Alright, sorry for the unecessary delay in this post. Let's finish this up, sh'all we?
We had stayed in a camper park in Dunedin and took advantage of the hot showers and electricity. We woke relatively early because we had to be at somewhere at 10:00. The place we had to be was Speight's Brewery for their guided tour.
This was my first tour inside a brewery and it turned out to be pretty cool. Our guide was Keith, an older retired gentleman that had the voice and looks of Michael Cane. I believe he said he had worked there for 30 years. And he likes beer. A lot. Which makes complete sense.
And while I wish I could remember all cool stuff he showed us, I can remember a few neat tidbits. New Zealand apparently has the best hops in the world, and he wasn't just saying this. Brewers from around the world import New Zealand hops, including Guinness, Budweiser, and a bunch of other I couldn't remember. The Speight's brewery also use what are called fermenting gyles. They're essentially giant open wooden tanks that are lined with cooling pipes used to frement the beer. There are only two breweries in the world to have them and Speight's is the only one to be currently operating them (for special brews). So I guess in the world of brewing, they're extremly well known and many major film crews and publications have been in to do stories on them.
The brewery is also known as a gravity brewery. So all the ingredients are taken to the top floor and slowly go throught the breweing process toward the bottom floor. This was used in early breweries as to assist the transfer of ingredient from one stage to the next. It's argued that this is the best was to brew, but really it doesn't matter that much. So we continued on through the tour checking out the big copper tanks, the water room, and mixing rooms etc.
We had rumor that at the end of the tour you get to taste al of the different brews in a 20 minute free for all in which you get to grab a small tasting glass and operate the taps at your own leisure (or ambition). Rumor confirmed. There were six different flavors to choose from. My particular favorite was the porter- specially brewed in the gyles, a dark brew with flavors of roasted coffee and burnt chocolate. Another favorite was a seasonal summer brew, an apricot wheat beer. While maybe not considered a "Man's Beer" it sure tasted good. Like candy.
While I was modest in my tasting since I'd be driving later on, some of my RV mates were in heaven. They made sure to get their $15 dollar tour fee's worth of beer...and then some...and then some more. In fact, instead of the 20 minutes or so that a regular group would get, we ended up hangning around for 45 minutes chatting with Keith our guide. He was actually just filling in for the 10:00 tour for someone, so he had nowhere to go. We chatted about politics, famous NZ people, jokes, and got him to sing the New Zealand national anthem for us. (Check out the Video)
We finally left and decided we'd walk around for a few hours to grab some lunch and allow me a bit of time before jumping behind the wheel. Downtown Dunedin was nice, although admitedly nothing to rave about. It was nice to see Dunedinites have a sense of humor though, where someone had placed an empty beer bottle in the hand of this famous poet's statue. (picture below).
When we did finally get on the road again we made a quick stop at Baldwin Street, the steepest street in the world (according to the Guinness Book of World Records). Kevin and I walked to the top, and it was steep. You couldn't really appreciate its steepness though until you saw some ambitious car make the attempt. Engines revving and speeding toward the upstart, the car would hit it like a brick wall and was forced to drop it into first gear as it impishly crawled to the summit. The RV would have never made it- good thing I didn't try.
The rest of the day was mainly commited to driving back north toward Christchurch with a quick stop in Omaru. It was there where we walked on some trails and caught a quick glimpse of the tiny Blue Penguins. Normally we would have had to pay something outrageuos, like $20, to sit in the viewing are to see them, but somehow we made our way along the coast on a trail and ended up on the opposite side of the viewing area. Ooops. After they came out of the water and waddled to their little house, some guys from the viewing area came over to kindly escort us out. Apparently it was a private trail that closes at dusk, but it happens a lot that people end up there by accident. So we got to see them for free. Take that eco-exploitation. Weak.
We drove a little further and parked along the side of the road for our last night in the RV. The next day we got up and finished our drive our final and original place, Christchurch. We didn't do much besides clean the RV, grab some lunch downtown, then head to the airport. Our flight was canceled after it was suppose to have already boarded, luckily we were put on flight back to Auckland; not everyone on the original flight were wuite so lucky. But due to its relative uneventfulness, Day 8 isn't going to warrant a po
So that was my adventure around the South Islands. Glaciers. Mountains. Narrow winding roads. Fjiords. Sounds. Beaches. Penguins. And seven friends cramped in a six person RV for 8 days. Good times. Let's go back. (Cue End Credits)