…..we are sending our WARMEST WISHES from Hahei beach, New Zealand. We are wishing you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR– on this, the very last blog you shall every have to endure. :)

So w ithout further adue…..

12/14– Friday…. Alright, who pulled the “funny” and plopped us back in England? C’mon people– jokes over…. we are SO OVER this rainy chilly uckiness… HELLO!? HELLOOOOO!?

As I look up and out my passenger window the sun is just barely peaking through the grey rain clouds. And its been exactly in that very same place for the past 3 days and COUNTING. Makes a “weeee” bit problamatic mess when you are trying to tent it– the simplest tasks seem to become an irratable drag.
BUUUUT- as Ray’s mum sung to him when he was just a ‘lad’…. “Whatsa’ matta’ you….gotta no respect…why you lookin’ so sad?…. Itsa’ notsa’ bad, itsa’ nice a place… AHHH shut up your face!”

So we did exactly that– “shut up our face” and pressed on… and its actually “notsa’ bad” cause’ all the sudden the curvy dirt raod we were on suddenly came to a clearing and WOW, even through the droplets of rain it was a spectacular site! The beautiful bay of Purakaunui was in front of us desplaying a deep blue ocean with raging waves crashing up against the limestone white faced cliffs. Looksl ike it was going to be us and the sheep at this campsite tonight… now we just have to make sure to not place our tent in all the “lambie poooo.”

Saturday 12/15– Massive smile on my face as FINALLY the rain has ceased. It came to an end late last night just in time for us to make a fire to unthaw ourselves from the damp chill to the air. With the sound of rolling waves of the sea and the left over chicken curry lingering on my lips– life was just as it should be.
Alright– because I have been absolutely rubbish at keeping my thoughts and experiences in my journal rolling, I’ll try to make this as quick and painless as possible…

We left the town of Wanaka on Tuesday and headed towards Queenstown- adored by all and deemed the adventure capital of NZ we could only dream of the bungees, skydives and jetboats as our “dangerous adventure money” had runith’ dry. (to the relief of my mum) :) Queenstown was very typical of a “ski village” back home with the snow topped mountains reaching towards the town and Lake Wakatipue lapping onto its shores it was exquisite… and incredibly expensive… But it was a must see- You can’t pass through the S. Island without getting a peak at this gorgeous town placed almost perfectly along its rugged and lush green background. After a very long drive we ended up spending that night just outside of Milford Sound— where a down pour of rain is almost guarenteed (and it didn’t let us down) but the captivating views of the sheer cliffs and the calm waters of this VERY unique corner of the world had to be experienced. After checking out at least several DOC campsites along beautiful Milford Road (I guess we have become pretty picky with our “basic necessities”) we ended up squeezing ourselves amongst the caravans (as Ray doesn’t “back-track”) and geared up to set up our tent for the first time in NZ in the rain.

*****Sidenote….Oh man– if only you could have seen us the past few nights as we “chill out” in our teensy tent with our Ipod playing in the background. (still the best last minute decision to take it EVERRRR) Just imagine barring Ray to the tightest space possible with NO where to go and watch him as the energy continues to bottle up inside of him…. BRILLIANT. Now imagine being the one who has to sit within centimeters and experience this with him as he is literally bouncing off of the walls of the tent unable to surrender against its hold. BOO HOO MAAMA!

The next day we drove towards Milford Sound making the most of the rain and haze and fog and making light of the situation– we both knew that when we got there we would be able to see nothing– But the drive was exceptional as we wound our way up to the very top of a mountain that almost looked as if it were crying as water plunged through its cracks. I got the chance to walk on snow (then quickly shuttered at the thought of all of THIS at home) and curved ourselves back down towards mysterious Milford Sound. Though’ it was so mysterious that day that you couldn’t even see it through the rain and fog– but never the less… the adventure for us was getting there, and is sometimes better then the actual destination.
But then, thats how it goes for most things in life… doesn’t it?

