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Published: February 13th 2012
We are currently in Invercargill and have free(ish) day, so have found an internet cafe to do our blogs! We have tried to upload photos for previous blogs at each campsite we go to but all the computers we have tried, haven't let us; hence why we have published a few in row!
The journey over to the South Island was fine and we made it to Picton at about 9:30pm and went staight to our campsite. The following day we drove down to Kaikoura and on the way we spotted some fur seals! It was great to see them in the wild and lots had babies, so we cooed over them for a whille (well me more than Anton!) We arrived at our campsite late afternoon and went for a walk into town to look at some restaurants to book a crayfish supper for the following night. We found a restaurant called Tuti's which looked lovely but we didn't really expect the price of the crayfish to be so much - $60 for half a cray fish! We looked at other restaurants and even take-aways but the prive didn't vary much from Tuti's and we were
told we had to experience a crayfish in Kaikoura, so we booked Tuti's for the next evening. We then walked to the information centre and asked if they had any recommendations for crayfish and the lady said that Tuti's was her favourite; so we were happy with our choice!
The following morning we drove down to a fur seal colony but were not lucky to see very many! We saw one poke its head out of the water for a split second and then, as we were about to leave, Anton jumped out of the van to take one last photo of the view and managed to photograph a seal playing about in the water! We had also seen them the previous day, so weren't too upset about not seeing many. We made our way back to the campsite for a quick lunch and then headed over to our whale watch tour. We were told there was a chance of sea-sickness, so Anton went back to the van to get our sea-sickness tablets. In the past, Anton has suffered more than me, so he had the last tablet that took 20mins to work. I had the tablet that took
2hrs to work and just hoped for the best. We got taken by bus to our boat and were then taken 8miles out to sea. Anton and I were last on the boat and had to sit at the front...big mistake! The boat was almost flying over the waves and coming down with a thump - we were both trying to keep our eyes on the horizon but the sick feeling soon reared its ugly head! Anton was ok but I started to get more and more hot and had that horrible watery feeling in my mouth. We asked if we could move further back but the boat was going so fast and moving around so much that it wouldn't have been safe for us to move; plus the man said that we would be at our destination soon! We did arrive shortly after and we made our way outside; the boat was still bobbing up and down but the fresh air made me feel less sick! As we were looking to the left hand side of the boat we saw a big spray of water come out of the sea...it was a sperm whale!! It was one of the
most amazing sights we had ever seen (just wish I wasn't feeling so sick!) There were poor people still in the boat who couldn't even get up becasue they were so sick - they missed the whale completely! We watched the whale come up and blow out the carbon dioxide from its blow-hole for ages. Apparently they do it for about 10mins to expel all the carbon dioxide in their system before going down for a deep dive. It is when they go down for a deep dive that we are meant to see their tail! This whale wasn't playing ball and kept going down for a short while and coming up again; it didn't show us its tail. I went out the back of the boat (less bumpy) and Anton went upstairs on the boat. We then saw a seal playing in the water and a huge albatross flew passed us! Although, Anton didn't manage to get a photo of it as it was so quick! I got a bit cold so went in to get my coat. This was not the best idea, as inside the boat was really moving up and down and I couldn't keep looking
at the horizon as I put my jacket over my head. It was then that the skipper called everyone to take a seat because we were heading back...uh oh, the overwhelming sick feeling was taking over and I had to get outside! Anton came down from upstairs and could see I had gone green and tried to usher me to the back of the boat whilst everyone was trying to come in and find their seats. I had some people trying to get out of my way quickly as I think they could see I was very close to being sick. Luckily one of the crew member saw me and took me outside and sat me at the back of the boat, although he told Anton he had to go back and sit inside. As soon as I was outside and looking at the horizon, the sickness started to subside; thank goodness I wasn't sick! The crew member allowed me to stay outside for the journey home and kept coming out to check on me; it was far less bumpy being at the back of the boat! We stopped about half-way home to see another sperm whale! Usually they only
get one sighting in a trip, so we were really lucky. I stayed at the back of the boat and watched, while Anton went upstairs to get a better picture. This whale was playing ball and did show us its tail! It didn't look that big in the water but apparently the whale was as long as the boat (about 18-20m!) We got back to land and eventhough I felt so sick, I was so glad we had done the trip and saw whales in the wild! That evening we got dressed up (I even blow dryed my hair!) and headed out for our cray fish supper! We ordered half a cray fish each and it was really delicious, although a little messy trying to crack the legs! We shared a passionfruit cheesecake for dessert and were well and truly stuffed; it hurt to walk back to the campsite!!
