Playing a little blog catchup

Monday 12th October

Today we set off from Oamaru to Dunedin, the land of chocolate! We arrived in Dunedin around about lunch time and head straight to Cadbury World for a factory tour, lead by our super energetic Chinese guide Fay. There was lots of “YAY!” and “follow meeee” on this tour. Sadly, photography isn’t allowed on the tour, so this is the only photo I got from the tour.

Cadbury delivery vehicles

Cadbury delivery vehicles

One of the highlights for me was one of the first parts of the tour, where we got shown the process of making chocolate from cacao bean through to tempered block chocolate. The long and short of it; cacao beans are very bitter, cocoa crumb is delicious (just don’t think about the fact you’re basically eating butter), but the real winner was pouring liquefied milk chocolate over pretzels straight out of the factory. Oh boy, it’s not something you should do often, but it was so good!

The other highlight was when they took us inside one of the now-defunct silos where Fay proceeded to dump a tonne of liquid milk chocolate some thirty metres. This is purely for entertainment purposes, as the chocolate is recyled and is no longer used as part of the manufacturing process.

From here, we head to Bacon Buttie Station for lunch. A Bacon Buttie is a fancy (Kiwi?) word for sandwich. But it’s a bacon sandwich, and it didn’t disappoint. I have some bad news for “Bacon Buttie Man’s” little pig sidekick, though…

Tuesday 13th October

Checking out of our hotel, we set off for our second to last drive to Invercargill. Today was the first day we saw any real rain on the trip, and of course, it had to happen as we were on winding road. Fortunately, there wasn’t really any other traffic on the road, and we managed to coax Siri into guiding us along a slightly less ‘scenic’ route.

Arriving in Invercargill, we found it to be quite a bit bigger than what we expected. Being lunch time and still too early to check in to our hotel, we made our way to one of the burger joints that Rhi had picked out - Devil Burger - for lunch. This was another winner!

With time still to kill, we went into Farmers - think Target - for Rhi to do some shopping. We then head to our hotel, which didn’t look like much from the outside. The inside, however, looks competely and fairly recently rennovated. The room was a decent size, had a fridge and a microwave, which Rhi was grateful for as she was able to heat up her wheat bag.

We’re attending a wedding when we’re back home on Saturday and I needed a haircut but wouldn’t have enough time between when we got home and the wedding. Whilst flicking through the local attractions magazine in the room, I came across and advertisement for a hair salon that was around the corner from the hotel and open till 8pm. I called up and was lucky enough to get an appointment that night. What could possibly go wrong? Nothing.

I went for a walk through the quiet streets of town after this, taking in the sights and tracking down a non-Wild Bean Cafe (BP) for coffee tomorrow morning, and to find something for dinner, ending up settling on a Noodle Box-esque choice. Invercargill even had a Reading Cinema, which I think is the first cinema I’ve seen in a while. Hokitiki had one, but that was a single screen that showed five or six films once each per day.

The night was really, really windy although there wasn’t too much rain.

Wednesday 14th October

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much parking available at the hotel we stayed at in Invercargill, and the parking out the front of the building is one hour maximum metered between 9am and 6pm. Waking early, I got ready for the day ahead and made my way downtsairs and fed the meter just on 9am before heading to the coffee shop around the corner from the hotel. I tell you what, I really look forward to visiting Coffee by the Beans on Monday morning. The coffee hasn’t been bad, but it hasn’t been particularly good anywhere, either.

In the car we hopped for our last day of travel of the trip to Queenstown. It was a little rainy, but the roads were mostly long and straight, which made the trip reasonable at least. As we approached our final destination, the roads started to wind more and as we turned and head up the first of many windy hills, I said to Rhi, “this must be the ‘Devil’s Staircase” the hairdresser told me about last night.” Rhi wasn’t particularly enthused by this information.

There was a lookout at Halfway Bay on The Devil’s Staircase where we stopped to take in the scenery… and gave some of the less competent hill drivers a chance to get past us again :(

The view here is one of the best I’ve seen on this trip and indeed on any of our travels to date.

Halfway Bay on the Devil's Staircase

The view from Halfway Bay on the Devil's Staircase

This whole place, really, is just spectacular. The views, Lake Wakatipu, the town. It’s a bit cool and windy at the moment, but I reckon if you give it a couple more weeks this place will be the ideal place to visit. There’s heaps to do, as well. We didn’t really plan for any of the more ‘extreme’ activities, but I’d love to come back and give some of it a go another time.

Unfortunately, we didn’t think to book ahead for snowshoeing and we’re out of luck this time around. Also, the 200m vertical climb to get to the top of the mountain didn’t really strike Rhi as a good idea.

As we were too early for checkin again, we parked in town and strolled around for a couple of hours, picking up some souvenirs, checking out Winnie’s Gourmet Pizza Bar and Cookie Time. All the meals we’ve skipped over the last week and a half have probably been accounted for today.

Cookie Time car
Chicken, cranberry, and brie pizza
Hokey Pokey ice cream and mini cookies

We then made our way up to the hotel, along the way we saw all of the different accomodation and the brilliant views of the lake. When we got up the hill to our hotel - the Mecure Resort Queenstown - it really did put the views we had seen already to shame. I mentioned this to the girls at checkin, which may have had something to do with the fact that when I came back into the foyer with our bags (and Rhi) they gave us a free upgrade to a lake view room. No complaints here!

View from our room one
View from our room two

The view is ok

Thursday 15th October

Today is the last full day of our trip, and also the first time in over a week that we didn’t have to set an alarm to get up and move to our next location. So I woke up around 10.30. It was pretty good!

We set back out to get some more souvenirs, and Rhi was after some new pants for work. I treated myself to some denim jeans as my last pair fell apart last summer and I’ve had no reason to replace them for a while. The weather looks pretty warm back home. Look out, friends!

Although we’ve been to New Zealand before, and already have a cookbook here, we picked up another one. The title is mostly true, there’s more than just pizza (oven) recipes in it. Rhi pointed it out, so I think this means she’s buying me a pizza oven for Christmas. I can’t wait!

The complete kiwi pizza oven

The last burger joint on our list was Fergburger. The line was out the door and we had to wait about 20 minutes for the burger. It was worth it - check it out if you’re ever in Queenstown! I also made friends with a Maynard whilst we were soaking up the view and eating lunch, although I think he was just in it for the fries.

Maynard friend

We’re basically spending the rest of today relaxing in our room. It’s not glamorous, but after all the travel and driving of the past two weeks, this is good preparation for the flights home tomorrow (Queenstown -> Melbourne -> Adelaide). I think the only thing we’ll do for the rest of this trip is to go and grab another Cookie Time cookie before we head to the airport tomorrow.

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