A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand - part 6

Christchurch stay, Inc lake tekapo

4 °C
View Around the world in a few months! on Labgirluk's travel map.

Caught the diamond harbour ferry easily enough (Lorraine had dropped off a metro card and timetables at the motel the night before) and thankfully had a nice person carry my bag up the steps at the other end. Nick (Lorraine’s husband) thankfully met me at the wharf, as there was no way I’d have been able to drag the bag up the hill to their place.... Ben, their eldest son had kindly given up his room so I could sleep in there for the duration and he had the sofa bed in the ‘games’ room. It made more sense when I found out he was having a couple friends stay over one night, as they were off due to a teacher’s strike... That day was so warm I even managed to sit outside in shorts and t shirt for a bit enjoying the view and reading a book...
As Lorraine still had work I was fitting my sightseeing around her work schedule. On Monday, as she was on a late, we dropped Fred (her youngest son) at school and then headed to a spot at the cashmere end of Dyer’s pass Road and went for a walk up the hill to the sign of the kiwi cafe, on the crater rim walkway route where it crosses Dyer’s Pass. I headed up a bit more of the crater rim walkway to a nice viewpoint of diamond harbour while Lorraine headed into the cafe. I joined her for a tasty date scone (my breakfast) before we headed back down. On the walk down she pointed out the mountain biking track over on the other side of the valley and could see a zip line... We then headed over there to have a look. Once I read the info I immediately went and booked in for the Friday, as I’d decided to hire a car for thurs /Fri as Lorraine was working both of those days... My comment to mum about giving up the ‘dangerous’ activities went out of the window at that point! Sorry mum! ☺️
Tuesday I opted for a ‘quiet’ day around diamond harbour and thought a nice walk along the coastal walkway would be nice.... Getting down to the walkway was hair raising enough and then the walkway itself was a narrow track right on edge of cliff and a bit more challenging than expected at times... Got good views though of Purau Bay. Met a man on the way round planting out some indigenous plants near a bench in his wife’s memory. I then had a tasty custard square (think custard slice but fluffier custard and desiccated coconut on the icing) at the local cafe, met some locals (most are ex-pats to be honest!) and then headed back home to chill out for the rest of the day.
Wednesday saw Lorraine, Fred (teacher’s strike so no school for him) and I head to Akaroa to hopefully swim with the Hector dolphins that live in the oceans around there. It was a lovely drive around the bay and over the passes (diamond harbour and akaroa harbour are essentially volcanic craters so lots of hills around the edges) and arrived in plenty of time. We were kitted out in 5mm neoprene wetsuits, booties and gloves. I was using my goggles rather than a mask but we had no hood.... Hector dolphins are small so fins aren’t used either. They also only hang around in small groups of 3-5 dolphins so unlikely to see any large pods of them. There were only 5 of us on this trip and we headed out to the harbour entrance and the Pacific ocean in this small covered speedboat (holds max 12 swimmers, the skipper and the sidekick). Lee it was relatively calm in the harbour once out in open water the swells were much larger and we would swerve quite quickly if dolphins were spotted. Fred seemed to be quite good at spotting them too...
Twice 2 of us (me and another guy with a fancy camera) got in the water when we thought the dolphins were going to play but in both cases they disappeared. The wetsuit was surprisingly good as I found out when I dipped my face under water to look below me – boy was the water cold, about 10/11c I was told! – didn’t do that again! We were unlucky and didn’t get to swim with the dolphins but we did see them and I got some photos. We also said hello to the local seal colony while having a hot chocolate (the others) and gingernut biscuits. On the way back to the wharf the others managed to see a dolphin and 2 blue penguins in the harbour area. Gutted I missed them.
