Below is information about our wonderful trip to New Zealand.

First, below is our time on the South Island.

We left San Francisco on our Anniversary on November 28th and arrived in Queenstown on November 30th, losing one day to the international date line. The first thing we did upon our arrival is head to Pog Mahones (The Gaelic spelling would be Póg Mo Thóin, and means Kiss My Ass) I got my Guinness my goodness. John and Anne enjoying some food at the pub.We then roamed around the downtown. Here is the old steamer Earnslaw at the wharf in Queenstown. It has been travelling Lake Wakatipu for decades. Here is the first white settler of the area, William Rees. Close by was this creative wall. Here is Anne and her pointy-beaked friend.

On the morning of December 1st we were greeted at The Copthorne Hotel by cousin Tony Leckie and his partner Diana. We then went touring Lake Wanaka and environs.  Our first stop was the original.That's Tony, Diana and me. Whoa, that's a long ways down!!! Fear loves company, maybe I can get Anne to join me!!! So if I was going to jump, I'd better relieve myself first, rather than on the way down!!! So it was off to the restroom. Is that me in my yellow shirt and jeans?

Then we stop for a little wine tasting at the Gibbson Valley Winery and then off onto a rural road to Cardrona. I think we have arrived!! Anne wants to sample the Gaelic Old Smuggler Whiskey. Diana and me in front of the old Cardrona car. Across from the Cardrona Hotel, look, it's grose.  

Because we had two cars, we were able to park one at one end of a trail and one at the other end of a trail that went along a river that exits Lake Wanaka. Flowers along the way. You gotta be careful on the New Zealand trails.

As we are driving down the road, Tony has me turn left through a gate into a field of lupins.....the road gradually disappears and eventually the car is buried in lupins. More car buried in lupins with Diana and Tony. Here is another photo of car buried in lupins.

It turns out that Tony's sister and her husband own the largest tract of land fronting Lake Wanaka, with the smallest cabin. This is Tony and Diana in front of the cabin. Here is Diana and Anne in the lupins. Here is Anne in yellow lupins. I think we only have blue lupins in California...but this field had every imaginable color!!!

We eventually arrived at our hotel. Here is the view from our hotel room., at the Edgewater Resort at Lake Wanaka... Anne and I went for a walk along the lake.

The first few days of our trip were planned by Brian Leckie, and we reported to Brian about our adventures for the first day.

December 2nd, we roamed around some more and then gradually worked our way toward Waihola, south of Dunedin.

One of our stops along the way was the Mt. Difficulty winery. We had a wonderful lunch on the hilltop, with a great view of the valley below. Our next stop was visiting one of Brian's friends......he owns orchards in the Otago Valley. This is his home over looking the orchards. Look how they have trimed these trees so they grow at an angle for easier picking. We went to a nearby cherry orchard and Anne prepares to start picking cherries. We spent a little time there and picked an enormous amount of delicious cherries. Further down the road we crossed over a huge dam. I do not remember the name of the dam. I little ways down the road, we came upon an old settlers home. The door was open and we could go inside. There was some beautiful stonework on the oldest part of the settlement. I think it was way over 150 years old. Then a quick stop at Ettrick Gardens to purchase some fruit and veggies....then we headed to Waihola.

Upon arriving in Waihola on the evening of the 2nd, we met Brian Leckie and Robin Hopkirk Leckie. We then had to recount the events of the day for Brian, and they met with his approval. As we told Brian of our adventures, Brian introduced me to the joys of Drambuie. With all the booze I've consumed over the years, you'd have thought I'd have had some Drambuie at some point, but this was my first experience.....and it was wonderful!!!

We spent the night at the home of Taz and Nora. A wonderful couple living on the hill above Lake Waihola.

December 3rd, Diana had to return to work and Tony, his lovely daughter Millie, and their black lab Sam took us on a trip through the Caitlins....a beautiful scenic coastal area along the east coast south of Dunedin.

The photos I took do not do the scenery justice. It was amazing. We saw scenic rocks on the beach as we hiked out to an old lighthouse at Nugget Point. Millie and Tony along the trial.  Our next stop was the Surat bay. Here is Anne and more yellow lupins and Millie sitting on a chair made from an old tree stump. Down along the beach we spotted sea lion tracks in the sand, and then a single lounging sea lion. Then off for a bite a bite to eat. Here was an interesting street sign. Then we were off to see some waterfalls. The first was Purakaunui Falls. This is the stream leading to the top of the falls, and here is the trail to the falls. Here is Purakaunui Falls and ferns along the trail. Back in the parking lot Anne spotted someone's "family car" and a rental car with a notice to the local police.

