30th Jan 2012
It's been a while since the last blog and we've been busy!Last Saturday we had an early start (again) travelling from Blenheim to the Abel Tasman National Park in the North West of the South Island.The alarm went off at 5am and I got straight into the driving seat while Anna carried on nodding - it was a tough morning for her! ;-)
On arrival at Motueka we stopped for some breakfast where we shared a pan-au-chocolat and I had a coffee.We checked in at the Kayaking company and started preparing for our day on the ocean.After a 30 minute boat trip up the coast we were dropped off at Onetahuti beach where we kitted up and jumped in our kayaks.Anna and I shared one - I was in the back in charge of steering while Anna did a bit of rowing and lots of photo taking! It was such a beautiful place with clear water and lovely golden beaches. We saw some seals and their babies - very cool! It was a long day kayaking and surprisingly tiring but well worth it! We stayed the night in Motueka and ate pizza with a beer (Anna gave in because she was so tired from all her rowing!)
Sunday was spent travelling down to Kaikoura - the weather wasn't the best so we didn't mind although we were worried that the dolphin swimming that we had booked would be cancelled because of the wind and rain! We were lucky - on Monday we got to go swimming with the dusky dolphins! They warned us that it was very choppy and there was a chance of sea sickness - oh dear! We got into our wetsuits and grabbed our flippers and snorkelling gear and watched the safety and information film - no time to take photos, it was straight on the bus and then on the boat where Anna did not move so she could prevent the sea sickness! There were loads of dolphins - it was amazing - they were jumping and flipping about all around the boat so we put our gear on and sat on the back of the boat ready to get in! The water was cold and very choppy so Anna was a little apprehensive but she powered through and jumped on in - very brave! We saw loads of dolphins and if you made funny noises and swam in circles they swam with you - I even saw some baby ones! Well worth it even though it was a little choppy and windy.
The next day we travelled over Arthurs pass, through the snowy mountains (the weather wasn't great which was a shame) - it was a long day so we stopped off at Greymouth for the night and were pleasantly surprised by the amazing sunset and beach we camped right next to - I got my camera out and took loads of photos of course! The weather picked up after that and we had a lovely sunny day viewing the pancake rocks and blow holes and then walking to see a seal colony near Westport - we saw a few more seals and enjoyed our walk. We didn't stop long though because we wanted to get to Franz Josef that night because we were excited about walking up the glacier!
It was cold and drizzly in Franz Josef - brrr - the socks came back out! The walk up the glacier was amazing - one of the highlights for me! The company we went with provided waterproof jackets, trousers, hats, gloves, boots, socks and a bum bag with crampons! It took about an hour to reach the ice where we were shown how to put our crampons on - then we set off through the maze of the glacier. Our guide axed the path every now and then and there were other workers who had been on the ice since 7 in the morning checking the safety, chopping out paths and looking for interesting caves etc. After a couple of hours walking we reached a flatter part where we ate our lunch and layered back up as it got pretty chilly up there! We explored a bit more with the guide and found some caves and holes and then made our way back down to the bottom. Our legs were pretty tired after 8 hours of walking but it felt good! We spent the evening nursing our aching limbs in the hot pools (free with the full day walk) followed by a wine and a beer - lush!
Next stop was Queenstown where it poured down all day and it was freezing!! We didn't have the best night sleep there and woke up to lots of snow on the mountains and icicles on our nose - socks weren't enough! It was a shame because we didn't see the place at its best but never mind!
After a brief cold visit to Queenstown we went back across to Oamaru via Dunedin and had our fingers crossed for better weather! It was still cold but a little brighter so we decided to go and have a wander and a picnic in the park before heading off to see the yellow- eyed penguins come ashore after their day at sea! We saw a few from a distance (if you look hard - you'll be able to see them in the pictures!) along with a few more seals! The little blue penguins come back home a little later so we went to see them about 9pm - they all come ashore together in large groups and then waddle towards their young - they were fascinating to watch - we even saw some on the road after we left the main area - we couldn't get any pictures though because there was a no flash law to protect them.
Right - that's a brief version of the last week - we fly to Oz in the morning so we'll blog when we're there! We will miss New Zealand, a wonderful country and we could have stayed longer!
X x x