On Thursday I headed out towards the airport to pick up my hire car – a little yellow hyundai getz. From there I headed south on SH1 - destination Moeraki Boulder beach and then Oamaru after that to see some penguins. Took about 3 ½ hours to get to the boulders and it was worth it. Thankfully I hadn’t got there any earlier as the tide was still going out and they would have been hidden if I’d got there any earlier... An amazing natural phenomenon that has resulted in round boulders poking out of the sand. From there I headed back north to Oamaru and Bushy Beach Scenic Reserve. Here, there are viewing points over one of the beaches that the rare yellow-eyed penguins use to get to their burrows. Unfortunately I wasn’t lucky enough to see any as I had to leave after an hour so that I could go to the blue penguin colony viewing in Oamaru. I was so glad I bought the premium viewing ticket as, not only did we get comfy seats and blanket (did have to share with someone), we also were sat within a metre or so of the paths the penguins take back to their burrows. The seals sleeping all around didn’t bother them either, as new zealand fur seals don’t easy penguin! To add to the atmosphere there was also a power cut in the south oamaru area so the orange flood lights used for us to see them (orange doesn’t bother the penguins apparently) went out and we only had the solar powered generated lights still lit. Luckily we were so close that we could still see the penguins as they came up the rocks and run through the penguin gateways into the sanctuary area. Once there they went and stood under or near the walkway to cool off before heading home to find their partner and possibly a chick. After only seeing a few at Philip Island, back at the start of my oz trip, it was incredible to see so many and so close too. The guy, I was sharing the blanket with, and I were ridiculously excited by it all but it was nice to have another English speaking adult (others were all Chinese I think) with me to excitedly point out the penguins near us. After at least 4 or 5 rafts (groups of 10-20 penguins that come to shore together in a raft style) we headed back to the main building, along a walkway that took you past many of the burrows. Here you could see some standing outside cooling down while others you hear the noises between the pair inside the burrows – hopefully loving welcoming sounds rather than ‘where do you think you’ve been?‘ sounds... From there I headed back to Christchurch getting in quite late, and thankful for no early start in the morning...
On Friday I had a little drive around up to sugarloaf mountain to see if the look out mentioned was any better than the one I’d found on Monday – it wasn’t – and then it was time to head to the adventure park for my zip line tour... I’d already done 2 zip line tours in NZ already, Rotorua Canopy tour and shotover canyon fox in Queenstown, so this would be a nice comparison. This tour consisted of 4 zip lines; the first 2 were around the 400-500m mark and were classed as ‘warm up’ lines... The other 2 on the tour with me had never zip lined before so it was good for them to get the feel of it. The 3rd line is the highest line in NZ, and the 2nd longest, as well as crossing over from one hill to the other and above the chairlift.... The longest, at 1.1km long, was line 4... But first we had to take the 10 min chairlift ride up to the top of the hill and admire the views once up there. The harnesses were more like seats so we could only face forwards and lean back to get as streamlined as possible to go fast. Not going upside down, backwards or anything else like that. To be honest at the speeds we were going it would have been hard to do anything more than lie back... The only requirements were to hold on to the bar, with head back, feet up and knees not together at start and finish. Seeing the speed with which you hit the brake at the end you can see why.... The 2 longest lines had us going at speeds of up to 90-100kph, weight and streamlining dependent. I opted for as fast as possible... Thankfully the go pro recorded it so just need to download the videos at some point...
Once back at base, and obligatory me in a harness photo taken, lunch was enjoyed and time to take the car back. Got the bus back into town and met Lorraine from work. As we were later than anticipated we went straight out for dinner. Lorraine had booked a table for us a gebbies pass cafe where they do a bistro night every few weeks on a Friday night. Limited menu but the food was so good and plentiful. Once back home it was time to pack for our weekend away – New Zealand celebrate the Queen’s birthday by having a long weekend – as were off to Lake Tekapo. We’d also seen the weather forecast and there had been a massive snow dump over the higher grounds in hills and mountain ranges. Yep I was going to get snow.... ????
Due the amount of rain in Christchurch footie practise was off for the boys. I was catching a lift with friends of Lorraine (they only had 3 in their car so would mean not being squashed in the other car. Got a lift to the ferry as it was so wet, the ferry got slammed by waves crossing the harbour and I got worked just walking the short distance to where my lift was.. Thankfully they’d come close to the steps coz the was a river crossing the road where we should have met... We’d also read in the travel updates that chains would be necessary so they popped home for those. Meant I got to see another area of Christchurch, this time new South Brighton...
