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Following is the continuation from Newsletter No. 117 (January 2004) of the journal that Barbara wrote on her New Zealand vacation in 2000. (See introduction in Newsletter No. 114.)
(*Because of my typographical error, Barbara's Almy descendant number was incorrect in issues No. 114, 115, 116, and 117. The above is her correct number.)
We went back to town and agreed to meet in about ½ hour. I found a gray sheepskin steering wheel cover for $16.50 (NZ), Mom bought a bone necklace for $8 (NZ), then a fanny pack to hold her camera for $16 (NZ).
We collected our bags from Rydges and went to turn in our car, but the company was no longer there. Lorraine then remembered that when we picked up the car we were told the turn-in spot had moved. It was only about ten blocks away. We got checked in and were taken to the airport. We were nearly two hours early for our flight. Then the incoming plane was late so our 14:00 flight didn't take off until 14:30. We flew a Jetstream 32 from Rotorua to Wellington and walked directly from our plane to another Jetstream 32 for the flight to Nelson. We took off about 15:45 and landed about 16:15. The car rental guy was waiting for us. He was just a fill-in, so didn't know what he was doing. We got a practically new van (17,550 K on it) that they brought down specifically for us from Auckland! It is nice. In the old one we had to unlock the back in order to drive, otherwise there was an annoying buzz.
We got to town OK and found The Delorenzo Apts. We are all on the ground floor, but the whole place is non-smoking. It's a very nice place with ½ fridge, a coffee maker, dishwasher, two-burner stove, toaster, microwave and a washer & dryer. Dad had asked directions to and had me drive to a liquor store. He fixed us all a drink in their room and Lorraine thought we should go to the store and get something for breakfast since we have the facilities - McDonald's can get old in a hurry! So Don & Lorraine went to the store before they partook of their drinks.
After they returned we walked across the street to The Tides Restaurant. Since they fed us ½ sandwich and juice on the flight I wasn't terribly hungry, so I ordered French Onion soup and a side order of crusty garlic bread. It was all tasty, especially the bread. The soup was different in that there was no cheese on top and they evidently had used something like cornstarch in the broth. Dad had a whitefish deepfried with veggies, Mom: banana French toast with bacon and Don & Lorraine had the three course special, set price of $26.95, starting with fish soup. Lorraine's entree was the whitefish grilled and Don chose a seafood fettuccine with marinara sauce. Mom, Dad and I left before Don & Lorraine had their dessert. Everyone reved about his or her meal. I turned my light out at 22:00.
I had the best (longest) night's sleep I've had, despite the fact that the pillows were wimpy! My bathtub is a "spa bath" meaning that you're not meant to take a shower - there's only ½ shower door - but sit in the tub and use a hand held showerhead to rinse your hair. I took a shower any way! I made several cups of coffee and sat outside writing in my journal. Lorraine promises us breakfast at 08:30. I walked by Mom & Dad's room at 07:00 and it didn't appear that there were any lights on.
We had a wonderful breakfast of crispy bacon, English muffins, cream cheese, jam, fresh OJ, banana and apple slices, canned pink salmon and of course, coffee. I figured out how to use the microwave and washer for Mom and the light and fan over the stove for Lorraine. We all had trouble getting the washer/dryer to dry, so I went over to the office. The manager had just left on "holiday" and the substitute wasn't sure either, but with monkeying around we think we may have it. I saw a sign in the office about a wine tasting tour for $45 (NZ) pp. We signed up. This way both Don and I will be able to participate. Mom & Dad went for a LONG walk. In the meantime Don and I went to the grocery store to get some more stuff for breakfast tomorrow. Since we're going to the wine tasting we don't want to have to drive later.
We were picked up at 13:00. Mom was really tired from their walk and so opted out of the trip. There was another couple already on board - Gena & John. She was from Ireland, he from England and they live in Auckland. He is a programmer and she is a schoolteacher. We stopped at four wineries. We tasted four wines at the first one "The Grape Escape." I bought a small bottle of strawberries and creme oil for my friend Maryanne. We sampled eight different wines at the 2nd, "Kahurangi." Quite a few bottles sold from that one! We tried six at the next one, "Siefried Wineries" and we all ordered something to eat. Don and Dad each had a slice of pizza and coffee, Lorraine had Brochette and coffee and I had a piece of Ricotta cheesecake. It had almonds in it and it was good. The last one, "Moutere Hills" was formed by a man (Simon) who used to teach chemistry and decided to take up wine making from scratch. Though they were not the best of the wines, his was by far the most interesting. We sampled six of his wines and he gave us a brief tour of his crushing and fermenting process. It was quite interesting - especially since I had thought that we were going to see the wine making process on the tour, not just taste the wines. I told Simon it was the best tour we had. He thanked me and I didn't tell him it was the only one we actually toured!
We got back to the motel and it turned out that they don't take Visa. We owed $180 and all I had in cash was $175. Kyall, our guide/driver said that was OK, they could give a group discount. So now I have no NZ $$$ left.
