Sean Mc on Skynet

Last of the South Island .. for now

After Christchurch we got to do something we'd been planning for a while, whale watching in Kaikoura. Kaikoura is world renowned as a whale watching site so never ones to pass up on a chance to get money off the tourist the Kiwi's have a tour for the place. Just off the coast of Kaikoura is a feeding ground for male sperm whales. The sperm whale is the largest toothed whale and the largest toothed mammal alive. Adults can measure upto 20.5m long.
Somedays apparently tours don't even get to see a single whale but we were lucky, we got 3 sightings of 2 different whales. In addition we viewed a school of dusky dolphins. We saw about 100 dolphins on the surface at anyone time, but below the surface were another 300-400 of the mammal. In stereotype dolphin fashion they played around the boat, swimming off the bow and jumping an flipping for the tourist, fungi was never this spectacular.

From Kaikoura we drove a few hours further north with the plan spending a day or two on the Queen Charlotte track. The Queen Charlotte track is a 71km trail that runs along the ridges overlooking the Marlborough sounds just outside Picton. Unfortunately the weather didn't play ball so we made the call to wait a few days. In the meantime we went back to Nelson to visit some friends. Going to Nelson was a good decision, we saw the weather forecast for the next week... it showed heavy rain and strong winds and no sign of a let up. That settled it for us, neither of us wanted to spend a few days walking in heavy rain where you can't even see the scenery that made you want to walk in the first place. We booked a ferry and called a close to our South Island trip, for now at least.

posted by SeanMc @ 10:17 AM, ,

Dunedin - Christchurch via the inland scenic route and St Patricks night

Leaving Dunedin for the last time we went the inland scenic route back to Christchurch. This took us via a place called Peel forest [] where stopped off for a few hours tramping. There were plenty of trails in the area so we went for a walk for a few hours then returned to the van, had some lunch and went walking for another few hours. It's a great way to do it. We also stopped in a town called Oxford not which is about 50km outside Christchurch, we saw on our road atlas that there was some mountain biking in the area so we stopped to investigate further. As it turned out there were plenty of trails for all abilities in the area. We spent a half-day getting some single-track trail riding in, complete with plenty of falls into mud pools!

Moving on we arrived Christchurch in time for St Patricks weekend where we met up with a friend of mine from Ennis, Alan Merry. Alan has been out here a few years now so knows his way around the pubs of Christchurch, on St Patricks night we didn't need to know much just where the Irish pubs were. Being a Monday night they proved easy to find, they were the only ones with queues outside. We started at 'the bog' on Cashel st and then went to O'Sullivans on some other street. By time we got to O'Sullivans they had stopped serving, but it was about 4am so fair enough. In all I thought the whole St Patricks things was a bit plastic and I got annoyed with all the people pretending to be 'Oirish'. Needless to say the following day was pretty much a write off.
Eventually we motivated ourselves to try and go do something, we ended up at Sumner Beach surfing. We rented a few surfboards from a local shop and off we went. It was my first time ever trying to surf a board. It was fun, I even managed to stand up but I think I prefer using a kayak or a waveski instead. The waves weren't that big which may have been a factor in my preference for a kayak, but they were small enough that I wouldn't have bothered taking a kayak off the roof.
We spent the next few days staying in Alans house, which was great given that both of us had a touch of a cold. Nice to be in a house when sick instead of living in a van. We celebrated Clares birthday in Christchurch too, this time we saw a little bit more of the real nightlife in Christchurch, it seems a good place to go out in. There's plenty of choice of nice pubs and most of the time the bouncers aren't too sticky either.

This was Alans last few days in Christchurch as he'd moving elsewhere for work so there were plenty of going away parties for him. By time we left Christchurch I think my liver thanked me for the break it was going to get.

posted by SeanMc @ 10:10 AM, ,

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