The following day was Tuesday, so we were able to ring Apollo (the Monday was a bank holiday so no mechanics were open) to book our van into a mechanics to get the grey waste tank fixed. They gave us the name of a local mechanic who was just down
the road from the site and he told us he could seal the crack but wouldn't be able to fix the valve. We called Apollo who told us we could get the valve fixed at the Apollo site in Christchurch, so we waited a couple of hours for the mechanic to seal the crack, which ended up being in the pipe and not the tank, and headed down to Christchurch. The maintenance man in Apollo managed to take a valve off another van and fixed it onto ours and we were good as new! No more bumps for the rest of our trip though!!! We also won't know the cost until we take the van back but we're not thinking about that! As we were now a day behind in our schedule, we hired the van for an extra day so we wouldn't have to miss anything out.
We spent the night in Christchurch and the next day, we went for a walk into the centre of town to see the earthquake damage. It was worse than we expected and the whole of the centre was virutally closed off. Lots of buildings and houses were cordoned off and had
'no go' signs on them. We watched the workmen demolishing a hotel; it is going to be a very long process to get it up and running again. We noticed at our campsite that previous night, people coming back from work to units on the site and now realise that these may have been people whose house were damaged in the quake. From Christchurch we drove to Lake Tekapo and when we arrived, it was the most prettiest sight we had seen! The lake was so so blue and the surrounding area was stunning. Our campsite was right on the lake and we got a pitch overlooking it. After lunch we walked along the lake to The Church of the Good Shepherd, which was a tiny church overlooking the lake. It was beautiful and we talked about coming back to get married there! (only joking!) As we were walking back to the campsite, the sun went in and the lake lost its vibrant blue colour. It is the flour like substance, that gets washed down from the rocks and suspended in the water, which makes the lake look blue but it only works when sunlight shines on it! We were
glad to have seen the lake in its true glory! It was a beautiful evening and when we looked out of our van window after dinner, we saw the most amazing full moon reflecting off the lake! We went out to take some pictures and enjoy the view before the moon rose too high and the reflection was lost.
The following morning was dull and so was the lake. We felt sorry for the people who arrived late and expected to see the lake the next day because it really didn't look anything without the sun. We drove up to Mount John to look at the lake from above; which was lovely but would have been stunning on a good day. Next we drove to Lake Pukaki to see Mount Cook. When we arrived, we looked across the lake and could only see part of Mount Cook, as the rest was covered in cloud! We still managed to get some good photos though. We decided to stay for a cup of tea but when Anton turned on the gas, nothing happened...we were out of gas!! After travelling to the nearest petrol station, we were told they didn't refill our
gas canisters and we'd have to go to the next town! Our cup of tea was off and we forged on towards Mount Cook. As we were driving I took photos of the mountain in the distance. We got to a straight piece of road and Anton got out to take an artistic shot of the road leading to the mountain. It wasn't until we actually got to Mount Cook that we realised we had been taking pictures of the mountain next to it, thinking it was Mount Cook!!! We then took some pictures of the real Mount Cook, although it still had a covering of cloud so we couldn't see the peak. Next we drove to Omarama and managed to get our gas refilled and then we went onto Oamaru. We had booked a blue penguin tour at 7:45pm and arrived at our campsite about 6pm. We wanted to see the yellow eyed penguins come in from the sea for the night and were told to head down to a place called bushy beach for 6:30pm. So after a very quick dinner, we headed down to bushy beach to find many other people waiting to see the penguins. We
arrived about 7pm so were glad that they hadn't arrived yet! We waited and waited and waited and by 7:30pm, we really had to get going to the blue penguin colony, so had to leave before we saw the yellow eyed penguins. We arrived in time for our tour at the blue penguin colony and were taken into an area full of nesting boxes. The guide showed where the penguins came in a night and then showed us some boxes that had penguins in them! We were lucky to see about 10 penguins who were all in their boxes malting, so weren't able to go out to sea to fish for about 3 weeks until their new feathers were waterproof. We had just missed breeding season so didn't see any babies. After our tour we went to an outside seated area to wait until nightfall to watch the blue penguins come in to shore and make their way up the rocky bank into their colony. They fish individually and then group up about 500m out to sea in order to make their way to shore as a group - safety in numbers! At about 8:30pm we saw one lone penguin
come ashore but then at 8:45pm we saw a black mass coming towards the shore and then about 20 penguins all clambered up the bank and made their way to their nesting boxes. We saw about 3 groups of 20 penguins come ashore, although during breeding season, they can have about 250 penguins coming ashore. We were extremely cold by the end and had to get the heating on full power in the van to warm up!
