Tunnel Beach, Naseby, and Elephant Rocks

Trip Start Feb 02, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Saturday, April 3, 2004

Hi Everyone,
It's been a while since we wrote about our Fiordland visit. Ever since then we've been weekend roadtrippers...and while nothing has been quite so exotic as Fiordland we still have seen some wonderful things.

After the big trip across the Island, the next weekend we decided to keep it more local. 20 minutes from our house is Tunnel Beach which was much more beautiful than we expected it to be from the hiking guide we have. Tunnel Beach is so named because a tunnel was dug into the limestone cliffs to a private (now public) beach, surrounded on 3 sides by dramatic cliff walls. What we didn't expect was the inviting peninsula that juts out into the sea just by the tunnel. Under the peninsula a sort of sea cave has formed, and it creates a most dramatic landscape! The sea pounds into the peninsula, and shoots through the archway, creating a fantastic roar. Like always, we hiked through a sheep farm to get to the place. The sheep are free to wander out onto the peninsula to get at the grass, or the views!

Next up: Naseby. My entire office went out to Naseby and spent the weekend in this tiny vacation town for a paintball fight. They call it team building, but how getting your butt shot with hard paint pellets engenders team strength- I am not sure yet. Naseby is in Central Otago. The two hour drive there is all rolling hills and sheep farms. But Naseby is nestled in the hills, and surrounded by trees. You feel like you could be in Northern California. If you blink when you're driving through, you'd miss it. But while you're there it really feels like a mountain getaway. There are hiking/biking trails all around, and many weekenders are there to take advantage of it. Bill and I enjoyed the visit so much we went back the very next weekend!

But on the way home from Naseby we had my co-worker, Dan take us on a bit of a tour the long way home. Following in our separate car, we went over Dansey's Pass- 2000 ft above sea level, a serpentine winding gravel road that follows along steep mountain embankments. Bill was driving. We're in the left lane on a gravel road that could possibly qualify as 1 and 1/2 lanes wide. Out the window to my left the road fell away to a valley far below, nothing but tussocks between our car and the river below. It was hair raising. As the occasional car approached, I had to close my eyes as Bill pulled slightly to the left (and closer to the end of the world) to allow the car by. Dan sped way ahead of us, used to these kinds of roads! Despite the fear of our car tumbling down the hills- it was beautiful! Yellow tussock grasses, grey outcrops, and a dark grey river below. All dotted with, of course, sheep.

Before he left us, Dan pointed out the way to a great walk- "Elephant Rocks," so named for obvious reasons. The huge rock outcrops, smooth and grey, resemble a herd of elephants, of course, surrounded by scattering sheep! We parked on the side of the road, and entered the farm- crowded with suspicious sheep. As soon as we set foot on the grass they scattered, and as we walked the sea of sheep opened up before us, and closed behind. Walking around the rocks, we often would surprise a sheep as we rounded a corner. Camping is allowed if you call the farmer in advance- and a handy sign with his number on it hung on the entry gate.

Well that's all for now. Bill and I are having a lovely time. I can't say enough about how welcoming and warm our new friends have been. We miss you all ...and as always, keep us in mind if you're up for a visit to New Zealand.

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