North Island & South Island West Coast road trip

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January 7th 2016
Published: January 8th 2016
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We woke up on Saturday aching so much, we went and found Barbary the boat for our Maori carving tour. It was raining so we were put on the sister boat, Ranui. We learned a lot, firstly that the tour didn't advertise truthfully... The carvings were actually made in 1976 by a group of high art students. They were on drugs. And the carvings were only about 40 years old! It was interesting to learn that they used greenstone and wood to carve the rock, and they abseiled down the cliff to do this and also put scaffolding in the water to carve it. To the left of the big Maori carving, there are various other bits of art work including a lizard, woman's faces, animals... Apparently the woman that is randomly carved into the rock is one of the students' girlfriends face. Slightly weird. The water around this part was about 60feet, it's like a cliff face, it goes down so low! Unfortunately it was raining this day so we weren't allowed in the water to swim and snorkel. All in all, it was a bit of a disappointment but at least we have another story to tell!
We were aching a hell of a lot so we literally got off of the boat around 1ish, had a bit of lunch and got into bed around 4pm and chilled.
We then left Taupo after a really bad nights sleep again (being above an Irish Pub isn't the best hostel room situation)!! So we got onto the Intercity bus and headed to Wellington... We napped, it rained and there wasn't much to do for a few hours. The bus driver really didn't know where he was going as he kept getting directions off of the Maori couple in front of us!! I really hope he was new and not just crap at his job!!
We arrived in Wellington (2hours late mind) and was reunited with Andy Houlder! I've known Andy since I was 11 (so.. Thats actually 13years to date.. Just over half my life, lucky guy)! Ha!! We met through beach lifeguards, I was (and still am a Boscombe Beach Lifeguard and he was with Branksome Club. He used to do safety cover for my open water club (East Dorset Open Water Club, which I am still a member to this day and have been since I was 12, I have represented GB in World Champs, Internationals (both in London) and Nationals (Nottingham) under the name of this club which I loved doing!
Anyway, we have kept in close contact for that time, although Andy loves to move away from me and explore the world through working as a beach lifeguard and supervisory roles which is cool! The last time I saw him was in Padstow 2.5years ago when I stayed with him and we ventured around Cornwall in my Peugeot 206. And now that I was in New Zealand it was the perfect place to meet up again! We got to Wellington about 8pm so he showed Charlotte and I around the town and we settled in a lovely Mexican restaurant to eat quesadillas, after that we dropped Lottie at Andys so Andy and I could get the boring stuff out the way like catching up and chatting about life ventures so we went to a place called Shelley Bay/Beach and we sat in the car in the rain! We stayed at Andys that evening and we had to be up at 5.30am, must to Andys enjoyment and he dropped us off at the airport which was only a 5min drive away. We said our goodbyes and we were able to check in and dump our bags finally. I swear only the English knew how to queue that morning, there was no order to anything and people kept pushing through past others to get to the front. It made us very frustrated!!
We had breakfast, a croissant and cup of tea and made our way to Gate 22! Our flight was literally 30mins from Wellington to Christchurch which is where we got picked up, taken to Charlotte's! We sorted out our bags and packed ready for our road trip!
We headed into the town after picking up Matt and had a little roast meal (possibly the best meal we have had so far except our Xmas day roast), I got my hair cut finally after 3 months of being away from home! And we went to the cinema and saw Daddy's Home, it stars Mark Wahlberg and Will Farrell, it is a very funny film! We stayed at Matts house that evening, a room to myself!! I haven't had that luxury since I was Couchsurfing in Adelaide about 3 weeks ago!!

The morning after a good night's sleep we left at 8am to get to Kaikoura. We got there quite early so we went to the place where we could see wild seals, we saw one playing in the water and when we got to it, it was gone but as we walked back towards the car we saw about 4 seals sunbathing so got a few pictures and went towards the Whale Watch building. We checked in for our trip which was 1345 and waited to be called. We got onto the boat and sped around trying to find the famous sperm whale. The size of this mammal is usually around 18m long. After 45mins or so speeding around in the boat, the first whale was spotted. They spot them from the water and air being burst through their blowhole. We raced upstairs to the top deck to see this humongous animal and I was surprised it moved so slow! We got some pictures and then we passed some pilot whales, they're quite a lot smaller. We also saw bottlenose dolphins and dusky dolphins. They were very playful, flipping and somersaulting through the water putting on a show. We then saw another sperm whale after a while and saw it take its breath and go down deeper in the water. They can go down to 3800m deep with one breath, amazing! The Whale expert had a device where they can hear the echos from the Whale which is how they knew where they were! When we got back I phoned mum as it was her birthday, I woke her up at 730am oops! But I'm fairly sure my exciting news of my day made it worthwhile!! We were staying in a place called Alpine Pacific Holiday Park, our room looked like a glamping hut at a festival which was wicked, but so soo cold during the night!! We had an early night as our alarm was set for 4.30am the next day!

