At the airport I made friends with a German girl and we set off in search of a hostel together and later to rade the suppermarket with everything seeming so cheap in comparison with Australia. It was clear from the start that there was nothing to do in Christchurch since the major earthquake almost 2 years ago had devestated the city to the extent that it had not yet recovered and still experienced regular aftershocks. Needless to say I was keen to get out of there so after walking through the stunning park admiring the autumn leaves in the sunshine I caught a bus to Kaikoura.
I made friends here straight away and enjoyed the spoils of a groups fishing trip eating fresh crazy fish and drinking some kiwis home brewed wine.
The next morning the group left and I went for a run along the coastline to see a wild sealion colony, coming as close as 1m to some huge lazy sealions until some other tourists managed to piss one off and it started hissing and bearing its teeth, so i promptly carried on my run up and over the headland constantly battling the coastal wind. Back at the hostel I met some new people who would be joining me the following morning for a wild dolphin swim, which we were all very excited about. We got lucky and the sun was shining, the sky was clear and the sea was calm. All dressed in ridiculously thick wetsuits, that took a lot of struggling into, we eagerly watched the water until we found the pod of dolphins. Soon there were wild dolphins everywhere, swimming alongside the boat and jumping through the water. The next thing we knew we were in the water with our snorkels on surrounded by curious dolphins swimming circles around us. We were told to make noises to engage the dolphins interest to the amusement of the boat crew but when a dolphin swam up to you wanting to play you were soon convinced the ridiculous noises you were making must have caused it. When I did decide to bring my head above water I was rewarded by the sight of dolphins jumping and flipping all around us. Back on the boat a warm hose, cup of hot chocolate and some ginger biscuits slowly brought the feeling back to our freezing hands long enough to take numerous photos as the dolphins swam alongside the boat on our way back to shore.
Back on dry land Evelyn, Michele and I began our second adventure of the day as we attempted to hitch a ride to a nearby waterfall. Sadly as the day went on we weren't having much luck and when some Irish girls we knew from the hostel pulled over the others let me go with them to the waterfall and they would try again tomorrow. We reached the point along the scenic coastline that we were looking for and were rewarded bz the sights of hundreds of tiny baby seals, playing and fumbling around on the rocks. We then climbed to where the waterfall was and found even more baby seals swimming and frolicking in the pools of the waterfall.
When I was picked up the next day by the STRAY bus I managed to blag Michele and Evelyn onto the bus as far as the waterfall where we sadly went our separate ways and I hoped that they would have more luck hitching a ride back than we had the day before.
The bus dropped a group of us off at a quaint hostel in Picton. I immediately went for a long run in the sun amongst some of the most spectacular scenery of my travels. Topped off by a well deserved dip in the hot tub and free apple crumble later.
The next day I took some of the girls from my group out to admire the scenery before catching the bus.
When we arrived at Old Mc Donald's Farm, our accomodaion for the next two nights, we weren't very impressed by the tiny sheds with beds containing very worn out duvets and a small fan heater in the corner to ward off the winter cold not to forget the porter loo! We spent the night getting to know our group by playing some games before reluctantly crawling into or beds and turning the fan heater on. THe night was spent tunring the fan heater off and on as we alternated between too hot and too cold and by the morning everyone was looking pretty fed up. Luckily the sun was shining and as always New Zealand had a spectacular scenic walk to do and we sat and had lunch on the beach.
After a mix of interesting and broing stops we arrived in the small backwards town of Greymouth where we had managed to score some fantastic accomodation, i.e. clean, with an oven and free bikes. A few of us decided to use the bikes, which were each broken in their own different way, to cycle to the cinema to see THE AVENGERS before going in search of a bar only to get refused service because we did not carry our passports. The next morning we all pitched in money and I cooked pancakes for everyone with the help of my German friends. Back on the rickety bikes we cycled to the beach in search of natural NZ jade/greenstone to no avail.