Today was the last day of family in town 🙁
We were somehow able to convince my mom and her sister, Sue, that despite having a flight today (at 6 pm), they were still allowed to do activities other than travel to the airport. We spent the first bit of the morning cleaning up the house and packing while Lynn dealt with an SD card issue. She may or may not have deleted all of yesterday’s pictures and then fought the computer to recover them most of the morning (but success!). Phil and Dad talked to the owners of the Airbnb and got us a place to keep luggage for the day so we didn’t need to drive around crammed in Little John.
After getting it all sorted, we headed into downtown Dunedin where we had an 11.30 tour at Cadbury World. We gathered around as a very enthusiastic tour guide explained the factory and its inner working with very flamboyant hand gestures. The whole tour, it turned out was an excuse to eat chocolate. The best was a melted chocolate dispenser that we mixed with coconut, pretzels, and Oreos and ate out of a shot glass with a wooden spoon. All while a nice woman explained how to temper your own chocolate at home. Lynn also had an uh oh and did her best Doug impression by spilling on her shirt. The finale of the tour features 1000 liters of melted chocolate falling from the ceiling, 28 meters through a series of funnels. We asked why they do this and the answer was simply, because they can. The whole thing was a bit too geared around milk chocolate for our taste. We got a lot of chocolate samples along the way and, as Phil said, maybe they should focus more on making better chocolate and less on coating various candies in it. The worst was a jelly bean covered in chocolate.
Feeling a bit disgusting, and in need of a more filling lunch, we wandered back into The Octagon and were excited to see that The Ratbag was open for lunch. We had walked by here and Christmas and were all amused by the name at the time so we took this opportunity to eat there. After receiving our food we learned that a flatbread and a pizza are the same thing and that Speights is not a very good beer.
After lunch we walked across town to the botanical gardens and enjoyed the various flowers for a while. Lynn and I learned that modern roses do not really have any smell while heritage roses smell quite lovely. Sadly, we don’t have the patience or the water in Texas to have either really. The gang reconvened and Phil developed a plan to go to the far side of the park to see the native New Zealand flora but was concerned about time so Lynn and I volunteered to go back and get Little John so people could see what they wanted AND we could get to the airport on time. On the walk back we discussed all manner of life items and were quite happy that our life philosophies are so well aligned.
Back at the botanical garden we loaded the gang up in the car, drove back to retrieve our luggage and made it successfully to the airport. Dunedin (and it seems everywhere in New Zealand) has a tiny airport but thankfully it was more than the corrugated steel shed it first appeared to be. We returned Little John and said our sad goodbyes to my family who had been very kind to fly around the world to spend ten days and Christmas with us. After we waved final goodbyes, we went and picked up Lacey (pronounced Licey with a thick New Zealand accent), our tan Toyota Corolla with some rear bumper damage. We also re-encountered my Dad who had left his hat behind in Little John and needed to retrieve it. After one more goodbye, we loaded up Licey and headed off towards Wanaka where we would be meeting more friends!
Our friend’s Leah and Stephen had also decided that New Zealand at Christmastime was too tempting to pass up and had flown into Queenstown a few days ago. We were now going to meet up with them and spend the next ten days together to conclude our New Zealand experience. Along the drive we listened to the latest edition of Serial and were angered to find out the next one won’t be for two weeks. As we went we experienced more of this country’s ridiculous beauty and even found some new flowers we have named Purple Poles (sorry Phil).
We arrived in Wanaka at our Airbnb for the night and had a quick catchup with Leah and Stephen before we headed over to a local movie theater that served dinner to see Joy. The movie was pretty good, if not a bit hit-you-over-the-head with symbolism and I finally found some spicy food in the way of a pizza to help with this cold I’ve had for a few days. After the movie we headed back home and caught up a bit more before finally heading to bed.
Daily Walking Mileage : 7.5 miles
- The English forever ruined chocolate in 1674 when they discovered you can “improve” the taste by adding milk.
- Wanaka is now a popular ski town in the South Island Alps of New Zealand. It was originally founded as a gold mining town and seems to have an awful lot in common with Bendigo, Australia.