24 February 2006

Well we are officially vagabonds! We packed up our apartment, sent home a bunch of extra clothing a stuff and are now touring the South Island. We're traveling with Brian's friend Andrew. Last night we spent the night at a sheep farm called Buscot Station. It was basically a privately owned sheep farm that the family opened up to let people stay there. It was a nice place to stop for a night. Today we made it all the way to Te Anu which is a nice backpacker town. We met someone from Wisconsin and had dinner with them. Sometimes it's nice to converse with another American! Tomorrow morning we start the Kepler trek so it will be at least 4 days till I have a chance to post again. Till then...

22 February 2006

Well, while we're sharing funny stories about Brian I have one of my own to tell. Last night while I was putting up my post Brian was dropping off some of our purchases at the car (we were downtown at the library). Soon enough he came up to me looking like something was wrong, still holding the bags in his hand. Sure enough, he had locked the keys in the car. Left them right there in the ignition. (note that we now have a lockable gas cap, a key to the "club" and a key to lock the chain holding the spare tire into the trunk, along with a house key on the keychain. So it's not easy to miss) Anyway, I sent Brian off to find the security guard who gave him a hanger to try to break into the car. After all, other people have broken into it, it can't be THAT hard, right? After a few minutes he comes back with the hanger, not looking like he had made much progress. And the first words out of his mouth were "well, you're not doing anything." (We can all picture this, right?) So I take the hanger and stomp out to the car park. About 2 1/2 minutes later (I have just confirmed this time with Brian, I am not exaggerating) I return, triumphant, with keys in hand. So if you ever want to steal a car, give me a call!
Here is an addendum to my earlier post. I forgot to mention one of the more unusual dining experiences I have had here in NZ. First, I have to provide a little background into my eating habits. Well, back in the day I didn't eat anything. I liked to think of myself as a vegetarian that didn't eat vegetables. I didn't eat anything that came from the sea, no way would I eat beef or chicken or turkey. The only way I would eat any of those is to cut them into the smallest pieces and swallow them like pills. So, you might call me a picky eater. So my tastes have changed dramatically since I left for college a million years ago. So anyways now I love seafood and I like to try local specialties when I go places. Like in Costa Rica when we were going through the rain forest our guide was like hey try some termites- They were yummy tasted like pine nuts. So anyways long story short kate and I were driving along the west coast this weekend and we saw a local specialty on the menu "whitebait patty with chips." So we think hmm something like a crab cake but made with white fish. So, when I got this whitebait patty Kate started laughing hysterically because what I had sitting before me was a 8 inch diameter omelet full of these bad boys. Just like in the picture only envision some yellow egg around them. No my friends they were not deboned or deheaded. Lots of little fishies staring up at me saying "do you really want to eat me?" Well no but damnit I bought you and Kate is laughing at me so I can't very well pass up on this glorious opportunity to eat. I think I did a mighty good job and ate about 40% of that monster including dozens of those little guys.

21 February 2006

Well 4 weeks into NZ and I still haven't posted... So here it is my very own post to go along with Kate's documentary of our travels. Well let's see I can answer a couple of questions first. The camera I am using is a Nikon D70s digital SLR. I have been using a Sigma 18-200 lens with a skylight filter. The camera and lens were a generous graduation present from my parents that they thought would be appropriate to give me prior to our trip. I bought a couple more toys to go along with the camera this weekend. A new, fairly lightweight tripod made by Slik and a new polorizing filter that I hope will do even more justice to the amazing blue of the glacial fed streams and rivers. Ohh yeah what am I doing while Kate is at home keeping the place somewhat clean and writing blogs. I am learning a little bit about how to look into people's eyes with a microscope. The biggest problem is that ophthalmologists tend to speak their own language beyond even the typical medical-speak. So, do I really have any clue about what makes up the 8 layers of the 1 square inch of the cornea? yeah right. Though I am trying to leave early every day so that we can spend our time here seeing the country. Typically that involves me walking out of the clinic after I eat lunch. I have found that it is much easier to walk out rather than make up an excuse. Well, we should have plenty of good stories and pictures to tell in a couple weeks when we get back to an internet cafe and can upload pictures and tales. Until then take care. Brian

