May 21

Our trip toward Mt. Cook was punctuated by a couple of stops that we had been too rushed to make on our way South. We visited the major tourist attraction in Dan’s town, the Moeraki Boulders. These are fossilized dinosaur eggs that were laid on the beach millions of years ago. They never hatched because the species of dinosaur that laid them was wiped out. For this reason, they were unable to incubate the eggs properly. Over time, the build up of lime on the eggs fossilized them, creating the boulders that we see.

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(What may have hatched, if I hadn’t just made up thatwhole story. Haha.)

These are actually concretions that began to form 55 million years ago. Their formation is similar to that of pearls, a small fragment is deposited and lime collects around it and over time, more and more builds up forming a sphere. They are absolutely fascinating, and not just because they allow for the opportunity to pretend to be a dinosaur.

Next, we stopped in Oamaru to visit the Victorian Precinct. This is a block of streets that is built in Victorian style. The buildings are white stone and the boutique shops subscribe to this style. We wandered through Victorian style clothing stores, rare book collections, a book binder and more. The highlight for us was Steampunk HQ, a huge building full to the bursting with steampunk inventions.

Initially, I was impressed by the art that had been created in this style, but I didn’t think the entrance fee was worth it. Boy, was I wrong! One room made the whole shebang worth it. We waited, as instructed (okay, we didn’t wait the first time, but we redid it correctly), for the green light and entered a room full of mirrors and lights. The floor, walls, ceiling and door are all covered. It looks like the room goes forever in every direction. They put on a light show and it is completely disorienting. We loved it! We watched the show twice!

We took SH 83 toward Central South Island. The drive started out through farmland and rolling hills, but, finally, after days of waiting, I finally experienced the South Island that I’ve imagined. About twenty minutes before we reached our campsite, we finally saw stark, snow covered mountains. I am ecstatic!

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