Well, we knew it would happen eventually. After only 8
years together, Tom and Kirstin finally "tied the knot" on a beautiful St.
Patricks Saturday morning. The setting for the ceremony couldnt have been
better----on the beach near the house where Kirstin grew up in Christchurch. Kirstin was
radiant and Tom was very handsome. We were honored to be there to share their day with
friends and family. The reception was filled with laughter, good food (thanks to Tom who
also happens to be a chef, and Kirstins mom Maureen), good grog and even a
motorcycle ride for one of the guests.
A beautiful wedding -- Introducing Tom &
As busy as they were Tom and Kirstin invited us to stay with them in
their new home. The house came complete with a cat named Ted. To those other travelers who
know Hamish and Derrick (two English RTW motorbikers on R80GSs who we met in
Bangkok) you will know the significance of the name "Ted"! There house served as
a convenient base for us to make runs into Christchurch to run errands, go sightseeing,
and do things like extending our visa at the immigration office. Besides being a
comfortable travelers rest, Tom cooks up a storm. I would guess that weve put
on some weight to prove it!
We extolled the kindness and hospitality of Tom and Kirstin to a few other of our
traveling friends. Hence the American invasion was rounded out by the visits of Nick
Palmer (R80GS, we met in Australia) and Stephen while we were there.
For two weeks, from March 12th to the 23rd, we were crazy busy
with friends and family. First, our old friends Jodi Sholinsky and Linda Root from New
York were out here for a visit. They arrived on the 14th and we managed to
spend the day with them before they took off by car to see the rest of the South Island.
Among other things like catching up on several years worth of gossip, we went to see
the Antarctic Center with them. The Center is the main staging area for coordination and
delivery of people and supplies to Antarctica. The United States Antarctic Program has a
big presence there. Very interesting place to visit, with simulations and interactive
exhibits, near the airport in Christchurch.
Chris, Linda, Jodi, and Erin
On Friday the 16th of March my parents, Jim and Linda
Doherty, arrived from having just spent 2 and a half weeks in the Australian sun and sea.
Since my parents live in North Carolina in the States, it was still winter when they left
on holiday. They thoroughly enjoyed the warmth and the clear skies in the Southern
Hemisphere! We met them at the airport that afternoon at the Christchurch airport. Mom was
a little tired still, not from the flight but from the partying in Melbourne the night
before. You go Mom! After spending the afternoon with them walking around Christchurch and
showing them the lay of the land, they were on their own the next day as we were attending
On Sunday morning we picked up a rental car and started our 4-day tour with my parents.
Since we didnt have a lot of time we opted for a loop from Christchurch which we had
done ourselves. From Christchurch we traveled northwest over Arthurs Pass, through
the west coast gold mining and greenstone/jade towns of Greymouth and Hokitika, and arriving
in Franz Joseph for the night. Here we introduced mom and dad to the pleasures of caravan
park living (shared toilets, showers and communal kitchen). The next morning mom and dad
set off on a helicopter tour of Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers. They were supposed to be
going on a 20 minute flight but were treated to a 40 minute flight no extra charge
compliments of the tour company. Thats New Zealand for you! I dont think
Ive ever seen my folks so happy and exhilarated in my life. Besides awesome views of
the glaciers and mighty Mt. Cook from the air, the helicopter touched down on one of the
glaciers and they were able to stroll around and peer over the edge of the many crevasses.
We loaned them our digital camera so that we could share in their fun. The pictures came
out fabulous. I can see now why they were so thrilled.
|Dad on the Glacier
View from the helicopter
They had time to wind down from the flight while we drove further south
along the west coast on our way to Queenstown. Along the way we stopped at a favorite
little spot of ours called Bruce Bay. Its a tiny little stretch of beach strewn with
drift wood and very windblown looking. At one end of the beach is a small trailer that is
set up like an old fashioned diner. It has tiny little booths for seating on the inside
and does some great fish and chips. Its also a good stop just to take a break and
have a cupa (thats local slang for cup of coffee). By chance (well sort of) who
should pull in just when we arrived? Why our old friends Jodi and Linda! The girls were
doing a counter-clockwise loop from our itinerary. It was a great opportunity for my
parents to meet them and to find out about all the fun that they had been having (bungy
jumping, paragliding, helicopter rides, etc.) After a lunch of delicious fish and chips we
said goodbye for the last time to Jodi and Linda (they were headed off to Thailand and
Vietnam next). The ride over the Haast Pass and inland through Wanaka and Queenstown was
beautiful. We were lucky that the weather was clear and dry the whole time my parents were
In Queenstown we arranged for a tour of Skippers Canyon (we had done it
previously on our bikes) and a jet boat ride on the upper Shotover River with my parents.
On the morning of the 20th a van came to pick us up for the tour. The road
through Skippers Canyon is a dirt track, single lane wide, and has sharp drop-offs all the
way through. Its nerve-wracking on a motorbike but in the van it was even worse!
Half the people in the van were there also to do the famous Pipeline bungy jump (102 meters high) off Skippers
The van dropped us all off there first to watch these fearless people jump. As we
watched I could see my mom getting the bug for it. Next to the bridge is a wire that
spans the canyon to the other side (maybe 150 meters or so). Mom asked one of the workers
what that was for and we were told it was another "ride" called the Flying Fox.
Well that was it, mom was strapped into a harness before you could say "what the
hell?" and off she flew, fearless and with a huge smile on her face, across the
canyon. Jeez! And she didnt want to watch ME bungy jump! Next thing you know
shes inquiring about the bungy jump. Thank goodness there was no time for that (I
dont think I could have watched it) as we were whisked away to do our jet boat ride
and tour of the gold mining museum. I just want to make a note about the little museum, as
it was a neat experience. The tour was conducted by a young woman, Kelly, who is the 5th
generation of the family that originally held (and still holds) land rights in this area.
Most of the items in the museum are collected by her grandparents who were instrumental in
building up the area of Skippers Canyon into the gold mining boomtown area that it was. Her
family is now engaged in the business of tourism into the canyon.
Jet boating is a blast. For those of you who dont know what it is,
its a speedboat powered by a jet engine that glides quickly over the surface of the
water, designed specifically for use in shallow water. It needs only 4 inches of water to
operate on! The drivers have a fondness for doing 360-degree turns, soaking the passengers
and steering the boat to within millimeters of cliff walls. Its just like a
roller coaster ride at an amusement park.
After that morning of fun we spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the center
of Queenstown. We had coffee on the pier and watched the TSS Earnslaw pull in. As we
watched the passengers disembark we noticed a motorbike at the back of the boat. Surprise,
surprise it was Stephen Dusz traveling through having just done the same ride from Te Anau
to Walter Peak a few weeks ago. It was a good opportunity for us to introduce my parents
to the guy we had talked about so much.
My time with my parents was drawing to a close. The next day, Wednesday, we took the
long drive back to Christchurch and checked into a hostel with them in the center of town.
As it happened, Nick Palmer was staying there as well. We had somewhat planned it that way
since we wanted my parents to meet a fellow North Carolinian doing a trip like ours. That
night we had dinner with Nick and chatted about all of the places he had been. Early
Thursday morning we bid goodbye to mom and dad as they boarded a shuttle bus to the train
station. They were to travel north by train to Picton at the top of the South Island,
catch the ferry to Wellington in the North Island, and then spend 2 days driving around
before flying out of Auckland. By all accounts they rest of their trip in New Zealand was
just as good as the time they spent with us. Hopefully more adventures like this lie ahead
Yes, I was very sad to see them go. But, we had a very special time together and I am
glad they became part of our ultimate journey. I Love you guys!