New Zealand Day 26 – Akaroa – Home

We made an early start for our 90 minute drive to Christchurch airport.  We stopped only once along the way for a couple of photos of Akaroa Harbour from the Hilltop Café, the best vantage point across the valley.

Our flights were all paid for using frequent flyer points so we had no choice in the direction our trip home took. We flew from Christchurch to Auckland, then after three or four hours break we flew on to Sydney where we passed through immigration and customs. Then the final leg of the trip; Sydney to Perth and home.

The pups are as happy to see us as we are to see them. It’s good to be home, very good.

Early Morning View to Akaroa

Early Morning View to Akaroa

New Zealand Day 25 – Akaroa

Sunshine and warm air this morning! Oh so nice!

Akaroa is famous for the little Hector’s Dolphins that you see in the area. These dolphins are pretty special, only being found in the waters of New Zealand (and for that reason also known as New Zealand Dolphins). The biggest of them only grow to 1.4m and they are also known as panda dolphins because of their colouring – black, grey and white. There’s even a company that runs ‘swimming with dolphins’ cruises. That’s not really something that either of us were all that keen to do, though, so this morning we headed down to the harbour for our cruise with Akaroa Dolphins.

Our cruise was on one of the smaller boats and is known for being more personalised and had a great commentary. Akaroa Dolphins is  a family run business and the owners are 5th and 6th generation locals. There were only 20 passengers (capacity 50) so there was plenty of room to move around. Unfortunately the clouds rolled in as we left the pier, but that didn’t really bother us. We were there to enjoy ourselves and it was still a lot warmer than the other cruises we’d done.

As we headed out through the 17km long harbour we saw spotted cormorants and then a pair of white-flippered penguins. These are a sub-species of the little blue penguins and are only found in this area. No matter how often I see penguins, I still get a buzz from seeing them.

Then the dolphins appeared. There were a few feeding and they swam around the boat while they were catching fish. We didn’t disturb them for too long and soon came across another pod. These dolphins played around the boat for quite a while. They zoom along really quickly just under the water and then suddenly dive deep or come up out of the water, sometimes just cresting or sometimes jumping right out. They were swimming around and under the boat, just playing there until we moved on, and then a couple of them stayed with us, surfing the bow wave for a while.

The scenery along the coastline, both inside and outside the harbour, is great. This is a coastline that was formed by volcanoes so it’s pretty rugged. We sew several different species of seabirds and then came upon some fur seals playing in the water and lounging on the rocks. Several of these seals were quite active – a lot more so than any of the others we’ve seen. We also saw another yellow-eyed penguin but this one was pretty distant – halfway up a cliff face and we probably wouldn’t have spotted it if the skipper hadn’t pointed it out.

We really enjoyed the cruise and thoroughly enjoyed the wildlife; the dolphins were a real highlight.

After lunch we took a drive out to try to find an olive grower whose olives Stephen tried yesterday, but they had no signage so they were a bit hard to find and it turns out that they don’t have a retail outlet or tasting room at the property, anyway.  We did stop at another olive grove for a tasting but their olives were nowhere near as good.

Then we went back into town and bought ourselves a very cute NZ Fur Seal to take home.

We had tea tonight at a Tapas restaurant. The food was very good; an enjoyable last night in New Zealand.

Akaroa Dolphins Boat

Akaroa Dolphins Boat

Murphy - Ships Dog

Murphy - Ships Dog

On Board

On Board

On Board

On Board

Taking Photos of Dolphins

Taking Photos of Dolphins

On Board

On Board

Chief Photographer

Chief Photographer

Hectors Dolphins

Hectors Dolphins

Hectors Dolphins

Hectors Dolphins

Hectors Dolphins

Hectors Dolphins

Volcanic Pile Crosscut by Dyke

Volcanic Pile Crosscut by Dyke

Spotted Cormorants

Spotted Cormorants

White Flippered Penguins

White Flippered Penguins

New Zealand Fur Seals

New Zealand Fur Seals

Akaroa

Akaroa

More Roses

More Roses

Our Very Own NZ Fur Seal

Our Very Own NZ Fur Seal

NewZealand Day 24 – Lake Tekapo to Akaroa

Today dawned crisp and clear without a cloud in the sky. We watched as the full moon set behind the peaks. We were on the road early and had a good run to Akaroa. The high country plains gave way to busy highways, trees and agriculture. We made only one stop along the way; to take a photo of the big salmon at Salmon World in Rakaia (they call themselves the Salmon Capital of New Zealand).

