We need a bigger boat

(February 23rd 2007)

After sorting out our little internet access issue, we resume normal service. When we last left you we were getting ready for our whale watching trip in Kaikoura. We left very, very early to hit the road as we didn’t really know how long it would take us to get there. As it was we made good time and got there early (so unlike me really, don’t you think?). At one point we didn’t think we were going to make it as we crossed the oldest, most rickety bridge in existence, and we both had our eyes closed as went over it (not really). When we arrived in Kaikoura it was grey, overcast but best of all the sea was really calm. We did get the most annoying man in the world behind us in the queue as we boarded the bus to the marina, who complained to one member of staff that they should have given notice when the video showing in the waiting area was about to start as some people would have liked to have watched it all the way through. I’m not sure if the woman taking the complaint knew if he was joking or not, I would have just told him to get a life, but that’s why I don’t work for tourist information. The boat was brand new and big enough to make me feel better. The whales are a couple of miles offshore and the trip was pretty quick and thankfully fairly smooth. The whale we saw was a resident, meaning he stays in the area all year round. He was a sperm whale and although most of the photos look like a log floating on the water, I can tell you that watching him was very cool, especially when he dove and we got to see the graceful way something that huge slid under the water. We also saw a shark (hence the title of this entry), I’m sure it was a massive great white but Amanda thinks it was a small blue shark. I prefer my version.

After the boat trip, we jumped back into the car and headed inland towards Hanmer Springs. The drive was again spectacular, but we’re getting to used to that by now. We’re also getting blase about seeing birds of prey soaring above us even though the first few times we almost stopped the car to watch. Some of them are pretty huge and look like they could snatch a small child, hehe. Hanmer Springs is a pretty little Alpine-like village with a difference, It is situated in a thermal area and has hot springs which once we’d dropped the bags off we soaked in (alright Amanda dragged me to, but it was ok actually) and laid back looking up at the mountains surrounding us, thinking of our travels so far. The motel we were staying at was excellent and in a great location, and we would recommend it to anyone as we would Hanmer Springs.

This morning, we grabbed breakfast in Hanmer Springs, filled up with petrol and headed further inland over the mountains towards the west coast. As always the drive was fantastic, the view gobsmacking, but………. We stopped at a place for coffee and decided as it was so nice to sit outside to drink it. While we were waiting for the drinks to arrive, Amanda started swatting little flies, and then though she felt one bite her. Sure enough I felt the same and we moved inside quickly. Sadly not before the little sods had eaten large chunks of human flesh and left big, red welts on Amandas legs. We drank our coffees very quickly and got in the car and got away from that place as fast as we could. The rest of the drive was uneventful and we got to Greymouth early enough to drop off the bags and head back out to explore.

We headed north towards the ‘pancake rocks’ and the gorgeous coastal drive. The photos can’t do it justice but I can tell you that it is truly stunning and we’re both glad that we did that instead of finding a coffee shop to sit in or going shopping instead.

Tomorrow it’s south to Franz Josef….cya.

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