All Done - Location
We returned from New Zealand just in time for me to catch a few runs on closing day. From the look of the snow it must have continued to be a pretty good season and closing day even brought plenty of deep legitimate powder. However there was also an abundance of deep crud and pretty much the whole panoply of snow flavours to challenge out of shape legs.
Now, having just been swimming in the ocean a few days ago, I am quite ready for a lovely spring to burst on the scene. :-)
Bye, bye NZ - Hahei - Location
So I failed as a travel blogger. The limits of NZ hotel Internet put me far enough behind for my natural sloth to take over and as a result I didn’t post for most of our time on the North island. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t great though and as our last day approached in the beautiful beach town of Hahei on the Coromandel peninsula, we weren’t keen to leave. Our arrival back to snow rather than spring did nothing to change this view. :-)
March 26, Turoa Ski Field - Location
We drove up to the small resort town of Ohakune at the base of the Mount Ruapehu, an active volcano that hosts two ski resorts. Of course we couldn’t resist driving up to the base of one of them, which resides in pretty inhospitable terrain in the summer. We also did a nice walk into what would have been a beautiful and impressive waterfall, if it had actually had any substantial amount of water going over it.
March 25, Picton - Location
Picton is the pretty little town that serves as the South Island terminus for the ferries connecting it to the North Island across the Wellington Strait. About half of the trip is through the Marlborough Sound and it is very reminiscent of the BC coast. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine yourself in Howe or Desolation Sound or even the Gulf Islands.
The crossing was pleasant enough (apparently the weather in the Wellington Strait can be pretty severe), but the day was largely spent waiting about for one thing or another. Our arrival in Wellington at the height of rush hour did promise to add a bit of excitement, but fortunately the iPhone GPS app we are using to navigate got everything right.
March 24, Seals by Highway 1 - Location
We continued up the coast to Blenheim, in preparation for the next day’s ferry ride to the North Island. Along the way we stopped for some more seal viewing at a large seal colony right beside the road. A bit further on was a short walk up to a waterfall, with seal pups playing in the pools in the stream below the falls.
Less entertaining was a estuary walk near Blenheim, that was easily the dullest thing we have done yet in New Zealand. The season and the recent dry conditions probably didn’t help and even the birds appeared to have abandoned the place. Blenheim itself was a rather nice little town with a pleasant river walkway, but I suspect it must get rather hot in the middle of summer.
March 23, Kaikoura Penisula -Location
After Christchurch, we headed up the East coast to Kaikoura. The picture is from a nice walk around the very scenic peninsula of the same name that is just outside the town.
The first picture is of the pretty, but very touristy little town of Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula near Christchurch.
The second is of a attractive mall made out of shipping containers near central Christchurch. You aren’t allowed into the central area itself, which is still being demolished following the 2010 earthquake. A number of the downtown merchants have set up shop in this temporary mall just outside the exclusion area. All around there are still buildings with notices restricting entry and lots and lots of construction. Christchurch is going to be a very modern looking city and there might indeed be something to be said for having a reason to rebuild your city every once and a while. A bit hard on heritage, but definitely appealing nonetheless.
March 21, Mount Cook from Lake Pukaki - Location
A screwup with distances on my part, combined with an apparent need to book hotels in advance, with no cancellations after 48 hours prior to check in time, caused us to abort our trip to Mount Cook. Thus this view of it from Lake Pukaki was all we managed, but nonetheless, it was a lovely drive.
March 20, Porpoise Bay - Location
Our trip along the South shore had a surprising number of nice treats, including a lovely waterfall walk in the Catlins, but probably the coolest was watching the dolphins in Porpoise Bay surfing. These guys would loiter about waiting for a good wave and then proceed to catch a ride. Needless to say, they were extremely proficient and equally hard to photograph. This low resolution frame from a video I attempted was the best either Chris or I could manage, despite watching them for quite a while.
March 19, Bluff - Location
From Doubtful Sound we headed down to the bottom of the South Island and stayed in the decidedly unimpressive city of Invercargill. The picture is from a lookout in Bluff, which is a few kilometres south of it and feels like the very bottom of the island. That honour in fact belongs to Slope Point, which is further to the East and which we walked into the next day for no discernible reason other than to say we had been there. So, “we have been there”.