Our drive from Mount Cook was a difficult one. We were leaving after a fantastic experience and the weather closed in so it got quite dreary. We were also very tired, so it was long to get to the coast. We travelled through rolling hills covered with agriculture of one type or another. On a sunny day it would have been splendid scenery. We decided to stop in the first place where we could find a hotel, as we were not anxious to pitch the tent in the rain. After a couple of hours we were in Oamaru, a very lovely coastal city with a population of about 13,000 and with many hotels. We passed each hotel and motel and b&b on the way into town and also in town and they all showed "no vacancy"...sigh...Paul went into one hotel and was referred to a b&b which the hotel attendant (many thanks to Dave ) knew about. We made our way there and found ourselves at a very lovely home off the main street. We were greeted by Lyn and Murray who were delightful! They took us weary travellers in and gave us such tender loving care, it was a balm to the soul! We had a lovely room and I was so happy to have running hot water...well...I could gush but I won't. Lyn and Murray let us stay for two nights and this gave us a chance to visit the area.
On our first day we visited downtown Oamaru. It is a beautiful town with very notable buildings built in a Victorian style. These are constructed from Oamaru stone, a lime stone which is quarried close by. We were really grateful to have a bit of a down day to recharge our batteries a bit and thanks to internet at the b&b we were able to Skype with Katie and Janice and to catch up on our emails. Murray invited us to go on a road trip out to see the country side. It was really lovely, rolling hills with farms and limestone formations. Murray is a retired farmer although after talking to him, I am not sure retired is the right word as he volunteers his time on several farms and continues to grow his own vegetables and to raise sheep on a lot behind his house! Having lived in the area his entire life he had extensive knowledge of the history and the farming practices. He took us to see his family farm (five forks) which was huge and which is now managed by his children and their families. He also took us to see the elephant rocks, rock formations which are reminiscent of their name-sakes. When we returned, Lyn had prepared a meal which we were invited to share with she and Murray. It was incredible! We felt so lucky and feel so grateful to our wonderful hosts! (Thanks Lyn for letting us use the laundry and for the great grandmothering advice!) On their suggesyion we went down to the harbour front at 9 pm to see small blue penguins come in from a day at sea! It was very special.