Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kaikoura / Picton / Wellington, New Zealand

8th – 12th Feb

After my dolphin swim I headed through Christchurch and on up to Kaikoura.

I had to stop off at a cafe along the way for some food and drink. I happened to have my camera with me when I went to the toilet. LOOK! I had to take my bag with me to the toilet - it wasn't for another peeping session in the womens toilet! Anyway I took some pics of the jokes on the wall - I am sure you've heard them all before but seeing them on a toilet wall does make them funnier!

Once I got to Kaikoura I booked myself into another smallish hostel. As I could not go on a dolphin swim I decided that this would be the ideal place to do some Sea Kayaking so I booked myself onto a guided tour the next day.

Early the next morning I headed to the Kayak place and met up with the guide and the other people doing the tour. We were taken out to another bay just beyond Kaikoura were we would be going into the water.

We also met up with the rest of the group which turned out to be a French family of 5. Because each Kayak had to have 2 people we were all paired up. I ended up with one of the French couples kids – their small boy call Artonne or something like that. He was about 6 years old and could not speak a word of English. I nicknamed him R2-D2.

So off we went with me and R2-D2 bringing up the rear. Every now and then he would make a vain attempt to use his paddle but he soon discovered he didn’t have to as I was doing all the work.

It was a nice gentle trip and we seen a blue penguin as well as getting up close to some fur seals (yes penguins and seals AGAIN). No dolphins however although apparently its rare to see them when you are sea kayaking. Another lack of forethought on my account as I had hoped that we would be in the thick of dolphins when doing the kayaking – ah well there is always next time I am in New Zealand.

DM wants to paddle.

R2-D2 at the front of out x-wing - i mean kayak.

Blue penguin

R2-D2 is getting bored

So is he!

After the kayaking I continued my journey up the East coast to Picton where I would be able to get the ferry over to Wellington the next day. I booked into tombstone backpackers (so called because it’s just across the road from the cemetery – very jolly!). I picked this place because it got a good BBH rating and it was right next to the ferry terminal so I wouldn’t have to drive too far.

That night I had planned to go to some pubs in the town (the hostel manager said there was a good Scottish pub with live music) but the weather had other ideas as it started pouring down with rain all night. I ended up staying in the hostel and having an early night.

The next day I took the ferry over to Wellington. It’s meant to be a very picturesque crossing of 3 hours but all I seen was mist as we navigated through Queen Charlotte sound.

Wonderful Picturesque Queen Charlotte Sound!

Once I got to Wellington I discovered I had a large disadvantage in having a car as you had to pay everywhere for car parking. In the end I headed out of the city and found another remote backpackers called Moana Lodge. It was another one of those places were you left your shoes at the front. The place was about 15km from Wellington but you could get back into the city by rail – which I duly did. The weather was still not the best and I ended up in the Library on the internet for most of the afternoon before getting some grub in an Irish bar (an overpriced dish which they called Kerry stew).

Before I started getting too comfortable I curtailed my drinking. I would have to drive from the train station to the hostel at the other end so I didn’t want to be pissed when I did it. I ended up having another early night back at the hostel (I think I was starting to get withdrawal symptoms at this point!) Wellington was going to have to be another one of those places I would do on my return to New Zealand as the next day I headed inland to hopefully kick start my North Island adventure.

Things I have learnt.

I thought the place names in the South Island were bad until I got to the North Island. Most of the Maori tribes lived in the North Island so a lot of the towns and villages are still called by their Maori name. I have never seen so many weird place names - none of which I can pronounce:
Whararoa, Pakakarakarakakra (or something) Wakarara, Turangi, Whanganui, Wankers Wrist, Te Pokwawakaroa, Katikati, Kitkat, Kaik-marks-on-my-pants etc etc

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