After last week's adventures, we were looking forward to a little R&R down in the lonely, blustery farmland near the tip of the South Island. While we didn't get a chance to put our heels up immediately—Bertha's two wheel drive tends to get her stuck in the mud—we were soon enjoying the peace and solitude of the deep south.
At Curio Bay, we enjoyed watching the sea crash up against the shelves of rock below almost completely by ourselves, save for a grazing heifer or two.
The next morning, we pressed on to the university town of Dunedin for a taste of civilization on Nick's birthday weekend. We started with a tour of Speights' Brewery, New Zealand's oldest and most iconic beer.
Because we've both got a bit of a sweet tooth, it was on to the Cadbury factory next. While they didn't let us take photos in the factory itself, believe us that it was impressive. There's a one-ton chocolate waterfall, for crying out loud!
And what the factory lacked in photo ops, it definitely made up for in free samples.
We caught wind of a high-stakes rugby match going on over the weekend and thought this might be our most convenient and exciting opportunity to check out the sport. Dunedin's a reasonably small city, so we could walk to the stadium from the edge of town where Bertha was parked.
As we headed through downtown Dunedin we learned that, just like our friends at home, New Zealanders can't wait for winter to be over. We stumbled out of a pregame celebration and into an adorable parade of schoolchildren celebrating the solstice with pretty elaborate paper lanterns and costumes.
Once we reached the stadium, we settled in with our rowdy neighbors in the section nicknamed "The Zoo". Rugby's an incredibly fast-paced sport, but we tried our best to keep up with the action so we'd know what the people around us were so mad about. Despite a lot of very questionable officiating (according to the crowd, at least) we got to see the home team pull off a win in this important elimination match before we hit the road again.
Final days on the road
We continued our journey up the eastern coast, stopping to take in some fascinating rock formations on the beaches at Moeraki and Shag Point.
But before we started to zero in on Christchurch, we had one last epic voyage to attempt. We ride to Rohan!
Well… at least part of the way to Rohan (known outside of Middle Earth as Mt. Sunday). While a larger storm had blown past Canterbury and given us a sunny day, it was still too cold for the snowpack on parts of the road to melt off.
We snapped some wintry photos, then made our way to milder climes. We parked Bertha for our final night together near French Farm Bay, a picturesque little inlet where French explorers landed a mere 5 days after the British signed the Treaty of Waitangi. We struck out the next morning to start saying our goodbyes to Bertha, but as we hit the road we were struck by what has to be the most utterly New Zealand sendoff possible.
We're sad to be saying 'poroporoaki' to New Zealand after a month of adventures, but we're thrilled to start the next leg of our trip in Tassie!