The Lobster Inn Kaikoura
We left Greymouth after a sumptuous breakfast of eggs benedict and smoked salmon, provided by our congenial hosts Alister and Shirley at the charming Oak Lodge Bed and Breakfast. Shirley makes wonderful cakes and we left with a bag of home made muffins to keep us going on our journey. We travelled across from west to east through the Arthur's Pass which is the highest and most spectacular road across the southern alps. The road had some very steep gradients and many hairpin bends but once again the views were breathtaking. We emerged unscathed from the pass to find ourselves in a wide pretty river valley following the Bealey river alongside Lake Grasmere and Lake Pearson and then the ski slopes of which the biggest is Porters. We bypassed Christchurch and headed for the coast road following the scenic route stopping on the way at Rangiora. Although this town is quite a way out of Christchurch, it too was badly hit by the earthquake. We continued up the coast road to our next stop Kaikoura which is a whale and dolphin watching area. We stayed at a smashing bed and breakfast called Inn the Bay which was run by Kylie and
Rocky coastline on the way to Picton
her partner. There were only two guest bedrooms with a huge guest lounge, and we felt we were at home straight away. Sunday we awoke to overcast heavy skies and set off up the rocky east Coast towards the ferry at Picton. We stopped at Ohau Point and saw baby seals with their mothers on the rocks playing in the rock pools. As we left the coast and the road headed inland towards Blenheim the scenery changed to "drumlin" type hills of golden grass and then changed again to miles of vineyards. We arrived in Picton to find the wind was starting to build up and the skies which had cleared along the journey, changed to ominous looking clouds!! The ferry arrived, we boarded and headed for the viewing deck. It took the ferry almost an hour to pass through the Queen Charlotte Sound before we got to the open sea at the Cook Strait and we then headed indoors as it was very windy. Suddenly the captain broadcast a message and said " the conditions in the strait are less than favourable. Should you start to suffer from motion sickness, we suggest you try our ginger beer and salt
Drumlin type hills on the way to Blenheim
and vinegar crisps.....if that fails try stepping outside for a breath of fresh air." Well he was correct, the sea was very very rough and some of our fellow passengers did suffer "mal de mer" but not us fortunately. After three and half hours we arrived in Wellington and thankfully made our way to our hotel for a good nights rest.
We awoke on Monday morning to find the weather was just like at home -----rain!!!! After a sumptuous breakfast at the very nice Intercontinental Hotel we set forth armed with a pair of umbrellas provided by the hotel concierge. The rain ceased as we walked along the waterfront to the Te Papa Museum which is a five floored museum telling the story of New Zealand's Maori heritage, it's natural history and it's natural environment. We both thought this was one of the best museums we had been in and is certainly a " must see " if you visit Wellington. We then went on the cable car to Kelburn lookout where you can see across both the city and the harbour of Wellington. We walked down the hill through the Botanical Gardens which are full of wonderful trees
Leaving Picton passing through Charlotte Sound
and flowers. The concierge had told us that we would be able to have a free guided tour of the Parliament buildings so we went there next. The buildings are very impressive both inside and out and we had a very good guide to take us around. The inside had many features similar to our own Houses of Parliament apart from the basement. Here they showed us how the buildings have been made earthquake proof as they are only 400 metres from the Wellington Fault line and the area experiences regular minor earthquakes. This is a very busy, compact city that is well worth a visit.
Tomorrow we set off for Napier and then to Rotorua for our next stop.
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