Jim, Lisa and the World
A trip of global proportions
About Us (2)
Costa Rica (2)
New Zealand (11)
* The Red Center
* Cruising and Noodling
* The Great Ocean Road
* Melbourne part II
* Up the Coast
* Capital Good Times
* Missy the Beasty
* The Seperation of Wife and Mate
* Rugby, Navigation and Magellen
* It's a small world after all!
* Free! Free Falling!
* Attack of the Sandflies!
* A Puzzling World Indeed
* Surfing with dolphins!
* The Cook Strait
* Tangariro Crossing
* From Beaches to Caves
* Miles of Surf
February 17, 2005
The Cook Strait
After spending two days in Wellington, the capital city, we took a ferry accurse the Cook Strait through the Marlborough Sound, to the south island. We spent 2 nights in Picton at the Juggler's Rest hostel (where, yes you can learn how to juggle...neither of us mastered it though). While in Picton we did some tramping (hiking, for those of you who don't understand Englishized English either), one hike that we did took us up a mountain where we could see tons of the little islands dotting the harbor!
We decided to rent a car to allow us more independence while exploring the south island. So, Tuesday (15th) morning we got our little red Nissan, put our packs in the trunk, flipped a coin (literally) and because of that, headed South. Now, in New Zealand, they drive on the LEFT had side of the road, which is quite disorienting even while riding in a car. So, before we hit the road we spent some time driving around a residential neighborhood. Oddly enough, it's not that hard to get the knack of...the things that we've both had the most trouble with is the blinker switch being on the right-hand side of the steering wheel, and sitting in the 'passenger' seat and feeling like you should be in control of the car!
We spent the day driving and ended up in the little fishing town of Kaikoura, about 200 km. south of Picton. We got out and hiked east along a peninsula at low tide and came across a colony of fur seals basking in the late afternoon sun. New Zealand also has a large population of rare birds. The only things inhabiting the islands when the Maori arrived here were birds! We have been fortunate to see many different species of peculiar looking birds, including the albatross, which when they are about 4 months old, take off in a high wind and fly, circumnavigating the globe for about 3 to 4 YEARS without stopping, they feed in flight or off of the water's surface. The fact that they have a locking shoulder joint allows them to even sleep while in flight! WOW!
We thought that we were in luck that night when we found a cheap campsite right on the water and we were the only ones there (which is very unusual, as this is the 'high season' for tourists). We realized why in the middle of the night when multiple trains went by (and sounded like they were on top of us)! Early the next morning we got up and packed up our tent watched a beautiful sunrise over the Southern Pacific and drove into town. We were on stand-by to go on a whale-watching tour (they'd been booked up for weeks). As luck would have it we got onto the boat! We took our Dramamine and headed out to sea.
This area is unique, in that the depth of the water drops significantly just a kilometer from the shore, providing the perfect feeding area for male sperm whales, and a playground for many different kinds of dolphins, seals and birds.
After being out on the water for about 1/2 hour we spotted a sperm whale that had come to the surface. They can dive for periods of up to 4 hours, diving as deep as 10,000 feet below sea level to feed on, among other things, giant squid. They come up to the surface to digest their food. We got to see two whales and some albatross on our 2-hour trip! They were massive! The seas were a bit choppy and, true to form, I got sick...(I wasn't the only one) but I felt much better afterward...
That afternoon we headed to Christchurch, the largest city on the south island. They have a spectacular botanical garden right in the middle of the city, with beautiful old trees from all over the globe and a rose garden that we couldn't get enough of. I guess that's why Christchurch is called "the garden city."
And here we sit, in an Internet cafe, tonight we're going to see some good 'ol American music, the Shins, a band from New Mexico is playing here. Tomorrow we're heading south in search of surf (I think Jim is obsessed..We might have to change our criteria for a city to live in when we get back to the states!).
Posted by Jim & Lisa on February 17, 2005 10:10 PM
Category: New Zealand
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