Boulders and bites.
It feels like we've pulled the rip cord. After four weeks of meandering south, we've uprooted from Queenstown and in less than 24 hours we've made it to Hamner Springs. Within the week, we'll be back in Auckland which means plenty of driving, the same amount of work and a lot less activity. But not for trying!
The Moeraki boulders was our first stop out of Queenstown. The eerie grey clouds we left behind were no less grey, the air temperature only slightly warmer and the wind, much stronger. Combine that with a high tide, which covered much of the famed boulders and you have a very unexceptional trip out of Otago. My enthusiasm for rocks, apparently uncontagious. Must have been the hand sanitiser.
We took a more eventful break at a winery off SH1 just south of Christchurch in an effort to add some fulfillment to our day. In the kerfuffle of an entry that we made, Cat was bitten by a dog. Her only conceivable mistake was perhaps that she was a Cat, and had presumably crossed some kind of doggone boundary. Shock was rife, if not that she had just been bitten, but of all the animals we have petted, played and parted, this tame farm dog would be the one to bite. The result was a couple of bloody fingers and very awkward introduction to the owners, who had witnessed the whole thing and were now attempting to remediate the situation with pawpaw, plasters and wine. It was from then on, a very personable and hospitable tasting-turned-local-history-lesson, sealed with a verbal and bottled apology.
More irony was waiting for us in Christchurch with a yelping, jumping, barking Bella taking some time to warm to after recent events. We'd caught Hamish and Kasia between soccer games, half marathons and house warmings, so we made an agreement to babysit the dog in exchange for a night's accommodation. As we pulled out of the driveway for Hanmer Springs the next morning, with Bella whining at the window, I hope I speak for Cat and I, that we still like dog's but prefer Cats?
Two things surprised me about Hanmer Springs, and neither of them are even mildy interesting. The first is the order of the 'm' and 'n' in the word Hanmer, which would more commonly be found reversed, and is easier to say when reversed. Hence perhaps why it can be said either way, just so long as its pronounced with sufficient brevity to create ambiguity. The second surprise is that it's in the foothills of the alps, as opposed to the Canterbury plains, where it appears to be located when viewed at a distance on a non-contoured map as obviously, I had only seen before. Unsurprised? No surprise.
What is surely unsurprising to us all, is that Hanmer is famous for hot springs, which have underpinned the now substantial adventure tourism hub it has become. I managed to convince Cat, recovering from skiing injuries, a burn and a dog bite, that her injuries couldn't get much worse and she should come mountain biking in the mud. Unbelievably, they didn't, which is a testament to her skills alone, as I foolishly led her up and down some trails which are considered advanced on the best of days, when they didn't look like waterslides. We brought plenty of mud and all of our dignity back into town and made a quick transition into the hot pools. What mountain biking didn't do to her, the hot pools did: miss accident prone skinning a knee on her first slide!
Aside from the slides, and the kilometres walked getting around that complex (it's rather large), the pools were very relaxing. The only thing missing was the David Attenborough commentary which had unlimited potential, given the quantity and variety of human like creatures lurking about.
Work filled Monday for Cat. I'm taking a holiday from my holiday - making the most of a lull in the workload. Stuffed full of souvlaki, I severely underestimated Mt Isobel and my plan run turned into a walk / climb in what was a stunning venue. Snow, ice and hurricane force winds were also on the list of underestimations.
That aside, it was a very relaxing wee stop. Highly recommend!Read more
Boulders and bites.