Nelson

Day 24: Nelson

Today we took a vacation day. We all slept in and then had plans to visit the Nelson Sunday market. Nelson is known as the sunniest place in New Zealand. So just our luck it was raining Sunday and the market did not seem to occur. Instead we poked around in a few stores. We eventually drove to see a couple of bridges, then we went to a grocery store to grab food for lunch and dinner. We came back to the rental for two hours and then I took the kids to see Despicable Me 3. We came back to the rental and I made dinner.
Rachel now seems to have a cold 😦 Hopefully she will not have it when it is time for us to fly home and hopefully no one else will catch it.

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Day 22: Greymouth to Nelson

This morning we headed out to the Brunner Suspension bridge.  This was a bridge that was built to create a link to the mine sites.  This was one of New Zealand's earliest suspension bridges – it opened in 1864.  Kind of weird to think that as this bridge was being built, the Civil War was going on in the US.  This bridge was at a very interesting site due to the coal mine history.  There were several buildings and placards telling information about the mine and the bridge.  There had been a very famous (in New Zealand) mine disaster in the very late 1800's and there was a lot of information about this.  I thought it was very interesting that there had been four horses that refused to go into the mine that day.  The miners were only able to get the horses into the mine after they covered their eyes with cloths.  Ultimately, the horses died in the explosion.  But they must have sensed something was up.

After the visit to the bridge we headed to the West Coast.  We drove to the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks.  When we arrived it was pouring down rain.  There was a break in the rain so we headed to the loop trail and to see the rocks and blowholes.  As we were on our hike it rained some more and we all got wet.  Still, the rocks were pretty neat to see.  I enjoyed listening to the blow holes and watching the waves crash against the rocks.  There was one place where the waves created a sort of chimney – as the waves crashed against the rocks it seemed like they created steam.

We had a quick snack in the cafe and then we continued our drive up north and then back towards the east.  We stopped on the route to see the Buller Gorge Swing bridge.  Well – Rachel and I stayed in the car and the men went to see it.  You actually had to pay to cross it.  According to the men it was very wobbly.

We ended up arriving at our Nelson rental around 6:30 PM.  This rental is right on the harbor.  After unloading our stuff we noticed a seafood restaurant across the street and we decided to eat there.  This was probably the best dinner we have had so far, in terms of everyone getting along (kids and parents included).  We learned that the owner of the restaurant was actually from Brainerd, MN…an area that I have family members in.  She also attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  So of course we had to see if we could find a person that we both knew (we did not).

Finally, we came back to the rental and started doing laundry and going to bed.  We had to be up early the next morning.

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100 days to go

100 days to go, 100 days to dream. Time is seeming to fly super fast now. I have dreams regularly about our trip. I have a few smaller trips between now and then which will really make the time go by fast.

What is left to do? Well, most everything is paid for already in regards to lodging. The only places that are not fully paid for yet are our place in Nelson and our place in Auckland. I plan to pay for Nelson on May 1 and Auckland on June 1.  We also have one hotel room that we have not paid for yet. Other than that, all hotels/apartments have been paid for so we won’t have that expense when we return. That is usually the biggest travel expense and it has been nice to spread it out over the last few months.

Airfare – fully paid for. We bought our tickets over to Australia/New Zealand using frequent flyer miles so those were relatively cheap. But I had to buy flights within Australia and New Zealand. I bought those in the fall once I knew our itinerary.

In regards to car rentals – one has been prepaid and two I was not able to prepay. And honestly I can’t find a better rate than what I booked so those probably won’t be prepaid before we go. I can deal with that though.

Activities are mostly all booked and paid for. This month I can book our Alcatraz tickets (yes we are spending a day in San Fran before we go) and our Sydney Observatory tickets. Our lodging in Sydney is right next to the Observatory so we will do that one night. I have two excursions booked but I cannot pay for them yet as they could be cancelled if the weather does not cooperate. I call those excursions the Pandy Excursions. Pandy was my great aunt that passed away in November but she taught me that you only live once and sometimes in life you need to splurge. So those two excursions, if they happen, I will dedicate to her since they will be our splurges. In fact, my motto on our trip will be “What would Pandy do?”.

I still can’t believe we have reached the 100 day milestone. It seemed so far away when I booked our first plane ticket at 330 days away. My brother gets married in 33 days and then the kids get out for the summer in 71 days. Those two countdowns will make the countdown to our trip fly.

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