The way there
On the 31st May – 2nd June, there was a long weekend here for the Queens birthday. So we decided to go to Akaroa which is on the Banks peninsula roughly 1.5 hours south east of Christchurch. Akaroa is a an old French colony and even today still retains a French feel to it. It’s a smallish town but does have some really nice views and scenery and makes a great weekend away from the city.
The Bank Peninsula itself is basically the remains of a large volcano. See below from Google Maps and you can see what I mean.
The drive there was very pretty with shots like this to distract me from concentrating on the road.
When we came over the top to Barrys Bay there was a great little cafe with a stunning view. We had lunch there and then continued on to Akaroa.
Once in the town itself, we settled at a local backpackers, and spent the rest of the day exploring the sites.
There was even a local stone artist who agreed to paint Fem. A rather life like painting don’t you think? 😉
The Akaroa Bay had some truly stunning sights and I was glad I was able to capture some of them!
Swimming with Dolphins
The next day, the weather was not the best unfortunately but that did not really matter. Fem really wanted to go swimming with the rare Hector Dolphins and there were tours available. I just wanted to watch from the boat, so she got all wet-suited up along with about 10 other people. They deliberately keep the groups small so they don’t harass the dolphins too much which is a good thing! Then it was out on the boat, down through the long harbour and out into the open sea.
After trying to spot the dolphins for a while we had a few sightings and drifted over. Fem was the first person in the water. Everyone else quickly followed, so we soon has all these black heads all bobbing in the sea. Luckily it did not rain, but it was generally overcast for the remainder of the day.
There ended up being about 6-8 dolphins that swam around the group. They did seem very curious to see them people bobbing in the water. They were very difficult to photograph though! Being so small and with the water being rather murky, you did not see them until the surfaced with their fin showing. Even then it was only for about 2 seconds. So I had to really be quick to catch them and it involved a lot of guesswork but I was happy with the outcome. At one stage 3 of the surfaces directly in front of fem and she was totally thrilled to see it as you can see from the photo above right which was just after that.
It was also very cold out there in the open. I had to have several layers of clothes on, and the beanie and fingerless gloves in order to stop shivering on the back deck while watching the swimmers. Fem said that after the first 10 seconds in the ocean, you were warm in the wet suit.
After about forty minutes, everyone came back on board and we went back to the harbour.
Akaroa at night
Fem was understandably tired after the big day out, so after a dinner at a very fancy restaurant she went to bed and I did some night photography. These were the best shots of the night
The way back
On the Monday the day was even more miserable. We thought we would go further south to a small town down there but there was about 4 houses and a church and that was it. We stopped again at the lighthouse at Akaroa and then drove back to Christchurch.
I foolishly decided to take the scenic route which was a lot longer and pointless as the the road was in the clouds. We were no doubt going past all these great views along the mountain top but did not see anything because visibility was cut down to about 20 metres! I do have videos of the view, but these are too big for me to upload at the moment. 🙁
Ah well we might go back to Akaroa for another day in the near future so I might have better luck with those view then! All in all, it was a nice and relaxing long weekend.