After departing Nelson, we headed south to Punakaiki, home of the Pancake Rocks! We then journeyed southeast, via Arthur’s Pass. We ended up in Christchurch for a few days. Happy (very) Belated Mother’s Day to Pamcakes/Macmama/Mrs. McNutt and Mom/Marmee/Marms, and Happy Father’s Day to Macdaddy/Mr. McNutt/The Donweiser and Dad/Mr. Mo/Funny Donny! Thank you for all that sacrificial lovin’ y’all have given to us over three decades!

The Pancake Rocks of Punakaiki, on the West Coast of the South Island. Any guesses as to what the cafe in town serves?
I’ll take mine with butter, maple syrup, toasted pecans, caramelized bananas, and thick cut, CRISPY bacon. None of that limp, floppy stuff. And I’ll take many new sets of teeth with my order please, cause I’mma be needing those after diving into this stack of rocky flapjacks.
Pic’s Peanut Butter Slugs. Slugs…sounds terrible, doesn’t it? About two hours into any road trip, Clay says, “Hey babe, you mind reaching into the back and grabbin’ me two slugs?” It’s a very tidy way to eat peanut butter while focusing on driving the curvy, mountainous, NZ roads. No jar or spoon necessary. Just squirt it straight into your pie hole. There is a dangerous aspect to peanut butter slugs, though. You have to squish and squeeze the bag for a few minutes before opening them up, in order to mix up all the peanut oil that separates from the peanut butter. Clay likes his really, really, really mixed up, so he tries to drive and squeeze the bag for about ten minutes. This makes me very nervous on all the twisty, shoulderless roads, so about five minutes into the bag squeezing and squishing, I exclaim, “Here! Hand me the dad gum slugs! I’m mixing them up from now on! You just drive with two hands!” I learned this reaction from Macmama…you can feel she is getting irritated when she and my dad are driving somewhere and he quietly opens the console while driving, and begins to try to single-handedly unravel the plastic from a new pack of gum. Ahhh…I love the little things of life.


We were so fortunate to get up close and personal with the smart and mischievous Kea bird! Isn’t he a beauty? We were traveling through Arthur’s Pass, and he showed up as if on queue when we pulled over to admire the beauty. He marched around us as if he was a little dictator, not at all afraid. He almost had us conned until we saw a sign nearby that said, “Do NOT feed our precious New Zealand Kea birds.” This little joker knew exactly what he was up to.
Arthur’s Pass…the gloriously beautiful road connecting Greymouth to Christchurch. I hear taking the Tranzalpine Train is an awesome experience if you prefer to not travel by car. Or if you fly into Christchurch, you could then take the train and rent a car in Greymouth. Just helping those of you planning trips down under!
Too pretty of a view to look away and into the camera! Truth be told, I was feeling particularly homely, so I came up with this look-away pose.
Welcome to Christchurch! Have you ever punted?! It’s so fun! Especially if you are a woman. Here’s how it works: you let go of your feminist side for a hot minute and embrace glorious, underrated chivalry. Then you take the punter’s hand as daintily as possible as he helps you into a beautiful old wooden boat, take a seat, and pretend you’re in London circa 1870, enjoying a ride down the River Thames, as the punter stands at the back of the boat and propels it forward using his sturdy pole to push off the river bed.
The punt (boat), the punter (man), and his pole.
Clay, however, did not want some other man getting to do all the acts of chivalry. He wanted to row the boat himself. So we opted for that two person, wooden row boat there in the photo, and he rowed me all over the Avon River while I enjoyed the sunshine and talked in a British accent.
What woman doesn’t want to be rowed around by a handsome man while doing absolutely nothing but looking around at the beauty? My other non-21st century desire is to do a Viennese Waltz in a HUGE ballgown, in an enormous empty ballroom, in an old castle…Beauty and the Beast style. It is, in my opinion, the epitome of romance. Clay told me the other day, with much hesitation and ummm’ing, that I am a bit “prissy”. I was SO insulted. But now that I go back and read this caption, I’m afraid he may be right.
That’s a keeper there. The photo and the man.
Suddenly, my 1870 day dream abruptly came to an end when Clay rammed us into a tree hanging over the riverbank. Instead of helping, he started laughing and taking pictures, while I cussed and tried to not get an eyeball poked out.
Probably imitating the boat scene in Bridget Jones’s Diary. Ahhhhh…Mark Darcy…right ladies?

My favorite scene:

