February 11, 1997 - Ingrid
My main fear as a driver on the left side of the road is my
response in case of an emergency - to swing off the road I must
pull left instead of right. The car has a stick shift, which means
shifting with my left hand. The turn signal is on the right,
wind-shield wiper on the left (I wash my windshield each time I signal
to make a turn). The rear view and side view mirrors are reversed.
Lee kept reminding me at each intersection Hug Left. Only once was I
gently reminded by two short beeps by the car behind me that I was
driving in the wrong lane.
We left Kaikoura on a beautiful morning and drove into the high country behind Kaikoura, through the high 4,000-8,000 foot mountains surrounding the tiny sea resort. We had been invited to visit the largest sheep station in the high country, about 50 km inland. We found the entrance and drove for several kilometers, over a wide, nearly dry river, several cattle guards, past grazing sheep and horses until we came to the main house. We were given a tour of the guest cottage which sleeps 10 and is a sort of museum farmhouse from the early 1900s. It gives the feel of what a sheep station must have been like at the turn of the century. The modern amenities must make it a comfortable place to stay as a bed and breakfast hideaway.
The owner showed us the shearing shed, the sorting table, the sorting
bins for wool during sheep shearing. He explained that this coming
week was to be the selection time for their flock of 6,000 sheep.
They will all be mustered (gathered together by sheep dogs and their
handlers from the surrounding mountains) over a period of four days.
After mustering over 4,000 sheep will be close to the main buildings,
where it will then be decided which of the lambs will be used for meat
or for wool. Each lamb is tagged and then herded to the appropriate
fields for grazing. The entire process takes a week. We have been
invited to observe this operation on Thursday, when all the sheep are
close in. The only way that could happen is if a stiff Southerly storm
would plow through on that day and make it impossible to work on the
boat. According to the weatherman, and judging from the hot summer
weather which has finally arrived, that is not a possibility, and
Thursday will be the first full day of operations on the Tanakaha.
We arrived in Hanmer Springs mid-afternoon, and chose a lovely bed and breakfast in the middle of a cattle field. The house is 2 years old, has 2 guest rooms, each with a spacious bathroom and spa tub. Surrounded by mountains, the view from the floor to ceiling windows is spectacular. The hostess was a former restaurateur and takes pride in her culinary artistry. We enjoyed 2 spectacular meals with them. We went to the famous geothermal springs in town, where we enjoyed our own private hot pool with clear hot water piped from the underground springs. We learned that the water comes out of the ground at 125 degrees and has to be cooled down to 100 - 104 degrees. Its a popular resort, especially during ski season.
We were awakened the next morning by the bellowing of cattle, the
bleating of sheep, the raucous call of the plovers and melodic
trill of the magpie; an enchanting and relaxing respite from the
non-stop activity in Kaikoura. It is easily understood how one could
be seduced by New Zealand.
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