Sunday, September 23, 2012

Invercargill, Te Anau, Milford Sound, and Queenstown

It’s Sunday evening in New Zealand and we just returned the Ark II to the wonderful people at Wilderness.  We had 23 wonderful days living in the campervan and we were a little sad to say goodbye.  We just checked into a cute little boutique hotel in Christchurch called Merivale Manor and we could not believe our eyes when we walked into our room - it is huge!  Although we loved the holiday parks and the campervan life we are quite happy to have our very own private bathroom within our warm cozy heated hotel room.  Tonight we’re planning to checkout a restaurant down the street and settle into bed early since we have a 9:55 a.m. flight in the morning.  

So, I have about a week of catching up to do.  My last post covered everything up through seeing the lookout in Bluff, which is at the very southern tip of the South Island.  From there we drove about 45 minutes north to a town called Invercargill.  It was after dark when we arrived at the Top 10 Holiday Park in Invercargill and after checking in and being personally walked to our campervan spot by the woman at reception we thanked her and inquired about a restaurant in town where we could get dinner.  She recommended we go to the Speights Ale House.  We headed back into town and found the ale house on the main street.  Inside we chose a table by the fire and ordered dinner, we later found out that their portions are fit for a rugby team.  As we were waiting for our food a group of about 20 guys came walking through the door, some of them limping, some with ice packs, all in suits wearing gold and maroon ties.  We asked our waitress and were told that it was the Southland Stags rugby team.  Apparently the team eats at the ale house after every home game.  After the wonderful food and the rugby celebrity sighting we headed back in the Ark II to settle in for the night.  

Monday morning our plan was to drive to Te Anau, which is the town at the beginning of the road to Milford Sound.  But, before we left we decided to go and check out one of the things that Invercargill is famous for - the World's Fastest Indian.  An Invercargill man named Burt Munro took a 1920 Indian Scout motorcycle and modified it into a racing bike.  In 1962 he took the bike to Bonneville Flats and broke the world record by going 190.07 mph, that record still stands today.  The motorcycle is on display at E. Hayes & Sons along with a few other bikes and engines built by Munro and Hayes.  You can read more about Burt Munro's story here.  A movie was made about Burt Munro in 2005, his character was played by Anthony Hopkins, Charles has seen the movie and I am looking forward to watching it once we get home. 

The World's Fastest Indian
After seeing the World's Fastest Indian we drove on to Te Anau, in the rain.  We had already decided we were going to go on a boat tour of Milford Sound but we hadn't booked anything so our first stop in town was the i-Site visitor center.  We arrived in Te Anau to freezing cold weather and rain blowing sideways in our faces.  We ran quickly from the campervan into the visitor center and booked our tour for the next morning.  The rain let up a little and we headed back to the campervan and drove over to the Top 10 Holiday Park.  We checked in and decided the first thing on the agenda was laundry.  I worked on laundry and blogging while Charles did some painting then went for a run.  As Charles headed out on his run we bumped into Eric and Sabrina, who we met in Dunedin, they were staying at the campsite across from us.  We told them we would plan to chat with them in the campground kitchen a little later. At dinner time we took our broccoli and tortellini to the kitchen to make dinner and visit with Eric, Sabrina, and their two boys.  It was great being able to talk to them a little more about their trip.  (If y'all are reading - it was great getting to meet you and we hope to keep in touch!).  

Tuesday morning we were up early to go to Milford Sound.  It is a two hour drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound, there is only one road to get there and it is often closed during the winter due to snow and/or avalanche danger.  We enjoyed the beautiful scenery as we drove through the mountains to the start of the sound.  As we have found is the norm in New Zealand once we got to the boat terminal we had to trade in the tickets we purchased the day before for new tickets that would allow us onto the boat.  With tickets in hand we made our way out to the boat, it was a cold morning and I was very happy to find there was free tea and coffee on board.  

About to cruise Milford Sound
Milford Sound was amazing, majestic, beautiful....we enjoyed oohing and aahhing over all of the scenery.

About to get sprayed by the waterfall

Other cruisers leaving the waterfall spray

Rainbows in one of the waterfalls in Milford Sound
If you go to the South Island of New Zealand definitely go to Milford Sound, it has been one of the highlights of our trip.  On our way out of Milford Sound we stopped and did a short hike and took tons more pictures.  I hope to get them loaded on our Smugmug account soon. 

Tuesday evening we drove on to Queenstown, which we were both really excited about because we had been hearing so many great things about the city.  We were driving past Lake Wakatipu and into Queenstown just as the sun was setting.

