A Travellerspoint blog

North Island

Farewell to the South Island as we set out on the first leg of our trip to the North.
Dropped off our camper in Wilderness headquarters in Christchurch and got our flight to Touranga a journey of an hour and fifty minutes.
Interesting to see the changing landscapes as we travelled north on this very clear cloudless sky. Very mountainous early on, stunning coastline but less and less mountains and more greenery up north.
Our lovely RAV4 vehicle is supercool, very nimble compared to the camper says Conor.

A mere 40minutes or so later we arrived at Parawai Lakeside Cottage, a very special Airbnb, the hosts Glenda and Mike are very welcoming and show us around the property which is within 40 paces of Lake Rotoura. Our own Kayaks and Lake access. What more could you ask for.
Very happy to have two nights here in this lovely house and the opportunity to explore the area of Maoiri culture, thermal spas, geysers and who knows what else.

Another barbecue on the veranda and we are sorted and looking forward to what tomorrow may bring.

Posted by helencosgrave 01:39 Comments (0)


We had a fantastic day today in Kaikoura.
We had a 40 minute helicopter ride out about 15 miles off the coast in search of whales.
At our debriefing before we set out we learned of the changes to the area since the recent earthquake. What was once a vibrant town that most tourists passed through on their way from Christchurch to Nelson has become much quieter and efforts are being made to make it into a tourist resort as the passing traffic has disappeared since the road north closed.
Big changes have occurred also to marine life in the area.
Before the earthquake whales were to be found just a kilometre or so off the coast, but the difference in the ocean floor depth and the murky waters (it takes a long time for the deep water to still and become clear again) has lead to a change in the habits of the sea mammals.
The real changes on the ocean floor have yet to be confirmed.
For a few weeks after the earthquake the whales had vanished but over the following few weeks they gradually returned but are further out from the coastline.
The sperm whale is the one found in this area and these guys require very deep water of over 1000 metres to survive.
Today we travelled 13 km out from the coast and eventually spotted a sperm whale resting in the water. The sperm whale dive deep down and feed on fish, mostly giant squid for nine or ten hours at a time and then return to the surface to breath for about eight to ten minutes, so we were lucky to spot this guy as he rested on the surface huffing and blowing before he dived back down into to sea to continue his search for food.

A great trip.

Conor and I then took a small boat trip back out to the deep waters again this time in search of albatross.
It was a great trip though Conor felt a tad sea sick. We had a wonderful close up view of several species of albatross, sheerwater and petrel.
Even spotted a blue shark and a little blue penguin swimming about minding his own business.

Hot chocolate and ginger nut biscuits served by our captain as we watched these amazing elegant birds was just the ticket.

A very welcome barbecue, some cleaning and packing getting ready for leaving for the north island in the morning.
A game of scrabble and once again Conor proved too strong.


A great day and a brilliant trip to the South Island.

Posted by helencosgrave 11:37 Comments (0)

Blenheim to Kaikoura

We leave the lovely Marlborough region behind today and head for Kaikoura a trip which should take two hours. Unfortunately due to the recent earthquake the main road is closed so we are required to travel back towards the west coast to Murchison and then down south. The estimated time for the trip is 6 to 7 hours. We are on holiday so we are embracing the opportunity to see the New Zealand countryside. We will travel over The Lewis pass, a very scenic drive, past Hamner Springs an area of thermal springs, spas etc but as spas are not our fancy we will bypass it and head for the coast. We are passing the area of the biggest cattle station in New Zealand The Molesworth Station with 180,787 hectares it is a farm and recreation centre and have 10,000 head of cattle. Progressive Genetics would be interested in this fact.
There are very many road works and stop - go signs all the way, possibly to do with the extra traffic on this road. New Zealand has a maze of creeks, bridges have been built over these creeks. Many of these bridges are being reinforced to cope with the heavy traffic.

It is slow going but Dolly Parton, Queen and The Beatles are keeping us going.

Conor is watching his ice hockey team achieve Pittsburgh success over God knows who.

It was a happy sight when we eventually saw the sea on the east coast, parked up in a nice site about twenty kilometres south of Kaikoura, pizza and a beer for supper and we rekindled our scrabble game.
Game 1 won by Nick, Game 2 won by Conor.

Night all.

Posted by helencosgrave 10:11 Comments (0)


We are in the Marlborough region for two days in the town of Blenheim.
Took a brief trip to the Forrest winery this afternoon to sample some local wines.
We all picked our favourites but none was spectacular.
The cheese and crackers were good though.

We are staying in a campsite in town tonight, time to get some washing done, only to discover the laundry is out of action because of a plumbing issue.
We got a taxi to town to a German Craft brewery called Dodson Street had some beer and bratwurst.
A nice change from our usual antics.

It's now day two of Marlborough. Today we took a cycle tour of the Renwick area with a company called Wine Tours by Bike.
Jo the boss collected us at our camp site and drove us to where we got our bikes, this is to avoid cyclists being on the highway with s few glasses of wine. We got our instructions from Steve plus a map of all the wineries in the area. There are at least 15, so armed with bikes, helmets and maps off we went.
Our first stop was Whiteheaven, a really nice place where we were met by a lovely lady who told us all about the wines we were to sample and her down to earth knowledge manner suited us just great.

Next we cycled up the road to a more upmarket place Hans Herzog. We had a spiff from Hans's wife both of whom are Swiss about her organic wines, had a tasting and stayed on for lunch.
The lunch was beautiful but we wasted a lot of time on very slow service.
Bought a bottle of Pino Noir with the Killeen's in mind. Hope the notice the purity of the wine...

Next stop was Framingham Wine Estate where we met Margaret O Brien of Irish descent (naturally with a name like that).
Tasted 4 wines her, a Sauvignon, a very dry Reisling, a standard Reisling and a Pinot Noir.

Bought a Sauvignon there and then we cycled back to Forrest for a glass of Sauvignon which we had sampled yesterday.

I enjoyed it immensely, the slow service was irritating but all in all a really nice day.

The washing machines are fixed so the washing is on, everyone else is asleep and I'm having a beer.

Happy days.

Posted by helencosgrave 22:00 Comments (2)

Wildlife spotted to date.

This is a list of birds we have spotted on this trip to New Zealand

Northern Royal Albatross at Otago
South Island Pied Oystercatcher
Swamp Harrier at the Alps
New Zealand Scaup at Queenstown Harbour
Californian Quail at Queenstown Harbour
White fronted Tern at Milford Sound
Kea at Milford Sound
South Island Tomt
South Island Robin at Lake Gunn, Fjordland
New Zealand Grey Fantail at Deer Flat Fjordland
Western Weka on the West coast
Welcome Swallow on West Coast
Muscovy Duck at Matakitaki Reserve
Kereru at Matakitaki Reserve
Chaffinch at Lake Rotoiti, Tasman
Black Swan at Rotoiti Lake
Bellbird at Rotoiti Lake
Grey Duck at Rotoiti Lake
MAllard at Rotoiti Lake

Saw also herds of Deer
Herd of Alpaca

More sheep than I have ever seen in my life
Herds of Cattle

Eels in the Lake Paringa
Shark in the sea Kakapotahi Beach

Not so bad

Posted by helencosgrave 21:10 Comments (0)

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