Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe

Climbing cow, swooping kingfisher

We're used to mountaineering sheep and goats but on the Banks Peninsula (15 minutes from Christchurch to soaring mountains and crashing surf) the cows clamber up near vertical slopes.
Someone has been out spraying magenta paint on the gorse, the spiky echium-like flowers come in a range of blue, lilac and purple (blue flower, red spikes!) and a row of brightly painted boats offers a windbreak down by the deep green sea.
Lots of birds - sourthern magpie, pukeko, kingfishers and the little ones with bright yellow flashes. Mountains, beaches, twisty turny twisty roads, roads that turn into gravel tracks without warning (and have side roads labelled 4WD only when you wouldn't want to take cars on the road itself). I also like the 'pukeko crossing' yellow sign and the slippery road icon where the tyre tracks suggest the car has swapped a wheel from one side to the other in mid skid. We didn't see the timeball fall at Lyttleton (where the museum alleges that the size and elaboration of a sailor's telescope reflects their rank) but we did see the Sign of the Kiwi and the Sign of the Bellbird rest stops on the crater walk, the shelter commemorating the pioneer women who climbed from Lyttleton to Christchurch (the missed a trick: it's not called the bridal path) and several war memorials. Akaroa is pretty, painted, pastel and 'French' as in everything has a french name (petanque terroir) but the town must close at 3 so we stopped at Birding Flat to measure the shingle bank between the lake and the sea (20 foot, tops and the spray from the surf makes it half way and (in the words of the guidebook) fossick among the pebbles.
Back to Christchurch on the fast road for drinks and dinner with Seth (fireside sofas and the last Monteith's winter ale at Le Plonk and then as usual we ended up at Mumms 24 for korean/japanese (we'll go back to the Spanish restaurant one night when it's open). I had sashimi on rice in a hot stone bowl; actually more like tartare, with an egg yolk on top and the bowl was hot enough to cook the shredded vegetables and put a lovely chewy crust on the rice - caramelised and very good dipped in miso soup. Mmmm! And Simon's braised ribs were sliced across rather than along and came on a sizzling cast iron platter shaped like a cow.
Tags: food, new zealand, travel

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