Lake Wakatipu
Wednesday morning we woke up in Queenstown excited to see what the city was all about.  Charles had been looking forward to doing the original Kawarau Bridge Bungy, we had heard we had to do the Gondola and Luge, and we were excited to see kiwi's at the Birdlife Park.  So the first thing we set out to do was find the bungy jump.  Charles didn't hesitate at all, we walked in and he signed up and was set to jump about 20 minutes later.  Here is the proof:

Getting ready to jump

The jump

That little dot above the water is Charles
Getting picked up
After the bungy jump we had worked up an appetite - Charles from the jump, me from being so nervous watching him - so we went to Arrowtown for lunch.  Arrowtown is an old gold mining town about 20 minutes from Queenstown.  I loved it!  We had lunch at a the Postmasters Residence Cafe on the main street and then went to explore the preserved village where miners from China settled in the late 1800's during the gold rush. 

Lunch in Arrowtown
Charles at the Postmasters Residence Cafe

Delicious pumpkin, spinach and feta sandwich

Exploring the historic Chinese Miners Settlement

The store in the Chinese Mining Settlement Arrowtown
That evening we just hung out in Queenstown and planned out our agenda for the next day.  We wanted to go see the kiwi feeding at 10:00 a.m. and check out the luge at the top of the gondola above Queenstown and possibly rent bikes or go on a hike.  We weren't planning to spend a third night in Queenstown, but after deciding on all of the things we still wanted to do, we decided that was the best plan. 

Thursday morning we woke up and went to see the kiwi birds feed.  The Kiwi Birdlife Park does a great job of explaining the dangers to the kiwi population and helped us better explain the kiwi's best hope for survival, which is releasing kiwi chicks hatched at the park when they are large enough not to be eaten by the introduced opossum and stoat that threaten their survival.  We also stayed for the parks Conservation Show, which provided more information about why so many of the native birds of New Zealand are so threatened.  We couldn't get any pictures of the kiwi's because they are kept in dark rooms because they are nocturnal birds.  I was surprised by their size, they are actually quite big, maybe a little bigger than a chicken.  It was really cool to watch them stick their beaks down into the ground looking food. 

After leaving the Birdlife Park, we took the Gondola up to the top of the mountain to do the luge we had been hearing so much about.  The luge is awesome!  I was skeptical, but it really is so much fun. 

Chairlift up to the luge race tracks

After checking out the luges we had lunch at the top of the mountain at the cafe then headed back down on the gondola.  We wanted to find a place to hike and then check out some more things in the city.  On our way to find a place to hike we walked past the ice bar, and decided maybe we would have to check it out later in the evening.  We hiked around on the mountains around Queenstown and found some amazing mountain bike trails as we were exploring.  That evening we went to the ice bar which was -7 degrees Celsius (which is 19 degrees Fahrenheit).  Before they allow you to go in you have to put on coats that they provide and you are only allowed to stay inside for about 30 minutes.  It was really cold, but pretty cool to hang out in a room built entirely of ice.

Ice Bar - even the glasses were made of ice

Sitting in the ice chair
After the ice bar we were freezing and hungry.  We decided to just stop in for some Chinese food instead of cooking in the camper.  The food was yummy, Charles ranked it one of the best meals we have had in New Zealand.  After dinner we headed back to Ark II to get some sleep.  Friday morning we planned to head to Wanaka and then on to Mount Cook on Saturday morning to see the Tasman Glacier. 

I was hoping I could finish this entire post today, but it's late, so it will have to wait a few more days...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Timaru to Bluff

This is kind of a catch up post, since I'm about a week behind on writing...

Today is Friday and we are nearing the end of our time in New Zealand, which is hard because I really love it here.  But, we have a few more days to enjoy here, so we are going to make the most of it. I don't think I can wrap up the whole week in one post, so instead I'm going to write about Timaru, Dunedin, Invercargill, and Bluff. 

