New Zealand, 2009-12-07

2010 July 11
by barclay

I’m up at 4 AM to drop Nat and Jordan off at the airport.  For some reason, I’ve been waking up earlier and earlier despite being on vacation.  I think I know I’m going to miss New Zealand, and want to soak up as much as I can.  Despite that, I know we’re doing to be driving a bit again, so I head back to the hotels for a few more hours sleep.

Nae overlooking Sumner

Lanaea and I check out of the hotel and drive off toward Sumner and a beach called Taylor’s Mistake that Tamara had recommended.  We’re planning on a much more mellow day after yesterday, mostly just exploring.  In Sumner, we climb about Cave Rock (a small rock, but again, you can go underneath it in low tide and splash about the water.)  After a breakfast at a local cafe that could very be beachside in Pacific or Hermosa Beach, we head over the hill to Taylor’s Mistake.  It’s a small semi-secluded beach.  There’s dogs running freely and it’s next to empty.  Near the end of the beach, we run into a Welsh couple (Phil and Sandy) who visited New Zealand once 20 years ago, and when they came back, they came back for good.  They now live here permanently and run 4×4 tours across the South Island.  And like any good Welshman, he has a ton of stories, never stops telling them, and uses the word “luxury” as if he were auditioning for Montys Python’s “Four Welshman” skit.  They also had good advice for Akaroa, where we’d be staying the night tonight.

Cave Rock

We eventually take up our driving again at a mellow pace, enjoying the scenery.  We’re headed for Akaroa now, sort of a French-style outpost sitting at the bottom of a volcanic crater that is now a bay.  We check into a hostel called “Ches La Mer” that is right out of classic Euro-backpacker lore. Essentially a converted house, filled mostly with a younger, philosophically oriented crowd, and a lovely well-tended backyard with tables, grills, and a fountain.  On Phil’s advice, we head down to get some of “the best fush and chups in New Zealand.”  I can’t argue with him; definitely the best fish and chips I’ve ever had.

Taylor's Mistake

We pick up some beer and snacks on the way back to the hostel and find a loose gathering in the backyard.  Everyone is good natured and social, although a bit more mature than the kids in Bondi Beach.  Philosophy and travel are consistent topics.  There’s Ross from D.C., Josh from Devon, Seth from Wisconsin (the last two being sailors), Teodora from Romania by way of Germany and London, as well as some others I can’t recall.

Sumner from AboveOverlooking Bromley and New Brighton South

Teodora was a bit older than the rest, although younger than myself, and had worked from Merrill Lynch in London, and was laid off during downsizing.  She decided to travel for a few months, returned to London and realized “there’s nothing for me here,” so took off to travel again.  That was nine months previous.  She has no plans on stopping, although when she talked of home in Transylvania, you could tell she missed it.  When we mentioned Bucharest was on our list, she heartily recommended staying there only a short time, then getting out of it as soon as possible and hitting the countryside.  Sounds good to me.


Ross was the most philosophical one of the crowd.  Extremely nice, engaged in the world, searching and seeking.  It reminded me of how youth finds it impossible to see youth; how much that is new is actually only new to you — although I suppose that’s definition of “new” in a non-dualistic sense.  We chatted for a bit, but I think I inadvertently went over their his and the others’ head for a bit — not because I’m smarter than them, but because I’d already ready most of the tracts, essays, and philosophy books that they still had on their to-read lists.  When you start talking about the implications of unprovably-true or un-disprovably-false classifications from meta-systems anologies of Godel’s number theory to the finite amount of matter in the world, and how this applies the including the reader’s own meta-narrative in Zen and the Art of Motorcylce Maintenance which actually meshes with Pragmatist ethics despite the apparent differences, and that such classifications could actually describe the “lack of adequate proof” aspect of apparent but incorrect assertion of Pragmatist moral relativity … well, I had fun, and Ross got the title of a couple new books to read.  Hopefully I didn’t sound like too much of an ass, but I still loves me some philosophy talks over beer.

Akaroa Bay

On the lighter side, there was a German girl there would had never seen a goose.  Have you ever tried to describe a goose to someone that’s never seen one?  Harder than it would first appear.  My best answer:  ”a cross between a duck and a giraffe.”  I don’t think that helped to clear things up.  Oh, and her comment to Seth:  ”People must spit in your face all the time.”  Only after everyone stopped laughing was she able to state that it’s because “Seth” is so difficult to pronounce for Germans.


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