Hi everyone, greetings from the South Island!
Since our last blog, we left Lake Taupo and went south to the Tongariro National Park which was a beautiful drive through snow capped mountains (as you can see from the photos- Philippa was busy snapping out of the window!). We stayed in a little town called Okahune where we unfortunately didn't have time to do the Tongariro crossing (up to the volcanoes) but we did a shorter half day hike to the Waitonga falls (the biggest in the park). We hiked along the track and then scrambled over rocks and upstream to get a closer look (don't think you would have liked it mum (s)!). Fantastic views of a huge waterfall, and then around 20 other smaller waterfalls in the same valley. On the way back we took a slight detour and walked upstream again to find another beautiful waterfall.
We left Okahune and drove through to Wellington, which is a nice but horribly busy city (with NOWHERE to park) so we went up to Mt Victoria which had amazing views of the whole city (including planes landing on the tiny tiny runway!). Then we went to explore the city which was fairly small for the capital but very nice too.
The next day we took the ferry across to the South Island through the Marlborough Sounds which had some spectacular views! On the way to Abel Tasman we drove through Nelson where we had a slight incident.....We were stopped in a traffic jam (luckily with handbrake on) when some eejit in a 4x4 drove into the back of us! Poor little barbie car :( Rest assured the damage is minor and (don't worry parents) we swapped details and sorted it out with our hire company!
When we arrived in Abel Tasman it was very sunny so we went for a walk on the beach and booked a kayaking tour of the coastline in the park for the next day. We started early, practising our strokes on land before heading off, and we found it remarkably easy! The bays were really beautiful with white sand and the clearest waters, but the clouds and rain started to roll in and the wind picked up! We crossed to an island in 16 knots of wind (apparently they would have cancelled the tour at 20!) which was very hard work! Had a nice lunch on a little island- now wet and freezing, and then got the sea taxi (in VERY rough sea) north to Bark way. We then did a 2 hour hike through the forest back to Torrent bay where we got the taxi back. So wet! then spent the evening attempting to dry off all our clothes and get the warmth back into our toes! Good day anyway though.
Today we drove to Kaikoura- the Whale watching hotspot of the South Island. On the way we drove through lovely scenery- snowy mountains on one side and the sea on the other. We also stopped to get up close to some seals along the way which was fun watching them play and catch fish (and mostly sleep or scratch). Tomorrow we've booked a whale watching tour so stay tuned for good pictures (hopefully!)
Lots of love D and P