Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Fall break

April and I haven't been getting along too well. With like 25 minutes of sunshine the entire month I'm pretty sure she's giving us the cold shoulder. And I'm still giving her the silent treatment. But the kids are out on holiday and Jason had a four day weekend that we didn't want to go to waste so we decided to head to the Catlins on the very southern tip of the island. The rain was pouring down as I was packing the suitcases and I began second guessing our decision to head even closer to Antarctica. Driving at night in the rain is always fun (translate: holding a toddler on the side of the road in the pitch black pouring rain so that they can go poop is always fun) but we eventually made it to the campground where it was so windy and rainy that I was certain our little cabin was going to end up in Oz. We woke up the next morning to more rain and a trampoline and shed that had been blown over by the wind. I was ready to pack up and go home. But we pulled up our gumboots and kept on truckin. The Moeraki boulders are a natural wonder, ya know sorta like the Grand Canyon. Or Jennifer Aniston's hair. It's this beach filled with these perfectly round boulders of all different sizes. There are several theories as to where they came from, I tend to side with the alien story just to keep things interesting. They made for the perfect playground and we almost forgot about how cold it was.

Maddox harvested a whole crop of these "carrots" and couldn't understand why I wouldn't let him bring them home to plant in our garden. Oh that face is hard to say no to.

We couldn't resist a good old classic girl gets eaten by a giant rock picture.

I had a whole list of places to visit around Dunedin, but instead we ate turkey sandwiches in a parking garage and found refuge in the train station and museum. Which quite arguably aren't too bad of places to seek refuge.

Dunedin, you're kinda cute.

It's quite the reality check to see your childhood behind a glass case. The kids love when I tell them stories about the first time we got internet. I can still see the DOS disk and hear the dial up modem.

The drive to our next destination helped ease my bitterness about the whole weather situation.

And the next morning we woke up to blue skies, so all was forgiven. We know how rare a nice day is and we intended to take full advantage. It's a given that each trip will have some winners and some fails. This first stop falls under the fail category. Exploring the remains of a shipwreck sounded cool, but it was a long drive, the tide was up and the ship was more the size of a small fishing boat.

But the good news is that Ryder finally got to push around the truck he had carried on his lap for only the past two days.

The next stop was Waipapa point. It gets automatic points just for having a lighthouse. And plenty of tide pools for collecting crabs and baby starfish. And a freakishly large sea lion. And for watching tourists get as close as they can to take a picture with the sea lion and then run away screaming like a girl when it growls at them. It never gets old.

Next we headed to Slope point. It is the southern most point of the island and is constantly hit hard by the fierce arctic wind coming off Antarctica that the trees have all grown sideways. It really is a sight to behold. And I don't know how we lucked out to get nothing more than a little breeze while we were there.

Next was Curio bay where the ocean has uncovered a Jurassic era petrified forest. It was pretty cool to see what looked like tree stumps and logs but felt like stones. Jayden was disappointed that it didn't look like a real forest and Maddox had fun imagining all the T-rex's trampling down the trees.

Rumor has it that penguins can be spotted here and we were all so anxious to see one in nature and not just stuck behind a glass wall. Jason was on penguin duty and you know how he is when he sets his mind to something. We were not leaving without seeing a penguin. He searched through the bushes until he found one and it was just as incredible as I imagined it would be. These are the yellow eyed penguins, one of the rarest breeds in the world. Don't ya just wanna squeeze it to see if it squeaks?

Then the highlight of the trip was going to be swimming with dolphins. We packed up wet suits and were ready to brace the frigid water just to frolick in the waves with dolphins. Porpoise bay is home to a whole pod of dolphins that are so tame they will swim right up to you in the surf. Someone had told us to bring spoons to bang together because they are attracted to the sound. We sort of felt like first year beehives going on a snipe hunt at girls camp as we banged spoons together up and down the bay while people raised their eyebrows at us. We were so disappointed that we didn't see a single dolphin, but it was still a beautiful beach and the boys love any excuse to play in the sand.

Then wouldn't you know it, Judy and her partner (the term "partner" has a different meaning here than in the states, they use it instead of boyfriend/girlfriend. When we first met Judy she mentioned having a partner and I spent that first week thinking she was gay) had planned a trip down here the same time as well. They invited us to eat dinner and have a bonfire on the beach, the same beach that happened to be the filming location for Cair Paravel in Narnia. It was a bit of drive, but the scenery is just so easy on the eyes that I can't complain. The weather was perfect, the company was entertaining, the food was delicious and we ended the night spear fishing in the bay. We didn't catch anything but it was a fun little adventure. After a wet and rainy start, this trip has straightened itself right up. So grab a diet coke and pull up a chair, because this is only the beginning.


Tyson and Dawn Jolley said...

Just incredible! Rainy days and all.

Ali said...

Hello down there! Another fab post with stunning pics. And always, you finding the best out of the hard days.

Best text: "classic girl gets eaten by a giant rock picture" (er yes, as one does)

Best pic: little bottom poking out of little bending over trousers.

:-) Loved it.

Janessa said...

I've been so excited for this. I love all your teaser pics on IG! I'm glad you still had fun and explored some incredible places in the rain and even happier that you got some sunshine after that! I love the light house pics. That picture of everybody sitting on the steps is great! Kylie and her cute little pose and Ryder's face are just perfect! The ocean pics are fabulous, as always! Too bad you didn't see any dolphins though. The penguin totally makes up for it though, I'd say. You definitely had the right penguin finder on the job! How fun that you got to meet up with Judy and her "partner" (haha!). Bonfires on the beach just sound so dreamy. Love it all and can't wait to see some more! Oh, and I LOVE that picture toward the end of the bright green rolling hills spotted with sheep with a hint of sunset in the background. Picture perfect!

Jodee said...

Look at you talking about those tourists. I love it!
Sounds like another fun trip under your amazing tour guide belt. And i agree, you just have to pull on your boots and go for it, rain or shine. Can't wait to read about all the rest of the fun! Grabbing my Diet Coke!