In the last few days I’ve been able to check off two of my 2016 To Do List items, all thanks to Roseanne. Like a kiwi fairy godmother, she took care of us before she even met us. When one of our Workaway hosts in Queenstown told us last minute that they couldn’t accommodate us for a week, Roseanne invited us to her beautiful coastal home in Dunedin.
Jim and Jean, the incredible couple that hosted us in Jackson, WY, put us in touch via email in the fall. They had met while Roseanne bike toured the Great Divide trail that runs along the Rocky Mountains from Canada to New Mexico.
Last Friday she gave us directions on how to get into her ultra modern cement, glass, and wooden accented home. A neat pile of Adventure Cycling magazines covered her hand-built table and I immediately started flipping through one of her fourteen New Zealand Trekking guides.
Since the moment she walked in the door it’s felt like we’ve been friends for years. Every night the sunset paints the blowing tussock bushes a golden hue that doesn’t fade until well after 10pm, though the conversations continue into the night.
Saturday she loaded us into her Subaru and took us to the Otago Farmer’s Market, a lively scene with live Vanuatuan music and nearly a hundred food stalls bedazzled with plump summer fruits and fresh vegetables. The morning’s drizzle cleared into a gorgeous blue day, especially when set above the rolling green bluffs, steep cliffs, and cold crashing waves of the famous Otago Peninsula. She drove us over windy dirt roads that almost made us feel like we were back home in California along the Point Reyes Peninsula, especially when the occasional grazing sheep or cow munched on the hillside.
The real treat that day was watching the endangered yellow-eyed penguins returning from their sea hunt and waddling across Sandfly beach to hop up the sand dune to their nests. Snap a picture of a yellow-eyed penguin – check!
In most places, offering a bed, a shower, and a home-cooked meal is a testament to superb hospitality. Roseanne’s generosity extends higher than Mt. Cook. We told her about our hopes to do the Otago Central Rail Trail while in New Zealand, a former rail line converted into a 150km dirt bike trail. Not only did she encourage us to do it, on Sunday morning she caravanned with us to Middlemarch, a little town in Central Otago about an hour outside of Dunedin. There we parked our car (now dubbed the Dolphin, to keep with the sea creatures theme), piled into hers, and continued ANOTHER two hours to the little agricultural village of Alexandra. She went on a mountain bike ride while we loaded up Tucker and Mindy for their first New Zealand bike tour. Do a bike tour – check!
Biking along former rail lines is really the way to go; they feature easy (mostly non-existent) grades, are completely separated from cars, and they pass through tunnels! The intense heat and solar rays made the temptation to stop for a cider and beer irresistible, especially when we rolled into the 16-person town of Lauder’s Ukulele Festival. A couple Americans that we met noted, “Man, New Zealand feels like the U.S. sixty years ago.” I fit in thanks to a tie-die mechanics rag turned headscarf, which led to Tyler dubbing me the groovy Mother Theresa for the remainder of the journey.
Originally we planned to split the trip into three days and two nights, but as we coasted past the second night’s intended camping spot we decided to power through and finish in two days.
Now, back in Dunedin and savoring yet another picturesque sunset after baked salmon and roasted veggies after an all day hiking exploration of the Otago Peninsula, we’re feeling quite content. All thanks to the wonderfully generous and awesome Roseanne!