»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
Our last major stop in NZ…..Ross
February 11th, 2010 by Jeff

Our last stop in New Zealand was definitely one of the best! We spent three days and two nights with a lovely couchsurfing host family just outside of Ross on the southwest coast of the lower island. Annie, Ted, Katie (13) and Jessica (9) – how perfect is that for a matching up with the Wells crew- took us in and showed us a great time. Even thought this part of the coast gets 250 days of rain a year, we brought good weather with us and had three straight days of glorious sunshine.

View down the beach at Annie and Ted's - not too shabby!

View down the beach at Annie and Ted's - not too shabby!

To really appreciate how well we had it with Annie and family, you need to understand their setup. They have this gorgeous house on 200 acres of land right up on the beach, with a wetlands preserve to the south and a river to the north that empties into the ocean.  On the farm they have cattle, horses, sheep, a pig, four dogs, and six cats (I think – we didn’t see the cats much). Needless to say the girls, especially Phoebe, were in heaven. They also have all the fun toys and things that go along with the farm: trampoline, kayaks, canoes, gold panning equipment and river rafts.

Some of the animals

Some of the animals

When we arrived at the home in the afternoon, Ted and the girls just happened to drive in right behind us. They warmly welcomed us into their home, gave us cold drinks and let us get a little settled. Once Annie got in from her work (she is a nurse) we ventured to the beach with kayaks, boogie boards and kids in the back of the pickup and the dogs running eagerly along as we drove down the access road. We made our way to the water. The kids, Ted and I traversed a little stream (that gets dammed up between rain storms) on the kayaks and boogie boards while Kate and Annie walked around to get to the ocean. The kids spent the evening swimming in the creek, while the adults walked the beach and collected stuff (needless to say, Kate has sent another box of rocks home to AZ). We also made plans for the next day. We ended our first evening, with a delicious late night dinner of pasta Bolognese a la Annie, and wonderful conversations late into the night.

Tessa, Jessica (left) and Katie (right) in the back of the truck ready for the beach ride

Tessa, Jessica (left) and Katie (right) in the back of the truck ready for the beach ride

Everyone, but Ted – who had to work, slept in the next morning. After my girls helped Katie and Jess move the calves from one paddock to another, Annie, her girls, Phoebe, and I went off for a haircut, leaving Tessa and Kate to fight over the computer (a good internet connection in New Zealand will do that to you). When we got back it was time to head back to the beach. The second day was much like the first evening, but with a few extra adventures.

First of all, we decided we needed to try a New Zealand specialty – mussels fresh from the ocean and cooked on the beach! We planned another walk to coincide with low tide and then found a rock covered in mussels. We picked two large grocery bags full, and brought them back to our beach site where we started a small fire. The kids and I all experimented with the best way to get the mussels in to the fire and cooked, while adding the least amount of sand to our meal. At first we just set the shells in the fire, which worked but added quite a bit of sand to the meal. We then placed them on large rocks we had set in the fire, which worked a little better. Actually, this amounted to the dogs getting a meal of fresh mussels, as none of the people wanting the extra grit with their meal. Finally Ted and the girls decided to use the shovel from the truck as a pan they could hold while the mussels cooked. This worked quite well (they even put water in the shovel to aid the steaming process). Tessa happily devoured a number of the mussels – looking somewhat like a Neanderthal, crouched over, pulling them apart with her hands and munching away. “It’s kind of like seafood gum!” she happily exclaimed.

Dogs waiting for Tessa to discard mussel remains - they went hungry!

Dogs waiting for Tessa to discard mussel remains - they went hungry!

While the girls were using the shovel, I decided to be a survival purist and wanted to only use items found on the beach for my portion of the meal, using a forked stick from the beach I continued to cook my few pieces on the hot rocks and was able to get a few cooked and eaten (but to be honest I think Ted and girls food was cooked better and less sandy).

Getting back to our beach walk that evening, after pulling the mussels from the rocks, we continued on down the beach towards an area that often has seals basking in the sun. We were not disappointed, as the dogs flushed a large male out of the rocks and into the ocean. They never really got close to him, so none of the animals were ever in any peril. On the way back to our beach sight, with mussels in hand, we then spotted dolphins playing in the waves. This was my cue to get back and get in the kayak!

I ventured out in the kayak to try and catch a glimpse of the dolphins and try to ride a small wave or two. The dolphins shot past me once while I was out in the surf. However they did not stick around while I paddled in the water. I did catch a wave or two (after being dumped two or three times – in my defense the kayaks didn’t have a fin and weren’t really set up for catching waves).

Getting across the "dammed" creek

Getting across the "dammed" creek

After the beach we headed back to the house for a proper dinner. While the mussels were a good appetizer, we really saved the vast majority of the mussels for dinner later that evening. We steamed two large pots of them. I made a white wine and garlic sauce and a coconut curry sauce, which were both quite tasty if I do say so myself. Ted also cooked up some fine sausages and no one left the table with any room, as Annie had also made a cheesecake dessert.

The following morning we got our things packed for the next part of our travels before the girls went off with Kate to ride the horses on the beach. From what I hear, Tessa was taken on more of ride by the horse, then actually directing the horse on where to go! But I’ll let Tessa tell that tale. While the girls were riding, Ted and I went off to see if we could find some gold near the creek. I am happy to report that we were successful. The tiny flake I found would probably only buy me a stick of gum- if that, but I’m sure Pappy would have be proud of me anyway!

Phoebe and Jess taking a ride on Gypsie

Phoebe and Jess taking a ride on Gypsie

It was with much sadness that we left that afternoon, in order to get back to Christchurch to start our journey towards Thailand. Ted and Annie said if we stayed longer and the weather held out we could all go rafting. (Ted is a conservation officer and oversees the area he lives in. He knows all the good areas to trek through). Unfortunately we had already purchased our onward tickets, or it would not have been hard to convince us to stay awhile longer. We hope that one day we might get back to NZ to take them up on their offer, or maybe they will head our way and we can return the hospitality they showed us. We would love to share Arizona with them.


One Response  
Auntie Liv writes:
February 13th, 2010 at 8:47 am

I wish I was there with you guys! This sounds awesome. XOOO

Leave a Reply

»  Substance: WordPress   »  Style: Ahren Ahimsa