One to Grow On

December 12, 2009

The Road to Rachel’s

Filed under: Uncategorized — midway2go @ 5:04 am

8 years old class- one year makes a huge difference

Check out the fur on the fur seal

Crossing Cook Strait,  which separates the North and South Islands, can be rough but very scenic. Our crossing was smooth but so rainy we couldn’t see much! We met a fun family to play with on the multistory playground in the bowels of the ship, and the three hours flew by.

7 year olds being 7

A paua shell at home

Once on the South Island we made a beeline to Christchurch, although I couldn’t help stopping every so often to gawk. The highway (and, again, I use that term loosely) hugged the coast, squeezed between crashing waves and verdant, sheep-dotted hills. I have yet to take a photo of the grazing sheep that captures their wooliness and the greenness and the pitch of the hillside; stay tuned. 



We came to a screeching halt just north of Kaikoura. We had spotted seals. And, bonus, it was Nora’s half-birthday (a big deal in our house, where it’s just too much to wait a whole year to celebrate), and she was thrilled. We watched four or five seals lying around, maybe doing a little barking at each other. The huge male kept his eyes on us, and I watched out for him, too. The rule of thumb around here is not to crowd them and never to get between them and the sea. We were heading back to the car when we realized that we’d been looking at a tiny part of the seal colony; the big crowd was on the other side of the rocks. Holy cow. There were so many of them that they paid us no notice (well, not much). They played, called back and forth, barked. They did everything but hop up on their tails and balance a ball, and the best part was that it wasn’t for us. Regular seal life. So fun to watch.   

We were so glad to pull up at Rachel’s in Christchurch a couple of hours later. It’s all a big happy blur of four kids trying to talk first and Rachel and me trying to catch up on almost two years of news. We made ourselves right at home, walking the boys to school in the mornings and sharing meals. The boys’ school is pretty cool. They both went to public school in Virginia when they lived there, so they’ve had both experiences. Here are some differences that struck me:   

No buses. Kids get to school under their own steam (walking, biking, scootering. We saw one kid on a skateboard).   

No kid-containment measures before school. Before school starts, the classes are open. Kids can play on the playground, go to the library, hang out with their friends in their rooms blowing off steam. Then, the teachers walk in and the bell rings and things settle down.   

No cafeteria. This blew me away. The kids have a long period, an hour or more, free in the middle of the day. They play with friends, visit under the porch in the rain, wear themselves out on the playground…   

Very different approach than I saw as a teacher. Very interesting.   

We are heading back to Rachel’s for Christmas, so we didn’t have to say goodbye just yet. Between Rachel and her cousin Tina we got some great tips for the south of New Zealand. Off to see what we can see in 21 days!   



  1. The pics are great. Tell Rachel we said Merry Chrismas and thanks for having you there.

    Comment by Randy King — December 12, 2009 @ 10:25 am

  2. Incredible pictures of the seals!! How the children have grown since Virginia. Really special that you get to visit with the family.

    Comment by Nana — December 13, 2009 @ 1:52 pm

  3. Hello, We saw your parents last night and they are doing well. I love reading about your trip. Molly is still having a little PG sickness. She is getting better though. May your days be merry and bright. Have a wonderful Christmas. Kay

    Comment by Kay Goode — December 14, 2009 @ 8:09 am

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