Lake Tekapo was along the way to Kaikoura …our next destination.  Only a quick picture stop at the Church of the Good Shepard…then back on the road for a very long 6.5hour drive day.


And then……DISASTER STRUCK.  With a perfect storm of ALL THINGS PICTURES from the trip…..Rich accidentally left the computer, the camera memory card AND the hard drive with the storage of the 5 months prior photos on the TOP OF THE CAR at the picnic/toilet stop…..while I DROVE AWAY at 100km/hr!  Oh my gosh!  Shock, sadness, tears and hours of scouring the highway ditch amongst the prickly bushes….trips to towns to leave our number with the visitors info centres and police stations….and some serious perspective finding moments….

Lulu…after the tears..trying to lighten the mood with “everything crossed”

we got back on the highway giving up on finding the pictures.  And then – a good sign – a Facebook message from travelers from Israel.  They had found our computer tripoded up in the middle of the road….they bothered to stop, search the surrounding highway area for ‘parts’ and collected everything they found!  They were headed to Christchurch and were happy to meet us for the exchange!  Oh MY!  Happy days.  We don’t know what state our hard drive is (it got run over!)…but the computer is basically unscathed.  So – with a little more upbeat faces and attitudes…we head to Christchurch.

Thank you!!!

Lessons learned for sure….but still perspective rules.  We are blessed to have a healthy happy family.  We are all well and safe.  We have been able to SEE the world…and not just through pictures….and we have our memories (some better than others…but hey – we will take what we can get!)

The hard drive definitely got run over!

So, Rich continues to look into computer places I didn’t know existed to find pictures and so far…a few more than none!  And I have all the NZ ones to add to these posts.  We sure are glad we have the blog to keep our stories and many of our pictures alive for us and you.

More grey hairs
Computer…miraculously intact

We had a very relaxing 2 night stay in Kaikoura.  We had a sweet Clifftop apartment with a deck perfect for morning coffee and evening wine!  (and sunset)

We had use of their games – old school OPERATION….lots of laughs and we enjoyed the town playgrounds.

I had a quintessential NZ run through sheep turd pasture and long grass, down a hill, to find the sign for the way out and up and over the electric fence!  …then to the beach with the stinky seals….then along the sweet boardwalk and sea side trail…followed by the well-marked up hill track back to our street at the top of the cliff!  I don’t think it is a segment on Strava!

A nice Kiwi man showed me the “way down”…by pointing just over there..

Weaved my way through the sheep turd, wet grass and down hill…to find the WALKWAY SIGN (and sheep on guard)

…then up and over the electric fence!

…to find a nice beach

…and a boardwalk to the seals

…then climb UP HILL back home

AND we saw a sheep shearing….and learned lots about the sheep (Rich I am sure will educate with his post…me…I just post silly family pics)

AND we decided to enjoy the nice weather with views from the air.  Yup – in Kaikoura 16yrs ago Rich piloted a plane… we looked it up…and still Air Kaikoura lets you pilot a Cessna for only about $150.  That’s cheaper than any sightseeing flight we had been looking at.  So….the decision is made.  I will pilot a Cessna 4 seater…with Lulu in the back…..AND….. Wilson will pilot the next flight with Rich in the back!  Oh ya!  What a thrill really.  I even got to sit in the ‘pilot’ seat on the left!  The real pilot (Erin) was very nice….and talked to us about what buttons and levers she was pressing and then we go barreling down the run way.  As soon as we got to about 1500ft she “handed over the controls” and sat back while I steered the plane.  ‘Head over there’ she would say….and point to the left.  A little higher….and I would pull back on the yoke.  My palms were sweaty…but I tried hard to take in all the sights.  The mountains, the ocean, the seals on the rocks below…and managed to chat with Lauchlyn and Erin (the pilot).  Lauchlyn LOVED it…and wanted to go again.  She wasn’t nervous at all with me at the wheel (crazy!).  The scariest part was flying back to the airstrip….Erin said ‘head straight toward that clearing in the trees on the mountain in front of you’….’continue to drop your nose’…..’yup keep going’….’we need to get under 1000ft’….YIKES. I was headed right into a mountain! And then finally she said ‘ok, I will take it from here’…and took the controls.  Phew.  We landed on the grass and it was a very smooth landing.  Thank you Erin.  We were all smiles and eager to watch the boys with their adventure.

Wilson absolutely loved it.  He was already talking to the guys at Air Kaikoura about what it takes to get a pilots license.  Uhoh we are in trouble.

Last stop on the south island is Picton.  And more things planes….we found the Peter Jackson WW1 and WW2 plane exhibit in Omaka (near Picton).  Dad would have LOVED it here….and I learned a lot.  Firstly, Peter Jackson has WAY TOO MUCH MONEY!  Second, there were tremendous numbers of lives lost in the wars (I know – everyone knows that….but the millions and millions Russia lost….interesting video putting it into perspective)…..and lastly – many facts about certain battles where the pilots were very brave and heroic.

This should be on Lake Vernon!

..this would be me if I actually flew the plane!

The Red Baron

A Russian plane you can pay $$ to fly in!

And another playground…can’t pass them up.  A picnic and a “weigh off”


Try harder

…can’t do it!