The drive into Akaroa is up some more of the steep and windy, but pretty, road that we’ve become used to in New Zealand. Thankfully not a dirt road! Akaroa was originally settled by the French and still has a big French influence. It’s a small town at the end of a long harbour in an area that was formed by volcanic eruptions – the Banks Peninsula. It’s a couple of hours drive from Christchurch and a much quieter option for our last couple of nights.

We’re staying in a cottage on a bush property about a kilometre out of the township. We can see the beautiful harbour from our deck (and from inside) and there is constant birdsong. The majority of birds that we’re seeing are New Zealand Bellbirds and they come quite close to feed in the Flax flowers. Unfortunately the highway is also quite close so that’s a bit of a drawback. The Bellbirds have a lovely call, though, so it’s not so bad. We’ve also seen and heard quail, not an uncommon sight on our journey.

We’ve walked up and down and around the shopping centre, checking out all of the tourist traps and cafés and we’ve booked onto a harbour cruise tomorrow morning. There are roses in full flower in almost every yard – so beautiful.

It’s a lovely evening to be sitting outside listening to the birdsong and taking photos.

Early Morning Light over Lake Tekapo

Early Morning Light over Lake Tekapo

Full Moon Setting Over the Peaks

Full Moon Setting Over the Peaks

Big Salmon at Rakaia

Big Salmon at Rakaia

View to Akaroa from the Road in

View to Akaroa from the Road in

View of Akaroa Harbour from our Cottage

View of Akaroa Harbour from our Cottage

Bellbird Feeding on Flax Flowers

Bellbird Feeding on Flax Flowers

Bellbird with a coating of Pollen after Feeding on Flax Flowers

Bellbird with a coating of Pollen after Feeding on Flax Flowers

An Akaroa Street

An Akaroa Street

Akaroa Lighthouse

Akaroa Lighthouse

Roses and French Flag

Roses and French Flag

Roses

Roses

Akaroa

Akaroa

New Zealand Day 23 – Lake Tekapo

Today we had a fairly quiet day. It started off very cloudy and the cloud was slow to lift. I did laundry, the last lot before home and we went for a walk into the village and back.Stephen turned his salmon fillet into sashimi.

After lunch we went for another drive up to Mt John Observatory and got to see Venus through a small telescope.  Today was a particularly good day to see Venus and Stephen was even able to see it with his naked eye.

As we drove back from the observatory we saw a Harrier Hawk harassing a swan on her nest with 5 cygnets. We turned around to go back for some photos of the cygnets and by then the hawk had gone.

Then it was into one of the cafés where we were able to log onto the Internet and catch up with email and upload another blog post. I’m only running 12 days behind! I do have a pretty good excuse, though; it takes me ages to choose the few photos from the hundreds taken each day, then I have to resize them and once uploaded I have to insert them into the posts. It’s all very time consuming and we’re busy having a holiday!

The sky was clear and it was looking promising for a good star-watching night so we went to enquire about the night-time observatory tour. There were seats available on the 11:30pm tour; it goes for two hours. That’s way too late for us. We have an early start tomorrow as we’re moving on to Akaroa for our last two nights.

We decided to drive out past the baby cygnets again and pay a visit to the Lake Alexandrina wildlife refuge. Two of the cygnets were out swimming with dad while mum was tidying up the nest with the other three. The wildlife refuge was a bit of a disappointment – we saw 3 baby plovers and a rabbit. It was just open bare plain. No real wildlife to be seen. And at the end of the dirt road was the fishing camp on the edge of the lake! No sanctuary for the fish.

