Hope you have all enjoyed the festive season and had a good start to 2013. I have been off the radar for a couple of weeks or so having a much needed holiday with my family. We came home to our very much missed comfortable beds and our beloved two cats Handbag and Mittens (aliases to protect their delicate identities) with a deep feeling of wonder and amazement. Over the next few posts I hope to share with you some images which to illustrate our beautiful country and how much fun we had.
Our holiday was a trip around part of the South Island of New Zealand and involved a family wedding, catching up with family as well as 3 days of just the three of us - me, Dear H and Darling D.
Naturally, to ensure maximum satisfaction of all those on holiday there was opshopping, antiquing, train and railspotting and second hand book shopping. It would not be a holiday without a few things not going to plan - mainly the failure of rechargeable camera batteries, missing cell phone chargers and truly spectacular weather.
Part 1: Having a whale of a time:
Our first port of call was Kaikoura which is a small town on the East Coast of the South Island which used to be the centre of large-scale whaling and is now the centre of large-scale whale-watching!! Although it was expensive we could not stay a couple of nights in this town without going out on the water in search of one of nature's most majestic giants. I was quite anxious about being on the water as I get motion sickness so I bought the wrist bands which act on a pressure point. To our delight on our morning tour of two hours out at sea we saw two sperm whales - one at the start of our journey and one at the end, and a large pod of dolphins and an albatross and other sea birds.
The whales are spectacular and I felt so small and insignificant on the boat (which was a catamaran with 47 others and the crew). I confess I was almost in tears of joy seeing a real live whale, rather than the skeletons I have seen in museums. Since I did a project on the horrors of whaling when I was around 9 years old, I have always wanted to see a real live whale swimming in the ocean. Well, now my wish has come true!!
I kept thinking to myself that I would not feel sick, and I think mind over matter helped enormously. Most of the other passengers were sick....just goes to show that a huge latte and a muffin etc before getting onboard a boat to go 13 miles out across a continental shelf to deep waters, travelling at 30 knots is not a good idea. My family were queasy but both enjoyed the trip immensely. I am so proud of my daughter as she had not been out to sea before. My Dear H was great too, holding on to us both while we went crazy with our cameras taking photos.
I was amazing by the playful nature of the dolphins - it was just too hard to take photos of them as they were jumping out of the water all the time. To our delight there was also baby dolphins swimming alongside their mothers although they were small they were very fast swimmers and very agile.
Below left is a pic of me standing outside Fyffe Whaling Station which is a historic building to visit. It is on a headland where we went for a walk across some amazing rocks to look for seals. Alas no seals. At Kaikoura the beach is rocky with large rounded stones and great for fossicking. Top right is me post-whale-watch!! None of us felt like much for lunch so I bought some bread rolls and we travelled up the coast to a picnic spot. Then for a total change of scenery we went on a short beautiful bush walk to a pool where baby seals swim in winter:
Yes, you read that right, baby seals swim in the pool in winter. You can read more about it and see a news clip here. Compared to the windy coast the bush was peaceful and serene. As much as I love the beach and feeling the salt spray on my face, there is something very calming about being surrounded by trees and the soft sound of a freshwater stream and the music of birds.
My next post will cover the second stage of our journey, to Blenheim and sunny Marlborough.