Monday, September 8, 2008

Monday and Tuesday

On Monday, we hit the museums of Wanaka. First: Puzzling World - a place of illusion and tricks. We went into the Illusion Rooms - there's a "hall of a hundred faces" where all of the eyes follow you, a hologram hall and a room that will make you appear huge or tiny, using perspective. There's also a room that made us both a bit sick, where they've tilted the floor but made the room look as if the floor is flat. It messes with your balance, which wasn't any good for either of us. They also have a life-size maze, which we went through. They challenge you to find the 4 corners and then make your way back to the beginning. We made it all the way through, and it only took about an hour or so. In the beginning, we thought this was exactly Melissa's type of place, but in the end, it was actually Trav's cuppa tea.

After Puzzling World, we went to the Transportation and Toy Museum,. It's probably the creepiest place we've ever seen. These photos are for Chris Harris (but anyone can enjoy them) - we thought of you when we saw these robots. It looks like the kind of place Travis would open if he had 80 lifetimes of junk collected. Melissa swears she's throwing out everything we own as soon as we get home. There are all kinds of collections - cars, barbies, legos, smurfs, star wars, snoopy, model cars and planes, tonka, erector sets, (all of which you might classify as "toy"), about 3 warehouses of vehicles of all sorts: old fords, austins, morris, fire trucks, rolls, motorcyles of all sorts, airplanes, and one solar car (all of which you can definitely classify as "transport"), as well as a collection of meat grinders, a collection of heat lamps, several mannequins, and a triple a gun (all of which start to get creepy when you look at them in collection). Of course, there's also just the creepy factor of tons of dolls in one place, or of so many snoopys looking at you. All in all, there was just so much STUFF! Including this Honda - anyone know what that is?

After Toy & Transport, we went to the New Zealand Fighter Pilots' Museum. This one was pretty interesting - it chronicled the exploits of all known New Zealand Fighter Pilots in every war they've participated in. Travis checked out the airplanes & guns and whatnot while Melissa read the soldiers' accounts of the wars. All of their airplanes are in flying condition and they prove it every two years with their "Warbirds Over Wanaka" Airshow. In 2004, they had special guest Buzz Aldrin (who happened to have stayed at Wanaka Springs Lodge while he was in the area).

For dinner, we went to Wanaka's only Mexican restaurant, AmiGos (yes, that's how they spell it - I don't know why the "g" gets capitalized). We were cautioned by Lyn & Murray that it was "Europeanized Mexican," which made Melissa wary & Travis curious. Apparently when you Europeanize Mexian food, you get rice pilaf instead of Spanish Rice and everything gets the same spices. On the way back to Wanaka Springs, we discussed that the spices they used would have been good in a fish dish, but just didn't jibe with Trav's beef burrito or Melissa's chicken fajitas. The margaritas also left a lot to be desired, although we know we're a bit picky when it comes to those!

Tuesday morning dawned and we reluctantly left Lyn & Murray's hospitality and set out for our longest road trip in New Zealand. Travis was a little nervous about driving on the left for so long, but it turned out fine. Not too far outside of Wanaka, we got snow going over the pass (that's this photo). The road conditions didn't really get bad, but it was nice to see actual snow falling since we'd only had clouds both our mountain days and sun/rain down in the lowlands.

Further down the road, the ug-fest continued, with more lakes and mountains to spoil our views. They have some interesting foliage in New Zealand - check out the orange in this tree:

Travis kept practicing his "arm photos" and we both think he's getting quite good:

Along the road, we stopped to check out some Maori rock drawings. Several of them were removed from the rock face in the late 1800s in the name of science or research or museums, and broke during excavation since they're on limestone. Some of the drawings also had graffiti around them (lame), so they now have fencing up all around the rock art. Here's a sample that's still in reasonable condition:

We stopped for lunch in one of the towns on the way - Turkish Kebabs, but we ended up getting wraps instead. The food was great and plentiful and probably the cheapest we've had the whole trip. We apparently made it just in time for lunch, since the owner locked up after we were finished.

We took a somewhat longer route (about 1/2 hour longer) than google suggested to get between Wanaka and Christchurch. Our goal in doing so was to get on the coast earlier in our trip. We did see the Pacific, but only briefly. Now we're on a coastal town, but we're not exactly sure how to get to the water! Ah well, we have the rest of tonight and most of tomorrow to explore so we'll see how it goes!

Finally, we made our way into Christchurch for the last of our nights in NZ. We're staying at yet another Heritage Hotel, this one is in Cathedral Square and we have a view from our room of said Cathedral. This hotel is pretty swank and we have tons of room to re-pack our bags and get ready for the airplane tomorrow. A bit funny that we've got more room tonight than we've had at any point in the trip but at 7:30 tomorrow, we'll once again be squeezing ourselves into the airplane seats that will bring us home... Of course, the rain this morning brought out some home-sickness in Melissa but that always happens when it rains and she's far from the Pacific Northwest (although the Pacific Southeast has been nice as well).

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