We spent last Friday night in Timaru, which is the largest port town in South Canterbury.  As a port town it's  a pretty industrial place, with not much in the way of tourist attractions, but it made a good stopping point for us between Christchurch and Dunedin.  It was about 5:00 p.m. when we arrived in Timaru and after we checked into the holiday park we decided we needed some exercise.  The girl at the reception desk suggested a route for us along Caroline Bay and then up into the main town square.  We set out across some rugby fields to find the path.  It was nearing sunset and so again I found myself running along the Pacific Ocean at sunset.  It was beautiful.  Charles and I were pleasantly surprised to find that there were several stops with workout machines along the route.  So, we stopped to make use of them.  Overall, it was a great run.  That evening we stopped into the grocery on the way home from our run so we could make dinner.  We decided to use the kitchen at the holiday park instead of cooking in Ark II.  We met some girls from a youth rugby team who were playing in a tournament in town.  They were having a Master Chef competition and each room of girls was preparing a different recipe for the coaches to taste.  They were fun to talk to and they taught us a little bit about the youth rugby competitions in New Zealand (unfortunately they didn't win the cooking competition).  We also met a couple from England, who are traveling for a year and have spent the past few months living in Christchurch and traveling around the South Island.  They were on their way to Dunedin the next day for the All Blacks vs. Springboks (South Africa) match. 

The start of our run in Timaru above Caroline Bay
Workout equipment on the walking/running trail in Timaru

Saturday morning we woke up and planned to head to Dunedin.  We didn't plan to go to the game, but figured watching the game in the city would be fun.  Before we set off we were able to skype with Andrew (Charles' brother) and Andy, Caroline, Ellie, and Hall (friends in Atlanta).  It was so fun to talk to them and give them the virtual tour of the campervan.  As we were driving we saw a sign for Moeraki Boulders, not knowing what they were we debated whether it was worth a stop.  We decided it was worth checking out and Charles turned the car around.  We parked and walked down the beach.  Here is some information about the Moeraki Boulders.  They are a unique geologic phenomenon that were discovered first by the Maori and then by the early settlers, to me they look like giant bowling balls washed up at sea. 

Moeraki Boulders

Dunedin was crazy!  There were rugby fans everywhere.  The holiday park was filled to capacity.  We arrived about 2 hours before the game and decided to take the bus into the city and find a pub where we could watch.  Dunedin is a city founded by the Scottish and is full of great architecture.  It is also the home to many of New Zealand's universities and so has a college town feel to it.  We got off the bus at the Octagon, which is the center of the city, built just as it sounds, in an octagon shape.  After some wandering we picked a pub called the Terrace to watch the game.  We walked in looking for a table or booth to sit in, and at the back of the bar we found a huge room with a big screen and stadium seating.  We decided this was definitely the place to watch.  The room quickly filled with people and the game began.  It was interesting to watch an All Blacks game in this environment since the week before we were watching live in the stadium, it's not quite the same level of energy as being there live, but it was fun watching in a crowded bar and it's much warmer. Charles was sitting next to a man named Wayne, who was happy to enlighten us with some of the more intricate rules of the game.  We also chatted with him about our trip and learned that he and his wife are taking a 5 month long trip in a few months.  Wayne is a professor, a practicing general medicine doctor, and an author of a book he is hoping to have published soon - it was really great meeting him and having him share his rugby knowledge with us for the evening.  After the game ended Wayne and his friend Grant were giving us tips on where else we should visit on our trip.  Wayne suggested we visit the Purakaunui Falls on our drive through the Catlins the next day on our way to Invercargill and Bluff.  We thanked them for the travel tips and set out to find dinner and our bus back to the Ark II.

Watching the All Blacks vs. Springboks game at the Terrace in Dunedin
 Sunday morning we went into Dunedin to explore a little more.  We arrived downtown and parked in front of the Presbyterian Church at about 9:45.  Charles and I walked up and noticed that the service was just about to begin, and decided to attend.  The church was beautiful.  Inside we each had a daffodil pinned to our shirts in celebration of spring.  As the service began the minister asked those who were from out of town to say where they were from.  Charles announced we were from Houston.  Another couple in the back said they were from Washington D.C.  We turned and waved.  The service was lovely (a word I have picked up after 3 weeks in New Zealand.)  The congregation was invited for tea and coffee in the community hall, and we happily joined in.  We introduced ourselves to the other American family - Eric and Sabrina and their two boys.  We learned that they are traveling the world for a year with their kids.  After talking to them for a while we realized they also know the Wildmans, who are friends of Charles' that are currently traveling the world with their kids.  Small world!  We exchanged information said our goodbyes and went on to check out the art museum. 

