New Zealand: Days 3-8

Wed, 13 Feb 2008

Day 6 in New Zealand. Currently sitting in a café about 800 meters above sea level in the village of Arthur’s Pass, conveniently located in Arthur’s Pass National Park- which I just learned is the 3rd oldest national park in NZ. Just tramped up to a few waterfalls and sipping on a local brew. You don’t hike in NZ, you ‘tramp’. Got a few miles of tramping in. Day 6 in New Zealand = Day 8 total.

NZ Day 1: Friday 8 Feb 2008
Pick up ‘Spaceship’ campervan. Each has a name, mine is Neil, for Neil Armstrong. Headed north out of Christchurch, taking the scenic route to Blenheim near the NE corner of the south island. A wine festival happens to be in Blenhiem on Saturday, so it makes a perfect destination. The country side reminds me of Wyoming, except with more sheep. Had some food along the way, took a few photos, and made it to the campground with no problems. I’ll clarify now, since some of the dirty-minded folks (Vic) out there are wondering- it is possible for two people to sleep in a campervan and not touch during the night.

Day 2
First thing in the morning, I learned there were no tickets locally available for the previously mentioned wine festival. However, with a short 20 km drive to Picton, tickets could be obtained. We loaded up Neil and went off to Picton. In addition to obtaining tickets, turns out Picton is quite a scenic villa- Well worth the drive. Had a great breakfast to boot. Will take time to mention that food is quite pricey here, breakfast for 2 can easily run you $30NZ ($24US). Shuttle bus to the festival was a 5 minute walk from the campground. Spent the day sprawled on the grass, listening to music and sipping on the wines of NZ’s Marlborough Region.

Day 3
Head south along the coast to the town of Kaikoura- famous for dolphin and whale watching. It did not disappoint. Made several stops along the way, good breakfast and coffee again. Some places, not all have Tabasco Sauce. Spotted a seal , sea lion, whatever it is called and got a few good photos. Original plan was to take a whale watch trip and then a swim with the dolphins trip. Made it to Kaikoura, found the whale watch folks- they said if you’re ready now, you can leave in 10 minutes. So off we went. For those that know me, I get seasick bad. Popped a few pills and survived this trip, but barely- it took several hours and glasses of wine to get rid of the queasiness. Anyway, we saw two whales. Apparently they have been seeing these same sperm whales since 1994…. We saw enough dolphins to cancel the need to swim with the dolphins the next day. Even got some decent dolphin photos.

Day 4
Head south to Christchurch to complete the journey. Spotted a few more seals along the way. Dr. T got a little close to one of them and we both though she might get eaten by an angry seal, but it worked out ok. Turns out seals are much more photogenic after they’ve been woken up. Spent the afternoon downloading photos, relaxing, and checking emails. Went out on the town that evening, had some wonderful Bangers and Mash- that’s mashed potatoes and sausages- if you’re wondering. Met up with Mr. S and we all played some pool. Pool in NZ is odd to say the least. The tables at this Irish Pub had American sized target balls with a baby sized ‘Q’ ball. In Kaikoura, all the balls, and the table also, were pint sized. Really screws with your game.

Day 5
We caught some breakfast, I dropped off the good Dr at work, procured a tripod, an iPod, and some groceries. Luckily, for some reason, the tripod was cheaper here than in the states, I assume its due to exchange rate and proximity to China. That said, the damn thing still cost more than most folks spend on a camera. Hopefully the photos it allows will justify the cost. iPod because the radio stations here have a severe lacking of Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. Groceries because I can’t afford to keep eating out every meal. It’s time for soup in can and room temperature meat on crackers. Eventually got out of town and headed west into the ‘Southern Alps’. Made several scenic stops along the way before rolling into Arthur’s Pass.

Which brings me back to present. 5 malt ale is finished- time to hit the road, find a scenic spot for lunch and travel to the next camping spot, wherever that turns out to be…….


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