One of the things that is so very striking about New Zealand is the pastoral beauty of the entire country. There is so much lushness and greenery, and the rolling hills and craggy coves seem like they were painted on as scenic backdrops by MGM or Warner Brothers. Seriously. Everything looks like a film set around here. I had a movie moment today in Akaroa. As we tendered into the small, but quaint village from our ship, I honestly thought that I was looking up at a scene from Brigadoon. You know the part. Remember when Gene Kelly goes up into the hills to help Cyd Charisse collect the heather? And then the whole orchestra starts and suddenly they are doing a full ballet up and down the mountains? Well, I half expected them to dance right down into the harbour to greet us. The funny thing is that Akaroa is much more colonial French than Scottish, but the environs still evoked that "Heather on the Hill" moment. The water here is turquoise; as turquoise as any December birthstone I have ever owned, and when the sun is shining just right, as it is today, it has an almost opalescent quality.
One of the highlights of our day was definitely our trip up the steep (and I do mean steep!) Rue Balguerie to visit The Giant's House. A mosaic artist by the name of Josie Martin has converted her home and gardens into a contemporary art gallery. As much acclaimed for her horticultural sense of style as for her artwork, Ms. Martin began her restoration of the old house 18 years ago. While digging in the garden, she discovered shards of old china that had been buried because there was no trash pickup in those days. Feeling that they belonged with the house, she saved them and began using them to mosaic her front steps. Well, the project just mushroomed and it is a sight to behold.