First Presbyterian Church, Dunedin

Dunedin Museum

After exploring Dunedin we set out for Bluff, which is at the very tip of the bottom of the South Island.  Our plan was to drive through the Catlins, hopefully see some penguins, stop at the waterfalls Wayne suggested, and get to Invercargill by dinner time.  We had learned a few days before that because it's breeding time the penguins go out to sea to fish during the day and only return to land in the evenings about 30 minutes after sunset.  So, we knew if we were going to see penguins it would be in the evening near Bluff.  We decided our first stop would be the waterfall.  I programmed it into our GPS and immediately got a warning that our route included some unpaved roads.  I had gotten this warning before and we had encountered a short patch or two of gravel, but nothing truly unpaved.  This time, we had about 4km of unpaved road to get to the waterfall.  We got out of the car and walked down the trail about 10 minutes to the end, where we found the Purakaunui Falls, it was really cool - we were in a rainforest and yet it was freezing.

Purakaunui Falls, Catlins Region
 We left the falls and had to endure more unpaved road.  Once we emerged back onto the main highway this is what we found:

Beautiful Ocean view near where the Pacific and Tasman meet
We were running low on daylight and were determined to make it to Bluff.  So, we drove (well Charles drove) and just as we were approaching Bluff we had this in front of us:

The road to Bluff at sunset
We made it to the top of the lookout point with the last bit of light.  Unfortunately we never saw any penguins, but we enjoyed being the farthest south either of us have ever been.

The top of the lookout in Bluff

Thursday, September 20, 2012


We arrived in Christchurch late in the evening and were lucky enough to get a powered campsite at the holiday park.  It was by far the most crowded park we had been to, and getting into our spot was a little difficult.  We were supposed to park between a tree, a rock, and a light post.  With some maneuvering we managed pretty well.  We decided we would try cooking in the communal kitchen that night, we hadn’t done it yet, but it seemed like it might make cooking and washing a bit easier.  So, we took our supplies into the kitchen and found a cook top.  I was in the process of making taco soup (yes, I reverted to easy recipes that I would make at home).  An Australian man asked me if I was just beginning my holiday.  I told him that we had been travelling for almost two weeks, but had just recently arrived on the South Island.  He then told me a little about where they had been and recommended a holiday park in Queenstown and Wanaka.  After that we began talking to another couple, who had just finished travelling the South Island, they gave us a few of the same tips and we talked about where they had been and where we were going.  

Once we were finished chatting with other campers we sat down to enjoy our taco soup and take in some New Zealand television – the first we had seen since Auckland almost two weeks before.  The show that was on was similar to the American show Four Weddings that is on TLC.  It was pretty entertaining and gave us some insight into what prime time tv is like in New Zealand. 

The next morning we decided to go into Christchurch for coffee and breakfast.  I programmed our GPS to take us to downtown Christchurch.  As we grew closer we realized that the city that was mapped out in the GPS was not the city we were entering.  We had heard from people we met on our trip through New Zealand that Christchurch was destroyed, but we had no idea until we arrived what they meant.  I knew there would be crumbled buildings and reconstruction, but it was so much worse than I pictured in my mind. 
We found a place to park on the outside of the fenced in Central Business District and walked around a fenced off bridge to cross the Avon River.  What we found was a small commercial area made up of shipping/train containers repurposed to make shops and cafés.  Since we hadn’t had breakfast we stopped into a container café and ordered scones and coffee – a flat white for Charles and a latte for me.  As we sat there in container city we discussed the similarities to Katrina in New Orleans and also the extreme contrast between a disaster zone of a hurricane and that of an earthquake.  The thing that stood out the most was the extreme sense of community that seemed to flow through the city.  The simplicity of those containers holding the shops and restaurants that brought the city back to some sense of normalcy was incredible. 

Re:Start Cashel Mall - Container City

Container City in Christchurch
The previous day we had discussed taking a tour through the Red Zone of the Central Business District of Christchurch, and after seeing what we found when we arrived in the downtown area we decided that was the best way to see what the city once had been.  We went and signed up for the tour and while we were waiting for the next tour to start, we walked through the city’s botanical gardens.  They were beautiful – filled with tulips and daffodils and pansies.  

Sequoia in Christchurch Botanical Gardens
 The tour was conducted from a bus and all passengers have to sign a release acknowledging that they are entering the red zone, which is highly fragile and dangerous due to unstable buildings.  Once all of us agreed to proceed with the tour we were off with our guide from the Christchurch museum to explain the surroundings.  We wound through the town as she pointed out facts about the earthquake – there have been 12,000 aftershocks since the original earthquake in September 2010, the clock tower near the center of town is stopped at the time the earthquake hit, 70% of the buildings in downtown will end up being deconstructed, the city of Christchurch will be much smaller after rebuilding…..

