Day 42 - Mon 14th May
Highlights from the second day of our dive trip on the Great Barrier Reef.
Dive 1 - 7:15am - saw Green Sea Turtles, Fusiliers and Moorish Idols
Dive 2 - 11am - Puffer fish, Angel fish, Honeycomb Groupers
Dive 3 - 3pm - Turtles, Nudibranchs (very pretty sea slugs)
Dive 4 - 7:15pm - night dive. An amazing dive. Spent the majority of it at only 5m depth, just under the boat. Tons of fish feeding, themselves being hunted by Grey Reef Sharks (harmless). Got a fly by from 3 of them almost immediately. A real treat.
Sadly, 100,000,000 of these beautiful creatures die each year when they have their fins removed for soup. They get put back in alive, then drown. They are amazing creatures. Seriously world, get a grip.
Day 43 - Tues 15th May
Last day of our dive trip :(
Dive 1 - 6:30am - Turtles, shoal of Lumphead Parrotfish, Shark
Dive 2 - 9am - Turtles, Nudibranchs, Sea Squirts
Dive 3 - 11am - Watched several fish queueing up at a "cleaning station", where they get a scrub down from cleaner wrasse. Also saw a beautiful Honeycomb Filefish
Day 44 - Weds 16th May
Back on land today. Drove to Mareeba to visit the wetland reserve. They were closing early so we only had time for a short (1.5 hour ) walk. Incredibly hot day and not a great deal of birdlife. We did see hundreds of dragonflies and grasshoppers though.
On a whim we took a side trip to "the Granite Gorge" to see the resident rock wallabies. It turned out to be a really nice, quiet site with a campground so we decided to book a pitch for the night.
Headed into the gorge, with a bag of wallaby feed each. Andy promptly got mugged by three wallabies and ended up with them sat on his lap, holding his hand still with their paws so they could dine more easily. These are seriously cute animals. Quite a few of the females had joeys peeking out of their pouches. Watching the groups interact was interesting. There is a definite hierarchy.
In the evening we set up a big campfire under the stars and ate our dinner al fresco. The perfect end to a great day.
Day 45 - Thurs 17th May
Last full day in Oz :(
One last early morning walk to see the wallabies, then back to the wetland centre for another walk. Another scorching day and not much about apart from insects. Interesting though.
Returned to Cairns and set about blogging and doing the laundry, ready for departure to NZ tomorrow.
Day 46 - Fri 18th May
Dropped off van, then headed to airport for flight to NZ
Day 47 - Sat 19th May
Arrived in Christchurch, NZ at 1:30am. Headed straight to the hotel and crashed after a quick call to the UK.
Got up and headed into the city in a taxi. We were planning to do a walk described in the guide book. However, we were completely unprepared for the level of destruction from the earthquakes. Huge areas are closed off and/or demolished.
Returned to hotel on foot (a long walk) and spent some time planning the next couple of weeks.
Day 48 - Sun 20th May
Picked up van (pleasantly surprised at the helpful, efficient staff) then hit the road.
First impressions - wow. Everywhere you look, mountains. Christchurch and the East coast largely farmland, but always with a backdrop of big, big mountains.
Peeled off of the main coast road and headed into the peaks, aiming for Lake Tekapo. Scenery jawdropping at every turn. Beautiful rolling foothills leading into huge mountains.
Arrived at Tekapo just before sunset. Checked in at the campsite and then headed down the road to the hot spring pools. Spent a good 45 minutes in 36 and 38 degree mountain water, under the stars.