03.24.2012 - 04.01.2012
After saying goodbye to Brad, we spent another two full days in Wellington relaxing, catching up on necessary chores like laundry and grocery shopping, and squeezed in a little more site seeing by riding Wellington’s historic cableway car up to the botanical gardens for some great views of the city. Our bad weather streak finally ended by our second day in town and we have had sunshine and blue skies ever since. Windy Welly lived up to its name, however, nearly blowing us over as we walked around town. I now know what “gale force winds” feel like.
A view of the cable car with Wellington in the distance
New Zealand is principally made up of two islands, so from Wellington, we said adios to the North Island and took a three-hour car ferry across the Cook Strait to the South Island. As we approached the South Island, we had some stunning views of the Marlborough Sound.
A view coming into the South Island
A car ferry headed the opposite way to Wellington
Once our Jucy was off of the ferry, we headed south to the small town of Kaikoura for some wildlife spotting. We completed a three-hour hike around the peninsula jutting out from Kaikoura and along the way were rewarded with beautiful ocean vistas and close up views of a fur seal colony - arguably too close because one of them snarled at us as we walked by. After traveling through Africa, we have a lot of respect for wild animals, so we retreated pretty quickly. In addition to our hike, we also stopped by a “sheep shearing” show. Sheep are a huge part of New Zealand’s history and economy. New Zealand actually has more sheep than people, about eight sheep for every one person, a fact which generally leads to a lot of jokes.
Views almost straight off the boat
Jeff checking out the views from the Kaikoura Peninsula
A fur seal- this one was obviously unconcerned by our presence
Life in the Jucy- me chatting with my Dad
Checking out some sheep before the show
Using Kaikoura as our starting point, we decided to drive around the South Island counter clockwise and end up in Christchurch on or about April 15th, the last day of our trip. So from Kaikoura, we headed to the Marlborough Wine Region around Blenheim. The South Island is well known for its wine (particularly sauvignon blanc) and has upwards of 200 vineyards. Never having had much of a knack for wine before our trip, I find I am developing quite a taste for it! Jeff rolls his eyes at me when I make remarks like – “I really taste the toffee in this one” – I think he fears I’m becoming a “pseudo-intellectual wino”. I just might be After sampling our fill of wine, we stopped by the extremely well done WWI aviation museum funded in part by Peter Jackson, the Lord of the Rings’ director. The exhibits on the “Red Baron” and his demise were especially amazing due in part to the abovementioned director’s creative geniuses (and money).
Jeff enjoying the vino
On my evolution to becoming a wino
At the aviation museum
On our way to the town of Nelson, our next stop, we traversed the Queen Charlotte Drive which took us along the Marlborough Sound. The views were amazing, but the road was the windiest I have ever been on – it should come with a warning for people who get motion sick.
The beautiful Marlborough Sound
Our reason for stopping in Nelson was to try to meet up with our traveling friends from Switzerland, Tristan and Caroline. We met them for the first time in Mozambique and then our paths crossed again in Thailand for New Year’s. We knew they would be passing through Nelson in the near future, but we had not heard from them in a few days. As we arrived in downtown Nelson, we stopped at a traffic light behind a “Britz” campervan (we knew they were driving this type of campervan). Jeff remarked: “how funny would it be if that were them”. Almost as if on cue, a head turned around in the back window of the Britz, gave a wide-eyed stare, and started waving furiously…it was Tristan! After the shock wore off from the serendipitous timing, we met their friend from home, Jeremy, traded travel stories, spent the day checking out town, cooked dinner together, and did some stargazing (we saw three shooting stars…pretty cool). Though we only had a short time to catch up, it was really fun to see them again!
The travel gang back together
Catching up at dinner
The next morning, we set out towards Abel Tasman National Park. We spent the day driving along the coast gawking at Golden Bay and stopped off at a salmon farm for lunch. At the farm you can catch a fish (or as many as you like) in one of their stocked ponds and then they prepare it for you to eat. Jeff was feeling pretty good about himself because he was able to catch me my lunch. The farm then smoked it for me with lemon and garlic – it was delicious! If only I had a nice class of sauvingon blanc to go with it
Some mountain views along the drive
The hunter at work
Abel Tasman National Park sits right on the water, so a kayak provides an ideal way to explore the park. So first thing the next morning, we headed out in a double kayak and had a good time taking in the scenery and getting in a much needed upper body workout. We spotted four stingrays on our way to the north shore of Adele Island. The north shore is home to a fur seal colony with a surprising number of baby fur seals. The babies were extremely curious and playful. They popped their heads over rocks to check us out and even jumped in the water to get a closer look. I could have watched them all day – they were so cute. After three hours of paddling, we parked our kayak at a beach and enjoyed the scenic three-hour hike back to town.
A view of Adele Island on our walk back
Over the next few days we are heading further south and, fingers crossed, our beautiful weather will continue. We’ll write more soon!