Clocktower stopped on the time the earthquake struck

Twinkle-toes deconstructing a building in CBD Christchurch
The facts went on and on and the destruction seemed never ending, and yet there was so much hope and so much pride in the city.  It was uplifting to see how excited the citizens were about the plans for their city.  There is so much vision that I can only imagine that it will once again be a great tourist destination sometime soon.  
Containers holding up the wall of a building

Cathedral in Christchurch
After our tour of the Red Zone we went back to the Re:Start Cashel Mall to have lunch.  It was a beautiful sunny day and the container district was full of people eating and shopping and living their lives.  It really amazing to see the vision for the city of Christchurch, I hope to come back one day to see it completely rebuilt. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sauvignon Blanc and Baby Seals

We arrived in Blenheim on Monday around lunchtime.  We knew we wanted to check out the Marlborough wineries while we were in Blenheim, but otherwise we didn’t really have an agenda.  Our first stop was at the town information center, where we were able to book a wine tour for the next day.  Next up, we had to figure out lunch.  The bartender, Derek, at the Portlander in Wellington told us we should have lunch at the Brancott Estates Heritage Center, because of the amazing view.  We were out of groceries and needed to go to the store, so our first thought was that we should take care of that and just make sandwiches for lunch, but instead we decided to put it off and go to the Brancott Estates.    After all, you should never grocery shop on an empty stomach, right?  

I tried to use our trusty GPS device to navigate us to the restaurant, but because it’s so new, the address wouldn’t pull up when I typed it in.  So, we were left with the old fashioned map that we got from the information center in town.  We knew it was near the airport so we took the turn down the road that led us in that general direction, eventually we found the correct road and made a left turn.  We found it. We turned into a drive that led us through field after field of grape vines.  Atop a ridge just ahead of us was a modern building with large glass windows perched narrowly on the edge of a hill.  We parked and made the steep walk up to the Heritage Center.  

Charles driving in Marlborough wine country

We walked in and I felt instantly under dressed.  One thing about this type of travel is that you have a very limited outfit selection.  This restaurant was the type of place where I would normally want to have on nice jeans and boots with a cute sweater and scarf, my hair fixed, makeup on – basically showing I had some interest in my overall appearance.  Instead I was un-showered, with my hair in a ponytail, a smidge of mascara on, and the same jeans, Brooks running shoes, and fleece I had been wearing for weeks.  Oh well, it was wine tasting time, so no point in focusing on my atrocious appearance.  
We sat at a table, with a beautiful view of the vineyards and mountains and our waitress greeted us.  She told us the specials of the day, they all sounded wonderful, and overly indulgent for a lunchtime meal.  I decided on their salmon dish and Charles went with their fish of the day, which was Monk fish.  After we ordered our lunch, our waitress suggested we go over to the tasting counter to sample some wines.  We started of course with a Sauvignon Blanc which was wonderful.  We learned that Marlborough’s sunny warm days and cool mountain nights are what make the Sauvignon Blanc grapes do so well in this region and make the wines they produce so full of citrus fruit taste.  Next we tried a Chardonnay, which we both really loved.  They don’t make many Chardonnay’s in Marlborough, but this one was wonderful and buttery.  We also tried a Pinot Noir, which was also very good, it is the other grape that grows very well in the Marlborough region.   

Wine tasting at Brancott
 After our tasting we went back to our table and waited for our food to arrive.  As she set the plates in front of us I knew we were in for a good meal, the food was beautiful.  Charles and I both agreed that this was definitely the most gourmet meal we have had since we left Los Angeles.  After lunch, we took a few photos and then went to find where we were parking the campervan for the night.   

Lunch at Brancott

We checked in and decided to go into town to get food for dinner and check out the center of town.  We walked around the shops and squares to see what the town had to offer.  We stopped in Seymour Square to hang out for a bit, Charles worked on a painting and I did a little writing.  Then, we wandered back through town towards the Ark II. After our run to the grocery store we loaded everything in the fridge and compartments and headed back to the holiday park.  We have gotten used to the fact that almost every holiday park has movies to rent, so we were surprised to find out that this particular holiday park had no movies at all.  The campervan is pretty quiet dark and there isn’t much to do in the way of entertainment at the holiday parks, so we have come to look forward to a nightly movie.  The woman working at the holiday park recommended a movie store down the road, so we drove down to pick something up.  We were happy they loaned movies without a membership if you were willing to put down a $10 bond.  We picked out two movies since we were planning to stay two nights in Blenheim, we chose Contraband with Mark Wahlberg and Wanderlust with Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd.  We watched Contraband the first night, which was a great thriller/action movie.   

