In the morning in Te Anau, Hayden and I once again took advantage of the kitchen and had another $5 meal. Toast with garlic butter, scrambled eggs with onion, American bacon, and skillet potatoes — no more oatmeal for us! (Can you believe it? I’m not going to be writing any more long paragraphs about oatmeal. Hayden, always reading over my shoulder: “Thank God.”)
The drive to Oamaru was 5 hours long and not particularly eventful. We had planned on stopping in Dunedin for lunch, since apparently it’s a Something to see. When we drove through Dunedin, however, it was a mess of traffic and a painful search for parking and eventually Hayden whined that he wanted to leave. I didn’t blame him. So did I.
We high-tailed it out of there and instead stopped at a middle-of-nowhere bakery about an hour north of Dunedin. Poor Hayden was starting to catch a cold, so we gave him some Dayquil and cough drops.
At the end of the drive, we settled in at our hotel, Brydone Hotel Oamaru, which was clearly a very old English-style building, with lots of unnecessarily circumnavigatory staircases and hallways to get where you wanted to go. Otherwise, the hotel was fairly nice.
We ate an early dinner at a pizza restaurant across the street. I had spaghetti, because I love noodles, and a smoothie, because they had smoothies!!! The food was good and I liked the restaurant. The entire city of Oamaru seems to be quite old, just like our hotel, with a historic train museum and a courthouse that looks like it retired about 30 years ago. Oamaru was very cute, simple, and calm, and much more our style than Dunedin. I was glad we were staying there for a night.
With dinner out of the way, we headed to the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony to have Premium Seats at the Evening Viewing of the little penguins! Hayden and I had watched lots of videos of blue penguins (the smallest penguin in the world!) prior to leaving the States, and we were so excited to see them run ashore!
Hayden: I wonder if the viewing will be outside.
Rachel: Of course it’s going to be outside! The penguins are coming ashore!
Hayden: Well, I don’t know. In the Youtube video, they came out of boxes.
Our Premium Seats allowed us to walk a path that went right through the penguin burrows. The blue penguins naturally dig burrows for their families to live in, but the people at the colony made tiny hobbit-home boxes in the grass mounds for the penguins to choose to live in if they so pleased, because the boxes were less liable to collapsing than the burrows. Apparently, the box endeavor was a great success, and all the penguins have chosen to live in boxes.
The penguin homes were empty, since all the penguins had gone out to sea before dawn that day, but they would be back to feed their babies (hidden inside the homes) for our evening viewing. When the first raft of penguins arrived, it was so exciting! First, they sit around on the shore, ruffling their feathers to cool down, since they’re all heated up from swimming a daily average of 50 kilometers! Then the penguins run-waddle past the viewing stand and into their homes. It’s so cute! I was dying of cuteness overload the entire time. Lots more penguins came after the first raft, and had us excited for the next two hours. At the end of the viewing, 166 penguins had come ashore that day. To exit, we walked back down the path through the penguin home area, where lots of penguins were still idling around outside. Hayden and I were within inches of the penguin! (But we didn’t touch them, because that’s not allowed.) I wish I were a little penguin.
Photography was prohibited at this event as well, so as not to scare the penguins or disrupt their natural lives, so unfortunately I don’t have any photos of the adorable penguins. I did, however, purchase a blue penguin stuffed animal to remember the event.
We spent the rest of the night packing a big duffel full of outdoors gear (tent, hiking boots, sleeping bag) and other things that we wouldn’t need or want to carry in Japan. Tomorrow, a luggage shipping company would be picking up the bag in Christchurch to send back home. The shipping company had a day-long pick-up window, so this sadly meant that we would have to wake up super early to drive from Oamaru to get to Christchurch by 9am.
The drive to Christchurch the next (early) morning was our last, since we would not be renting a car in Japan. We made it to our hotel, Peppers Clearwater Resort, which has earned the title of this post, by around 9am. This would be the last Peppers for a good long while, until we return to Oceania. We had really only arrived so early to sit around and wait for the courier to get our bag, so after having a relieving breakfast buffet in the hotel, we sat in the lobby and used the free WiFi.
The hours passed surprisingly quickly — Peppers is not a bad place to be stuck all day. We checked into our room early and WOW. I love Peppers. Peppers Clearwater wins the award for most decadent. Our lakeview suite not only included a garage (with laundry machines inside, yay!), but two whole stories, two balconies, and a deck sitting right on the lake! I wish we could have stayed there longer. When we arrived, there was a little note telling us that the bread maker was running and would pop out a fresh loaf of homemade bread in just a couple of hours. Free bread! I love free bread! The smell started wafting around the suite, but poor Hayden couldn’t smell anything because he was still sick and congested.
In the late afternoon, I had an in-room massage because my joints were in pain after all the backpacking and kayaking. Since there were two floors in the suite, I had my massage upstairs in the bedroom and Hayden played on the computer downstairs. I’ve never had an in-room massage before, and I’ve always found them rather extravagant, but my back was in so much pain and I was so tired that I figured I deserved it this time around. The suite added so much to the massage and I felt so much better afterwards. When I came downstairs, the bread was ready and Hayden wandered over and started telling me about the 2015 Motortrend’s Best Driver’s Car video that he’d been watching.
We ate dinner at the hotel rather than lug poor, congested Hayden into town. After dinner, we finished packing while watching an old Robert Downey Jr. and Mel Gibson film that seemed to have no plot. Unenthralled, we turned it off and went to bed. We would be waking up at 3:30am to return the rental car and catch an early flight out of Christchurch. Oof.
Waking up and leaving Peppers was sad, but I was satisfied that we had spent so much time there during our day spent bumming in the lobby, and I know there will be more Peppers to come in the future. Bye, Peppers.
We brought the Barina back to the rental lot from whence it came and said our farewells to it as well. Bye, Barina. If I were in the market for a hatchback right now, I would seriously look into the Barina RS. It has restored my faith in Chevy (the Holden Barina RS is the Chevy Sonic RS) and its ability to make a well-handling road vehicle. With our farewell to the Barina comes more rental car ratings!
Holden Barina RS
- Comfort: 4.5 out of 5 stars
- Practicality: 4 out of 5 stars
- Handling: 4 out of 5 stars
- Reliability: 5 out of 5 stars
- Fun Factor: 4 out of 5 stars
We had a short layover in Auckland (another Hi Auckland, Bye Auckland — maybe someday I’ll see Auckland for real!) and now we’re sitting on the plane taking us to Narita International Airport in Tokyo. I haven’t been to Japan since after my sophomore year of high school, and this will be Hayden’s first time, so I’m really excited to go back and show Hayden all the wonderful things there! We have about an hour left in our flight (out of 11 total hours, so it’s been awhile.) I will update more once we get into Tokyo and begin more grand adventures!