20 February 2006

Hi Everyone! Not much time for posting today but I wanted to put up a tentative itinerary of our plans for the next few weeks. Brian's rotation ends on Friday and we're packing up and leaving Christchurch behind. Thursday Brian's friend Andrew from medical school is flying into Christchurch. On Friday we're going to go to some wineries in the Waipara region. Saturday morning we leave to drive to Te Anau which is in the Fiordland region of NZ. Sunday we start the Kepler Track which will take us until Wednesday to complete. After that we're planning on a trip to Milford Sound to maybe meet up with some of Brian's other classmates, Chris and Daniel. Then on Thursday or Friday we're heading to Queenstown to take day off before starting the Routeburn Track on Saturday. That one will take us until Monday to finish. We'll spend the next few days exploring, hopefully going to Doubtful Sound and kayaking, taking some short day hikes, eventually making our way back to Chch on Friday. Saturday our flight leaves for Samoa where we'll be until late Tuesday night. We get back into Columbus on Wednesday evening. It's all moving pretty fast, the end is in sight, and I'm not ready to come home! Pair that with the fact that match day is the day after we get back, and I'm on my way to getting back all that stress I've left behind! I'm not ready for someone to tell me where I'll be living for the next 4 years! I'll try to post more info about where we'll be and through some pictures up whenever we get to a internet cafe with a way to upload pictures. But until then it may be few and far between posts to the blog! (Don't worry mom, I'll still call, it's OK!)

19 February 2006

This weekend we fell in love with New Zealand.

Our plan was to drive to Mt. Cook and hike to Mueller hut for the weekend. The hike is supposed to be 5k directly uphill. (It should be called up mountain…) Our plans were almost foiled by this:

Remember when our spare tire got stolen? Yeah, good thing my husband is his father’s son and insisted we go to the junk yard and buy a new one. So we got that changed out and were back on our way fairly quickly.

Soon enough the scenery started to get pretty:

This is the Church of the Good Shepherd on Lake Tekapo in the Two Thumb Mountain Range.

See the seagull on the chimney in the back? Picture perfect! (Except for the obnoxious German tourist that kept walking into our pictures, even though we nicely stood to the side for 10 hours while they took 50 million pictures.)

The drive continued with more beautiful views:

When we got to Mt. Cook village we were a little nervous because no place seemed to have any beds available. We finally ended up in a mountaineering clubs bunk house. We had this lovely room all to ourselves.

But it was clean, dry, warm and quiet. The next morning we got an early start to climb the mountain. Here ‘s what the view was like as we started:

The snow covered peak in the middle is Mt. Cook. Mt. Cook is the tallest peak in NZ. Sir Edmund Hillary (a Kiwi, the first man to climb Mt. Everest) climbed it early in his climbing career. Mt. Ollivea, the mountain our hut was on was actually the first mountain he ever climbed. So, I guess that means we are well on our way to heading to Nepal and climbing Everest.

It was a really steep climb, and all upmountain. No flat areas, no downhills, just up up up up up:

See me negotiating the “steps?”

We stopped for lunch at the tarns. Tarns are lakes in mountains. Here’s a pretty tarn picture.

We were making pretty good progress and enjoying the views. We got a fellow tramper to snap a picture.

Little did I know the worst part of the climb was yet to come! After more climbing straight uphill we came to a section of boulder hopping and then a rock scramble up a scree slope. We were rewarded when we got to the top with another amazing view.

Well, I thought it was the top. The we went around the bend and there was more UP!! First I dropped my pack for a quick look at the view.

The grey part in the middle is a glacier. It was much farther away than it seems. And much higher too.

Finally, we made it all the way to the top. The wardens at the hut took a picture of us when we got there.

They were standing on the front deck of the hut when they took this, so that should give you an idea of what our view out the windows was like!!

The warden at the hut let Brian try out his tripod to take some pictures of the sunset. Of course Brian loved the tripod so now we get to buy one of those and lug it around with us up and down mountains. Here’s Mt. Cook at sunset:

And here is the view behind the hut at sunset:

Just to give you an idea of how much elevation we gained, here is a view of the car park where we left our car.

It’s at the end of the little road in the middle of the picture. We climbed quite a ways! Brian also took a picture of the pools at the bottom of the glacier. The color was amazing.

At one point we saw some people kayaking through the water. The glacier scrapes rocks off the walls as it moves and leaves huge piles of gravel behind once it moves or melts.

Originally we planned to stay two nights at Mt. Cook but after climbing down the mountain we decided to drive over to the West Coast and explore that side of the island for a few days. Here’s another view of Mt. Cook.

