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South Island Road Trip * day eight * Arrowtown to The Catlins (part one)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Day eight felt particularly long, and we saw so many lovely things that I decided to break it up into two posts.

The kids were up at 5:30am and we were out the door by 7:00. The Catlins was the area I had most looked forward to seeing and I wanted to get an early start on the day. Being so far south, it lacks a bit of the bus and tourist traffic.

The drive from Arrowtown to Owaka was breathtaking. The area south of Alexandra was particularly unique and beautiful (again... the colors... I can't get enough of New Zealand's heavenly hues). Dull and sharp greens, mustard yellow trees, dirty white sheep sheep, sandy hilltops capped with snow, grey skies and a heavy haze all around.

The Teviot Valley and Lake Roxburg would have been a nice place to explore it we had more time. Lots of bike trails, fruit stalls, orchards and fresh fruit ice cream for sale. Beautiful scenery.

We drove past The Speargrass Inn and didn't stop... because we would have immediately altered its peaceful ambiance. Places like this are better suited for people that don't throw tantrums. It looked perfectly at home in this part of the country. A former/or future version of myself would love to have stayed the night and had a meal.

We walked to the end of Tunnel Hill - a 250 meter rail tunnel that was constructed (with pick and shovel) on the Balclutha–Tahakopa railway line in 1891–93. The railway closed in 1971, and the tunnel is now part of a historic reserve. The kids are always keen to hike anywhere that requires headlamps.

... and then we arrived at THE HOUSE. The Catlins River Station House was a immediate favorite, even before we walked in the door. Chickens and eggs = hours of entertainment. Despite the 1970's shag carpet and "vintage" wall paper, this house felt like home. My kids are always dirty... and I like it that way. They take their shoes off when they come in and I encourage a certain measure of cleanliness... but maintaining a spotless house and squeaky clean kids will never be top on the to-do list. This farmhouse was designed for my people - laundry room at the back door for immediate removal of chicken poop covered clothing, bathroom directly across the hall for easy transfer to the tub. Hot, wood burning stove, lots of stacked wood, bean bag chairs, quality kids movies, large sturdy farm table in the kitchen, and weighty warm bedding (which largely inspired my recent sewing rampage). I love when blanket are so heavy that feel like an x-ray vest. Every bed had about four layers of wonderful thick, soft bedding.

Ben's aunt and uncle own a ranch style home on a piece of property in East Texas. It has a very similar charm (and decor). Before we had kids we spent many weekends with a special group of friends at that house. I have some very fond memories from those times and that place... and because of that, shag carpet under my feet always makes me smile.

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