Its a Small World
29.11.2007 - 04.12.2007
View The Grand Tour on steve-les's travel map.
After catching up on the necessary admin at Dunedin, we headed north to the historical town of Oamaru. Oamaru is one of the oldest towns in New Zealand and has some very impressive old buildings made with limestone from local quarries. It has a botanical garden that is almost as nice as the garden in Christchurch, the town also has some impressive museums and heritage trails.
As there was so much to do we decided to stay a couple of days. We visited a historical car museum and were impressed by the vehicles in the exhibition. Steve’s favourite was a ratty looking Plymouth Roadster and I was quite in awe of a tractor and a caravan. They are in the Guinness Book of Records for the longest tractor journey. In the early 90s, a farmer and his wife travelled all around the world. They even visited Cornwall and even went to Lands End. I bet it was a nightmare on the A38 that week!!!! We also visited a colony of rare yellow eyed penguins. They must have been rare because we only saw three of them! They are funny looking creatures who made the strangest noises.
From Oamaru we headed inland to Mount Cook and stayed overnight on a conservation site in the foothills. We went for an amazing walk through the Hooker Valley, sheer drops, swing bridges and mountain streams to a lovely lake that was at the base of the Hooker Glacier. In the evening we were in awe watching and listening to the thunderous roar of the snow avalanching on Mount Sefton. The mountains are still fairly heavy with snow but the warm weather is rapidly thawing things out and the snow was cascading down the mountainside in huge rifts.
After Mount Cook we intended to travel to Ashburton and stay there overnight, however the road was closed due to a very serious road traffic accident. We had to take a major detour and in the end decided to totally bypass Ashburton and carry on to Christchurch. We arrived at the campsite late afternoon and were gob smacked! On our chosen campsite were Brian and Barbara, a couple we had previously met in Mongolia and who were our next door neighbours on the train journey from Ulaan Baatar to Beijing. We didn’t even realise they were in New Zealand. It was weird but we had only gone to that site because of the accident and they wouldn’t have been there if they hadn’t decided to stay a day longer than they had intended. What are the odds of that? Brian and Barbara are also on a world tour so it was good to swap tales. We said our goodbyes on Monday morning and headed off for Kaikoura to do a spot of whale watching.
We arrived at Kaikoura late on Monday afternoon and went straight to the Whale watching depot to book a tour. We managed to get spaces on the first trip the next day at 0615. We had an early night and then got up at 0515 and made our way to the depot. While waiting for our boat, we saw an absolutely fantastic sunrise and also observed a school of rare Hector Dolphins having their early morning feed. The boat took us about eight miles off shore, where we were lucky enough to see three Sperm Whales. We got several photos and where lucky enough to get tail shots as two of the whales dived! Whilst out on the water we also saw several Albatrosses and a few Petrels and Shearwaters. This afternoon we went for a walk along the coast and came across a colony of seals. There were literally hundreds of them! We managed to get some cracking photos of a big bull Fur Seal who was protecting the colony. We only got close enough to take a picture. We are heading up to Picton tomorrow ready to catch the ferry to North Island on Thursday.
We’ve loaded some photos for you to catch up on.
Love to everyone. See you soon.