As we headed back we decided to take a short detour to the local airport to see what was happening as far as scenic flights. We ended up taking a one hour flight over the Alps, around Mt. Cook with views over several glaciers, including Franz Josef, Fox, Murchison and Tasman, and of the west coast and the Tasman Sea.  It was fantastic. There were 6 of us on the flight and the pilot chose Stephen to sit up front next to him so he’d get the best view for photos.  The mountains looked beautiful. The late afternoon light was fabulous on the snow. The glacial lakes looked stunning. The clouds were rolling in on the west coast so the views of Franz Josef and Fox were limited but even the white fluffy clouds filling the valleys with snowy peaks poking through looked amazing from above. The views were indescribably superb.

What a way to end our visit to the Lake Tekapo region! The only downside was that Stephen took the flight company’s advice to adjust some settings on his camera for optimum photography through the plane windows. All of his photos came out very blue! They are going to require a lot of Photoshopping to correct them. That’s close to 600 photos! Luckily I took lots of photos with the little camera!

The Riverside Walk from Highview into Tekapo Village

The Riverside Walk from Highview into Tekapo Village

Tekapo Bridge Spillway

Tekapo Bridge Spillway

Highview - Our Holiday Apartment is the Top Floor

Highview - Our Holiday Apartment is the Top Floor

Swans with their 5 Cygnets

Swans with their 5 Cygnets

Mother Swan with 3 of her Cygnets

Mother Swan with 3 of her Cygnets

Mother Duck on her Nest with a Couple of her Ducklings

Mother Duck on her Nest with a Couple of her Ducklings

One of the Downy Little Lapwing Chicks

One of the Downy Little Lapwing Chicks

Tekapo Air Safaris

Tekapo Air Safaris

Inside the Plane

Inside the Plane

The View as we were Gaining Altitude

The View as we were Gaining Altitude

Braided Rivers

Braided Rivers

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Above the Clouds

Above the Clouds

Rugged Peaks

Rugged Peaks

View to the West Coast

View to the West Coast

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier

Rugged Peaks

Rugged Peaks

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Murchison Glacier

Murchison Glacier

Murchison Glacier

Murchison Glacier

Sheer Slopes

Sheer Slopes

Stephen and the Pilot

Stephen and the Pilot

Rugged Beauty

Rugged Beauty

Glacial Lakes

Glacial Lakes

Mt Cook

Mt Cook

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

Tasman Glacier

Tasman Glacier

New Zealand Day 22 – Aoraki/Mt Cook

What a glorious day!

It was cloudy when we woke but most of the cloud soon burned off and we discovered that last night’s rain had fallen on the higher ground as snow. All the hills and mountains were freshly dusted white.

Lake Tekapo was looking gorgeous; turquoise surrounded by snowy white peaks. We decided to drive up to Mt Cook, about an hour away. We diverted along one of the hydro canals and past the Mt Cook Salmon farm. Stephen ducked in for a quick look and decided to stop there to buy some on the way back.

The Mt Cook turnoff is back towards Twizel, we were retracing the path that we took the other day when we first came to Lake Tekapo. We once again stopped at Lake Pukaki. The view today was so very different. Today we could see the mountains behind the gorgeously blue lake. The views all day really were fantastic. Mt Cook sits amongst the other peaks of the Southern Alps at the northern end of Lake Pukaki, all snow-capped and looking brilliant in the sunshine with the blue sky and the blue lake.

We arrived at Mt Cook Village and had a look in the Dept. of Conservation Info centre, then had lunch at the ‘Old Mountaineer’s Café’. The owners of this café fought the DOC for ten years to be allowed to build and open the business in Mt. Cook village; until they did so the DOC controlled the only accommodation and eateries. The owners have years of experience as mountaineering guides and have written a book about their experiences and the battle to build and open the café. I know I’m going to regret not buying the book!

Anyway, lunch was delicious (if expensive – but what isn’t around here?) and the views are incredible. Mt. Cook is so majestic.  We couldn’t help commenting over and over on just how beautiful it looks.

