Wellington

We spent 5 days in Wellington, from August 16th until 20th. It was great to catch up with Jeff, Cath, Jarod and Jack again.

Below are two photos of Jack taken in February and August of this year as we passed through Wellington. He sure is a growing pup! And isn’t that a totally adorable photo of puppy Jack on the left… awwwww. Jack is a great dog and Jeff and Cath are doing well in his training.

Jack in Feb Jack in August

We have a few days of great weather, so we made the most of it. First we went back to the city and looked around and went up the Wellington Gondola via the old cable car and got some great views at the top.

Wellington from the gondola

The cable car coming up

Then we walked back down to the city via the Botanical Gardens and the old cemetery which now has a major high way running through it.

Botanical Garden flowers Fem at a waterfallBotanical Garden flowers

Wellington Gardens

StatueTreehouse in the Gardens Botanical Garden flowers

The next day we spent with Cath and Jeff. We ended up taking Jack for a stroll across a mountain top for some more good views and tour of Wellington itself with Jeff pointing out good spots to go and sharing stories from his past.

Wellington suburbs

Jeff showing things to Femke Jeff enjoying the view 

Wellingon view from the hill top

Then it was across the harbour in a ferry to Eastbourne for a nice lunch. The ferry was just leaving when we arrived (talk about perfect timing)

Cath and Jeff on the Ferry A boat in the harbour

View of the city from the harbour

And then even more drinks that night (and early morning if I remember correctly!)

The final day was spent cleaning the car and our stuff and doing some shopping. The farewell dinner that night was great and we were off again the next morning. Both Femke and myself are very grateful for Jeff, Cath and Jarod for opening their home up for us to stay and also receiving a few travel presents as well! Vogels bread and the Steinlager Pure beer for the win!! We were both sad to leave, but I am sure we will see them again in the future. 🙂

View from Jeffs place

Dinner on the final night Dinner on the final night

Back to Wellington

After the Queen Charlotte hike, it was time to head back to Wellington.

In the morning of August 15th we did some sightseeing at the local Picton lookouts, where we got some good shots but there was also a lot of rainy periods where we had to wait them out in the car!

Picton Harbour in the rain

There was about 15 minutes difference in the time between the panoramas above and below. It goes to show how quickly and dramatically the weather can change in New Zealand.

Picton Harbour in sunshine

Then it was back onto the Blue Bridge ferry and back across the strait again to Wellington. Below is the last shot (and panorama) I took of the South Island. We had spent just over 6 months on the island. We had arrived on February 8th and left on August 15th of 2008.

Farwell to the South Island

There was a brilliant sunset over Wellington as we arrived in the harbour. It was like the North Island was welcoming us back. 🙂

Wellington Harbour at sunset Fem on the Ferry

Then it was off to see Jeff and Cath again!

Picton and the Queen Charlotte Track

We arrived in Picton on August 13th. We setup at a local backpackers and then checked out the harbour while we worked out what we wanted to do.

Picton Harbour

Picton Gardens

Since the weather bomb that hit the area rather hard about a week ago, we knew that the full 5 day hike of the Queen Charlotte track was out of the question. So instead we settled for a 1 day hike by mountain bike. We thought this was different than normal and should provide some good experience. But after checking with the local tour operators, we were discouraged from doing it by bike as our lack of experience plus the muddy paths would make it too tricky. So it was back to doing it on foot yet again.

So on the 14th we were picked up by boat and walked a 3 hour section of the track. This took us from Resolution Bay to Furneaux Lodge.

The boat trip there Resolution Bay waters

View from Resolution Bay

But since we were taking it easy and stopping for a lot of photos it took us 4 hours. The path was well graded but muddy in places. We did see a bit of damage from the storms (mainly fallen trees and lot of branches and leaves on the track) but nothing too major. It would have been rather difficult for us to have mountain biked it so I am glad we did it on foot.

View from most lookouts on the way

Fem climbing over a fallen log One of many waterfalls we saw Me pretending to kick over a broken tree 

It was an great sunny day for the tip although there was a strong cold wind. We both had a good time and enjoyed the stroll.