This picture doesn’t even do the color of the water justice. It was the same turquoise color you see in pictures of the carribbean and just as clear.

We drove to the little seaside town of Haast and stayed in a little roadside motel that night. On our way we got some more good views:

We stopped at some pretty amazing sights along the way. Like this waterfall:

We also stopped at Fox Glacier, and got to walk within 20 meters of the glacier. The glacier is advancing at about 1 meter per day so it’s not safer to go any closer. While we were looking at it lots of rocks and ice were falling off. You can hire a tour guide and walk on top of the glacier but we were short on time and cash so we had to pass.

The next night we stayed in the little down of Punakaiki. They have a rock formation they call Pancake Rocks:

I guess they’re called that because of all the layers. There is also a blowhole here but it’s only active at high tide and we were there at low tide.

Our drive continued north along the coast. The beauty of this country is amazing, and this is the day we really fell in love with the island. Every turn the road took revealed another amazing sight.

We just kept saying, it’s so pretty, it’s so pretty over and over. Brian took over 1 GB of pictures, over 350 individual shots. There are so many more I’m not putting up! The last place we stopped on the way back to Chch was the seal colony at Cape Foulwind. This was neat to see because there were a lot of seal pups that were only a few weeks old. Here’s a picture of them playing in the “nursery pool”, a natural little wading pool that was calm enough for them to learn to swim in. They were swimming around like little pros already.

And here’s a baby seal and a mom seal enjoying the rocks:

The last picture is of a roadside sign you definitely wouldn’t see in Ohio!

We didn’t see any penguins even though we looked!

All in all we had an amazing weekend exploring a whole new part of the country we hadn’t been to yet. It’s made us even more excited to spend the next 2 weeks seeing more new sights!

14 February 2006

I hope everyone's Valentine's day is going well. We had a quite uneventful day here yesterday. I got Brian a card and he got me...well, nothing. Oh well, you all know Brian. We did have a nice dinner at home. Dinner prices here on V-day are rediculous. Somewhere in the order of NZ$200 per person at the places Brian looked at. So we just hung out at home and got ready for our next backpacking adventure. We're leaving tonight to Drive to Mt.Cook and then tomorrow morning we'll start our hike straight up the mountain. We should be back on Saturday or Sunday depending on what all we see. Check back then!

13 February 2006

I almost forgot! Today is Valentine's Day here! So happy Valentine's day everyone! Also, Happy Birthday to my cousin Beth and our kitty Tito. Two of my favorite Valentine's babies. Well, Beth's not a baby, and I guess Tito isn't either. He's two now, the crazy little furry monster! Also, Happy Birthday to Jill and Adam's cat Pepe, who just had his 13th birthday.
Hi Everyone! Thanks for all the comments! You do love me!

I actually don't have anything big to say today. Last night Brian and I went to see the movie River Queen. It's about the battles between the Maori and the British for the then unsettled New Zealand. I thought it was OK, the scenery was beautiful but I don't like it when all the good people die. Not that ALL the good people died, but a lot of people died and that's sad. But it was good to get an idea of NZ history.

As for the American food, so far I've had KFC for dinner once. It was not so much like American KFC. It was fried chicken, but that's about as far as it went. It wasn't bad, but no biscuit, no mac and cheese. We also had subway for lunch once. That was EXACTLY like it is in the US. Who would have thought that subway would be comfort food?

In the Maori language the letters wha are pronounced like fu. So whakapapa is pronounced like fu...oh, never mind. How'd you like to go skiing there?

I'm at the library so I can't post pictures, but next time I'm at the internet cafe I'll put up a picture of Brian being eaten by a wave (well, not really) and the coolest kiddie ride in all of NZ.

My aunt Kristen was asking about the officers shooting officers situation. Co-workers, any new updates? Is the officer we like still doing OK? Is the officer we're scared of still free to roam around the state and shoot people? You can email me if you're not cool with posting it on here! katemitchell.rn@gmail.com

12 February 2006

Hey, you people suck! Haven't you all ever heard of leaving COMMENTS?!? It's really easy, down at the bottom of the post their is a little spot that says "COMMENTS". Click on it, put in your name and write me a message. I'm not hauling my ass to the internet cafe/library/public computer lab anymore until I get some decents remarks for you people! I even put up a picture of Brian in a SOMBRERO for pete's sake. And all we get is one measly comment (thanks Erin). I put up a picture of me getting stalked by a white deer that practically attacked my for some food pellets and what do I get? 1 Comment (thanks Carrie). Maybe if I get some attention I'll tell you all about our trip to the beach, the proper way to pronounce the name of the Whakapapa Ski Resort and what the first US restaurant we visited in NZ was. Otherwise you'll just have to wonder. :-)

11 February 2006

We had a fairly busy day on Saturday (that’s Friday where you all are). First we drove to Kaikoura, which is a small down North of Chch along the coast. Kaikoura is known for whale watching, dolphin watching and there is a seal colony that lives there as well. The drive there was really beautiful, but a little scary at times. Here is a picture looking back over the road.