Feed the birds, tuppence a bag.
The boat ride coming to an end. Our one hour flew by too quickly!
Cheerio to our trusty clinker vessel.
Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Simply lovely!
One of the trees in the Botanic Gardens. Incredible right? It’s like a massive spider is growing out of the trunk. Clay has come a long way since his arachnophobic days.
I adore color en masse. My favorite landscaping while living in Los Angeles was an enormously long driveway, where the entire thing was jam packed with red geraniums. Geraniums are far from my favorite flower, but wow, that person’s yard/driveway really stood out and looked so cheerful and welcoming.
Humans acting like monkeys in the rose garden at the Botanic Gardens. He must have had one heck of a zit that needed popping. She probably had been staring at it all day and just couldn’t wait any longer. I wish she had waited though. Gag.
Mmm…dappled sunlight. Who knows where I am wondering off to in the distance. It’s good to go on a solo walk in a garden now and then.
What remains of the beautiful Christchurch Cathedral. Christchurch experienced two major earthquakes in two consecutive years. You can still see the effects for sure…lots of re-building, lots of creative artwork in the empty spots, and lots of innovative things going on in the re-growth of this city. I love the way the human spirit can bounce back with art and imaginative new ways of thinking after tragedy.
Steel beams bracing the front of the church.
New Regent Street, Christchurch.
Not at all fazed.
This is Clay’s impression of my mom when she orders a lemon drop martini and upon the first sip, without fail, says, “Oh my gosh, this is the strongest drink I’ve ever had!” We do our impersonations of you with love Mom. I have a fabulous video of Clay trying to mimic your iconic strut…swing dem hips! He won’t let me post it, though…
We took a day trip out to Banks Peninsula, located just south of Christchurch. It’s a twisty, windy, wheel-shaped piece of earth of volcanic origin (thanks, Wikipedia). This is just one of the gazillions of picturesque views.
Akaroa, our destination on Banks Peninsula. Akaroa was originally a French colony. It’s a teeny-weeny, one street village. It’s one of those places where you want to rent a tiny summer cottage, and bring all the books you’ve ever wanted to read…and soak in a slower, more restful pace of life.
I found the cottage to rent! Mom…that garden, eh?! Makes me miss working with Zoe and Sue at Field of Roses!
Chock fulla dahlias and roses. And you never go wrong with a beautiful, climbing vine…looks to me to be wisteria.
From my favorite cottage, we took a wee walk out to the pier. There was a huge cruise ship docked out in Akaroa Harbor, but we were more interested in this pretty old sailboat.
Watching the pretty sailboat anchor. Side note: Never trust the lighting in a dressing room. Otherwise you may buy a completely see-through summer dress. Clay snapped this pic and walked up to me chuckling to himself as he showed me the photo. I then proceeded to run to the bench ahead and sit down, embarrassed and feeling like a floozy. I did not leave my bench until all persons had left the pier.
Pondering how long I’ll have to sit here in my transparent dress.
But I got over myself eventually. My to-do list of “things we MUST see regardless of the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day!” was calling my name. So we did the next thing on it, which was walk from the pier out to that lighthouse in the distance, via a forest walk on the hillside behind me there. I had to feel the water temperature first, though. Frigid. Kiwis must have a different temperature gauge. The only water I dive into without a full wetsuit on is either the bathwater of the Gulf of Mexico or the bathwater off of Mimi and Papa’s pier at Logan Martin Lake.
Akaroa Harbor, taken from the hillside above the lighthouse. We had plans to just snap a photo and head on back, but on the hillside behind this photo, there was an old cemetery that took us captive for an hour. All of the headstones looked out to the ocean, and the most heavenly breeze was coming off the water, making all the wise old trees sway so peacefully around all the souls who have gone before us. Most of the headstones were dated from the early to late 1800’s. I was so grateful and refreshed after wandering through and reading many of the markers. If Clay and I ever have kids, I am going to be that weird mom that the other moms talk about, because I’m going to take my kids to old cemeteries after school. It really gives one perspective. First, you realize that most people died very, very young back in those days…in infancy, or as toddlers, or as 20 year old mothers giving birth, or from a work accident, or disease. One is reminded of the brevity of life, and to be grateful for yours. Most of all, I always walk away feeling pensive about what kind of legacy I want to leave, and what really matters in this life. It’s easy to carelessly toss these things out of your mind when you’re young, but an old cemetery brings you face to face with the reminder that time is all we have, and we certainly have no clue how much of it we’ll be given. I think the thing that most moved me was the way the poetic, King James-ish epitaphs expressed a quiet, stoic, strength, and an incredibly unshakeable faith of loved ones left behind. Sorry we don’t have any photos. Clay feels it’s disrespectful to take photos of peoples’ gravestones. Plus, I cry ridiculously easy, so no photos was a good idea here. So…yeah, this little detour was actually my favorite part of the entire day. God has a way of reminding me that the best parts of every day are the ones I don’t plan. They are never on the ol’ to-do list.
On our way back to Christchurch, we passed this pasture full of mini-horses. They are so hilarious looking to me. The two horsies in the foreground were being so mean to the little brown one in the background. Clay had to pull over and snap this selfie as an ode to the annual golf tournament he and all of my male cousins participate in…it’s called the Mini-Horse Golf Tournament Benefiting Post-College Muscular Atrophy. Ha.
This is back in Christchurch. Clay loves chemistry. It is something we absolutely do not have in common. When he was a kid he used to get a magazine called Scientific American, and whenever it would come in, his sister Bailey would say, “Clay, your Geek Weekly has arrived!” So I was not surprised that Clay proposed we do this on Valentine’s Day. I said, “Ummmm. No thank you.”
Every good and charming city has a tram!
One of the many areas the earthquake hit, and art has temporarily taken its place. I believe this is a heed to take climate change seriously…melting glaciers and melting penguins. I have never met a country more committed to reducing, re-using, and recycling, as well as preserving natural beauty, than New Zealand. Here on the South Island, 99% of electricity is generated by renewable sources. Pretty cool.
Christchurch has an outdoor mall of shipping containers. I think it is meant to be temporary during the re-building phase, but it seems to be a hit!
More post-earthquake art/food for thought.
I prefer paintings of pastoral landscapes and wrinkly depression-era people, but I’ll give any art a gander.
Can’t keep a good man or a good city down.