We're still in New Zealand, though a little colder now than we were a few weeks ago. It got to minuse 2/3 of a degree last night, according to the weatherman on the radio this morning. The water froze in the pipes of the campervan. We'll see how that thaws out. Luckily we were warm in a hotel last night with plenty of hot water, a TV and lots of coffee and tea.
After 2 1/2 weeks we still can't understand anything about these Kiwis. They are a wild, untamed people. We're in Queenstown right now, about 2/3 down the south island. This is the adventure sport capital of NZ, possibly the world. I'll get into the source of they need for adrenaline later.
We've been travelling down the West Coast of the South Island – but that was after wetsuiting up on the east coast and jumping into the sea with wild dolphins. If you sing, they will swim right under and beside you. An incredible experience.
The West coast is a whole different story. Rugged coastlines. Beautiful. And no gasoline for kilometres upon kilometres. And lots of Hillbillies. One night, completely on empty we rolled into the town of Hari Hari on fumes only to find that the gas station wasn't open and wouldn't be until the next day. So we camped out in the largest Hillbillie centre we've ever seen. The Bow-Man's club was having it's annual meeting, and there were several mullets wandering around the campground. I woke up the next morning and wandered to the bathroom and on my way saw a truck with it's back completely full of bows and arrows. Frightening.
The following day was even better. A stop at the Bushmen Centre forever changed our perception of Kiwis. You see, over the past couple of centuries since colonization, tons and tons of animals have been introduced to NZ. All of them have decimated the natural landscape in some way, overpopulated the place, and started killing native plants and animals. Apparently the cute little possum is one of the greatest threats to NZ forests. So the Bushmen Centre's personal calling is to reduce the number of possums in NZ….It's solution? Possum pies. Not joking. Yummy.
One thing we do understand better is why Kiwis love their adventure sports. You know how Australia was founded by British convicts? Well Kiwis are the wild and crazy riff raff of the British Isles. When the Kiwis were trying to domesticate deer, they had to get wild bucks and deer from the rocky mountains to fenced in farms. How did they do it? Not joking…They jumped out of helicopters onto the running dear and hog tied them…then transported them to their new destination. Gong show. And only 80 heli-jumpers died. Pretty good odds! Eventually they invented a net gun. Get this though…when the US needed help moving buffalo, they called on New Zealanders to netgun the wild beasts. Maybe the initial deer hunters inspired some of the current adventures sport. We really don't know.
This country makes us laugh. Everything from roadsigns to crosswalks to the government's policy on putting up signs against wild/drowsy/dangerous driving instead of guard rails.
Really though it's a country of unprecendented beauty. We've moved from lush green in the north to wild and rocky mountains in the South. It's a blessing to be here.
Now we're going to find some kebabs.