Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The South Island

A pretty early start this morning in order to leave for the Inter Island Ferry at .  Just a short bus ride around the waterfront to reach the dock, near the Wellington sports stadium, also known as the “Cake Tin,” due to its flat shape (it actually looks just like a cake pan!).  The ferry is huge and on the auto deck there were all sorts of vehicles from cars to RVs to smelly stock trailers. 

The weather was gorgeous and the ferry has all sorts of amenities, including a movie theatre.  Once we reached the South Island we passed through the Marlborough Sounds, some beautiful scenery.  The crossing takes about three hours.  Our scheduled swimming with the fur seals at Kaikoura was canceled as the recent weather has caused extremely poor visibility and thus a snorkel would be pretty much a waste of time with less than 20% chance of seeing the seals in the water.  After landing at Picton we met our Queenstown-based driver Peter and boarded our new coach (same as we had before on the North Island).  It’s green and quite hilly around Picton and as soon as we left that area we came into Marlborough, a dry region, the largest vineyard area in the country, with rows and rows of grape vines.

The highway soon led to the Pacific and follows the coastline.  We continued south, and just north of Kaikoura stopped at the Ohau Point seal colony.  There were about 50 fur seals here, with lots of little ones. 

Then, as a substitute for the canceled seal swimming, we headed to a local farm where we had hoped the kids could do a downhill luge-on-wheels adventure. 

Unfortunately earlier rainy weather made the track too muddy and we could not do it.  They had an interesting array of animals in a petting zoo set up, from a very vocal donkey to deer and turkeys, as well as ostriches, various birds and even a cockatoo.  The kids loved it! 

Then we went into the sheep shearing shed where they had indoor archery set up (a 12 meter ranges).  A big hit as most of the group had never shot a bow and arrow.

We left the 400 acre farm as it was getting dark, and had only a short 10 minute ride to Kaikoura to our accommodation, the Dusky Lodge and a beef curry dinner awaited us.
This place is smaller than the hostel in Wellington, but still fairly sprawling, with 3 kitchens and several lounge areas.  This one even has a swimming pool and Jacuzzi.  Very cozy public spaces with wood heaters to take the chill off.

Later this morning we are hoping for good weather for our whale watching trip—we may get to see sperm whales! 

No comments:

Post a Comment