caught the 11:00 train that took us on a short trip with the opportunity to pan for gold.

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Much like Canada and the US, New Zealand also has a long history with the Chinese and mining work.

I had some trouble with Roland and Dan so I decided to try out the disciplinary teachings of the period.

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Things are getting serious now.  They still won’t behave so I will just have to put them in irons.

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Here Roland is trying to help poor Daddy who has been thrown in the stock.  He can’t quite reach as he is at the end of his ball and chain.

There is quite a lot to see and do here in Shantytown and we easily could have spent the whole day.  Roland, however, was tuckered out and it was time for a nap/drive to the next spot.

Frans Joseph Glacier – New Zealand

We started off our morning with some silliness and cuddles, the perfect way to start any morning.  I also remembered that Roland had picked out a new stuffie at the roadhouse we ate at yesterday.  He clearly forgot about it so I decided to give it to him still wrapped up.

 

 

 

We are breakfast at “Snakebite” cafe.  Dan and Roland tried some Asian pork dumplings and both approved of it as a breakfast item 🙂

We drove just a few minutes out of town to find the Frans Joseph Glacier walking trails.

We also saw these two girls, who have clearly walked from town, making their way in.  We decided to give them a quick ride the rest of the way to the parking lot (probably saved them a good 30 mins of walking).  One was from England and the other from Ottawa! (Not too far from home).

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The start of the path we work was well groomed but we knew that would change and there was no way we would actually walk up to the glacier.

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Here is a little knowledge for you about Franz Joseph.`

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We walked as far as these waterfalls.  The water was so clear and clean you could drink it right our of the stream.  The weather has also turned rather warm on us (a whole 16C!)

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As he headed back to the car Roland did his best to walk the whole way but clearly tired he was whisked up by daddy for most of it.

It sure didn’t take long for him to fall asleep with snack still in hand! (cheese and carrots!)

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Driving towards Greymouth we saw evidence of current and past gold mining towns.  Many of the gold rushes in New Zealand have been long ago and short lived.

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Mining Turck

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More Mining Machinery.

 

The rivers here are so wide and blue.  The flat lands well utilized for farming. The mountains jut up and are covered in green.

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The roads often make sharp turns.  We often drive beside the road while still on the road.

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Now, this is something special.  I have never seen this before.  A roundabout WITH a train track running through it!

We also had the unique pleasure of being detoured due to construction, onto a train bridge.  Yup.  The currently used train bridge.