Tuesday, March 29, 2005


I signed up for another special journey on one of New Zealand’s train transfers—this time the TranzCoastal train from ChristChurch to Pictone. The train led us out of ChristChurch across the braided Waimakariri River and through the farmlands of North Canterbury. We moved east and hugged the coast all the way to Kaikoura and if it was up to me—this would have been a one-hour stop to allow for viewing the fur seals and whales—two things this region is famous for. I was fortunate on one of my flights out of ChristChurch to Wellington to spot a huge whale from my window seat, as we were getting ready to land in Wellington.

In this coastal area on the eastside of the South Island there are spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean breaking onto rocky outcrops on one side and snow clad mountains on the other. We ventured through Dashboard Pass and across the Wairau Plainsand finally into Pictone. We had less than 45 minutes of wiggle room to recover our bags, walk about 200 kilometers and catch the last water taxi for the Sound. We are heading to the Endeavour Inlet. Named in honor of one if Captain Cook’s ships.

We took the water taxi out to the Sound to the Bach, a picture perfect get-away in any country and in New Zealand considered a traditional vacation home. What is interesting is this home is only 35 miles the from point to point to the Tramposch’s home in Wellington, but takes more than 5 hours to access due to the Ferry and water taxi that is necessary to reach this property. The convergence of two mighty oceans—the Pacific and Tasman—come together in the Cook Straight and together produce some of the most difficult waters in the world to maneuver through. In the Marlborough Sound, there are no cars and thank goodness no golf carts--the only way to get around is by your own two feet. This area also allows for mountain biking. The Bach sits right on the Queen Charlotte Track with international trampers coming by frequently. There was lots of rain on Friday night so it made being inside the tin roof Bach even more relaxing. Peggy cooked an amazing meal, Bill christened the new cast-iron fire stove by lighting a fire and the wine, as always, was great. There are seven of us enjoying this experience. In the morning the sun came up early indicating blue skys and a beautiful day. The water on the Inlet looks crystal clear with all shades of blue and the mountains across the way are brilliantly green. After we downed 3 or maybe it was 5 plungers of coffee we headed out to the Furneaux Lodge. They said if we arrived by 10 AM they would still serve us breakfast—they are famous for their french toast and I would add to that list, their omelets. After a hearty breakfast we headed out on the trail to visit other Baches in what is called the Pines Community.

We met up with some sheep, cows and then a butt ugly pig. We thought it was a “captain cooker”—pigs that are the descendents of the lil pigs that Captain Cook brought over with him. But this pig was a kunekune and we were told that despite its extreme need for an extreme makeover, it is a nice and gentle pig and if you can get past his looks, he likes it when you scratch his head—unfortunately, I couldn’t manage to get past his looks.

The rest of the afternoon was dedicated to lazy loafing on the Bach porch soaking up the sun and surrounding beauty. Some brave souls went down to the dock and jumped into the freezing salt water that is full of stingrays and jellyfish—these silly people were all encouraging me to join them. Without a wager on the table, I didn’t budge. Besides—it’s high time we had our afternoon tea.

Life moves kind of slow out at the Bach on the Sound and that seems to be just perfect to me. By early evening, we went up the road to a Bach that has been in a NZ family for a long time to have a drink and some nibbles. Two Fulbright fellows, Allison and Brenna had volunteered to cook tonight’s meal and they packed in all the food and preparations from Wellington. When we returned to our Bach the table was set, the candles were lit and the room smelled great—they created a fantastic Mexican meal including fresh guacamole and chips, corn tortillas with chicken, a fresh corn salad, home made sangria and a Mexican chocolate cake with white icing for desert. I don’t make this stuff up, I just report the facts. If you find yourself starting to worry about my frequent and abundant food intake, I appreciate your concern. I need it.

It is now Easter Sunday and the fun of the week travel is about to end. We drank lots of coffee on this rainy morning and exchanged a wee bit of candy to celebrate the holiday. We swept out the Bach, gave it a good cleaning and went down to the dock to stand in the rain for about 40 minutes to catch the water taxi back to Pictone. We made it to the Ferry with just enough time to drop our bags off, pick up our boarding passes and take the two little doggies, Ruby and Olive to the Ferry Kennel. We secured the same great seats in the “CLUB LEVEL” room an immediately began to enjoy the free cappuccinos. This trip was different than the smooth ride over last week and gave us a command performance on what it is like to sail in rough, turbulent waters. I felt a little nauseous but it didn’t develop into anything worse and I was happy all other attendees in the CLUB were keeping their cookies down. My last taxi trip to the Wellington airport and I ended up with a driver that had taken me out there once before—a very nice gentleman from Wellington. New Zealand Air couldn’t see fit to put us on the earlier flight at 5:30 PM and made us wait for the seat we have confirmed on the 7:00 PM flight. That’s all right!

I’ll miss New Zealand greatly, the people, the places, all the plenty and all the bounty throughout this clean, green, beautiful country! I’ve learned so much about their health care issues, health promotion and prevention programs, innovative programs and ideas, areas of strength and areas huge opportunity in philanthropy throughout the country—particularly, the business sector giving back and making a difference. I met so many wonderful people that have made a tremendous difference in making this an enriching and amazing experience. I’ll miss New Zealand, for sure. I learned heaps and I hope I left behind as much as I received. I’m all snapped up now and ready to go off to Australia.

I need to make certain I don’t let too much time slip by before I return.

Check out these pictures of the surrounding area and confirmation of the ugly piggy. (TOO BE POSTED ASAP).


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