After lunch we drove out through the Tasman Valley and walked up to the viewpoint for the Tasman Glacier. It’s not as pretty as the other glaciers we’ve seen, it’s covered in rubble left as the glacier has melted from the top down, but awesome never-the-less. It’s New Zealand’s longest glacier and you can only see a comparatively small part of it. This glacier ends in a lake – Lake Tasman – that has icebergs floating in it; great chunks of ice that have broken off the end of the glacier.

There are several other glaciers up there amongst the snowy peaks and valleys. Everything looks stunning! But you can’t just hang around and gaze at snowy peaks, blue lakes and sunshine. If nothing else, you’d soon get very cold! We headed back and stopped at the salmon farm again on the way home.

After tea at the Japanese restaurant again we went and had a look at the historic little stone Church of the Good Shepherd and the nearby statue of the Border Collie sheep dog, without which the Mackenzie District could never have been successfully farmed.

It’s a beautiful evening, with the mountains all still visible as the sun sets, but once again not a good night for star-gazing due to high cloud.

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Sheep being moved on the Road to Mt Cook

Sheep being moved on the Road to Mt Cook

Aoraki/Mt Cook

Aoraki/Mt Cook

Mt Cook National Park

Mt Cook National Park

Mt Cook National Park

Mt Cook National Park

Mt Cook National Park

Mt Cook National Park

Mt Cook Village

Mt Cook Village

Mt Cook

Mt Cook

Mt Cook

Mt Cook

Mt Cook National Park

Mt Cook National Park

Glacier Walk

Glacier Walk

Mt Cook National Park

Mt Cook National Park

Glacier Walk View

Glacier Walk View

Tasman Glacier

Tasman Glacier

Lake Tasman

Lake Tasman

Tasman Glacier

Tasman Glacier

Top End of Lake Pukaki

Top End of Lake Pukaki

Top End of Lake Pukaki

Top End of Lake Pukaki

Icebergs in Lake Tasman

Icebergs in Lake Tasman

Mt Cook National Park

Mt Cook National Park

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

Mt Cook Salmon Farm

Mt Cook Salmon Farm

Church of the Good Shepherd

Church of the Good Shepherd

Sheepdog Monument

Sheepdog Monument

View from Bedroom Window Highview

View from Bedroom Window Highview

New Zealand Day 21 – Lake Tekapo

We woke to overcast but brighter skies this morning, with a small patch of blue sky that grew as the morning progressed. The cloud didn’t completely disappear, but it didn’t need to.  The turquoise lake with its backdrop of snow-capped mountains is so pretty – it’s spectacular.

We drove up Mt John to the observatory. The views from up there are amazing. It’d be great to do a night-time tour of the observatory and get to see the stars through the telescopes, but there is too much cloud around for that. The skies here are supposed to be extremely clear and starry – when it’s not cloudy. We’re here for another couple of nights but I don’t think clear night skies are in the forecast.

From there we drove back down and went to have a look at Tekapo A Hydro station. The canal leading from the power station is just as blue as the lake and very obviously a good place to fish. There were two fishermen trying to catch a rather large fish that kept jumping out of the water near them. I’m sure it was laughing at them as it jumped!

We had lunch in one of the trendy cafes in Tekapo and did a quick Internet check. We don’t have any internet access where we are staying. We needed to order a new modem so that there’s a chance it might arrive before we get home. Hopefully it will and Tanisha will be there to sign for it, otherwise we’ll be without phone or Internet for the weekend when we get home and we’ll have to pick it up from the post office on Monday.

After lunch we drove along the eastern shore of the lake, out towards the Roundhill ski area. The views across the lake were beautiful. There was sunshine, blue skies and fluffy white clouds. The amazingly blue lake in the foreground and the snowy peaks of the Southern Alps lined up on its far shore, all a splendid sight.

Back in our holiday home we are sitting in the living room looking out the big picture window and over the blue lake to the gorgeous snowy peaks beyond and wondering how much of a view the place will have when the land for sale next door is developed. I guess there’ll still be the view of the peaks further south from the balcony, the bedroom and the other windows along that side of the house.

And now there’s thunder so we may yet get rain tonight.

