While TECHNICALLY we're back in Auckland chillin at Lance and Nat's until our May 10th departure to Thailand, we're still blogging the past... April 23rdish to be precise.
We strolled around downtown Christchurch, oooooed and awed at the ChristChurch Cathedral, perused the shops and the outdoor market, people-watched while sipping coffee, and visited the Botanical Gardens.
The following picture is a view of the outdoor market & downtown. While we were browsing the market, I eyed a funky belt with a hand-carved wooden buckle. The vendor insisted that I try it on, and within 3 seconds of being in my possession it broke. I tried to casually hand it back to him while holding the broken parts together, but it was just awkward and obvious. All was well though, it was clearly a poorly created buckle (i.e., not my fault) as it broke with brief gentle human touch, and the vendor bashfully hid it behind the table.
The greatest thing about this day was the purely beautiful AUTUMN weather we experienced. We missed our beloved Albertan fall, so we soaked up the leaf-covered ground as much as possible. We were as happy as pigs in... leaves.
From Christchurch we headed 1,000 kms north to Hawkes Bay via the "Longest Place Name in the World". If you don't believe me, here's the sign that proves it...
It's the name of a hill, and seriously... it's rather ridiculous.
The name basically tells a story... the story of a well known chief who's brother was killed during battle. He was so devastated that he sat on the knoll and played a lament each morning for a period of time.
Let me tell you- this name was so long that I put my life in danger to get a photo. The camera would only capture the entire expanse of the sign from across the highway, so I had to set the timer, dart across the road, perch myself on the sign and pull out my best smile. I'm lucky I didn't turn out to be roadkill.
There's another place name called "Te Urewera" which is a Maori term meaning "burnt penis". It rivals "Dildo, Newfoundland" for vulgarity, and we had every intention of paying it a visit (tee hee), but we missed it. Boo hoo.
From Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu (try to say THAT 5 times fast), we eventually hit Gisborne where we had a ball of a time with PEOPLE. After a month of travelling with Gus (whom we love) and only experiencing temporary social interactions, it was sooooo nice to stay with a FAMILY and go to the bathroom in a HOUSE. More on THAT to come...