Wow, New Zealand is a beautiful place! Every bend and corner reveals another stunning view of beautiful scenery, endless rivers, snow-capped mountains, rolling green hills and pastures, craggy peaks, pine forests, wide river valleys, bays, tunnels, winding narrow roads snaking up and down mountain passes, bridges and even glimpses of the north island across the strait. It is a land of endless beauty, green and well watered. It is also cold admittedly, but not all the time. We've had warm sunny days followed by chilly breezy nights. Last night is the first time it has rained and my tent did not fully withstand the precipitation but the two sleeping mats kept me above the water line.
We are travelling about in a brightly painted camper van and have reached a happy compromise: Paul navigates and I drive which makes everyone way less nervous. His first encounter with a round-a-bout coming out of Christchurch airport had all the makings of a T-bone crash, by luck or miracle we escaped unscathed. My familiarity with driving on the left hand side from the right side of the vehicle has proved a winning formula.
We've stopped at some lovely campgrounds and are thoroughly enjoying our joint adventure. Vicki is well accustomed to Paul's fly-fishing obsession and smiles good-naturedly each time he requests we pull over so he can check out the river and look for the elusive trout he is chasing.
A few unsuccessful forays were quickly forgotten yesterday when he caught 5 fish on the Polorus River near Canvastown. I told Vicki, "I can see Paul from here and he is radiating happiness".
He is the very incarnation of excitement, joy, enthusiasm and gratitude. Never was a man more in his element than Paul up to his knees in his waders casting flies into the stunningly clear and icy waters of a NZ river and landing an 18 inch trout. Not for eating but just for the challenge and the sport. Relieved of the hook they are affectionately farewelled back into the stream, hopefully wiser and more wary fish.
Today Vicki and I dropped him off back at the Polorus and drove over to Nelson, a big town on the coast at the northern end of the south island. We stocked up on supplies and looked for shoes for Paul at op shops as NZ customs had confiscated his fishing shoes to prevent the potential spread of "snot algae" and he's been wearing his sneakers in the river.
Like everywhere else I've seen so far, Nelson is a lovely looking town perched above the bay.
We're about to set off back to pick up the fisherman and camp for the night at Pinedale campsite with mine-host, 12 year old James who offered to take us on a glow worm tour.
I can see why Paul has been to New Zealand 6 times, it truly is an unspoiled paradise. I'll be back.