Back on the road we headed south (back over the longest bridge in NZ at Rakaia) before turning off to take the Thompson’s pass to Geraldine rather than stay in SH1. A quick coffee stop at Geraldine before carrying on to Fairlie and lunch back at the bakehouse. A venison and cranberry pie was consumed this time – absolutely delicious as per the last pie I’d had there! From there we carried on and the snow started to be evident.. Then we turned the corner and everything was white. I think I amused Sam and Hayley (this giving me a lift) with my excitement. But... Sam did pander to my whims and stopped so I could take a photo or 2... Thankfully the roads had been ploughed so chains weren’t required and the rest of the drive was uneventful.
The house was a lovely 2 storey house with the living area upstairs so you had an amazing view of the lake and mt. John from the door to ceiling windows. I ended up sharing the bunk room with the 3 boys while the 3 couples got the other rooms. For dinner we shared the cooking so one of the others had provided spag bol and I did my usual chicken stroganoff (with added veg) – got this perfected now... ????
The following day some of the others got up at silly o’clock to go to a local pub to watch the Liverpool v spurs match. The 4 of us left behind had a chilled morning and waited for their return – we’d checked the results on the news so knew they’d all be in a happy mood as they were supporting Liverpool... After that we got ready to go into town. Some of us were ice skating and then going in the hot pools. After ice skating I opted for walking up Mt. John to admire the scenery and snow, since I was going to be experiencing the hot pools that night with the stars’n’soak ticket I’d bought. It was icy in places and hard work at times but the view was well worth it. The view of the 2 lakes as well as the snow covered mountains all around was just incredible. I then bought and posted my mum a postcard from the highest postbox in the southern hemisphere (let’s hope she gets it before I get home...) in the cafe at the top, as well as enjoying a bit of carrot cake and a hot ginger, lemon and honey drink – finally found a hot drink I like... From there it was time to head back down and back to the house for dinner and a nap.....
One of the others was kind enough to drop me at the shuttle pick up point and once that arrived headed back to the hot springs. The first hour was spent looking at the stars, clusters, nebulas and planets through 4 telescopes. Seeing the rings around Saturn and Jupiter’s moons was just amazing and the Milky way was so clear – absolutely no clouds in the sky. From there we moved into the hot pools and given a floating hammock so you could lie back and look at the stars in comfort and under water. It was freezing temperatures so it was odd lying in a hot pool while the air was so cold. At the end we were taken back in the shuttle, and thankfully dropped off at the door so I didn’t have to walk back to the house from the pick up point.
Monday we headed back to Christchurch. Sam kindly taking us back on the inland scenic route so I could by the base of mt. Hutt and get some pictures. Could even see the road that takes people up to the ski field. Apparently it’s not a nice road though... Got dropped back at the ferry so after crossing the harbour walked up the hill and generally crashed for the afternoon....
Tuesday and Wednesday were spent sightseeing in the city as well as a trip on the city tram and on the way home up the gondola. Visited various places including The Canterbury museum, the Transitional Church (made from cardboard), the 185 white chairs memorial in memory of those who died in the 2011 quake, Victoria Park and regent’s Street. Apart from it being cold it was a good couple of days, exploring the city.
Thursday saw us up and out early to take Fred to school. We then headed out to Sumner, via the bays rather than going over the pass or through the tunnel. This town was on the south side of pegasus Bay, south east of Christchurch. From here you could see the snow covered kaikoura mountain range in the distance with the beach and sea in front of you. Another amazing view.... A late breakfast was enjoyed at the beach front cafe. My last meal on Kiwi soil.... From there it was time to head to the airport and say good bye to not only Lorraine but also my amazing month in New Zealand....
(due to WiFi limitations, and this site I can't upload the other 19 photos I want to link to this entry. There should be a little bit of everything but I'll put up rest of photos in an additional entry - just coz I want to show them off...)

Posted by Labgirluk 12:07 Archived in New Zealand Tagged snow lake_tekapo christchurch zip_lining swimming_with_dolphins

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