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Published: January 11th 2006
Not exactly a boat is it?!
Now you'd have thought that we'd have had enough of buses, but no! We took an Atomic shuttle from Christchurch up the coast to Kaikoura, the world famous whale watching town. Having booked this trip at least a month before, we were disappointed to find on arrival that it had been cancelled due to bad weather, even though the sea in the bay looked like a mill pond! Not only that but all the mornings sailings had been cancelled and the 1pm boat that they moved us to was waiting on a confirmation. Now this would mean we missed our bus back to Christchurch and have to stay somewhere for the night, and the trip could still be cancelled, so we bit the bullet and booked ourselves in on the next Helicopter flight!
It was a half hour trip, and ten minutes in we'd sighted our first sperm whale. We circled for another ten minutes taking pictures and at one point were joined by another chopper and a light plane.... like indians circling for the kill! After the whale dived and the tail flipped up we searched for another, but couldn't find any. They dive down to the sea bed
It's a whale, I promise!
for an average of 45 minutes so the chopper couldn't wait. We enjoyed the flight, but would still like to return in future for the boat trip to see the whales at close quarters, especially when they 'blow'.
Having lots of time left, we walked round the bay to the Shearing Shed. This was a family run operation on a small sheep farm with only 300 sheep. The breed they kept was the Romney which requires sheering every six months, so they could shear two sheep per day in their Shearing Show. It was quite funny to see the poor thing after her haircut, and Lin had the chance to hand feed 'Rammy'.
On Christmas Eve we went into Christchurch and walked around the Botanical Gardens (yes I really did), the Canterbury Museum which had a fascinating display on Captain Scotts Antartic expedition, and told how he was beaten to the pole by the Norwegian Ronald Amundsson.
Then we walked around a craft fair/arts centre (Lin like a kid in a sweet shop!) and later we went to the Visitor centre which housed a large aquarium of odd looking fish and also a darkened enclosure where they kept
No haircut for this one.
two Kiwi birds. Shame not to see them in the wild, but a must see all the same! In the evening we went for a walk with Jim and Margaret up over the hill towards Sumner. Some interesting and unusual homes up there that didn't quite seem to fit in. Obviously some imaginative architects live in the area!
Christmas day was very pleasant, only different from home in terms of the weather. It started a little cloudy but brightened up nicely later on. After morning church service , we went to Helens (Jim and Margarets daughter) where we had Christmas lunch with her partner Les and two boys Andrew and Devlin. We didn't see the boys much as they were too busy playing with their new toy, a Playstation 2! Jim gave Lin and I some fantastic calendars that he'd produced with pictures of us and Maverick at Lake Kaniere, a great memento.
On Boxing day we went with J & M over the banks peninsula to the small town of Akaroa. It's a small pretty coastal town surviving on the tourist trade and fishing. Originally the French settled here and the English had to fight them off
J,M,J ,L and Mav
Moncks Bay & Friends
to stop New Zealand becoming a French colony. Most of the streets still have their french names. Stopped at Pidgeon Bay for lunch, a really nice spot, very quiet at least until some guys turned up with a Jetski on a trailer.. Back to Moncks Bay through the Lyttleton Harbour tunnel it was time for a rest after a long day.
Our last activity in Christchurch, and New Zealand, was the International Antartic Centre next to the airport. Located there because this is where nearly all modern Antartic expeditions leave from in huge transport planes with retractable skis. It was very interesting and included a simulated snow storm in a wind chill room where the temperature went down to minus 20degrees. We also went on a ride in a Hagglund personnel carrier which was great fun, if a little scary for the two year old passenger on our trip!
Sadly, it was now time to go and we left New Zealand with great memories and longing to return.... some day!
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