It did rain a little but the sun stayed on the peaks across the lake until sunset. There was also a vibrant rainbow. As we go to bed it’s raining again, heavier and steadily this time.

Mt John Observatory

Mt John Observatory

Lake Tekapo Village from Mt John

Lake Tekapo Village from Mt John

Lake Tekapo from Mt John

Lake Tekapo from Mt John

Today's View from Highview

Today's View from Highview

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Tekapo A Hydro Station

Tekapo A Hydro Station

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Tekapo Rainbow

Tekapo Rainbow

New Zealand Day 20 – Oamaru to Lake Tekapo

We woke to rain this morning. According to the map we only had about 2 ½ hours of driving so the light but steady rain wasn’t too much of an inconvenience. We decided to drive up along the Vanished World Trail (which we actually were driving along for part of yesterday) through the Waitaki Valley.

We stopped to walk through a farmer’s field to have a look at some whale fossils near a place called Elephant Rocks. These are hugs limestone boulders just rising out of the ground. There’s limestone everywhere here just under the surface. All of the historic buildings and many of the newer ones have been built out of it. As you drive through the area you see limestone cliffs all around. Part of the movie The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was filmed at Elephant Rocks in the Anatini Fossil Valley. It was the site of Aslan’s camp. There’s another movie being filmed there are the moment – Kingdom Come. You can see the construction of a village from the road. Apparently they’ve run out of money though and are having trouble getting more funding; I can’t remember how much it has cost so far but I’m sure it was over $100million, so filming has stopped and may not start again.

The Vanished World Trail included the Fossil Museum at Duntroon. It has a small but interesting collection of fossils; several of them were of ancient and extinct shark toothed dolphins.

There were some Maori rock paintings on some of the limestone along the way. Not only was the limestone (and therefore the art) pretty weatherworn, but there was quite a bit of graffiti as well, and it was a bit hard to tell what was real and what wasn’t. It was quite disappointing so we didn’t bother stopping at the second lot of rock art that we passed.

We went through the little town of Kurow and stopped at the winery there. Stephen tasted a few wines and bought a Pinot Noir. This is probably the only winery that we’ll stop at for our whole trip. From Kurow we took the scenic drive around Lake Aviemore. This road starts off by crossing the Aviemore Dam then continues around the edge of the lake and ends by crossing the Benmore Dam and then rejoining  the highway. The rain continued, along with the low cloud, so we couldn’t really see how pretty the lake was, but we did get a hint if the brilliant blue colour that the lakes in this region are known for. These dams and lakes are all part of the hydro-electric power production that supplies much of the south island with power.

We stopped for lunch at Omarama.  The scenery here is supposed to be fabulous but it was still raining and the clouds were low. We could see the nearby hills through the haze, but nothing else. There are a few tourist places along the highway; it’s obviously a popular stopping place for tourist buses. There’s a demo shearing shed where you can also see the sheep dogs working but it certainly wasn’t the weather for that. Omarama is also known for its world-class gliding and it looked like there was a big gliding meet on.  The glider field was lined with a long row of gliders and the attached campground was lined with campervans.

As we left Omarama we came across another beautiful field of pink and purple lupins.  When we’ve been close to the sea there have been yellow lupins growing wild everywhere. At high altitude there have been hardly any of the yellows but shades from pink through red and pale blue through purple.

After Twizel we passed the turnoff to Mount Cook (the highest mountain in Australasia) and then passed Lake Pukaki. There’s a lookout on the edge of this lake that’s famous for its views of Mt Cook with the turquoise lake in the foreground. We couldn’t have even said that there were any mountains there, but while the lake didn’t look ultra-blue we could see that it was a beautiful colour.

The rain continued as we arrived at Lake Tekapo. We drove past the most brilliantly blue lake of them all (not that we could see just how blue it can really be) and up the hill to the apartment we’ll be staying in for 4 nights. It’s a really nice place with great views of the lake and of the surrounding Southern Alps (or would have if the skies were clear) from the living area and from the balcony and the bedroom. Lake Tekapo is a small village that’s becoming more trendy and is all about tourism. We had a quick look at the shops and had tea at a fabulous Japanese restaurant. There seem to be a lot of Japanese here, there were Japanese working in all of the shops, and a large Japanese tour group came into the restaurant while we were there.

