Monthly Archives: March 2015

Trout Fishing in New Zealand

 

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Fresh smoked trout pairs well with white wine called “Penny Gold”

A couple of nights ago at our campground in Lake Tekapo, we met a young man, Ranier, from The Netherlands. His passion is fishing and he’d just returned to the campground from a successful day catching trout in the hydro/irrigation canals of the South Island. When I asked if he’d caught any fish he said, “Yes, I’ve had a very good day. As a matter of fact I caught a 28 pound rainbow trout.” That coupled with the other trout he’d caught for the day put him over his limit so he gave some to the local fishermen making them very happy.

I’ve never heard of a 28 pound rainbow trout. Of course, I’ve never caught a fish and don’t know lots of fishermen types, but I do know that 28 pounds is a lot bigger than our son Alex was at six months of age when my  biceps were very buff from carrying him. A 28 pound fish seems really big.

“A 28 pound trout!” I exclaimed. “How did you reel it in?”

He commented that he did nothing special. As a matter of fact, he was using a tiny pink fishing rod that his niece leant him for the trip. At first he was embarrassed to fish with the pink pole, but after his recent success, he thinks that pink will be the new “color” for catching NZ trout. He then went on to explain some fishing line sizes and drag numbers which Eric understood but made my eyes glaze over. I was more interested in eating. I was also mesmerized by his camera phone photo showing this trout posing tail on the ground and lips (do fish have lips?) reaching to Ranier’s mid-thigh. It was “this big” as he demonstrated with his outstretched arms.

By now I was salivating over the idea of fresh fish for dinner.

“Did you eat it? How did it taste? I asked.

He said he ate some of the smaller trout and gave away most of the others, but he left the 28 pound porker with a man in a local shop who cut it into fillets (pronounced “fillits” in Dutch) and smoked it for him.

We chatted a big longer and discovered that we would both be at a campground in Omaru the following night near the “magic canal” where the fish are as big as 3rd graders.

“I’ll bring the wine, and you’ll bring the fish,” in my motherly “clean your room…NOW ” type of voice.…

By now you’re probably wondering how a trout can grow so big thus making New Zealand a mecca to trout fishers everywhere. Well, I’ve got the answers. After NZ built their large hydro canals in the late 80’s they added lots of salmon farms. The salmon farmers dole out pre-measured food pellets each day to holding net (about 20 feet wide x 30 feet deep) full of salmon. But some of the pellets (probably LOTS based upon the 28 pounder prize) fall through the nets where the smartest (or the laziest) trout hang out below and scarf down the leftovers.

“Why swim when food is so easy to find?” said the trout to the salmon.

Smart fishermen from all over the world then plop their chairs down stream (but not too far – remember the lazy trout) and haul in the record-breaking rainbow trout.

Then, hungry cycle tourists  like myself cleverly beg for food.

And, finally, kind Dutch fishermen lighten their loads and make sure they don’t have to eat smoked rainbow trout for the next 365 days by giving those hungry cyclists a hermitically sealed kilo of smoked trout.

Penny Gold and New Zealand smoked trout for dinner…..delicious!

A Cycling Goal Has Been Met

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We have our best discussions over a cup of coffee.

 

This photo may not seem like anything special but I wanted to take it to remember this particular place where Eric and I sipped coffee, enjoyed the countryside of the Canterbury Plains in New Zealand, and, most importantly, had a symbiosis of minds about what we like, where we feel the most comfortable, and where we would like to settle after the big “cycle for retirement.”

After almost five months of traveling in SE Asia plus another 3 years (4 for Eric) living away from the United States, we did not realize how “stressful” those years had actually been. We lived, worked, made friends, made plans, and traveled, but we were always “foreigners living in strange lands”. We had fun. We learned. We were challenged. We grew. Each country, no matter how difficult at first, got easier over time but we were still “foreigners.”

Then we arrived in New Zealand. We’re still foreigners. There are words we don’t understand, like “housie” and “pikelet” and cultural differences to respect like not wearing hats, sunglasses, helmuts, inside buildings. But, for the most part, traveling in NZ so far has been easy. It’s easy because it reminds Eric and me of our homes. We understand the hard work of the farmers, the closeness of the families, and the freedom of the kids to play and explore.

We remember the businesses that close on Sundays or in the evenings, the community closeness at the local pubs, the abundance of nature to explore from trails to hike, the roads to bike, the rivers to kayak and mountains to climb and/or ski down.
Our house is a tent but we still feel comfortable. We walk into the grocery stores and know exactly how to cook the food in the produce and meat sections. We understand the milk and the cheese. We know how to pay. We know how to use the BBQ grill at the campsite.(I added this because the Chinese are stir-frying their burgers in the camp kitchen and filling the room with the smokey-greasy smell of fried burgers). We know how to use hot and cold tap water to wash our dishes in the kitchen and we understand how to use the bathrooms. (There are Chinese directions for those who are missing the hoses and wanting to stand on the toilet seats.)

I mention all these things because Eric and I feel “at home”. Unlike SE Asia where we always felt like tourists, here, even though we are tourists, we feel relaxed like we’ve just gone for a Sunday ride. This feeling of being at home has convinced us that we will go home. Even better, now we know where “home” will be. We know it will be in the Western United States. We know it will be more rural than urban. We know it must have easy access to the wilderness and activities that we enjoy. There will be some details to sort out first, but we know what we want. I can honestly say that one of the goals of our cycle for retirement, that of knowing more what we want, has been met.

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Beer, coffee, and peaceful countryside – our favorite things.

 

Today’s observations and agreements may not seem earth shattering or startling. As a matter of fact, they may seem like a “duh” to many of you who know us. But for me, in particular, who has always felt antsy and unsettled, who has always wanted to see what is around the next bend, who has always wondered if the grass were greener somewhere else, this revelation of what feels like “home” and where I feel the most settled, could only be confirmed after the wandering, wondering, and traveling that has been part of our life for the past 30 years..

Today’s revelation does not mean that our cycle journey will end sooner than planned. We are still having a great time and enjoying the ride. We have more places we’d like to visit before we come home. But, we now have a target and that target makes our end much easier to plan.