I arrived back in Wellington last night from the South Island trip. I have to say that I was unable to see all that I would have liked to, as we were with my partner's parents who wanted to visit relatives there. We may well do a trip there again before we leave, as well as seeing more of the North.
After leaving Xchurch I spent a few days on the Otago peninsula, close to Dunedin. Dunedin was a Scottish settlement rather than an English one like Xchurch. It was fairly quiet partly because it is a university city and it was off season, students were away. However, I noticed it had a lot of art and culture for what is essentially a small city (at least by English standards!). Paid a visit to the gallery and viewed some interesting paintings, some were local and some were imports from Europe. There were some interesting shops too. Went in a shop in the Octagon (city centre, main square) named Gloria, where the propietor sells some unusual clothes and jewellry, mst of it is handmade and some of it she makes herself in the shop. The hat I bought was made by her daughter who is a local folk singer. I must shamedly admit that I didn't visit the bird colonies, partly due to problems with transportation and partly due to poor weather.
After that we stopped at Wanaka (a very charming lake town surrounded by mountains, not so touristy as Queenstown) and then headed for Motueka. Had a look at the scenery on the west coast (including the famous pancake rocks) with it's dense vegetation, and went on a flying fox ride over a valley. Was pleasantly surprised to find the water on the beach in Motueka warm enough for a swim. Also came accross a Santa Claus with a genuine white beard!
That is another thing I find strange, Christmas in the summer and summer in December! As there are no dark nights there are noticably fewer lights in people's windows. Christmas was initially based on the Northern Winter solstice (Christ's birthday being placed a few days after, or it may well have been put on the same day as the Roman Mithras festival). Most religious festivals of light are geared to the Northern hemisphere. I imagine I might find the Southern winter hard (was I staying here that long) as there is no festival of lights to break it up. Perhaps winter solstice should be declared a public holiday down here. But in a way it is nice to have a summer solstice Xmas!