Little did we know the biggest adventure was yet to come that very night. There was supposively a DOC campsite by a lake just 24 Kms off the main road…However, what we didn’t know was that it was a 24 Km very long crazy curvy neverending BIG OL’ ROCKY dirt road. And after a near miss of about 4 sheep and 1 cow we finally pulled up to the definition of “the middle of nowhere.” If there was such a picture to help perfectly describe its meaning, well, what we pulled up to in the pouring rain was exactly that. So we did what anyone would do… we sat in the car and ate a bisquit as we contemplated what our options were.
Far and few between, thats what.
We knew there was a lake just about 6 Kms further along the “devil” of a road- so we held our breath and crossed our toes and hoped that there would be at least shelter from the thick droplets of rain.
Lets just say it was possibly a campsite maybe a decade or so ago– but it was now an overgrown mess with a few slanted blocks that somewhat replicated a fire pit and a bathroom like stall that well, I wouldn’t even push my worst enemy into. BUT it would work for the night– it HAD to as it was our option “Z.” So we set off to collect some very damp firewood (I considered it soaked through, but who am I to say that I am a “professional wood wet teller?”) Besides, we had Macgyver on our hands folks…. oh if I could only recall the DOZENS of instances that Ray comes through and pulls off the most IMPOSSIBLE of tasks. And I just sake my head in disbelief… utterly stupifed. So our home town Macgyver Ray put heaps of rubbish’ (old paper/cardboard/tissues) into a plastic bag and then stuck it unto the kindling and not 30 minutes later the wood dried out enough to actually burn… we had just lept from the “miserable catagory” to the slightly “mmmm, yah- we can get through this” catagory. After a dinner of ‘cousta’ (cous cous and spaghetti combines as it was too wet to even try) we decided to call it a day– and as I layed there in our tent I tried not to think about how deep we were in that forest– or how VERY far away we were from civilization, and most of all… how ANGRY my mum would be if she knew. But we made it through the night and packed up and got out of there at record speed that next morning….
That day we tried our darndest to make the most of the dreay weather bit it finally got us down- we needed a roof, a bed and a shower. There were just no 2 ways about it. So we ended up in a little town called Riveton on the very bottom of the S. Is. and nestled into a very cozy room at a “feel like I’m stayin’ at my grams” kind of motel. The older man that ran it was sensational– and we appreciated every little square foot of that dry warm facility. Bit ol’ kitchen to cook in, a big huge hall full of games to keep Ray Ray busy and a fabulous little room with a big ol’ bed and TV (oooh, so NICE!) and shower. We felt like we won the lotto– and all for a mere $50.00– we soaked it up but good! The enxt day we were completely revitalized– even though the rain still trickled down, we just tried to suck it up and “press on.”
We had stopped to see a few waterfalls along the way towards our next campiste and the rains actually made them even more spectacular.

Which brings me up to today– Sunday the 16th– I know I have missed a few pieces inbetween, but those gaps are going to just have to be left open. To fill the space would be, and always is– impossible. Every day is sich an experience– every day is such a gift. I don’t need to unwrap it all to tell you how much I smile- or how hard I laugh….
We are at a full-on campsite in a small (but hugely charming) town called Dunedin right now. We pulled in just a couple hours ago from the perfect little Purakaunui Bay that we ended up staying one more night at. The weather turned and being able to set your ten off of a hill overlooking the ocean– its cliffs- its sea lions (oh yes– we were able to get up close and personal– what a beautiful and intriguing animal!) and the bazillion of sheep that “BAAAA’D” like no tomorrow– was in a lack of words, incredible.

We actually just got back from the $2 store in town (Jan would be horrified… I mean, what– no $1 stores!?) And purchased some X-mas decorations for the outside of our tent. (I am glad we humored you with that Jen… heee!) Ray has been so wonderful in getting me in the mood this year as I just haven’t been able to wrap myself around the holiday quite yet–
WARM=SUMMER How can they celebrate like this? But as I write now I am looking over at our tinsled out tent with our snowman decoration on top saying “let is snow!” and our “santa stop here” post in front and starting to acutally feel a little bit of Christmas spirit starting to stir inside of me. Finally. I just wonder how we’ll, or WHERE for that matter… spend it?