Hopefully the sun will shine tomorrow otherwise we’ll be exploring in the rain!

Leaving the Criterion Hotel Oamaru

Leaving the Criterion Hotel Oamaru

Elephant Rocks

Elephant Rocks

Whale Fossil

Whale Fossil

Anatini Fossil Valley - Location of Filming of Aslan's Camp

Anatini Fossil Valley - Location of Filming of Aslan's Camp

Maerewhenua Rock Art

Maerewhenua Rock Art

Extinct Shark Toothed Dolphin Fossil

Extinct Shark Toothed Dolphin Fossil

Kurow Winery

Kurow Winery

Lake Aviemore

Lake Aviemore

Lupin Fields by the Ahuriri River

Lupin Fields by the Ahuriri River

Lupin Fields by the Ahuriri River

Lupin Fields by the Ahuriri River

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Highview - Our Accommodation at Lake Tekapo

Highview - Our Accommodation at Lake Tekapo

View from the Balcony

View from the Balcony

View through the Lounge Window

View through the Lounge Window

New Zealand Day 19 – Kaka Point to Oamaru

Today was an easy and quiet day of driving that started off overcast but pleasant. We drove through rolling green hills of sheep and cattle pasture for the most part.

We made a brief stop in Dunedin because I wanted to have a bit of a look at some shops. Unfortunately the parking machine would only accept one of our coins, kept spitting the others out, so we only had half an hour to look around. And then we headed away from the shops instead of towards them – darned circular streets! That was soon remedied, but we only looked in a few shops before we had to head back to the car. That was more than enough of being in a city after not seeing so much traffic or hustle and bustle for the past 3 weeks. Stephen did want to take a photo of me standing in front of the big gold door of an old building until I pointed out that it was a brothel and I really didn’t want my photo taken in front of it! We were 10 minutes late back to the car and saw the parking inspector just a few cars away as we drove off. There seemed to be parking inspectors everywhere so we felt lucky not to get a fine!

Late in the morning we made a stop at the Moeraki Boulders. They are these big spherical boulders that lay on the very pretty Moeraki beach. They are quite amazing, like big balls that have been left lying on the beach. We had lunch at the restaurant overlooking the beach, sitting out on the deck and watching some dolphins cruising close to shore. By this time the sky was blue and the sun was warm so it was really nice to be sitting beside the seaside eating our lunch and watching dolphins play.

From there it was more rolling green hills (though most of the day there had been quite a heavy mist/haze) until we arrived at our destination of Oamaru. They are having their annual Victorian Historic weekend this weekend in Oamaru and there are people all about dressed in Victorian outfits and riding penny farthings and driving vintage cars. They get right into it and we seem to be staying at the heart of things in the old Criterion Hotel in the Historic Harbour district.

Many of the buildings in the town, both old and new, are built from the locally quarried limestone, Oamaru Stone, and the town is crazy about penguins!

At around 5:30 we drove over to the Yellow-eyed Penguin colony to see whether could see any of them come ashore but it was a bit early. We only saw one in about 45 minutes. We had tea in a very nice restaurant on the waterfront and then went to see the Little Blue Penguins come ashore at the nearby penguin colony. This is a very controlled penguin viewing area and over 200 of the little penguins came ashore. They are very cute to watch as they surf in to shore, then stand about cooling down before they waddle up the rocks and into their burrows. There’s lots of penguin noise and milling about socialising on the way. These penguins have been out to sea feeding all day (at least) and have chicks in their burrows that they’ve come home to feed. The people that run the whole blue penguin information centre and who are the guides for the viewing are very strict about not allowing any photography at all. There’s special yellowish lighting set up that the penguins can’t see but that allow us to see them. If the returning penguins are frightened or startled by camera flashes they’ll go back to sea and the chicks won’t get fed. For that reason we have no photos of the Little Blue Penguins.

