Stopping on the Way Home to See the World's Largest... Sweater: Twizel to Christchurch via Mt. Cook, Lake Tekapo and Geraldine

This morning, early, we left our little backpackers in Twizel, well-rested and ready for our last hard day of driving – the road to Christchurch, “City of Airplanes to Auckland 'City of Airplanes to Los Angeles 'City of Airplanes to Philadelphia 'City of Trains to Newark'''”. We'd been told we can't leave New Zealand without seeing Mt. Cook from inland. It isn't far from Twizel, which isn't far from the highway to Christchurch, so we decided it'd be a nice morning thing to do.

It turns out we were right.

We'd seen Mt. Cook from the other side last week, around Lake Matheson, but we weren't able to get this close. We also learned that Mt. Cook is not just the tallest point in Australasia, but is the highest point between Papua New Guinea and the Andes. It is, indeed, very tall. We found a nice little 60 minute trail and decided to go for it.

The next stop down the road was where our new friends Mark and Amanda got engaged less than a week ago. It's a tiny little chapel on the shores of Lake Tekapo. Aside from dodging the other tourists (other people know about New Zealand??), it is a church that would hold about 50 people, but would hold them captivated throughout anything due to the fact that the wall behind the pulpit is a window looking out over the lake, with the mountains in the distance. It was no wonder Mark decided this spot to ask Amanda. We hope no tourists were around, though, as that would've ruined the mood. It's an amazing landmark in a remote little corner of the planet, but for them it will be a huge landmark. We couldn't be happier for them.

Right next to the church is a statue of a collie – a sheepdog. This is to commemorate the DOGS that helped settle the area 100+ years ago. Seriously. Baby G took a picture despite Dizzle's insistence that it was stupid.

Another place Mark and Amanda told us to check out was Giant Jersey, a shop in Geraldine that boasts the “Largest Sweater in the World”. It, like Mt. Cook, is very large:

But it is not the best part of this little store. The best part is in the back, where this guy has spent the latter half of his life working on a mosaic made out of teeny tiny pieces of steel. Yes, steel. -Attached to masking tape. It sounds kind of hokey, but when we saw this up close, it was pretty amazing. 4571804751057105 feet long, this piece was obviously a labo(u)r of love. And he told us ALL about it. He worked at a company that threw away steel gears constantly, so he began collecting them, and snapping the teeth off the gears to use in constructing his masterpiece. Over a million pieces later, with all the pieces attached to aforementioned masking tape, he used ONE very small brush to paint the story the mosaic tells.

Now, the original tapestry ended at a certain point, as the end of the story went missing. So our man decided to research what happened in 51935716956BC and render it onto his own mosaic. So the last twenty seven feet are what he believes the original looked like at the end. -Although, he's received confirmation from Oxford University that he's probably correct. Aces!

But, as he pointed out, this wasn't enough for him. He's an avid puzzle fan (you know, sudoku, mazes, word games, math problems, riddles...) so in his tapestry, in the background, he created a secret puzzle that no one in the world has yet cracked. -Mind you, at this point we were staring at him blankly, and our jaws were dropping down wider and wider.

But this still wasn't enough for him. So, he decided to create a CD Rom, enabling the user to magnify his mosaic, and dig deeper, to find the code (or whatever), crack it, and win the prize, of you know, having done it. You can check all this out at www.giantjersey.co.nz and www.1066.co.nz. Be sure to check out the "questions and answers" section on that second one. This guy was a trip!

When we left this shop 20 minutes later, we were a little dumbstruck.

But on we went. We got in touch with Mark and Amanda, our friends on alternating days, who managed to give us a call and book a 4-person room for everyone in Christchurch. We met up with them around 4:30 or 5, and cooked a spaghetti dinner with salad and bread that couldn't be beat. We're having breakfast together tomorrow, but for the time being, it was the first and only home cooked meal any of us have had in quite some time, and we think we were all thankful for the hot food and company.

Tomorrow is packing for the flight on Thursday. Less than 48 hours to go!


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