Ohakune and the sun is shining although there are dark black clouds over the mountain. Hoping for a glimpse of the snow capped mountain tomorrow morning. No such luck the priorities now are breakfast and then back to the chocolate eclair shop to pick up provisions for morning T. Its great to be back.
Then via the Manwatu scenic route. This is a beautiful scenic drive off, the main route but well worth it. Deviated from this to include a visit to Kimbolton a historic settlement. Great little camp site at Eketahuna. Woke to a cold morning with early frost but a blue sky day as if summer had been switched on. The locals told us it had been raining for the previous week.
The next morning headed to the Pukaha for our first ever visit to the Wildlife centre at Mount Bruce. Enjoyable walk up through the bush. Impressive trapping regime and just had to see the white kiwi.
Snow on the Tararua's. Night spent in Martinborough woke to a beautiful sunrise. An interesting bustling little town surrounded by vineyards. Stocked up with fresh bread and milk before heading over the hills to Wellington. Spent the afternoon at Te Papa. Also checked out the Van Gogh live exhibition but it was fully booked so that will have to wait for a return visit.
Monday 14th - Now in the South Island. Its turned out to be a beautiful day to cross Cook Strait even though strong winds were forecast. Shot through Picton, will explore on the return journey. Now settled into Spring Creek campsite just before Blenheim. Parked next to a little stream with a pet eels and lots of them.
Left Spring Creek and headed to Blenheim and then on towards kaikoura stopping at the Ohau NZ fur seal colony along the newly repaired coastal road still being worked on following the Kaikoura earthquake. Spent an hour or two watching the antics of the seals including the young ones carefully keeping out of the reach of the large male bull seals. Then realised that there was a spotted sgag colony with nests at the Northern end of the seal site.
Tuesday 15th arrived in Kaikoura with a glimpse of the mountains. I'm keen to locate some banded dotterels on the beach and soon I find a pair acting as if they have a nest site in the strand line of fine driftwood along the beach.
Today Wed 16th is a stunning blue sky day . Its not cold and we have a stunning view of the Kaikoura mountain range. I didn't realise that some of these peaks are over 2000 metres high. Today we intend to explore the Kaikoura peninsular starting with a drive around the coast and a walk to the high viewpoint. There are more seals here around the coast but mainly younger animals as most of the males would be at the Ohau breeding site North. At high tide around 3.30pm I head back to check out the banded dotterels and soon realise that the one parent bird I find is watching out for a chick by standing on little drift wood piles to get good viewpoint. I see only one chick. Kaikoura is an important site for banded dotterel but nesting success is not great due to predation and disturbance on the stony beaches.
Evening sighting of thousands of Hutton Shearwaters just off the coast diving and swimming for fish. They nest in burrows on the lower slopes of the Kaikoura mountains. These have been devastated by recent earthworks and pigs.
Thursday 17th To Christchurch for a couple of days. The cathedral is indeed a sad sight. Much of the town centre has now been rebuilt following the earthquake. We spend a few hours at the Antarctica centre and have a ride on the snow vehicles over an off road course.
The following day we head to Lake Tekapo. The lakeside views are fantastic but the expansion of the nearby campsites seem totally over the top and not sustainable even without overseas tourist they are over busy with domestic tourism. The following day Sat 19th we catch up with friend Dennis who left Auckland to settle in this beautiful area.
Then we are on to Mount Cook village and a walk up the Hooker valley which was just excellent.
Spent the night in the Glentanner camp park which is a beautiful location with mountain views all around and unlike the campsite at Lake Tekapo was more sympathetic to this environment. The campsite trees are full of redpoll's, a pretty little European bird.
Then today to Oamaru stopping on route to look at the Maori rock art on the way. Too early in the day for the penguins but on the historic old Sumpter wharf nearby there are thousands of roosting shags including Spotted shags and the very rare Otago shag. There have been proposed plans to restore the old wharf but this would destroy this important roost site.