12/17– Monday
Well I know what I definitely DON’T want to be when I grow up– and that a Cadbury Chocolate factory worker! Ray told me that I should ask the tour guide at the Chocolate Factory we visited if he ever gets sick of wearing purple (he had on purple overalls, folks) and if he ever gets sick of the smell of chocolate. Though’ the hairnets we all wore were quite attractive to say the least…. However mine just made me look like a “factory worker” and Ray’s actually made him look like a doctor as he also had to wear a “face net” for his facial hair. I honestly don’t think he wanted to take it off…..
But anyhoot- we have just left the town of Dunedin– Its raining… SURPRISE SURPRISE– but at least I had yesterday to remember what summer was as we played frisbee on the beach with our togs on. (swimsuits)
Never in my life (not even in MN) have I seen weather turn so drastically. Crikeys.

12/20– Thursday
Shack a lackin’ slackin’ again on the journal writing.
I think it all has to do with a little something called “denial.” Denial in the fact that the pages that I write now are coming to an end– and I haven’t yet adjusted to how I feel about that. Too many unknowns in the air– too many questions that I felt would be answered by this leg of the amazing Wyatt race. You have this idea in your head before you leave that all these ideas will spark- all these “ah HA” moments will appear and you will become this “brand new” being through all you experience. And as it all draws to an end I find that I am still this same ol’ Lyssr’ with just a few more adventures under her belt. But still just as curious and even more driven then before…. especially when you have only just “scratched the surface.” But we keep plugging along– and itchin’ all the way through.
I am writing right now as I sit on the end of a jetty in the Marlbourough Sounds area which is at the very tip top of the S. Is.
The water is lapping at the dock as the sun is just peaking out from the clouds– It still hasn’t quite wanted to come out and play the last couple of days making for some CRAZY chilly nights, but we are on our way to the “hopefull” warmth of the N. Is. tomorrow. Hey- gotta’ keep optamistic, otherwise these grey skies will tug you down.

We made our way up from Dunedin on the Eastern Coast of the S. Is. towards Timaru– and then from Timaru we stayed the night in Christchurch, exchanged rental cars and ended up with a fancy smancy new relocation cary that we’ll drive straight up to Auckland in. We can’t stray too much as kms are set at 1150 giving us an extra of 150 to play with, geeeeee thanks! But they are paying our ferry over– and its only a $1 a day rental. We just have to make it up there by the 23rd and we pick up our FINAL rental car for the remaining 5 days in NZ.
Lets just say that at this point we are rental PROFESSIONALS. Were definitely coming out of this with more then we have ever wanted to know in a lifetime and THEN SOME about how the world of “car rentals” work. Can’t say I really asked for that lil’ slice of wisdom.

But the bountiful wisdom that I can say I have happily acquired is that of VINO. Not just drinking it (but I am pretty good at that, mind you) but being able to appreciate it at a whole new level as we were able to experience the Marlburough Wine region that makes our final count of regions of wine… 5. France (Samur) S. Africa, Margaret Rive and Yarra Valley in Australia and our final guzzle in NZ. Talk about SPOILED.
We had a wonderful day cruising around to different vineyards and savouring the flavors and the beautiful scenery. I must say that my favorite was Te Whare Ra as the owner of the vineyard was in the front of the house and we were the only ones there so we really got 1 on 1 time exploring his world and how it works. But the weather stuck it out and the raindrops stayed away… it was a wine-TASTIC’ day. (c’mon, I had to throw one last tastic in there somewhere…)

