But meeting up with Cynthea and Tony turned out to be an experience in food!
Now we and Cynthea and Tony go way back to Scotland. In July 2011, we first hosted them through Couch Surfing. Cynthea and I both share a love of food and we were soon out picking raspberries along the canal to make jam. We also received numerous lessons in pavlova making (using my nice chicken eggs) in which Cynthea and Tony's turned out perfect, and ours turned out flat - repeatedly!
It was great to meet up with them in their own country. This couple have been away from home for the last 2 years traveling and working (a couple after our own hearts) in the UK, but have now returned to their home country, although they are far from 'settled'.
The first thing we did was to head out to the Albatros colony and get some hokey pokey icecream. Yes, I know...what is hokey pokey icecream? It's a delicious vanilla and honey flavour with little crunchy bits of toffee (hokey pokey) in it.
Took the long drive along the Otago Peninsula with stunning views of the hills and the water
surrounding them. Every once in awhile you could catch a glimpse of Dunedin city over the harbour. I don't think I've ever seen a 'city' surrounded by so much green space, beaches, and with farmland scattered in and amongst the houses.
We reached the far end where there is an albatros colony. One of the only easily accessable in the world, so we were pleased to sea these gigantic birds flying over our heads. These are amazing creatures with a wingspan up to 3.7m! They also can cover huge distances through soaring, covering almost 1000km/day without flapping their wings!!!
We walked a little further along hoping to see some penguins coming in for the evening, but to no avail. Lots of little penguin holes to peek in, but no penguins inside. We did see lots of seals basking on the rocky shore. I watched one roll over looking to be in complete comfort even though it was lounging on pointy rocks! I guess that's what happens when you're made of blubber!
We rushed back home to make a lovely dinner of NZ lamb and NZ venison. Brian and I have
been astonished at how many venison farms there are here! At first we thought we were just lucky to catch a glimpse of a wild one, only to see dozens in the next paddock. I've been so accustomed to these animals being wild, even when they are contained in the field next to me I still feel like I'm having a secret look into their lives. We thought there would be lots in the store for us to choose from. But despite the fact that they are #2 after sheep, they are all for export and there were only a few cuts available in the grocery store. Even so, it was mouth wateringly delicious and washed down with our first tastes of local brew: Monteiths and Speights.
Day 2 led us on a little tour of Dunedin. We saw the stunning University and train station interspersed with stops for hot chips and deep fried bluff oysters (well deserved after a hike up Baldwin Street). I must admit – they were good! New Zealand actually has several seafood specialities and Cynthea treated us to three of the most famous: bluff oysters, whitefish and paua. Most people know the paua for the beautiful shells, but I had no idea that the muscle was edible. WOW! I've never tasted anything like it before! What a treat to be able to try these unique foods.
All too soon it was time for our goodbyes. We headed north up the coast to see the town of
Omaru and climb on the Morekie boulders. Who knows if we'll be able to catch up again while we are in NZ as Tony and Cynthea are making their way north as well. If not, perhaps
in Canada someday...
At first, I hadn't thought much about the culinary delights of New Zealand.