February 22, 2003
Hi everyone. We're about to leave Auckland, and New Zealand, and we're frantically trying to get ourselves up to date with our updates. I'm going to try to remember what we did between February 2nd and February 5th.
We started with a tour of Montieths Brewery, one of the microbreweries that we prefer. One of the first things we learned was that it is actually owned by Dominion Breweries, one of the largest in New Zealand, but it has maintained its integrity, which comes out in its fine beer. The tour guide was a Canadian who had recently moved to Greymouth to take a greenstone carving course at the local polytech. She taught us all about how they make beer, and then escorted us into the tasting room, where we got to sample every beer that they currently make. After the tasting session, she left us alone for awhile with our glasses and the kegs of beer, and it was a free-for-all. Mmmm, beer.
After the movie we went shopping for dinner, and then went back to the backpackers and cooked up some smoked chicken risotto.
The next day we went white water rafting on the Buller River. We drove from Greymouth to just outside of Westport, and met up with our guide there. We spent all day on the river. It was beautiful (gorgeous even), cruising down the gorge in our raft, and it was also very exciting at times. When we first got on the river we had a few kms before the first rapid, so our guide, Bruce taught us how to paddle, and some safety info. Generally we're all supposed to paddle together (there were 4 of us in the raft, plus Bruce), but when you want to turn quickly one side must paddle forward while the other side paddles backward. When Bruce wanted us to do that he'd yell "Right Back" or "Left Back". Occasionally, when we're in the middle of a really big rapid, he'd yell "Hold On!!!". Then you just forget about paddling and hold on for dear life. It was during one of those "Hold On" moments that Carol didn't quite manage to hold on in time, and then next thing I knew I was down in the bottom of the raft looking at an empty space where Carol used to be. She'd been thrown from the raft! She was fine, not even shaken up much.
The next day we drove to St. Arnaud, which is the gateway to Nelson Lakes National Park. We spent two nights at the Yellow House backpackers, where our room was in a little cottage out back. There were only two rooms in the cottage, and it had its own bathroom, lounge (with TV), and kitchen, so it was really like having our own motel room.
The weather had been nice for a few days, and the forecast said it would continue to be fine for the next few days, so we decided to head over to Kaikoura the next day to do some whale watching.
>> On to Kaikoura