We left Christchurch after a large breakfast of muesli, yogurt, danishes, toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, and assorted juices and coffee/tea, all courtesy of Nita and Belina, the owners.
Our drive to Akaroa was very leisurely. We stopped several times when one or all of us saw something that looked interesting. After driving through Lyttleton toward the Banks Peninsula, we stopped off at a harbor park where we found a trail that went down along the water. It was a beautiful spot, with the hills coming right down to the water, and a view out onto the Pacific. While on the trail, we met a couple out walking their dog (the killer cocker, Scrumpy.) They were very friendly, and gave us tips on good places to stop, especially for food.
We continued on, stopping every once and a while for pictures. The terrain was hilly/mountainous, and the roads just wrapped around the edges. It being New Zealand, there were sheep EVERYWHERE, even in the most precarious spots. It was cloudy, so we couldn't see very far, but what we could see was beautiful. The hills in that area were a fall-ish golden green color, and very rocky. There weren't just large outcroppings like one would expect to find, but along the flatter parts, there were just big rocks everywhere.
A little outside of Akaroa, we came across one of the suggested stops, a cafe and art gallery. The coffee was delicious, and the art gallery was pretty interesting. (I bought something, but I'm not saying what because I know for a fact that its recipient will be reading this. ;o))
Further along, we stopped again, this time at Barry's Cheese Shop in Barry's Bay. Though I've never stopped and thought about what a cheeseman shoud look like, if I had a I imagine I would have pictured someone like the Barry's Bay cheeseman. He was tall and rosy, with a big white moustache, and he was wearing a white cap and apron. He really looked like something from a story book. We bought a few cheeses from him and continued on.
Before long at all, we were in Akaroa. It is a charming little waterfront town, with lots of neat old buildings, and cats EVERYWHERE. We started off looking for a a place to stay that night. We had seen The Giant's House B&B advertised several places, and it looked interesting, so we picked up the brochure, and started to walk the "four blocks" to the house. "Four blocks" probably equaled 8+ city blocks, went uphill, and seemed interminable. Eventually we got to the driveway, where we had to walk up another hill, followed by a set of stairs to reach the house. the house itselfwas gorgeous. It was built in the 1880s, and it has lovely bones. But an artist lives there now. A nutty artist. The sort who completely overwhelms a beautiful old house with garish colors and really weird sculpture. The owner was a little bit scary herself. I don't mind when my friends dress in mini-skirts and dye their hair blue (yes, that means you, Rachel ;o)) but there's something strange about a 50+ year old woman doing it, especially when one moment she's acting like she wants to hug you, and the next she's about to rip your head off.
We skeedaddled. Thank goodness. I might have gotten nightmares, either from the hostess, or her creepy sculpture garden.
We ended up renting a waterfront apartment, which was incredibly relaxing. We got take-out fish'n'chips for dinner, and sat around the family room watching Return of the King.
After finding a place to stay, we took off for a drive. We drove up into the mountains, starting with nice, fairly broad but curvy mountainside roads, and as we got farther in, the roads got narrower and steeper. Some gave way to gravel entirely. Boy that was fun. :o)
Uncle Sean is a good driver though, and we were in no danger of flying off the side of a mountain. The scenery was fantastic, but the most amazing thing was the silence. It was completely quiet up on the mountain. Even the sheep were silent. I don't think I ever realized before just how much background noise is always around me. There are always car sounds, people, birds, or some sort of machine making noise. Up on the top of that mountain, you could hear the footsteps of the sheep across the pasture, and every breath of wind rustling the grass.