Our next stop was along a beautiful beach that we could drive to. Most beaches in new Zealand do not allow dogs, as they could affect the endangered wild life. This beach is an exception.Here we let Sam out of the car so he could run on the beach after the car. It took a little while for Sam to get the idea, but he eventually got going at about 40 K behind the car. Sam then followed us down the beach at full gallop. Sam had a great time. Then it was time to get going again and we all pilled back into the car, and on to Matai Falls.Moss on the creek bed below the Matai Falls. We took a lot of photos at the falls. Here is Millie at the falls. It was time to head for Waihola and there was Brian, with daughter-in-law Lucy, waiting to hear about the days travels, and I could not finish explaining without the help of some more Drambuie!! Here is Brian, and from left to right, ????, Tony, ?????, Richard and Robin.

On December 4th we said our goodbyes to our hosts, Tax and Nora and stopped by Brain and Robin's home for our final farewells, leaving the gracious Leckie family behind as we drove toward Dunedin on our way to Christchurch.

As we were leaving Waihola, we had to take a few photos of the "shoe fence" The shoe fence is just a short drive from Brian and Robin's right along the main road through town is a fence where people have left their discarded shoes.

We passed by the historic Dunedin Train Station and the Moeraki Boulders. To give you an idea of the size of these perfectly round boulders scattered all over the beach, I stood next to one that is trying to escape from inside the bluff at the beach and join the rest of the boulders already on the beach.

Late in the day we arrived at the home of Robin's brother Richard Hopkirk and his partner Judith.

Richard and Judith prepared a fabulous dinner for Anne, myself and cousins Laird(John) and Jill Hopkirk . What a wonderul evening thanks to Richard and Judith. Here are the 3 Hopkirk lads.

Then later that evening Richard showed me his prized possession. A chair giving to Alexander Hopkirk(1823-1907) on 14 August 1882. Here is Richard and the chair. The inscription reads: Presented to Mr. Alexander Hopkirk by the Teachers of St. John's Presbyterian Church on his resigning the superintendency of Mount Cook Sunday School, in recognition of his faithful and zealous discharge of his duties, and as a token of their affection and esteem. Wellington, NZ 14th Aug 1882   Note: I think Laird looks a lot like Alexander. Compare the two photos. Anyone else agree?

I got the privilege of sitting on a piece of family history. It is amazing to think that I was able to sit on the same chair as the brother of my great great grandfather. Thank you Richard.

December 5th we flew to Auckland and then drove to Lake Taupo. This would be our base of operations for the next week.

The North Island and Australia portion of our travels are currently a work in progress. Please come back at a later date for the details.

On Saturday, December 6th, we journeyed to Hawkes Bay and the home of cousin John S. and Zephne Hopkirk. We had a nice chat and snack then the 4 of us journeyed to visit cousins Graeme and Adele Glass for an elegant afternoon repast. It was so nice to see the four of them again, but sadly, we had to leave and return to Lake Taupo as the sun was declining in the west, because I did not want to drive in the dark, on unfamiliar roads and on the side of the road I was not accustomed to.

On Monday, December 7th, while walking past an outside restaurant in Taupo, Anne saw a woman with a shirt that said "World's Forgotten Highway" That is highway 43 that goes from the town of Taumarunui in the middle of the North Island through the Tangarakau Gorge, on to the Whangamomona Village and the "Republic of Whangamomona", past the turnoff for cousins Don & Eila Hopkirk at Makahu, and ends at Stratford. I asked her where she got the shirt, and she said she got the shirt at the Hotel Whangamomona while staying at a home stay in Makahu!!! She stayed at Don & Eila's!!! Taupo is a 5 hour drive from Makahu. Small world, that World's Forgotten Highway!!!!

On Tuesday, December 8th, we travel to Makahu to visit the family farm. 

On Wednesday we travelled back to Taupo.

On Thursday we did the Jet boat ride to Huka was awesome. Then we went for a leisurely lunch on the outside porch of the Huka Falls Winery Restaurant.

Later Thursday night, we had dinner at the home of cousins Rosemary and Gavin Houston in Taupo. Also joining us for an enjoyable evening were Richard Hopkirk and his partner Aroha.(Aroha means "caring love" in Maori)

After a wonderful week in Taupo, Friday we left to spend the night inAuckland and catch an early Saturday morning flight to Cairns, Australia