South Island is just as beautiful as North Island. We are now moving across from the west to the east. We visited Mt Cook on Monday. It's mighty high when you get close up!! But as luck would have it by the afternoon the weather had closed in and it was pouring!! Still, it is March & autumn has begun! We spent the day at the Visitors Centre and then the Hermitage, the shangrila of mountaineers! It devotes a lot of space to Ed Hillary and his achievements, which are immense!! There is a large smart hotel, restaurant & cafe as well as a cinema showing the beauty we couldn't see! There were some amazing characters around, dedicated climbers in faded shorts, professionals with followers listening attentively to every word and single minded young men who going out whatever they were told by the advisers on duty. I saw one young Japanese lad later, soaked to the skin cos he just got over enthusiastic!!
Tuesday (2nd) we visited the most southerly astronomical observatory in the world. This was at Mt John 1000m up between Twizel and Geraldine (where we are at present). This was set up by a wealth American in the 1960's. It started because the americans wanted to map the southern hemisphere night sky. By 1968-82 the american military had taken it over to track spy saterlites (sp?) communist! 1984 that had all finished & the americans moved out. The University of Canterbury took over & with the support & money from a wealth Japanese gentleman established the most fantastic 2m mirrored dish telescope. This works using digital photography & is at present looking at galaxies beyond ours. They have found over 200 new planets & according to our guide other planets with life are all over the place it is just that they are so far away & may be very different to us!!
Today, Paul has met the Pope, she was a lovely lady while watching Golf croquet!!!! You can tell we have been apart today! I've been taking in the museum here which tells me that before/during the 2nd World war they grew all the linen flax that was woven in Scotland to make the covers for the Spitfire & other planes. 200 ships a year were transporting it to the UK. It is all gone now but just shows you how we depended on places like NZ for a long time.
I may not get a chance to do another before we hit OZ. I'm keeping your list ready for Sydney Anna, thank you, it is good to hear from home. Even the papers get here several days late! So I'm all at sea.!!!
This is such a lovely country, there only 4 million people and the roads are a delight to drive on, I can understand why Brits come & live here.
Bye for now........