We got up super early, half asleep still we ate some cereal in bed. Today was SWIMMING WITH DOLPHINS DAY. We drove to the Dolphin Encounter building, checked in and were given our lovely looking 2 piece wetsuit, hood, fins, snorkel and mask! Everything fit snugly, at least it will be warmer in the water!!
We watched a 15min clip of how to interact with the dolphins and to bring them to you.
To do this you would:
- sing, high pitch as they can hear this better
- make eye contact with them and they would circle you. This is their dance
- not splash around, be calm and have smooth movements
- dive down and be a dolphin yourself

During this, I got chatting to the guy next to me and found out he lived in Southampton back at home! Such a small world, unfortunately I didn't get his name or Facebook.
After this we were split into 2 groups, unfortunately 'no name' was in the opposite group, so never got to chat again!
We got onto our bus and got to the boat. The women in charge used their eyes to find pods of dolphins for us to swim with.
What we saw first surprised us all, we saw an Orca... It was beautiful!! Not many people can say they've seen an orca in the wild! It had the biggest fin, not like the ones in captivity, those ones have a flopped fin which curves as all they do is swim in circles all day which is so sad. We watched the orca until it took its last breath and dove down.
It only took them 20mins to find a load of dolphins after that! We were told if they told us to get out we had to as quick as possible just in case the orca came where we were.. That would be very dangerous! We got kitted up in the rest of our stuff, so snorkel and fins on and we're made to sit at the back of the boat. After the first buzzer we were able to slide into the water. No one knew really what to expect, so we just swam around, dived down and sang a bit. The first dolphin I saw made me jump so I kind of squealed which made it come back to me, we were told not to touch them as they are obviously wild!
We had a dance off and then the buzzer sounded for us to go back on the boat. They do this so we can go to another pid as the current ones disperse/not many dolphins in that place.
The second one I was a lot more confident, I sang my heart out, much to others dismay as I have a terrible singing voice! I actually kept making sounds like a seal, high pitch squeaking as they seemed to be attracted to that!
I danced with a few single dolphins and then I started getting 3 & 4 circling me at once! I sort of felt scared as I thought they were ganging up on me ready to tear me apart, then I remembered they're not sharks! They're such friendly, playful animals. They were jumping and showing off next to me, doing flips. I thought I swum into someone but I looked round and it was a dolphin, oops, so much for not touching them! This pod were so playful!!
Buzzer went off so back to the boat we went. The third time we got off the boat, literally put my face in the water to see if any where around and honestly, there were 100s!!! Probably about 200-300 in one go, speeding underneath us. They seem to follow the boat so as soon as I slid in, they all zoomed passed, it was a very quick one as they all seemed to be on a mission!!
The fourth go, they were playful and kept jumping over head, had a few dances, sang.. Got a lot of great pictures. Which I shall attach.
That was our last go unfortunately so we made our way back onto the boat, had a hot chocolate and watched the dolphins as they continued to flip, somersault and swim next to us!
We drove to Punakiki and about 1hour before we got there we picked up a couple of hitchhikers who were heading to the same resort as us. Te Nikai Resort. They were from hawaii and they were hitchhiking the whole way which is awesome!
We found a river so we pumped up Charlotte's double kayak and kayaked up the Punakiki River, we borrowed life vests and booties from the shop there, free of charge! Matt rented those plus a kayak for a good price. In some parts it was so hard to get through so we walked parts of the way, it was stunning, the scenery was amazing, we were in a rainforest anyway but it was breathtaking!
We headed back to the room and found we paid such a great price for a cabin in the rainforest which included our own bathroom! It also smelt really nice, it was a really hippie place which I loved, everything so green, clean and ethical.
The next day we had a lie in, and we drove down the West Coast to get to Hokitika, we passed a hitchhiker after we took a wrong turning and he was carrying a lot of stuff so we offered him a lift to where we were going in the town. He said he was working on a farm and made his way walking and hitchhiking most of the way.
We walked around the town and found the famous Hokitika sign on the beach. This is where Matt got pooed on by a seagull... We went around and looked in the jade shops to see if there were any jade going cheap.. There wasn't.
We drove to the Hokitika Gorge and we're amazed at how blue it was!! We took towels with us expecting to have a relaxing swim. We walked down to the water and put our feet in, absolutely freezing! Charlotte and I went in to our bikini bottoms, it felt about 2°c. The water in the Gorge is from the mountains, where the snow has melted and rolled down into it!! It was such a blue colour because of the amount of algae in there, it can range from a smoky grey, bright blue or dark green. It was very pretty. We had to get to the Gorge by going across a bridge which was very wobbly. And me being afraid of heights, this didn't help at all! I held on for dear life. We got to the cabin we were staying in that night and found we were on a farm! Tended to the horses-extremely cute and he was an ex race horse, pig, dog (called Cullen), a cat and saw some chickens that just wondered around.
Had a shower then got into bed.
The morning after we were meant to do a tree top walk which was 47m high BUT we woke up and the weather was appalling, none of us slept well because we were so bitten the day before by mozzies and sandflies so spent most of the night scratching. We woke to a storm, the rain was so heavy we couldn't see the car in front so thought it safer to skip the tree walk and head back to Christchurch!


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