A Warm Welcome in Dunedin
We drove from Te Anua, after a cruise through Milford Sound, straight to Dunedin. Our initial plan was to stop along the way, but time was short and we had to make a couple of cuts to those plans. The distance between these two locations is roughly 300km. We had to drive south first, so we wanted to make a stop to see the Nugget Point Lighthouse. Nugget Point is one of the most distinctive landforms along the Otago coast. It’s a steep headland with a lighthouse and a scattering of rocky islets (The Nuggets). Unfortunately, drive times are longer than expected in New Zealand as as we approached Invercargill, we knew that we would have to make a decision about the time that we had left for the day.
After a stop at a playground, so that Eli could stretch his legs and have some fun, we decided to ditch the lighthouse and head straight to Dunedin. Trust me, we are the “see it all” travelers, but there are times, after weeks on the road, when you simply want a couple days of doing nothing. We knew that a relaxing stop was awaiting us in Dunedin, and we were eager to get there!
If you haven’t noticed, I have been flying through the New Zealand stories. I want to finish up all these posts before we leave for the Philippines, but it is looking like that might not be possible. For a couple of months I was simultaneously blogging through South Africa and New Zealand stories, dedicating one week at a time to each. Although I was doing pretty well, I fell behind – as I do when life gets busy – and I recently had to make the choice to try get one of the two done.
Seeing as we did New Zealand at the beginning of 2017, I thought I would try get that trip done. In July we went to South Africa, and I reeeeeally want to blog through all of that. But alas, there just isn’t enough time for me to edit, write and make record of all of these adventures. I know that reading about our travels a year later isn’t a big deal, but GOODNESS, I wish that I could get them out quicker. Someone remarked the other day that we are currently in New Zealand – hehehe!
This playground was a real blessing! In fact, there were couple of parks along our New Zealand trip that made our son very happy. Getting out of the car for water, snacks, and some time to run around, is definitely a good refreshing time.
Arriving in Dunedin
Our decision to skip Nugget Point lighthouse meant that we arrived in Dunedin with plenty of time to settle in before dark. Friends of ours in China, had put us in contact with their parents. It was amazing to meet new people along the way. Even better was that all of them treated us like family! Here’s the crazy part – we had never met these people, and they were out of town, but they were opening their home to us for a couple of days. WOW! Another family member met us at the gate to the property, and let us in. Even before we entered the property, I was completely in awe of the treelined road outside. Ahhh… simply beautiful!
We hadn’t heard anything about the house before we arrived, so we were pretty shocked when we pulled up to this beautiful house. It was surrounded by perfect lawns, incredible views, numerous sheep and even two lamas! Inside the house we were welcomed with sweet handwritten notes, a box of groceries, and individually wrapped gifts for each of us!
It was like going home!
Of course, we didn’t anticipate any of this, so we were completely in shock. Above all, we were very grateful! We took a self-tour around this gorgeous house, admiring the incredible sunroom, modern finishings, and all of our kind surprises. We felt an overwhelming sense of love from these people, whom we were yet to meet. They left a note saying that they would meet us at their other home (in Christchurch) in a few days, and until then we were welcome to settle in and make ourselves at home. WOW…. SPEECHLESS!
Well, Hey There!
While we walked around the house, and the surrounding grounds, I was messaging my friend back in China. This is where she had grown up, and there were pictures of her as a little girl up in the hallway. It was sort of surreal to be there, without her, and also without anyone else. Imagine our surprise when we strolled outside, into the backyard, to find two lamas munching on the grass!!
These sprinkle-covered cookies made me smile. We had eaten a number of them with our friends in China, and suddenly, there we were in New Zealand eating the same cookies. “Nana” had left us a packet of them in the grocery box that she had put together for us. I loved how familiar things were for me in New Zealand. Small things, like the fact that I call “sprinkles” hundreds and thousands, and that is what these cookies are called.
Nana even set the dining room table for us. She put out chopsticks, because she knows we have lived in China for so long, and some cute cutlery and utensils for Eli. Seriously, she is amazing!
There were TONS of toys in the one of the rooms, so Eli disappeared into that room and wouldn’t come out. Not even when we had cooked dinner and sat down to eat. We honestly felt like we had arrived home, but somehow it was even better because it was as if we were staying in the most amazing, most comfortable, most beautiful hotel we could have ever checked into.
From the bottom of our hearts, we are so very thankful for how we were welcomed into this home!
When we were finally able to drag Eli away from the toys, we went outside to jump on the trampoline while the sun set behind the mountains in the distance. Everything about our time there, and on that evening, was just so perfect in every way.
Under the Milky Way
… And then, that evening, like a dream come true, Justin and I walked outside to look up at the stars. All of the storms, clouds and rain that had been present for the last few days, were now gone. We didn’t get to see the stars on so many of the nights where we had thought we would. But, for some reason, seeing them like this, at the end of a perfect night… seemed fitting.
I have very poor nighttime photography skills, and LOOK AT THAT PICTURE!
I lay on driveway, outside the front of the house, and stared up at that heavenly sight. There are three things that absolutely take my breath away: Forests, Sunsets, and the Milky Way. We had been blessed to have experienced all three of these on this trip! My heart was full.