Day 161: Yet More Seals

Mon. 21st January 2013

Yet another sealAfter much deliberation we decide not to spend a second day in Blenheim to go wine tasting. Although we know it would be enjoyable we decide there are too many other things we want to do. We’re not on holiday! We only have three more nights before we hand the van back and head off to the North Island and we still have Hanmer Springs to visit and to spare some time for Christchurch. We therefore head off south to our next stop Kaikoura, which is on the list of 101 things a Kiwi must do, for the coastline and the aquatic wildlife.

Where sea train and road head in harmonyAs we head down the coast we drive through the mountains which we saw from a distance yesterday. Now the rocks and the dry grass are both a creamy grey colour making it difficult to distinguish them from each other. This is quite a contrast to the south where the mountains are completely covered in evergreen trees.

This is our road OK?The day had started sunny but soon the mountains disappear into the cloud and it begins to drizzle. Just the right weather for ducks. We wonder if we made the right choice leaving the sun and all those vineyards behind. However we continue on the road which returns to the coast and we stop to admire the views. We notice there are seals basking on the rocks and we just have to take photos as they are so laid back. The railway has been with us on and off all journey and we know that in a few days we will be heading along that track retracing our steps to Blenheim and then on to Picton to catch the ferry to the North Island. We watch the railway heading in and out of tunnels and understand why it is famous for its scenic route.

View around one of the peninsular baysIt is not far to our destination and so we check out the iSite Tourist office first to see what there is to do. The answer is walking and whale watching. After lunch we take the walking option of the 3 hour Peninsular Trail. We opt for using our bikes to get to the start of the walk which is a few km away as this saves moving the van again.

Is this a scary pose then?Firstly we head out on Tom’s Path (apparently Tom was a local who lost his life trying to save a whale in trouble) and head over the hill to the south coast of the peninsular. The marina there is empty except for a lone fisherman bringing his vessel ashore and onto his trailer. If this is the height of New Zealand’s summer we do not know where everyone is! The entrance to the peninsular walk is marked by two archways with Maori carved figures.

End of the headlandThe sun is trying to come out as we walk along south coast to the headland. I expect it would be quite bleak in the winter. There are fantastic views of the rugged coastline as we walk around the point and head towards the local seal colony. Sure enough there the seals are lazing on the rocks far below us. No need to scramble down there as we have tick done seals!

Do not mess with himThe path weaved through pasture where we spied this fellow who was huge for a spider. As the path turned for home we headed back along the northern coast road to town. The path makes a few pretty detours down some boardwalks where we see oystercatchers, a shag and yet more seals lazing on rocks. More photos including ones of the seals as they are so cute/lazy looking. Eventually we spy our bikes still chained up where we left them so we make much faster progress on the last leg into town.

Oystercatchers at workFirst stop is back to the “I” Site office to book our whale watching trip for tomorrow. I saw a second hand book shop in town and insist on stopping leaving a bemused Dave to guard the bikes. We have decided that we want a paper copy of the Lonely Planet Guides for both Indonesia and Malaysia to help plan that section of our trip as we currently do not have a clue what we will do. We had found a copy of the Indonesia book in a bookshop in Blenheim this morning at NZ$79.90 twice the price than in UK but had refused to pay the £40 for it. Hence my trip to the secondhand bookshop and I come out with the Indonesia guide bought for $15. Dave is speechless.

We can now get on with planning what to do from mid February (less than a month away) until the end of March. We want to fit in the Malaysian Grand Prix on 22nd to 24th March and have just booked a trip to Borneo for the beginning of April before we spend a week in Taiwan with Dave’s brother Rob and also see Dave’s nephew Calum who is working out there.

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