Shumpty on tour: the trip review

Today dawns as the final day of my 12 day trip to the South Island of New Zealand which leaves me to reflect on this trip and to consider the good, the bad and the ugly from being on tour:

The Good

New Zealand in general

I just love this place so it is easy for me to say that as a travel experience New Zealand ticks all of the right boxes. Specifics to follow.

The food

As establish in earlier blogs, I love food but am no gourmet. That said the food I have experienced on this trip has been nothing short of excellent. From “the best meal of my life” at Saffron through to the simplest cheese toastie at the cafes of small towns like Milton and Roxborough, everything put in front of me on plate has been eaten with relish and joy.

The drives

I had never really considered New Zealand as a place to come for a driving holiday but two particular drives left me breathless and my palms more than a bit sweaty: Invercargill to Queenstown by the Southern Scenic Route and Queenstown to Wanaka over the Crown Range. The former gets the nod because of the sheer beauty of the scenery that invades your senses as you drive first through lush farming country and then along side Lake Wakapitu. The later is a windy, curving drive over the range which had me holding my breath in the mighty Yaris on more than one occasion.

The people

Aussies and Kiwis have had and will always have a love hate relationship. That point acknowledged, and this is something that also came through on my last trip to these shores, every person I met on the trip was always keen for chat, willing to help and always had a smile on their face. It is the people of New Zealand that will get me coming back again.

The bad

Camper van drivers

As regular readers will be aware a lot of time on this trip has been spent on the road. Which has meant a large amount of time has been spent behind Camper vans. Now I appreciate that the roads are narrow in points and a camper van is a heavy piece of machinery to drive but it must be said that the most worrisome moments I had whilst running the Yaris around NZ were when I encountered camper vans. Education program’s for their drivers are a must me thinks.

The ugly

Hitchhikers

The only really negative of my whole experience in New Zealand was seeing the plethora of hitchhikers waiting desperately for lifts on the side of the road. No doubt a large part of tourism in NZ is back packer based however it struck me that such a large number of young people begging for rides, particularly young ladies, is just a recipe for danger. Forgive me for getting on the pulpit on this it it was just something that bothered me every time I saw it and I was seeing it every day.

All in all though I have had one of the best holidays I have had on this trip. A measure of how good any holiday one has, I think, is how you feel on your last day of said holiday. I feel refreshed, relaxed and ready for home: which indicates for me that this has been a pretty good trip.

Thank you all for reading. I hope you have enjoyed this blog as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

Shumpty

Shumpty on tour: Dunedin to Invercargill

After two wonderful days in Dunedin it was time to move on from the Rossyln apartments and head southward to Invercargill. The day did not get off to the best of starts with the owners of the apartments I was staying telling me that there was nothing to do in Invercargill. Nonetheless, I loaded up the trusty Yaris and set off.

Two comments about driving in New Zealand: there are camper vans everywhere and drivers are more impatient than any I have ever encountered. These factors certainly made the 221km drive in my tiny hire car more interesting than I expected. Adding to the joy of the drive was the rain which went from mist to torrential in about 5kms just outside Dunedin and has stayed that way since.

On the way I stopped at the hamlet of Milton and tested out the only Cafe in town. Yet again I was struck by how friendly the people were and taking the recommendation of the waitress tried out the toasted cheese. I know this is in breach of the current no bread diet I am on but I was starving and it looked good! I can report that it tasted better than it looked and four slices later, the Yaris was again pushing southward with the traffic.

It was also on this trip that I discovered, to my surprise, that shops just do not open in New Zealand on Sunday. When I stopped in Gore to stretch my legs a survey of the shops in the main street showed only the cares and a fast food joint open.

By the time I got to Invercargill all I wanted was to sit on the lounge BUT my tactical error in not getting a GPS came back to bite me on the buttocks as I got hopelessly lost. 40 frustrating minutes later I finally found the B & B I had booked into just outside of town.

A surprising fact about grocery shopping in NZ: Woolworths is not known as Woolworths but Countdown … I only realised after driving past 3 times. A weird aside I know there but along with checking out buildings the little differences between Brisbane the world continue to amuse me every time I see one!

The B & B I am saying in is called Beersheba and I have the main cottage with a private garden. It is very quiet and peaceful and with the fire roaring I can hardly tell the rain is still pounding down. That will change though as I have discovered that the only way I can access the wifi here is in the middle of the back garden. Tomorrow, before heading to Bluff to check out the harbour and then to the museum in honour of the guy in the moving the “the worlds fastest Indian”, it will be straight to an NZ telecom store for a sim card.

All in all, I am still in love with NZ and looking forward to exploring this old fishing town tomorrow.

Till then: thank you for reading. I know this post has been a little boring but it has been a very relaxed day today.

Shumpty

A day in Dunedin: Speight’s brewery tour

Day 2 of the Shumpty on Tour tour of Southern New Zealand began with a sleep in and a coffee on the balcony under the bluest of blue skies. Have I mentioned how much I love the weather here?

When I finally got motivated to head into the city centre of Dunedin my preferred mode of transport was my own two feet. This is a great place to walk around and it is ridiculously easy to find where you need to go. After a 15 minute down hill stroll I made it to the Octagon which is the central hub of the city. Whilst it was only 11am the Irish were out and about in abundance celebrating St Patricks Day. I hope all of my Irish friends celebrated with appropriate vigour.

Whenever I travel to a city I like to check out the architecture and particularly the churches. Not because I am particularly religious but because I am fascinated by the structures. I was particularly enamoured with the St Peters Anglican cathedral today which is just off the hub.

After wandering around for a while it was time to head to the Speight’s brewery for the main game of the day. For those of you who don’t know the Speight’s story, Speight’s beer has been brewed in Dunedin for nearly 125 years and is brewed in a brewery that sits in the middle of town. Simply, Speight’s is to South Islanders what XXXX is to Queenslanders.

The tour was brilliant: our tour guide was the great grandson of one of the founders of the brewery. Needless to say he knew his topic. The tour was broken up with 30 minutes about the history of beer, 30 minutes walking around the brewery and a 30 minute tasting season. My favourite story of the trip was how until the 1950s it was encouraged that the workers had a drink during the day. Each of the 8 floors of the brewery had a bar on them. The only catch was that you could not get drunk!!! Imagine working there in those times: would have been immense.

During the tasting session I had a yarn with our guide: an interesting chap in his own right who had worked around the world as an engineer and returned to Dunedin to retire. Great bloke and it was great to have a beer with him. For the record my favourite beer during the tasting was the Speight’s Summit!

After the tour, it was time for lunch in the Speight’s Ale house where, as I have found everywhere this trip, the service was excellent and the food very good. After the tasting and the feed I could not face the return walk up the hill to the apartment so hitched a ride with a friendly cabbie.

Suitably refreshed after an afternoon nap, I am now just watching the end of the Hurricanes v Highlanders game which, at the time of writing looks a cracking contest that will go down to the wire.

Tomorrow it is time to move on for this great place and drive down to Invercargill. Will be sad to leave but looking forward to forward to getting down there an looking around.

All in all: another great day on holiday. Till tomorrow.

Shumpty