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