Fem at a nearby beachFurneaux Lodge 

View from Furneaux Lodge

When the boat picked us up, it stopped off at Punga Cove on the way back which was a place that my mother enjoyed the second last time she was in New Zealand. Luckily not long after we got back, the skies quickly filled with storm clouds and it started to rain a lot for the next 24 hours.

Punga Cove dock

Kaikoura to Picton

Initially I was not going to make this a separate blog post, but when I realised what photos I had, I felt it justifies its own post.

On August the 13th, we drove from Kaikoura to Picton. It was a very scenic drive. Similar to Westport to Greymouth and the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. Lots of mountains meeting the sea, long windy roads, tunnels under mountains, rolling green hills as far as the eye could see, it had it all!

Before we left Kaikoura we travelled to a nearby lookout and was greeted by this magnificent view.

Kaikoura Costline

Then we also stopped by the library and recreated one of the shots from the Lonely Planet – New Zealand which we use for a reference here quite a lot.

Fem with Whale wall

Then it was full steam ahead to Picton!

The main attraction on the way was seal colonies. Almost the entire coastline was dotted with small seal colonies and seals just relaxing.

Coastline north of Kaikoura

We pulled over at one of the rest stops to have a look at them and by co-incidence we noticed that one of the seals had a rope tied around it’s neck.

Seal with rope

So we called the local DOC office and gave our position and they said they would send someone out to investigate. At least we did something about it.

The next seal colony we stopped at was interesting as we could get really close to them. There was about 30 seals lazing about on rocks and getting into the occasional fight. Of course both of us wanted to use my zoom lens to get some good fighting shots. Below are the best of quite a few shots taken in a short space of time.

seal scoping us out fighting seals

baby seal scoping us out cool seal shot

The final stop we did was recommended to us by a backpacker at Kaikoura. There was a waterfall about 40 minutes north which was noted for occasionally having some seals play at the base. So naturally we stopped and checked it out. Due to good fortune (more like good timing) we were the only ones there and there was about six young seals playing in the water. It was really impressive to watch as we were only a few metres away and the seals were totally oblivious to our presence. I took my tripod with me so I was able to get some great waterfall shots.

waterfall shot 1 seals at the waterfalwaterfall shot 2

seal resting in time lapse shot seal checking out visitors

The rest of the way to Picton was mainly lots and lots (and lots) of green grassy hills to the horizon. I would have taken some shots but I was driving and we wanted to get there. So all in all it was a good drive.

Kaikoura

diagram of sea trenches around Kaikoura

Our first stop after leaving Christchurch was Kaikoura. A small town about 2 hours drive north of Christchurch. We stayed at a backpackers and got our first taste of off season travelling. Basically there is hardly anybody there! This is both strange (so quiet) and great at the same time!

Kaikoura is located right near an ocean canyon (see picture to the right) which means there are all sorts of marine life in the area from seals, to dolphins and whales.

We spent a whole day there (August 12th) and checked out the main cliffs for a round top walk. This means you walk across the cliffs one way and come back via the beach route.  The weather was overcast and there was an almighty cold wind blowing. We also found out that a large section of the cliff walk was closed off due to damage from the severe storms that lashed New Zealand the previous week.

So resigned to the fact that it was going to be just a cliff top walk and back, we set off.  First there were a lot of seals just lazing about in the car park.

a seal posing three seals on rocks a resting seal

There were nice views from the top of the cliffs themselves. We could see a large seal colony in the distance on the rocks.

panorama of an offshore seal colony

Fem started to get too cold so she turned back about 1/3 of the way in. I continued on just to see if there was anything else to see in the next bay and so on. Most of the bays looked the same and the weather was very cold and windy. At the end there was a large seal colony which I got a shot of and then I turned back. We spent the rest of the day just taking it easy. It was a relatively lukewarm start to the adventure. 🙂

rocks at the bottom of a cliff massive seal colony

Panorama of one of the bays

shot of one of the bay heads self shot at kaikoura cliffs