12/21- Friday
Well, here we sit in the “ferry line” awaiting to board to travel towards the N. Is.– We are listening to radio reports of the earthquake last night– Yup, thats right…. I was in my first earthquake ever! Can you belive it? Just a bit of a rumble is all… but is sounds like the N. Is. felt it the most– 6.8 magnitude. We are on the very tip of the S. Is. which is the only reason we had flet a bit of the aftermath but slightly exciting never the less. However I must honestly admit that I was slightly concerned as we were camping right along side the bay in Marlborough Sounds and I asked Ray if we should be worried about a tsunami… of COURSE he laughed and said, “but lyss, we are in a BAY for bloody sake!” But stiiiiil- its all linked to the ocean, right? You bet I still popped out of the tent an hour after it happened when I heard the waves lapping a bit harder…. Ray of course laughed, but this gal isn’t taking any chances!

Saturday 12/22
Christmas EVE EVE EVE!
Though’ I’m stil trying to conjure up the good ol’ Christmas spirit, its definitely here. We’ve sorted ourselves out for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on a lovely campground on Hahei Beach on the Coromandel Peninsual. For a whopping $40.00 of tent space per night we’d figure if we couldn’t have a white SNOWY christmas- then BY GAWD’ we’d have a white SANDY Christmas. We are making our way to Lake Taupo today (our halfway point to Auckland) w’ere still trying to figure out what that bright shiny thing is in the sky today– its makin’ me squint awfully hard!
It almost happened immediately as we hopped on the ferry yesterday for the N. Is.– and have we ever realized how much we missed this beautiful weather!
The ferry ride was absolutly gorgeous– much like Halong Bay with the inlets and bays with the acqua blue water. Not too shappy for a free ride across the sea! And to top it all off we ended up at a free DOC campsite just 50 KMS from Wellington. We just realized we didn’t spend one penny yesterday… if only there could be mroe of those days! So as we pass the signs for “pony poo for $1.00” and goats on chains by wooden boxes that supposively are their homes (bizzaro) I patiently await our destination today in hopes that I can soak up a bit of that shiney bright thing in the sky….

12/26… Wednesday…. and here we are in the here and now…. We just got done spending Christmas on the beach in beautiful Hahei, and wow…. was it ever a crazy different experience. It was my first time every away from home on Christmas, and well… I don’t think I am planning on doing that again any time soon. As Ray and I wandered around the Holiday Park with our glasses of wine and Santa/Elf hats on looking for someone– ANYONE— to take us in and let us spend Christmas night with their family– I realized that no family would do like MY family. And there is no place better on this earth then to be in MN on Christmas. End of story.

Though’ we absolutely made the most of it…. Trying to keep any sort of tradition in check, Ray did his very best to make my “mums” spegetti on Christmas eve– and we opened our stocking from my parents FIRST thing on Christmas morning… in our PJ’s, of course. The biggest suprise was opening my present from my parents to find that their gift absolutely SENSATIONAL. I think I may still be laughing to this second….. And I think the picture above does it justice. The T-shirt (with their smiling santa hatted faces smack in the middle) read:
“Trip around the world… Megabucks. A Christmas picture of mom and dad… Priceless.” Did I ever show that one off yesterday! UNREAL! Good on ya’ mom and dad… that was BRILLIANT!

So now as this all really really REALLY is starting to come to an end…. (but not before a week in Tahiti… I know, we are such brats) I just want to take a quick moment to make sure I let everyone know how much it has meant to Ray and I that you have kept with us through thick and thin through our adventures… you know who you are (because you are reading this right now) and it has lifted us up in so many occasions. We eat em’ up really– your comments and emails… and if you could only see our faces or hear our big ol’ BOOMING laughs as we read what you have written… it means the world and more. Thank you. Thank you for being a part of our journey….. It wouldn’t be the same without you here.

What a whirwind…. what an adventure…. what an experience.

So thats it folks…. well, at least until our next “Wyatt Tour”……
Merry Christmas to everyone!!!

Have a wonderful New Years…. Catch ya’ on the flip side.
Alyssa and Ray


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