The following day we headed down to Dunedin and stopped at Moeraki Boulders on the way. These were huge spherical boulders on the beach that looked like they had just been plonked there. There was a Maori story that they were water gourds and kumara (sweet potato) that had been washed up from a shipwreck but there was also a scientific explanation that they were formed in the mud banks and the water had revealed them. We tended to sway more to the scientific explanation! On the way to Dunedin I looked up activities to do. We wanted to see the Royal Albatross but when I looked into it, it was $40 each to go to a viewing platform and even then,
you weren't guaranteed to see them fly! We thought this was a bit extravagent and we had seen one on our whale watching tour, so decided to give it a miss. I then spotted, in the lonely planet guide, that Dunedin had a Cadbury World!!! That was it, we were going to Cadbury World! The tour was $20 and was really good; we got a lot of free chocolate and learnt a lot too!! We were told that New Zealand gets its Cream Eggs from England, so we bought one for Easter and for a chance to taste cadbury like we know it! We also purchased some bars to take to Fiji as they love it there but it is too expensive to buy. After leaving Cadbury World with a bag laden with chocolate, we went to the steepest residential street in the world. It was 19degrees but looked so much steeper! I bent down to take a photo of Anton on the hill and couldn't keep my balance. It was raining and we both didn't have the drive to walk up it, so just viewed it for a while.
After a night in Dunedin we headed towards the
Catlins. We were meant to just drive though straight to Invercargill but Anton had mentioned about seeing a place that did horse-riding on the beach, so I did some enquiries whilst he drove. I managed to find a lady who would be able to take us on the beach but not until the next day. We were ahead of schedule, as we were meant to spend two nights in Dunedin and only spent one, so decided to stay a night in the Catlins and go horse-riding the next day. Cara, the horse lady, recommended a campsite and we arrived about lunchtime. The campsite was right on the beach at Surat Bay and when we got out of our van from putting it on our plot, we saw a massive sea-lion lying on the sand! We quickly got the camera and made our way down to the beach. We didn't get too close as we had read that they can travel fast if provoked! We then made our way back to our van for lunch nd while we were eating, we could see lots of people walking passed the sea-lion who wasn't bothered at all, so we decided to go for
a walk along the beach after lunch. It was very windy and cold, so I ended up wearing leggings, cropped trousers, a t-shirt, 2 jumpers and my coat (I looked very cool!). We walked passed the sea-lion and Anton got quite close to take some pictures; I stayed back because I can't run as fast as him! We saw about 6 sea-lions on our walk and each time Anton got closer and closer to them; I kept shouting at him to get back but boys will be boys! We made our way back along the beach to the first sea-lion and Anton decided to creep up very close to it...too close! The sea-lion got up on its flippers and growled at Anton who swiftly moved away; I had run away screaming!!! That taught him not to go too close!
The next morning we headed to a local farm to go horse-riding. Cara, our guide, showed us the two horses we would be riding on. A grey one called Sergeant and a brown one called Beau. She looked at us and said, "Kate, I think that you are talller than Anton, so I may put you on Beau." You should
have seen Anton's face! He puffed up and told Cara that he was actually slightly taller than me! So Anton would go on Beau and I would go on Sergeant. We went to pay and Cara told us she didn't have card facilities! We were $30 short of cash, so she told us to go into the local town to the cashpoint. We jumped in the van and headed to Owaka but when we put the card in the ATM, it said it didn't accept our card! We then tried to get cash back at the local shop but they didn't accept our card either! We went back to Cara to tell her we could get the money, so she ended up giving us a paying-in slip from her bank and trusted us to put the extra money in the following day - phew! We got our helmets and chaps on and got on our horses. First we rode along the farm and then onto the beach. My horse kept stopping to eat and I ended up being quite far behind most of the time! The beach ride was lovely but we had to turn back when we encountered two
sea-lions, as neither Anton or I were confident if our horses got spooked! On the way home, we climbed a hill and rode along ridge overlooking the farm and shore line; it was stunning. By the time we got back our bums and knees were hurting but it was worth it for such a great experience. That afternoon we travelled to Invercargill and had read about the best fish and chips on the planet in Bluff, which is the southern part of the South Island, so decided to head down to Bluff for a fish and chip dinner. They weren't lying, it was one of the best fish and chips we had had!! We then travelled to Stirling Point which is meant to be the southern most point of New Zealand (although the real point is in the Catlins!) so that we could say we have done Cape Reinga to Stirling Point!
That wraps up our journey down the East of the South Island and we are now heading up the West!
Hope you are all well! Just over 8 weeks untill we are home!!!
Lots of Love Kate and Anton xxxxxxxxx
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