Hello once more,
This blog is to accompany the photos of New Zealand parts 2, 3 and the underwater photos. That's a lot of photos for one blog, but we'll manage some how. We hope that you've had a look at yesterday's blog and the photo's in New Zealand part 1 and that it was to your liking.
Time to tell you about the South Island which we very soon hope to call home. Kaikoura was our first decent and possibly our favourite stop. The aqua blue sea can be seen in the same view as the snow capped alps. It's an absolutely stunning place with seals lining the shores as you drive in and away from the town. Getting so close to the seals and the number of them was incredible. Of course being in Kaikoura you must do what every good tourist is expected to do, swim with the seals and the dolphins.
We booked both tours for the same day and weren't exatly thrilled at the thought of getting into a wetsuit at 5:30am. As the dolphins would have finished hunting hitting the water around 6:30 is perfect. We only travelled for around 20mins on the boat when an enormous pod of around 100 dolphins was spotted leaping and playing. The dusky dolphins found along this area of coast are known for their acrobatic nature and their signature trick is a very impressive 360 flip twisting their bodies as they rise into the air before descending back into the water. We swam with the dolphins 3 separate times that morning all make vast amounts of noise through our snorkels and being dolphin like. Looking a dolphin in the eye and swimming in circles with 1 or even 2 is an absolutely magical experience.
Well not long after drying off we heading to the seal swim for our second wetsuit clad expedition of the day. The tide was out and left most of the seals sunbathing spots exposed so they were more likely to be in the water. Unlike dolphins the seals wish you to be silent and still. They eventually get curios and will just slide past or perhaps circle you. One or two interesting weeds, corals and fish were seen as well as cushion starfish. The seals were certainly curious and one followed Ruth's flippers all of the way to the boat!
A short drive from Kaikoura we arrived in Christchurch. We were dreading the thought of the city but instead we found an incredibly charming large town with very few sky scrapers. Christchurch was inspired by Oxford and Cambridge in the UK. The Avon runs through the centre and you will regularly see punters dressed in cream trousers, shirts, ties and boater hats taking toursits down the river.
Another wonderful aspect of Christchurch is the coast. The New Brighton Beach is a popular surf spot and you certainly don't consider yourself to be in the city with the port hills of Banks Peninsula in sight as you walk across the sand. The Peninsula itself is fantastic with some wonderful bays, walks, a marine reserve, dolphins, albatross and penguins in the French settlement of Akaroa. We have made the most of Christchurch enjoying the Coca cola Christmas concert in Hagley park with a few thousand people, the Christmas parade, the bike race which was part of the NZ series and the free party in Cathedral Square on New Years Eve. All inall Christchurch is a great little place with 5 ski fields under two hours away and very easy access to the alps and surf all year round.
Due to a few people in recruitment making some very big mistakes we had a little time on our hands and went down to Omaru for Ruth's birthday weekend. where we saw yellow eyed and blue penguins, in two seperate locations. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photos of the blue penguins that were all lovely and amazing, especially the yellow eyed penguins who climbed a ridiculous distance up cliffs to rest. Omaru is a crazily quiet place with some incredibly steep roads and a lovely older area which they have tried to preserve.
We toured a little from Omaru heading to Duneiden which was a little disappointing to be fair. The biggest rip off is that they expect you to have over $30 to go to a bird hide with a pair of binoculars to see the albatross! We saw the albatross in flight as we didn't fancy the bird hide and some fur seals on the shores before heading back north.
En-route to Christchurch we visited the Moeraki boulders. They are almost perfectly round with a cracked appearance all over the boulder. They sit amongst the sand and the tide washes against them day after day. Maybe they won't be there much longer, but who knows! Not far from the Moeraki boulders we visited part of the fossil trail near to Omaru. Here we saw two lots of Maori rock art, as this was along a route the Maori had used to go from coast to coast. We also visited Elephant Rocks as was used during the battle scene of the second Narnia film. Adam cleverly spotted that some graffiti on one of the rocks had been covere using a kind of plaster and was peeling away.
Another great little stop was the Wallabie park at Waimate. A rather crazy lady has the land around her house as a bizarre farm with several enclosures housing over 40 wallabies and a couple of possums, hens, ducks, rabbits, a pig and a pony for good measure. After our introduction to one of her possums we were given a bag of pellets to take in and feed the wallabies with. The majority of the wallabies were more than happy to eat from your hands, hold on to you and be stroked. One or two were of course shy and there was inevitably one particularly greedy wallaby who would take all you had! It was great fun meeting all of the wallabies and they enjoyed posing for the photographs as you can see. The little orphaned baby wallaby lindor was rather shy but lovely to cuddle.
Another weekend away from Christchurch was spent tramping (hiking). We headed into the alps. The van wasn't thrilled. It's not particularly keen on hills funnily, but we made it. We did two separate hikes the first of which up to Lewis Pass Tops. The hike was a straight up, straight down with a fair old gradient putting us at a high altitude considering how short a period we'd been hiking for. The views were stunning and the cloud getting in the way of the photographic opportunities. The second day we hiked part of the St. James Walkway.The scenery was a little more varied that the previous and the tramp was well worth it.
As reward for our hard work tramping we went to the tourist hot spot of Hamner Springs on the way home for a dip in the hotsprings. Hotsprings are possibly the best thing ever created. The springs at Hamner are blessed with the alps in the background and we look forward to heading there to sit in the pools after a hard day snowboarding with the snowy alps in the background.
Well that was a very brief round up which hopefully explains the photos a little further, but suffice to say we absolutely love it here despite the few issues we've been having. It's well worth a visit or two.
Love Ruth and Adam