Tuesday morning we had our usual breakfast of muesli, yogurt and fruit with coffee.  Then we headed into town so Charles could get a haircut.  After his hair cut we went into a shoe store to look around.  I only brought my running shoes and a pair of ballet flats and was hoping to pick up a cheap pair of shoes since it’s a little too cold on the south island for ballet flats.  I found an inexpensive pair of boots and was quite happy.  We went back to the holiday park and got ready to go on our wine tasting.  

We were picked up by Jonathan with Bubbly Grape Tours at noon.  There was one other couple doing a half day and then we would be joining five others who were on a full day tour.  Once we had everyone assembled we began our drive to the first stop, Spy Valley.  I was really excited to go to Spy Valley, because it is one of my favorite Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs to buy at home.  

Spy Valley is in a valley that houses surveillance satellites that are part of the Echelon project, hence the name.  We learned that the estate uses lots of little plays on the fact that it is in this unique valley – they have a wine called Echelon and they have Morse code on all of their bottles.  The wine was really good, all of it!  It was definitely my favorite stop of the day.  As we were leaving we looked at the display cases near the door and were surprised to see that Spy Valley wines won awards at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Wine event.  Next we went to Giesen wines where we had some more good wines.  Then we stopped for lunch, I had a great pumpkin and goat cheese panini – delicious!  Then, more wine tasting this time at Bouldevines.  Of course our favorite of all the wines we tasted were the sauvignon blancs – each winery had several different ones, since that is what Marlborough specializes in.  

Spy Valley

Spy Valley
 After all that wine tasting we decided that our plan for the late afternoon evening would be pretty simple – make dinner and watch a movie.  So, we made dinner in the campervan and watched Wanderlust.  It’s hilarious.  If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it.  The next morning we decided to do a hike that Johnathan our guide on the wine tour suggested.  It was great, it offered amazing views of Blenheim and the ocean and we got to see tons of sheep, lambs, and cows.  

Hiking in Blenheim
After our hike and some lunch in the campervan we set out for Kaikoura, which is a small town on the east coast of the South Island that is known for whale watching.  We had heard from Derek at the Portlander that we could see baby seals in a waterfall just north of the town, so that was high on our priority list.  We arrived in town in the late afternoon and went straight to the center of town, which consists of one main street that is about three blocks long.  We went into a few shops and got suggestions about things to do in town, and learned again about the place to see the baby seals.  We stopped into another shop to check out winter clothing, because it was freezing in Kaikoura.  Charles got a fleece which has been a great purchase because the South Island is much colder than the North Island.   We went to check into our Holiday Park and decide on our plan for dinner.  We found the Top 10 park and checked in and decided to walk into town for dinner instead of cooking.  It was only about a 5-10 minute walk into town, and although it was freezing, it was so nice to be able to walk instead of drive the Ark II into town.  We found a pub called the Whaler and settled in for dinner by the fire.  

The next morning we got up to go see the baby seals.  We drove the Ark II back up the coast a bit to the Ohau Seal Colony.  There is a Department of Conservation trail that takes you up a stream to a waterfall, when the seals have pups they take them up the stream to the pool at the bottom of the waterfall while they go out to sea to feed.  We started the hike and began seeing seal pups playing in the stream. Then we got to the top and there were dozens of seal pups playing below a huge towering waterfall.  It was amazing.  It was like watching an exhibit at the zoo, except we were in nature and we were standing five feet from the seal pups.  

Baby seal pup jumping
That afternoon we planned to get lunch and find a place where Charles could do some painting and I could do some blogging.  Since Kaikoura is known for crayfish (or lobster as we would call it in the U.S.) we thought we should make sure to have some while we were there.  Kaikoura means “meal of crayfish” in Maori, so it was a necessity.  We had asked in town where we should go and everyone said to go to the Original Kaikoura Seafood BBQ, so that’s where we went.  It’s a food stand on the side of the road just outside of town.  We had crayfish fritters for lunch and Charles had their seafood chowder, it was all wonderful.  We sat outside at the tables next to the food stand and enjoyed the food, the fresh air, and the view.  Afterwards, we got ice cream!  Ice cream is huge in New Zealand, they talk about it on the radio all the time, so we had been wanting to get some for a while and we finally found a good spot.  It really was delicious.  
New Zealand Ice Cream in Kaikoura
 After our ice cream we decided we should get on the road and stop somewhere along the way for Charles to paint.  Here is the spot we chose:

Afternoon stop in Kaikoura to paint and write
It was a little cold, but it was worth it because the view was so amazing. 

Next up Christchurch....