Alice And The Chocolate Factory

Trip Start Jan 15, 2011
Trip End Mar 19, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Monday, January 24, 2011

Katie made me feel like a queen in the morning. She made me breakfast while I wrote in the common room of the hostel. I turned my chair toward the window so I could gaze out to sea as I typed. Sitting cross-legged in my chair, I enjoyed some hot oatmeal and instant Irish Cream coffee while writing my blog. A blissful start to my day. Thanks, sweetie.

We were sad to leave Old Bones Backpackers. We truly wished we could've stayed another night, but it wasn't in the cards. Stopping back in Oamaru, we took a quick walk through their Botanic Gardens thinking a good stretch of our legs was in order before hitting the road. However, we decided to stay a tad bit longer after we visited a local cheese making factory, The Whitestone Cheese Co. Their cheeses were award winning, so we paid five dollars to experience a true cheese tasting experience. It was delightful. Their camembert was creamy and their cheddar was divine (my personal favorite). We also snuck a picture of the interior of their cheese making factory even though it was against the rules (Look at us Americans! Breaking rules at every turn! Who do we think we are?!)

Fresh farm cherries were picked up at a vendor before we headed out. Our first stop: The Moeraki Boulders. I didn’t know what to expect, really. I’d seen pictures of them in the guide book – giant spherical stones sitting on a beach – but I’d never heard anything other than it being an interesting place to stop for a few minutes. Well, it turned out to be one of my favorite places ever!

It didn’t hurt that the sun was shining as we made our way onto the beach. There were quite a lot of people there, but not so many that they diminished from the experience. Once there, we took in the strange vision: Huge rocky globes resting inertly upon a sandy shore basking in the love of curious humans. I was immediately fascinated. How did they get here? Why do some have pattern-like cracks? What are these strange crystallized chunks of rock scattered along the shore? We quickly rationalized that even though these natural wonders seemed like they’d been washed up on shore it was far more logical that they were once tucked into the hillside and erosion had exposed them (Ding! Ding! Ding!). Next, it became obvious that the strange chunks of crystallized rock were actually pieces of broken spheres, and the spheres themselves were in fact giant geodes (Ding! Ding! Ding!). As it turned out, these spherical stones were created four million years ago at the bottom of the sea, and due to the passing of time and space, they have now become our giant play things.

I loved these things! No two were alike; some were perfectly round, some oddly shaped, some lined with crystallized fractures, some cracked, broken, or still eroding from the hillside, and all were amazing. You’d think this area would be roped off from the public and marked with a sign: "Do not pass!" But it wasn’t. It was open and free and amazing. I mean, how often are unique geological phenomena available to climb on top of, run across, and crawl inside of? Awesome.

On that high note, we continued on to Dunedin while eating cherries and listening to music. We got there just in time to sign up for one of the last Cadbury tours. I’m sure you all know that Cadbury is synonymous with chocolate, one of my favorite food groups. We weren’t allowed to take in our cameras, but before the tour started we grabbed a photo of us in the elegant headwear provided for all guests.

Our tour guide was an American from Maryland (I’d say that was a surprise, but at this point it wasn’t). She was very friendly, informative, and led us on a chocolate making adventure! Okay, maybe it wasn’t as exciting as all that. It’s not like chubby kids were falling into rivers of chocolate or greedy girls were blowing up like blueberries, but it was fun! And the best part? If you answered questions right she gave you free chocolate! Guess who was answering questions left and right? That is, until a certain curly-topped cutie told me to let the kids have a shot. In my defense, I’d only answered two questions, but yes, she was right. I instantly repented and changed my ways. From that point on I paused a good three seconds to give others a chance. After that? Well…

All manner of information was "fed" to us, from the breaking down of chocolate creation to the wonders of chocolate Easter eggs. Finally, we ended our tour with a walk into the top of a purple silo. The light was dim and dark. Once in, our guide told us that we had to yell “We love chocolate!” to turn up the lights. We complied, the lights rose, and we saw that we were standing atop a spiral staircase in front of a giant funnel covered in chocolate. She said that once we were comfortable we could step forward to the railing. I assumed she meant comfortable with the height, being so far up, so I immediately stepped forward seeing as I don’t have a problem with heights. WHAM! A huge chocolate waterfall splashed down in front of me right into the giant funnel! Air rushed passed and I could feel tiny flecks of chocolate hitting my skin.

Okay, so I wasn’t expecting that. She’d just unleashed one ton of liquid chocolate, and as we walked down the five stories we could see the path of chocolate making its way through the various metal vats and contraptions. Did any of this have a purpose? No. She explained that it was simply there for fun. And it was fun. It was silly, messy, gratuitous fun and the highlight of our tour – well, that, and all the chocolate candy I ended up with at the end.

We were planning on having a low key evening but of course vetoed those plans and opted to drive to the end of the Otago Peninsula. The peninsula lies along one side of the bay, and since we were in Dunedin for only one day, it seemed like we really should drive out to see it. And do I have to even say it? Yes? Okay then… It was beautiful! The weather was gorgeous, the bay sparkled below, and at the end of the peninsula was a spectacular sea vista. Royal albatrosses could be spotted cruising over the cliffs as the sun began to set. We spent a while relaxing and bird watching before heading back to our hostel.

I should add a comment here: While resting on the bluff we could see a giant hillside across the way with tiny moving specks on top of it. We assumed they were animals, and they were – several thousand of them. We saw through the binoculars tons of rabbits hopping around without a care in the world. I have yet to mention that this country is teeming with rabbits. They are everywhere! I’m surprised we haven’t seen rabbit on any restaurant menus yet. Anyway, they owned that hill.

We meandered home under the glowing sky. It was a very fulfilling day. But just in case you were wondering what it was missing, I’ll tell you: Photos with giant teeth.

UPDATE! Alice and Katie are now embarking on a Round the World trip!
Visit to follow along on their continuing

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Tricia T on

Those rocks on the beach are SO COOL! The picture of Alice half-inside a rock was very clever. And in the words of Homer Simpson: "mmmm, chocolate...."

Joe on

Love the geodes! Could have played on those for a whole afternoon. :-)

Also, appreciate the LL Bean ad Katie did. Better than my Gap ad from the Bahamas.

Mommy! on

Okay its been a week Mommy wants more entries! Love, Mommy!

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