Hello lovelies! Another week already and forward with our continuing New Zealand travels…
From Queenstown, we once again set out across the South Island, with not much more of a plan than to reach the east coast. Consulting the GPS, I found we we could easily swing through the tiny town of Moeraki, famous in tourist guides for its eccentric boulders.
The Moeraki Boulders are best seen at low tide, and we serendipitously arrived just as the water was lapping about their bases. It is a remarkably odd sight: the boulders appear like so many ponderous beach balls, half buried in the sand. Even more bizarre are the cracked and partial boulders, with their great, honeycomb veins exposed in geometric pattern.
We dutifully posed for photos atop the domes.
Or in them, as the case may be.
These photos we taken with some haste as the tide was rapidly rising. Perhaps you can’t tell from the below photo, but I’ve just been completely swamped.
Even more exciting (if you’re me) than the boulders, Moeraki is home to the incomparable Fleur’s Place. I had read about this little gem and its international acclaim but dismissed the possibility of a stop as it is rather out of the way. I was ecstatic, therefore, when I realized we would be able to make it after all. And then quickly disappointed when we called for a reservation and were told they were full up.
Life lesson: be persistent and find a work around. Morosely resigned to our fate, we pulled up at the local pub (the only other restaurant in Moeraki), just a stone’s throw from Fleur’s. Not looking forward to spending a fortune on mediocre food (Did I mention all food is very, very expensive in New Zealand? No? It is.) we decided to give it one more, last minute try. Ever the charmer, Jacob somehow wrangled us two seats at the bar. Glory halleluja!
I can say with all honesty we could have been sitting in the garbage shed and I would not have minded. The food eclipsed all other cares. It was, without a doubt, in the top five meals I have ever had. And how incredibly gorgeous, n’est-ce pas?
Admittadly, I do like my seafood, but I challenge anyone to taste Fleur’s fresh caught fish (as in it just came wriggling off her boat, tied up right there in the harbor) and not be blown away.
Jacob had the fish of the day, which if memory serves, was a Moki. Clearly I didn’t pay much attention to his, as I was already transported to foodie heaven by my own dish: a hot pot of green-lipped mussels, cockles, clams, flaky fish, new potatoes and herbs in an ambrosial broth, redolent with saffron. I may be drooling a bit just thinking about it.
The waitresses were attentive and helpful, even to us wind-blown bar squatters.
Flying high on that giddy buzz only a truly amazing meal can create, we continued the splurge with a scrumptious dessert. Like I said: heaven.
Grinning like a couple of drunks, we trundled happily out of the restaurant, taking a moment to admire the jetty.
We had a recommendation to stop by the local penguin colony, and after dinner was the perfect time to do so. A short drive from Fleur’s, a peaceful bluff-top walk and visit with these little cuties made for a wonderful end to a memorable day.
There was a colony of fur seals as well, and we had a few respectful encounters.
They yellow-eyed penguins were the real stars, however. Pop open the photo below and give that little buddha a good admire.
After spending the night in a nearby holiday park, we set out towards Christchurch. One of my favorite things about traveling is the way unplanned stops can become highlights. This was true for us of the small town of Oamaru, where we stopped as an excuse to make hobo coffee (Yes, we travel with our coffee pot, what of it?).
We were delighted to find the local farmer’s market in session, and with Jacob happily munching a savory scone we went on a walk round town.
Oamaru has a steampunk, Victorian charm to it, with beautiful whitestone architecture, cobbled streets, a working steam engine, as well as a historic high street full of shops and galleries.
All in all, I highly recommend both Moeraki and Oamaru if you like to get off the beaten path and eat well!
To be continued…