Published: March 26th 2012March 26th 2012
This country is truly one of many contrasts. In this blog will talk about our experiences with the sea from very different perspectives.
At the beginning of the week we spent 1.5 days on an overnight cruise of Doubtful Sound on a small charter boat. To begin with the weather was phenomenal - bright sunshine in an area that sees about 280 days of rain per year; and clear skies at night revealing stars and the milky way so close it felt like you could almost reach out and touch them. Not only were we treated to unbelievable scenery, wildlife (dolphins, seals, albatross and shearwaters) and excellent meals; but were also able to kayak in the fiord, catch numerous species of salt water fish, including blue cod and spiny lobster which ended up on the dinner table - yummy!
The mountains of course begged to be climbed. Basing ourselves in Te Anau, we day tramped up (and down) two of New Zealands great walks - the Kepler and the Routeburn. Unlike cycling, where after you have chugged up long hills you get to coast down the other side, tramping requires you to use muscles you didn't know you had
to get down.
After nearly a month in the mountains we were regretting having to move on. But we quickly got over it when we arrived in the Catlins - the region embracing the southern shores of the South Island. Here the sea meets the land in a mixture of beautiful curving sand beaches interspersed with rugged, rocky headlands.
At Curio Bay the rare and the ancient reveal themelves. The yellow-eyed penguin is the world's rarest penguin and is only found in this general area. It is a shy creature that nests and raises its young in the shrubbery along the shoreline. One parent leaves the nest early each morning to fish for the day to feed its family, and returns at dusk. The shoreline they cross contains another rarity - exposed fossils from Jurasic period forests (that means logs and stumps from forests that existed 160M years ago). It was extremely touching to watch these unusual animals go about their daily routine - their behaviour and body language could be quite humorous. We were truly blessed!
This shoreline has afforded us numerous opportunities to explore caves, and to view Hector dolphins, fur seals and their pups,
and two sleeping seal lions - all in their natural habitat.
We are currently in Dunedin and in a day or two we will begin making our way up the east coast of the South Island through Christchurch.
There are more photos below