We've done so much since my last blog entry that I hardly know where to start. Can't update pics just now, as broadband connection to our own computer won't work, although we know the password is the name of the resident cat!
Anyway, we had a stunning introduction to the South Island, by travelling along Queen Charlotte's Drive from Picton to Havelock, the world green shelled mussel capital. There were still many tree ferns as in the North Island, and a deep azure blue sea. That night we stayed at Nelson in a historic property known locally as the castle. We had the Bay View Suite which the NZ PM had once stayed in. We breakfasted in the former ballroom on herbed scrambled eggs decorated with borage flowers. A really nice young American couple on their honeymoon tipped us off about the Ohau seal colony, but particularly about a little path through a wood to a waterfall, where baby seals play in the pool. It was magical!
Next we were at Kaikouro, probably my favourite place yet, not for the town, nor where we stayed. It has two ranges of snowy mountains just inland, and an ocean trench 500 metres from the shore which is as deep as the mountains are high! (About 3 km). A cold ocean current meets a warm one, and there is a lot of food for marine mammals. I went whale watching and saw two sperm whales, also dolphins, seals and a wandering albatross! On the boat I chatted to a lady from Christchurch, who was very laid back about only having lost her chimney and a water tank, and being without water for a week after September's earthquake! They have had over 2,000 aftershocks, many not perceptible, but last week one was 1.5 on the Richter scale, and her horses which were tethered really freaked out. The previous evening in Kaikouro a really loud siren sounded for some time, so I nearly had us crawling under the table, until M. pointed out that you don't get warnings of earthquakes. (He thought it might be a tsunami, but at least we were on high ground.) We found out the next morning that it had been a minor fire in the local fish and chip shop!!
Christchurch was our next stopping place, and is NZ's most English city. We stayed in a lovely Victorian B&B. It was in Armagh Street, and we went through Belfast to get there! We strolled in Hagley Park along the River Avon, along Worcester Avenue, by Cambridge Street and Oxford Terrace. We were quite close to Bromley and Beckenham, and left via Sydenham and Islington. No-one seems to have seen fit to honour Orpington by naming a district of Christchurch after it!
I'd better stop for now, and tell you later about how Mount Cook didn't reveal itself.