Posting by Barb:
Our final stop was in Christchurch. But first we made a stop to view the Moeraki Boulders. Striking, mostly spherical, ranging in various sizes and probably the most photographed boulders in NZ. We also made another pit stop on the way and walked the beautiful beaches near Chch.
Once in the city, we toured the devastation of the 2011 earthquake which killed 185 people. There is still a lot of evidence of the destruction and for me it was a sad and sobering visit.
Chris and Paul drove our car down from Blenheim and stayed the night. We had a wonderful evening together and got up early next morning for another teary good bye as it is the end of Caroline and Vic’s visit and they are off to catch a flight to Auckland and then the many flights back to Thunder Bay .
We did have an amazing, fast tracked visit of beautiful South Island NZ with its vast palette of landscapes including alps, rolling plains, rugged coastline, imposing fiords, solitary miles of white beaches, regal castle to vastly populated campsites, dairy and sheep farmland to miles of wineries, the remarkable architecture of Dunedin to the earthquake devastation in Christchurch.
Posting by Barb:
Beautiful Dunedin Castle
We made the long drive to the East Coast and stopped at Dunedin (the name comes from Dun Eideann, the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, capital of Scotland) so it was a very Scottish little town. We splurged and spent a night at Larnach Castle, a mansion on the ridge of the Otago Peninsula. The rooms, each with unique character reflecting the 19th century era, were built in what once were the stables.
We decided to get fancy for our meal at the castle
We had an amazing dinner served at a round table with all the guests sitting together and as the meal progressed, the castle hostess would pop in during various intervals and tell the intriguing story of the various owners of the castle most ending in tragedy and death. As a result, the castle is said to be haunted and has been visited by paranormal investigators. Dennis and I spent a couple of hours touring the grounds and we were in a photographic bliss (the results can be viewed in our photo album).
We spent a day at the nearby Tairoa Head where the world’s only mainland breeding colony of the Royal Albatross is (putting the picture into perspective, this large Albatross has a wing span of about 6ft). It was a very windy, blustery day which apparently the Albatross birds need to encourage them to fly. So next time we are sailing in +40k winds I will refer to it as an ‘Albatross Day’. They are an amazing bird. They spend their first 5-7 years of their life in the water or in the air and when they finally come to land to mate they are unable to walk for the first day or so as their legs are not accustomed to carrying their weight. I can somewhat relate to that after my very first sail, 42 days from Chile to the Marquesa and my land legs were pretty wobbly. The wonderful fact about the Albatross is that they mate for life. Tairoa Head is also home to the fur seal which we were able to come within a few feet and the Blue Penguin, which unfortunately we did not see.
Posting by Barb:
Made it to the top of ‘Crown Range’
It was on to Queenstown via the highest paved highway in NZ, the ‘Crown Range’. The road wound, and twisted its way up the mountainside to a height 1080
meters. That wasn’t high enough for us. We parked the van and hiked for
another 250 meters to a spectacular, very windy height with a 360 degree view of the valley and Queenstown.
The downhill trek in the motor van included many, many switchbacks witch confused our GPS into thinking we were constantly doing u-turns. In Queenstown we met up with Mary and Doug, also vacationing from Thunder Bay and Pete and Melissa who are living in the Whangarei Heads. We had a fine meal in their beautiful, rented apartment. The next day we made our way to Teanau where Caroline and Vic did an overnight cruise in Doubtful Sound.
Snowy mountain caps view from the tour boat on the way to the underground Hydro plant
There was only 2 available spots on the ship Tutock II so Dennis and I could not go. We did a side tour of the Power Station instead and had a night to ourselves at Teanau.
- Underground Power station
Dennis and I will probably sail to Doubtful Sound in the future.
Posting by Barb:
We made a stop at the Franz Joseph Glacier and hiked as close as we could to the face of it. A fence and warning signs prevented us from going really close to the unstable face of the glacier. We learned that the glacier is currently in a rapid phase of retreat and this has been attributed to global warming. As we walked along the valley I was awed by the idea that thousands of years ago the valley was engulfed in ice.
We had a memorable lunch after the hike where we had our first introduction to ‘Bangers and Mash’. As you probably guessed it was a hearty meal of mashed potatoes, drenched in gravy with sausages on the side. Weight loss during our South Island journey was not an option!! In Wanaka we stayed at a high end camping resort which included a hot tub and a great TV room where Caroline and I could indulge in some of the ongoing Australian Open Tennis tournament with a fine drink of Scotch.