You can see the tunnel we drove through on the left side. The tunnels were arch shaped, but they had little corners cut out at the top so semi-trucks could fit through. This road is the main “freeway” on this side of the island, and there were big semis cruising around. The JUST fit through the tunnels, no more than six inches to spare!

Another view of the scenery along the way. That’s the Pacific Ocean.

Mountains, ocean, blue sky, this place really has it all. This is a view back at the main island from a peninsula we drove out on.

Same peninsula, different view.

If you look closely, you can see a seal on the rocks on the left.

We climbed up into a farmer’s field (right alongside the cows) to get this view back along the peninsula. It’s the same view as before, but from about 60 meters higher.

After we got back to Chch we went to a rugby game. It was the Canterbury Crusaders vs Otago Highlanders. They’re crazy about rugby here. Instead of a band they had horses:

These guys came out and rode around a bunch of times with Gothic chanting music playing. It was pretty cool, and a little scary, if you ask me. Their swords were made out of wood though.

Instead of cheerleaders they have the Paul Kelly Motorcars dancers. They were terrible. They looked like the worst strippers from the cheapest club you could imagine. That’s the only way to describe them! Everytime time there was a score they would run out and their goods all around. All that was missing was a stripper pole! At least they left their clothes on.

Although we don’t know the rules of rugby very well at all, we followed along pretty well. We do know that this is a scrum:

The Crusaders won 35 – 12.

Tui is a NZ beer, and if you bought 4, you got a free sombrero. I wore the sombrero first, and after Brian finished all the beers, he wore it:

All in all an interesting Saturday!

10 February 2006

Well, I decided to buckle down and venture out to the beach despite the rain. I walked along a dune trail and lucky for me it didn’t really rain while I was there, just misted and sea sprayed at me. It was still pretty in a grey, stormy, choppy water kind of way. Here are a couple of pictures I took while I was walking.

(and a little bird with a really long beak!)

Brian ended up getting home early. We spent the afternoon at Willowbank nature preserve. They had mostly a collection of random animals that had been brought into various zoos and parts of NZ. It was a pretty motley collection actually. We saw some native NZ animals like kea and kiwi. Here are the highlights of the crazy animals we saw. Most of the animals just wanted us to give them food.

An ostrich that chomped on my finger (no harm done).

A wallaby (they’re marsupials, like kangaroos, and this one actually had a little baby in her pouch!)

Notice that little deer is on the same side of the fence as I am. That’s because she jumped the fence to rip the empty food bag out of my hand and eat it! Luckily it was paper so she'll be ok, but I was shocked the little lady jumped the fence and stole the bag!

Brian and I have a running joke that I brought my own paparazzi to NZ with me. He’s always taking to pictures and there aren’t any with him in them!

Hi to Ivory’s study group! Ivory, I bought you a shot glass today and it is going to crack you up!

09 February 2006

Hi again from NZ. The day started out sunny and I had high aspirations to do a little beach combing. But now it's rainging again, so we'll see what happens.

Dad, to answer your question, the All Blacks are the New Zealand rugby team. NZ is crazy about their rugby. And no, I don't believe that is a gas cap on his face!

Brian and I are hoping to go for a day hike tomorrow. We have to be careful about what area we chose because this weekend is the coast to coast race. Basically a bunch of crazy Kiwis run, bike and kayak 243 km across the width of the South Island. Nuts I tell you. Remember the guy I mentioned who ran 12k back to his car after tramping for 2 days? He's done the coast to coast.

We've been slowly setting up our plans for what to do for the rest of our time here. Next weekend we plan to hike to Mueller Hut in Mt. Cook National Park. It's apparently 5k straight up hill with an amazing view at the top.

After Brian finishes his optho rotation Jan 24 we're going to be joined by one of his classmates from the US, Andrew, and we're going to do the Kepler Track. That one'll take us 4 days. There will be plenty more tramping beyond that, but that's as far as we've planned.

