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Archive for the ‘kayaks’ Category

Greymouth was uneventful for us, as we essentially stayed long enough to eat, sleep, wake, eat, fill up with petrol (kiwi word of the day), and head north.  It was a gorgeous, hot day, and the scenery, once again, did not disappoint.

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One of the main differences between New Zealand and the rest of the world is that New Zealand has no indigenous land mammals other than the seal, so birds sort of took the place of small mammals in the ecosystem.  There are a lot of flightless (or relatively flightless) birds here, that forage on the ground, and seem more like giant rodents than birds.  We encountered our first roadside Weka, though, in truth, I think this was taken the night before, on the road from Arthur’s Pass to Greymouth, but I didn’t want to leave the little guy out, so here he is…

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One of our stops along the way was to see the famed “Pancake Rocks” at Punakaiki, and while we didn’t see them in their full, high-tide glory, we are a family who appreciates a good geological display, and were so glad we stopped…

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After getting our fill of crazy rocks and Dr. Seuss trees, we hit the road and didn’t stop (ok, we stopped once for ice cream) until we got to Marahau, and pitched our tent at ‘Old MacDonald’s Farm’

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We were right next to a small river, and more importantly, right next to Abel Tasman National Park, which is one of the most beautiful places on earth, without a doubt.   We found a few different ways to pass our time there…

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The highlight of our time there, though, was awesome burgers at the Fat Tui.

No, actually, that was pretty good, but much to our surprise, the Powers That Be wouldn’t let us rent kayaks for a day, because our kids were under 14.  14!!!  We’ve kayaked several times with our kids, and the water here seemed calmer than a few of our outings off the coast of BC (remember THAT uncles?!?!?), and seeing as how the kiwis are usually pretty lax about safety issues, we were more than a little surprised and disappointed, and not at all beligerent with the kayak rental staff in our frustration.  Not. At. All.   We chalked it up to the fact that the conditions change so rapidly, thereby making it unsafe for kids to go out of the protected bay they offered us for an hour’s kayak amid swimmers and not much else.  nah.

So, we moved on to plan B, which was taking a water taxi into Abel Tasman park, which was a lot less effort anyway, right?   Along the way we enjoyed (or endured, depending on whether you were a pullyblank with control issues or not) another boat ride, and saw Split Apple Rock.

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Then they dropped us off with our swim gear and food and beverages on the beach at Te Pukatea Bay, where we lounged, ate and drank, swam and sandcastled…

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…until it was time to set off on our 30 minute “tramp” across the Pitt head Peninsula from Te Pukatea Beach to Anchorage Beach…

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…where we met up with a Kereru, or New Zealand pigeon…

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…and landed on Anchorage Bay for more fun in the sun while we waited for our water taxi to take us back to camp.

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We all swam and lounged, dexter busied himself building a sandcastle city…

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…and then toyed with the idea of total destruction of his newly created empire.  He leapt around amidst the villagers for about 10 minutes without once damaging any of the lodgings.  (Seriously?  you don’t want to smash even a few of them?  You’re a better monarch than I, my friend)…

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…and just generally enjoyed this little slice of heaven.  We all felt really lucky to be here that day.

that’s it for tonight, I’m extending this to a 4 part post, and wishing for more time in the day!!

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Whew what a trip!  It started off rainy, but we actually had pretty good luck staying dry the entire time.  We got a healthy dose of fun in the sun, admired the amazing scenery, and moved along at a great pace, where we saw a lot, but didn’t feel rushed.  As the Kiwis say, “Sweet as”.

We set out from home in the pouring rain, which was more than a little disconcerting.   The much-feared and dreaded ferry ride was long and boring (they played two movies, but we had only one seat to share between the four of us, and the movies were mostly inaudible) and too wet to really be out on the deck enjoying the scenery, but we did manage one photo before a massive blast of wind and ocean convinced me to put my camera away…

photo from the ferry

We had planned to stay two days kayaking in the Marlborough Sounds, but with the weather not cooperating, we skipped that and drove straight down to Kaikoura, where our whale-watching plan seemed more conducive to rainy conditions.   We had a lovely little campsite right next to the highway and a train track that was bone shakingly active at night!   While the rain did let up, and we stayed nice and dry (thanks to Mark’s skill with a tarp), the ocean was too rough for the whale watching boats, so we spent our time watching the surfers, playing mini-golf, and just enjoying being together.

our cozy site…

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the beach across the road…

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life in a tent…

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so cozy!

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pj’s in the morning…

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mini-golf!

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watching the surfers…

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scenic coastline…

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the seals in this area are so accustomed to humans that you can walk right up to them — I’d be willing to bet you could pet them, but I wouldn’t want to try it.   We saw a seal lying under a palmy bush about 100 years from the beach, but he was so well hidden that most passerby didn’t notice him, which also made him hard to photograph.  Here are a few photos of the less shy New Zealand fur seals…

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roadside bird watching… Pukekos!

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After a few days in Kaikoura, we moved along for a day trip to Hanmer Springs, a town where the main attraction for us was a giant hot springs facility, with thermal pools of all different temperatures, a cold pool (which was great, as it turned out to be a lovely, hot day) and waterslides.  Apparently I didn’t take any photos, but here is a rock called “frog rock” that we saw by the side of the road after our quick dip in the pools, as we were moving along to Christchurch…

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We didn’t actually see much of Christchurch, though we thoroughly enjoyed ‘the teddy factory’, which the kids had seen advertised on tv and were just dying to go visit.  We worked those overpriced, gimmicky bears into an early christmas present, and also hit the Antarctic Centre, which turned out to be the only place we saw penguins on our whole trip.

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The Antarctic centre was pretty neat, overall.  We all learned a lot about Antarctica, and even went into a room that had a simulation of a -18C storm blow through… it wasn’t nearly as cold as most of our holidays in Alberta, Canada, but we’ve never done that in shorts and sandals…luckily they gave us all jackets and overshoes, and there was an igloo to hide in for those of us not brave enough to take on the ice slide behind it…

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I think I’ll leave off there for now, tune in next time for Christmas at Okains Bay and Akaroa, Arthur’s Pass, Greymouth, Paekakariki (Pancake Rocks), Marahau and Abel Tasman National Park, Takaka/Golden Bay/Totaranui, and finally Nelson with the Ricciardis!

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