Day one of our grand adventure to NZ started out gray and cool. We picked up our rental car in Christchurch and headed down the east coast of NZ to Oamaru. The drive down is through rolling farmland. There are, as rumored, lots of sheep. There are also crazy road signs. Some locals told us this was the most boring drive in the country but we found it lovely. There is so much green and the tall evergreen hedges separating fields were unique.
Oamaru is a cute town about two hours south of Christchurch. It has a historic district full of Victorian era buildings that is the main shopping hub. It’s also home to the Steampunk HQ. Part modern art exhibit, part junk yard, the HQ is definitely a quirky attraction. The Infinity Portal was definitely worth the visit though. The mirrored room contains a variety of colored lights that change to soothing music. We could have spent more than the two minutes our token got us.
Oamaru is also home to the tasting room for the NZ Whisky Company. In 1997, the last distillery in NZ closed down, and in 2010 this company bought up the remaining stock. Drew was impressed with how light the cask strength samples were, although Ashley remained partial to her Tassie whisky, Nant.
From Oamaru, we headed to Moraki. The peninsula is home to ancient round boulders, penguins, seals, and an amazing seafood restaurant. Ashley walked amongst the rounded stones while Drew got out the kite and enjoyed the stiff breeze blowing.
We stopped at Katiki Point Reserve to try and catch a glimpse of the yellow eyed penguins. These rare birds are unique to New Zealand and the lighthouse is supposed to have great views of them. Initially, we didn’t find penguins, but the seals were out in force. They seem to enjoy the protection the cove offers them and were quite happy in the cold water. We saw two penguins and heard several more before we had to head off to dinner. With more time, it would have been a lovely place to spend a few hours.
Before we headed off to Dunedin, we stopped at Fleurs Place. A coworker of ours used to wash dishes there and highly recommended it. The little shack sits on the end of a the pier in a tiny fishing town. They serve fish fresh off the boat and all organic produce. The cod was heavenly. Being so landlocked, we forgot what really fresh seafood tastes like. To finish the evening, we drove to Dunedin and finally realized how far south we really are – even at 9pm, it was still light outside. More pictures from the first day are here.