Cheers from New Zealand!
We are all fabulous down here and enjoying our second summer of the year. This truly is a land of jaw-dropping beauty and genuinely friendly locals have made us feel very welcome. January 17th marked our 100th day of travel - one third of the way through our trip. Oliver is busy with his homework, Deb is busy teaching him, Emmett is busy working on his letters and looking for cool keychains and I'm busy managing the budget. OK, so we're not really that busy (especially compared to our old lives) but we are certainly not lacking things to do....
On Jan. 24th, we left our cozy rental home in Nelson to take a whirlwind tour of the South Island. In 11 days, we drove 2350 kilometers and saw and experienced some amazing things. In Kaikoura, we hung out with a colony of seals. In Christchurch, we got up close and personal with real (and endangered) Kiwis and watched a traditional Maori performance. In Dunedin/Otago Peninsula, we saw Albatross soar and the rare Yellow-Eyed Penguins surf into their beach homes. In Te Anau, we stayed on a deer farm and took a cruise through the spectacular Milford Sound. It was raining (as it usually does in this area) and there were more spectacular waterfalls than we could count. In Queenstown, Deb and I took another sort of plunge, this one off the legendary 142 ft. Kawarau Bridge attached to Bungy cords - a thrilling way to take a dip in the river to say the least. The boys chose the luge (3-wheeled cart you drive down a mountain course) as their adventure sport. In Wanaka, we tackled the 1.5km outdoor maze at a wacky place called Puzzling World. And at the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, we did lots of tramping (NZ term for hiking) and finally made our way to the ice (at least to a big chunk that had fallen off the glacier). We ended our tour with a final swing up the West Coast back to Nelson and are glad to be "home". Yesterday we had the privilege of taking part in the seasonal sheep shearing on the farm of the family that owns our house. We all helped give haircuts to about 100 of the 39 million (!) New Zealand sheep.
We are here for 2 more weeks and then will travel around the North Island before heading for Australia on March 1st. We send our love and warm weather wishes to all of our family and friends.