192. Taking in a Little Old Zealand

Taking in a Little “Old” Zealand: Lots of jokes are made at the expense of New Zealand’s ever present retro flavor and one previous visitor gave me a warning of sorts before I arrived. “It’s like the 1950s over there, except with lots of Japanese cars,” he said. I would actually say it’s a little more like the 1970s but with more microbreweries and German tourists. Either way, one of the most enjoyable remnants of days past are the bevy of quaint, family owned and operated roadside attractions that dot the sweeping emerald countryside. We took in a few of these along the way, refreshingly intimate, affordable and mostly void of the boundaries (and safety regulations) of corporate or government-operated attractions. Two south island favorites were the nearly guardrail free tour of Ngarua Caves beneath the limestone and marble mass of Takaka Hill and a sheep shearing demonstration on the windy Kaikoura Peninsula; the former included several spots for stalactite “touchies,” off color commentary about various anatomical shapes and a steep ladder climb of an exit, the latter included a peek in an old school shearing shed and a chance to hold a lamb named Christmas.


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