Hope all is well with everyone in the US!!

08 February 2006

This is a great story we've been following in the news that last few days. The family had accepted that he had died, and were praying to Tangaroa (the Maori sea god) that they would at least find his body. It was a sad story until we heard on the news last night he had been found!

Not too much else going on in NZ today. It's gray, rainy, and windy today so I doubt we'll be doing too much exploring!

My dad acted as my personal ambassador and found out that the DMV will send me a lost license packet. The turn around is expected to be 2 - 3 weeks. That's not as bad as I expected. Thanks dad!

07 February 2006

Did you just call me sweet ass?

You might be surprised if you were NZ and someone called you sweet ass. For example, if you were at a restaurant and you ordered your food and your waiter said “sweet ass” as he walked away, you might think, “is he being fresh with me?” However, after you heard this phrase a couple of times and started to wonder if you should be offended, you would figure out the phrase is actually “sweet as…” Apparently this is NZ slang basically meaning “cool.” Not that this happened to us or anything.

There are native birds in NZ called Kea.

These guys like to take pretty much anything you don’t want them to have. They’ve been known to tear parts off cars, unlace people’s boots and steal the laces. So recently, when a car show was coming to town, the Kiwis knew they had to get resourceful to protect all the old cars.

So they hired a local karate club to protect the cars 24 hours a day!!

Last night Brian and I drove to Akaroa to explore and have dinner. It’s about an hour from ChCh, but we took the “tourist road” which added an extra hour on our way there but gave us some great views.

Akaroa is a French whaling settlement from 1840. It’s a cute little town with beaches and mountains all at once. Surprise, I have pictures!

There were a lot of clouds moving around but with the sun coming through it was really pretty.

As we drove home we tried to stop and get some pictures of the sunset. Unfortunately, we never got a good one. Here’s a picture of kiwi-car in the mountains, just to prove the little guy can handle it, even after being violated and having his spare tyre (NZ spelling) and petrol cap stolen!

06 February 2006

Hi Everyone. A little bummed in NZ today. After talking to the American Embassy and the NZ police I found out that they can't issue me a temporary driver's license. Their suggestion was that I call the ohio BMV and see if they can send me a copy. Obviously they haven't dealt with the Ohio BMV before. So it looks like it's back to walking. At least Brian can still drive. But now I'm stranded all day with no credit card, no debit card to get cash, and no way to go anywhere I can't walk to!

The good news is that today all the kids went back to school, so summer vacation is officially over and the "new" season of TV shows start here this week. Dr. Phil and Oprah are on at 1:30 and 2:30 today. Since the UV level is too high for me to walk anywhere at that time of day, and I obviously can't drive, I guess I'll be watching American talk shows! Not exactly the reason I came to NZ, but you gotta take what you can get!

Take care everyone!

05 February 2006

This weekend Brian and I went tramping on the Cass-Lagoon Saddles track. The trailhead is about 2 hours from our flat, and we got to drive 100 to get there!!

Ok well, it was 100km/hr. But it still felt fast, even if it was only 60mph. Anyway, soon enough we got started on our tramp. According to the book, the track is 30km long and is of moderate difficulty. It started out pretty innocently, with a flat track along some farmland and down in an old riverbed. There were pretty views to all sides, but it was out in the sun and very rocky.

Then we went up into the woods and it started to get really pretty. Here is a view as we walked along.

After hours and hours of hiking uphill, we made it to the Cass Saddle. A saddle is the connection between two mountains. Think of a horse, if the head is one mountain and the rump is another, we were walking over the saddle (well, that’s how Brian explained it to me anyways). There were some amazing views from up there, and we were happy to have made it that far!

After crossing the saddle (elevation 1326m) we went down down down hill to get to Hamilton hut where we were staying for the night. We took breaks for Brian to take pictures.

I saw a rock that looked like bunny.

After what felt like 100 more miles we finally walked into another riverbed and saw the cabin way in the distance.

You can see it if you look for a very small building with a green roof just to the right of the top of my pack. (You can click on the pictures to make them bigger.)