The scales of truth!

…and shopping at the HOSPICE STORE.  These stores are everywhere.  We should really open one in Huntsville for Hospice Huntsville.

A quick sleep at a reasonable hotel – the Beachcomber.  The kids actually swam in the pool (they said it was warm) despite it being 16deg and drizzling out.  Rich and I drank wine on our second floor balcony – figuring one of us would jump from there if a lifeguard was needed!!  The hotel had a trampoline too…all is well.

Lulu after ribs at the local Irish Pub

Early am ferry ride on BlueBridge.  This ferry is not as big or as nice as the InterIslander (for future reference).  And today just didn’t work out as well as the trip over to the south island 3 wks ago.  Wilson ate a cream filled donut for bfast and immediately turned green.  He was “dizzy” and “sweaty” and then …..barfed and barfed in the back seat of the car waiting in the ferry line to drive the car on!  YUCK!

Mom dealt with it (lucky me in the back seat for once) and dumped the barf bag in the nearby trash just as we were driving on board.  Still, Wilson didn’t look great.  I have already prepped for motion sickness – took my Bonine and am wearing my antibarfband…..and fingers crossed.  But today was just going to be a bad barf day.

…backing up onto the ferry…interesting…and set off our bad luck perhaps

Wilson ended up in the bathroom 4 more times….YUCK….and then felt “great”!  Lulu and I turned deeper and deeper green sitting/standing on the pitching and rolling boat looking out the front window hoping not to barf.  We held on a quite a while—until the fire drill!  WHAT?!  A fire drill for “only about a 1/2hr” the captain said…all the while NOT MOVING FORWARD.  We bobbed up and down in the Cooke Strait in the giant swells…rolling up and down and back and forth…..OMG.  Finally the captain came back on the loud speaker and said “Thank you everyone.  The fire drill is over and the simulated fire has been put out.  We will now be on our way and will unfortunately be late for our 11:30 arrival in Wellington.  We will arrive at 1:30pm.  Sorry for the inconvenience!”  ARE YOU KIDDING ME!  I had to redose the Bonine and do A LOT of meditation….keeping it all in.

Wilson when he was still looking green

Lulu —-who doesn’t like pills…..wasn’t so lucky.  She started throwing up into her barf bag with all kinds of on lookers (looking equally green and many of them running away from the sound of barf!).  Of course…this is when Wilson was feeling great and therefore he and Rich were off ‘exploring’ on the ferry…and nowhere to be found.  That, and I couldn’t actually move from my cemented location staring at the horizon through the wave soaked windows.  We heaved and crashed on the waves SO hard that they came all the way up to the 7th floor on this ferry and covered the windows and our view!  So…I tried to wipe Lulu’s face and provide her some comfort…all without looking at her.  And then…the trickiest manouevre….getting rid of the full barf bag without moving?  Not possible.  The garbage can was about 50m away….and I am sure I was quite a sight….trying to side step my way, holding a full barf bag, looking DEEP GREEN myself…and bumping into and clinging onto the seats along the way.  I made it!  I dumped the bag and rushed back to my position standing behind Lulu….until Rich and Wilson finally saved us.  They walked us briskly to the back of the boat and outside.  It was cold, windy and we were getting wet…but to my surprise…on this boat —sitting higher and even backwards…was MUCH LESS PITCHY than sitting inside facing forward.  The trip was TOO long and I was SO happy to get off the boat. (sorry….NO pictures!).

I am really not looking forward to 6days in Galapagos on a boat…but I will try my best! (or at least it will help me in my quest to fit into my pants when I get home!)

We had a very long drive ahead of us to Taupo…..and so with lunch in us and our feet on solid ground…everyone is feeling better.  Well…Rich never felt bad…..perhaps he needs to enrol in the sea sickness club as a weight loss strategy…

Taupo town is quaint and has a nice waterfront.  Lake Taupo is very large and apparently good for swimming etc.  It was cool while we were there and we didn’t attempt to swim.  Our air bnb was lovely with amazing smelling flowers, grapes on a vine on our deck, a garden out back, a hot tub and kids games etc.  Rich took the mountain bike out for a great ride (he didn’t kill himself or get tooooo lost at least).  I did my run and work out with kids doing their homework.  Lulu and I managed to get a mani and Lulu got a pedi….getting ready for Island life!

I can’t believe we fly to Tahiti tomorrow…then really we are on the road to home!  Well…until we hit a snag tonight…our first snag in the flights.  We don’t have a booking number on the flight for tomorrow –which means we can’t check in on line.  Rich made a call to Air NZ…and “unfortunately sir, I don’t see your name on the booking” “is there anything else I can help you with tonight”…YES….FIND OUR FLIGHT!!!!  But whatever.  We have sent messages to our travel agent…and Air Tahiti….and will keep our spirits up.  Hopefully we will have a flight tomorrow…and hopefully we will be in Tahiti to enjoy our AMAZING accommodations in Moorea….but alas…perspective!  We are well, we are safe, we are together and we are a family.  We are happy travelers…let the adventures continue.

Lulu giving a MAD face to JB…for the (I thought very funny) prank of the FOR SALE sign on our lawn!