Published: November 25th 2010September 26th 2010
We have to keep moving. Our aim is to make it to the North Island of New Zealand. We left Christchurch
early in the morning to drive to Picton
- a 5 hours drive where the ferry terminal is. But we took our time and made it a day trip to a couple of pit stops along the way. Our first pit stop is Hanmer Springs
. The drive there was really pleasant and scenic. Lots of greenery and rolling hills as usual. Hanmer Springs is a small charming alpine village well known for hot springs
. They say a nice dip in the Geothermal Pool and Spa is a must. The healing properties of mineral and geothermal pools did wonders for my bruises. The boys had fun at the water slides while I chillax in 39*C hot springs overlooking the snow-capped mountains. Yep, I can definitely get used to this
It's nice to have a picnic lunch in the park surrounded by native trees. I noticed that the deciduous trees haven’t regenerated yet. I guess Spring came late in Hanmer Springs. But it's been a lovely day with a sunny weather of low 20*C.
Our second pit stop is Kaikoura
- a really nice coastal town where mountains meet the sea. The shoreline is covered in pebbles and crushed rocks instead of sand. Jamie and the boys enjoyed playing stone skipping. Kaikoura is also home to a colony of fur seals
. We saw lots of them basking on the rocks along the coastline. The seal cubs are playful and real cuties !
One can’t leave Kaikoura without sampling their crayfish. There are a number of seafood stalls along the coast competing to have the best. A decent size crayfish grilled in butter cost about NZ$50. Since we already had lunch, I settled for crayfish fritter instead. Unfortunately you get what you paid for ... I couldn't taste the darn crayfish ! Liam ordered the salmon, Ryan opted for mussels and Jamie got the grilled fish. It was nice to eat outdoor with a great view nonetheless.
Jamie wants to go back to Kaikoura so he can go fishing. We're also thinking of going back to Hanmer Springs in two years time. Just a quick stopover to these lovely towns is a shame.
We arrived in Picton by night fall. We now reached a major milestone in
our NZ trip driving from the southern tip to the northern tip of NZ South Island in less than a week. We checked-in at the Admirals Lodge for the night. The lodge is quite rundown. The fridge, phone, washing machine and lock on the door are faulty (but at least the TV is working). Ryan also kept falling off his tiny trundle bed and ended up sleeping with us. I booked it through the internet and found out that I paid more than their normal rate. The only bonus is they have free internet access. They also serve complimentary breakfast but we left early to catch the InterIslander ferry across to Wellington
. It took about 3 hours to get to the "Windy City"
. We checked in to another substandard accommodation. Their lift (elevator) is a death trap. I also wasted $8 to a dryer that don't work. But I must add that the rooms are clean. The hotel is also conveniently located just across the botanical garden. Most of accommodation we stayed in are fairly good except this one and the one in Picton. Again, you get what you paid for. I guess you really have to fork out at
least $150+ to get a decent accommodation suitable for family of 4. On the second thought, I probably just suck at finding a good deal.
Ryan and I went for a walk to admire the stunning display of colorful flowers and NZ interesting trees and plants at the Botanical garden. We also found a really nice playground so I let Ryan burn off some energy. We then took the cable car downtown right from the hill of Botanical garden. We looked around the city a bit then walked to Queen's Wharf
. An interesting thing happened while I was taking snapshots of the tugboat
. The crew of the tugboat started waving then pitched a show out of a blue. They made the tugboat spins around and around in circles. After a good laugh they waved again and drove off. What a way to greet tourists eh ?!?
. This just shows how nice and friendly Kiwis really are.
We then went to McDonalds to get apple pie and ice cream. The manager gave us an extra ice cream for free. Ahhhh ... what more can I say ... !
We are definitely coming back.
There are more photos below