Unfortunately we didn’t take any pictures of the hut, but it was actually really nice inside. It had 20 bunks with surprisingly clean and comfy mattresses. My only problem with getting sleep was the woman snoring so loudly she was rattling the beds. She woke me and several others up multiple times throughout the night. I think eventually someone shook her pillow so she would wake up and roll over. I’ve never heard a woman snore like that before!! (Brian- Suckers can’t sleep through snoring! I slept on the bunk above her and didn’t wake up through the night)

Anyway, we met lots of neat people in the hut. There was a threesome of Kiwis that were in medicine(two PTs and a med student). The medical school system is different here than it is in the US. People can go into medical school straight out of high school. That lasts for 6 years, and then they do residency to be general practioners. I think that program last 3 years. After that they can choose to specialize if they want to. Then they do an additional residency in their chosen specialty. They were pretty hardcore trampers. After they got to the hut the guy went for a 20 minute run through the mountains. After hiking for 16km!

We also met an American that has been living in NZ for around 3 years, Dave, and his girlfriend T. The third member of their party was named Richard, he was from Texas and had just arrived in NZ the previous week. We all sat around and played cards and talked. The huts are very social places!

The next morning we set off to finish the last 14km of the track. We started out crossing a swing bridge. Here’s a picture of me bravely crossing first:

And here is a picture of Brian looking across at me after I safely made it:

And here is Brian looking down. Don’t they always say “don’t look down?”

So we made it across the obstacles and here on our way. It was pretty rainy the second day, and we were getting quite discouraged with the wet and the cold until we ran in to some of our hut friends from the night before at lunchtime. We hiked with them off and on for the rest of the day. There were some pretty neat views from Lagoon saddle in the afternoon.

There’s Brian hiking ahead (see the orange on the right side?)

Then I saw some lichens growing on a rock that looked like a bunny.

(I just had to throw that in.)

The good views continued:

and I was glad there were no more uphills!

All in all, we hiked from 11am to 6pm the first day and 845am to 530pm the second day. We were tired and sore but proud of our first New Zealand tramp! If you want to leave the day on a good note, stop here. If you want to hear about the bad part of our day, keep reading.

Title: “They even took the gas cap.”

When we finished hiking, one of the guys ran back to the car park at the other end of the trail to get his car. That’s 12km from where we were. Seriously, this guy hiked 22km in two days with a pack on his back, then ran 12km to pick up his car. These people are crazy! Anyway, after he had his car, he came back and picked up his hiking friends and also took Brian and Dave to get their cars. About 20 minutes later, Dave came back to get the rest of his group and told me I had to go with them because he was going to give me a ride to our car. Apparently Heath (the runner) had dropped them both off at our car and Brian went to give Dave a ride down the street to where his car was parked. When Brian started the car, it was slow to start and turned out it was low on gas. Anyone who knows Brian knows this is not an unlikely possibility. So this is the story I was told, and I hopped in the car with Dave, T, and Richard, ragging on Brian (nicely) the whole time. (Brian- Ok let’s get this straight people [Kate], I run low on gas when I am near my house in my own car. I.e. I know how many miles I have left before I really need to get gas rather than relying on the odometer and the gas light to tell me when to fill up. And, I haven’t ever run out of gas. I just prefer to go to the gas station as few a times as possible in my life. That being said I would not take our new old car much below a quarter of a tank in the middle of the mountains in NZ.) When we get to our car I found out the real issue is that the car is low on gas, AND it was robbed while we were tramping. Our quick inventory revealed that my purse and wallet (which were shut in the glovebox) were missing. Also missing, our spare tire, ½ qt of old motor oil and a small bottle of power steering fluid. Not missing, the radio and the jack. Strange. So Dave and friends insisted on following us to the nearest gas station 60km away. The whole time we were driving (with the gas light on) I kept saying, I know we had more gas than this. I bet they stole our gas too!! We eventually coasted into the gas station on fumes, and low and behold, not only had the stolen our gas, they stole our gas CAP!!! I mean seriously! Anyway, Brian filled the car up and I went in to talk to the attendant about a petrol cap. She didn’t have any for sale, but she did have a bucket full of ones that had been left behind. She brought them out, and lo and behold, we found one that fit! Thank you nice gas station lady for the gas cap! Then Dave and friends took us across the street to dinner and treated us to a beer (Brian) and a hard cider (me). Thank you new friends for taking care of us when we having a rough time of it! The good news is when we got back to the apartment I was able to call and cancel my credit card and nothing had been spent on it. There was no cash in my wallet and nothing else of monetary value in my bag. And now I’ve learned my lesson (a lesson I really already knew, I was just stupid). But we’re still safe and sound in New Zealand and no worse for the wear.