There was quite a lot of noise at the pub when we returned and went up to our room, but by the time we reviewed the maps and the lonely planet guide for tomorrow and got ourselves ready for sleep things seemed to have quietened down. We had no trouble falling asleep.

Mural in Dunedin City Centre

Mural in Dunedin City Centre

Moeraki Boulders

Moeraki Boulders

Moeraki Boulders

Moeraki Boulders

Moeraki Boulders

Moeraki Boulders

Dolphin at Moeraki Beach

Dolphin at Moeraki Beach

The Old and the New at Oamaru

The Old and the New at Oamaru

Oamaru Victorian Weekend

Oamaru Victorian Weekend

On a Penny Farthing

On a Penny Farthing

Oamaru Victorian Weekend

Oamaru Victorian Weekend

Do I Look Big in This?

Do I Look Big in This?

Oamaru Penguin Town

Oamaru Penguin Town

Penguin Carved from Oamaru Stone

Penguin Carved from Oamaru Stone

Overlooking Oamaru

Overlooking Oamaru

Oamaru Penguin Town

Oamaru Penguin Town

There's a Penguin in There - The Closest we Could get to a Photo of a Little Blue Penguin

There's a Penguin in There - The Closest we Could get to a Photo of a Little Blue Penguin

Penguin Nesting Boxes at the Little Blue Penguin Colony

Penguin Nesting Boxes at the Little Blue Penguin Colony

Oamaru Penguin Town

Oamaru Penguin Town

Oamaru

Oamaru

Yellow Eyed Penguin

Yellow Eyed Penguin

New Zealand Day 18 – Kaka Point

The day dawned dry and remained that way, though it was overcast but warmer than yesterday. We drove out to Nugget Point this morning and walked out to the lighthouse. The view is fantastic and there’s a fur seal colony at the base of the cliffs. It was quite easily to see the seals, even though they were a long way down below us. The view of the nuggets from in front of the lighthouse is beautiful.

From there we drove down to Cannibal Bay – I don’t know why it has that name. A walk along the beach brought us close to 4 Sea Lions. They are huge! They also spend most of their time on the beach sleeping. We did see a small amount of movement, flippers waving and throwing sand over their backs, rolling over and raising heads to look around. A short walk through the dunes took us to Surat Bay where we saw a few more Sea Lions. Amazing creatures, we got lots of photos and hopefully some good video.

We had lunch at a café in Owaka then drove to what we were told are the most photographed waterfalls in New Zealand. Purakaunui Falls are apparently on most scenic calendars. The walk in to the falls was a short, pretty rainforest walk and the falls are quite pretty, but far from the best falls we’ve seen. They didn’t live up to the hype as far as we were concerned, but nevertheless they are nice to see. There was also some very enticing and musical birdsong along the walk – no sign of the singer, though.

Our exploration ended with a drive into Balclutha for a quick supermarket trip and then back to the B&B for a cuppa and to download the photos from the camera before tea.

Tomorrow we move on to Oamaru; there’s no need for us to get up too early because it’s only a couple of hours drive (without any side-trips and photo stops).