Don wants to go to dinner, but Dad and I aren't at all interested. It's dark, it's raining and I don't think anyone should be driving in an unfamiliar town on the left side of the road!! They may have decided to walk across the street to The Tides.
I got up at 06:45 and went over to Mom & Dad's room to help with breakfast. Mom was starting to fry the bacon. I cut up the bananas and opened the small can of pineapple, set the table and started toasting the English muffins, etc. About 07:30 I wandered down to Don & Lorraine's room. It looked dark. I went back about 07:50 to get the leftover OJ, cream cheese and apple. Don was up, but Lorraine wasn't. She said they would be a bit late. Everything was ready and I said to Mom & Dad that I was going to perform an act guaranteed to make Don & Lorraine come. They didn't get it - lighting a cigarette will always make the waiter bring the food! Sure enough, Don sauntered up! Lorraine thought Mom's breakfast looked more elegant than hers did. I didn't see the difference. There was plenty of food, so we didn't get to the "Smiley Face" breakfast roll Mom & Dad has purchased on their walk.
While Mom and Don cleaned up the dishes, Lorraine and I tried to finish drying their clothes. We put some in my dryer and some in Mom's. The ones in mine did pretty well, but I think Mom's wasn't quite set on dry, so it kept trying to go through the final rinse/spin cycle. We decided to "bag it" and get on down the road. We checked out and were on the road at 09:45. We stopped about noon in Murchisen for lunch. Both Dad and Don bought pins. We continued on through windy hilly countryside that looked like it could have been anywhere in Washington or Alaska with lots of rivers and gorges. We took a side trip of 7K each way into Westport. We never found a souvenir shop, but did stop for coffee and a stretch. I bought Dad three used crime paperbacks for $3 (NZ.) He wasn't too impressed with the jacket descriptions, but decided to keep them.
We got on the road again and finally hit the West Coast of NZ and the Tasman Sea. It was absolutely beautiful. We stopped for a scenic picture at our first opportunity. I still had Tina's lens on and didn't want to take the time to change so I took three with Mom's camera. We kept on seeing more photo ops., but didn't stop.
We got to Greymouth and got goofed around trying to find our motel. We had the address, but no map. We drove around and finally went to the Tourist Info and got directions. The Ashley's check-in was the easiest to date. Don & Lorraine want to open a bottle of wine so there isn't so much to carry on the flight from Christchurch to Sydney. Mom & Dad want to have a drink of "Early Times" so Don & Lorraine went to their room and I went o Mom & Dad's with a glass and a chair. We enjoyed a drink and talked about options. Don & Lorraine decided to drive back into town to the restaurant that I had read about on the internet from a honeymoon couple who had said it wasn't necessarily the best restaurant, but certainly the most fun and memorable. Since then it has changed hands and name. Mom, Dad and I opted for eating at the medium priced restaurant here in the hotel, Bramley's Brasserie. Dad and I each had their beef stir-fry. Mom had a salad and garlic bread. Ours was $14 (NZ) and Mom's total was $9. It was the best restaurant meal I have had on our trip so far. Don & Lorraine said their dinner was food, but I didn't get the feeling that it was gread. And they didn't echo the newlywed's feeling that it was the most fun/memorable place. I think Tony's in Auckland is still their favorite dining experience so far, other than the Dane's. Our rooms here are by far the "lowest class," with small rooms, a shower only and no ventilation, though clean.
About 20:45 Lorraine knocked on my door wondering if I knew where the laundry soap she bought in Nelson was. She then found it in their room. We all seem to be on the same page for tomorrow's activities. Lorraine is real interested in checking out the jade and I want to go to Shantytown where the start of the gold rush was in 1860. The current theory is to go back into town to the bakery for breakfast and a picture, then to the jade place and back to check out and then on to Shantytown, 10K South of Greymouth. And then on to Franz Joseph Glacier.
The only place open at 08:15 was a café called Chantilly. I had a latte and a very rich cake of a brownie, mint layer and chocolate on top. Mom & Dad had three ½ ham sandwiches, Dad: coffee, Mom: cocoa, Lorraine: cereal and Don: bacon, eggs, and toast. Er headed to the Jade Factory about 08:45. Lorraine and I each bought earrings for $9 (NZ). Dad got a pin for Mom's hat. We went back to check out by 10:00. We got to Shantytown and the entry fee was $10.50 (NZ) with a train ride - which was a joke. It was $13 (NZ) for entry, train and gold panning. Lorraine sat outside and read the paper. Don and Dad each paid the entry only, Mom and I paid for gold panning. We each got a little gold. It was quite a quaint little place. We stopped at the seaside in Hokitika for lunch and to do the "tourist thing." Mom took off her shoes and "cooled her jets" in the Tasman Sea! While eating, I got some serious bug bites.
(To be continued.)
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