View North From Nugget Point to Kaka Point

View North From Nugget Point to Kaka Point

Nugget Point Lighthouse and The Nuggets

Nugget Point Lighthouse and The Nuggets

The View From Nugget Point Track

The View From Nugget Point Track

Fur Seals at Nugget Point

Fur Seals at Nugget Point

The Nuggets

The Nuggets

View South From the Lighthouse

View South From the Lighthouse

View South From the Lighthouse

View South From the Lighthouse

Sea Lion at Cannibal Bay

Sea Lion at Cannibal Bay

At Cannibal Bay with Sea Lions

At Cannibal Bay with Sea Lions

Sea Lion at Cannibal Bay

Sea Lion at Cannibal Bay

Flipping Sand at Cannibal Bay

Flipping Sand at Cannibal Bay

Cannibal Bay

Cannibal Bay

Whiskers

Whiskers

Cannibal Bay

Cannibal Bay

Sea Lions at Surat Bay

Sea Lions at Surat Bay

Sea Lions at Surat Bay

Sea Lions at Surat Bay

A Big Older Sea Lion at Surat Bay

A Big Older Sea Lion at Surat Bay

Sea Lions at Surat Bay

Sea Lions at Surat Bay

At Surat Bay with Sea Lions

At Surat Bay with Sea Lions

Amongst the Flax and Lupins on the track from Cannibal Bay to Surat Bay

Amongst the Flax and Lupins on the track from Cannibal Bay to Surat Bay

Tuis Carved from Tree Fern Trunks on a Fence at Owaka

Tuis Carved from Tree Fern Trunks on a Fence at Owaka

Purakaunui Falls

Purakaunui Falls

New Zealand Day 17 – Te Anau to Kaka Point

We started today at Te Anau in the southwest and ended the day at Kaka Point in the North Catlins on the east coast. The day was overcast with low cloud hiding the mountains when we left fiordland so the splendour of the area was hidden from us. We chose to drive the Southern Scenic Road down through Invercargill and up along the coast through the Catlins. The road south was rolling green hills – pretty sheep pasture that would have looked much prettier in sunshine.

We stopped to take photos of historic Clifden Suspension bridge that was opened in 1899 replacing the punt that was used by sheep stations to cross the Clifden River, but is no longer in use. Then we drove through Tuatapere, the Sausage Capital of New Zealand. Then on to the scenic outlook at McCracken’s Rest, looking out over Te Waewae Bay in hope of seeing some Hector’s dolphins; no luck on that score.

Our next stop was to take photos of the giant surfer and of the surf at New Zealand’s surf capital, Colac Bay. Just wait until you see the surf photos! Riverton was our next viewpoint, to see what we had read are the ‘must see’ Riverton Rocks.  I’m not sure why they are ‘must see’, I think that was half an hour wasted.

We had lunch at Invercargill and then took the coastal road through the South Catlins. We stopped at Waipapa Point and saw four sea lions lounging on the beach. From there we went to Slope Point, the southern-most point of the South Island. Our last stop before heading on to our Kaka Point was Curio Bay. We walked along the beach over a petrified forest from the Jurassic age and saw 2 endangered yellow-eyed penguins come ashore. We were quite close to them so hopefully got some good photos.

It was mid-afternoon by the time we got back into the car, and just starting to rain, so we decided not to stop off at any other tourist spots and drive straight to the B&B that we are booked into for two nights. Tomorrow we’ll explore some of those other spots.

There were more rugged mountains and beautiful rolling hills, but the rain was setting in by the time we arrived at Kaka Point. The B&B, Molyneux House, is very nice and almost on the beach – the road goes past the front of the house. The gardens are carefully planted, though to hide the road, so for the most part our suite looks right out over the Pacific Ocean. There’s just the one suite and it’s self-contained. It’s very nice, though I think I liked the room at Waiterere Beach more. It was a much quieter location and the décor was more to my liking.

The rain was quite steady but we decided to head out to nearby Roaring Bay where there’s a hide above the beach where yellow-eyed penguins come ashore. There was a sea lion on the beach when we arrived, but it moved back into the water and swam off as we made our way along the track to the hide. Then we watched from the hide as several penguins surfed the shore break and waddled up the beach and into the bush.

The rain has stopped now; hopefully tomorrow will be clear and dry.

Clifden Suspension Bridge

Clifden Suspension Bridge

Tuatapere - Sausage Capital of New Zealand

Tuatapere - Sausage Capital of New Zealand

Giant Surfer at Colac Bay

Giant Surfer at Colac Bay

Colac Bay - Surf Capital of New Zealand

Colac Bay - Surf Capital of New Zealand

Sea Lions at Waipapa Point

Sea Lions at Waipapa Point

Slope Point

Slope Point

Slope Point

Slope Point

Curio Bay Petrified Forest

Curio Bay Petrified Forest

Yellow Eyed Penguin at Curio Bay

Yellow Eyed Penguin at Curio Bay

View from our Room at Molyneux House

View from our Room at Molyneux House

Yellow Eyed Penguins at Roaring Bay

Yellow Eyed Penguins at Roaring Bay