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view from the backpackers parking lot

Mountains at sunrise


Wednesday morning I woke up about 7.30 when my alarm went off - I'm not used to being around people 24/7 and wanted some alone time, but didn't complain when Alkaline-kiwi crawled out of bed with me - as my BBFF (Bookcrossing Best Friend Forever) I knew she wouldn't mind being quiet together, and we went and found a quiet spot behind the backpackers. Pepper, the hostel cat soon found us, and got the attention he deserved!

Resistance is futile!

I'm still deciding if A-K looks cute or scary here!

and smiling!


After a while I got into the shower, got dressed, and cooked some porridge for myself. We all packed ourselves up, I got a few minutes on the internet to make journal entries for the book I'd released the previous day, and the ones I'd left on the hostel bookshelf.

We left the hostel around 10, somehow managing to forget our bags of food - hopefully some other backpackers found it and enjoyed it, with A-K, and Skyring and i in one car, and Earok, K-j-h, and MissMarkey in the other. LOTR was still in the cd player, so we enjoyed the music for a little bit longer until A-K took it out (slightly to my disappointment!). We stopped a few times on the way down, the South Island is truly magnificent, and I feel totally justified in telling tourists that if they have limited time, they'd do better to see it than the North Island!

again, *sigh*

Ringbear

and from the outside :p

Stopping for photos

Awwwww

Beautiful NZ

Mountains from land

Kaikoura


By the time we hit Kaikoura we didn't really have much time for lunch, so we headed straight to the 'Whaleway Station' (yes, it's really called that!) to check in for our 12.45 tour. Luckily we had a bit of time between checking in and our instructional video, so we went and had some lunch at the cafe. Totally over priced and not of the best quality, I guess they rely on people like us to make money! Surely they can't rely on repeat business much :s

After lunch we released a few books, and then crowded into a small annex for the video, describing what to do in an emergency, and some of the things we might see, and then we got on the bus to the boat. Took about 10 minutes to drive around to the marina, where our boat awaited us, and we all piled off, and waited to be able to embark. Unfortunately we were right at the back, and so didn't get seats together, but I sat with a man and his two children who were really nice! It was a bit rough, and he felt a bit sick, so I passed round the barley sugars!

As we were sailing out into the deeper waters, the tour guide told us a bit about why Kaikoura is known for its whales, and other marine mammals (deep trough under the sea that goes down suddenly, really close to land, so you only have to go out a little bit to be over really deep ocean, that sperm whales like). He also told us about the kinds of animals we were likely to see, and how this tour company found them, which was really interesting! They seem to be really dedicated to not using anything that would harm the whales, so they don't use those undersea scanners that you see on boats these days! First thing we saw were some different sea birds (including some a small variety of the albatross!).

A bit later we had a message from another boat that was out that they'd seen a whale, and so we went over to meet it. Amazing! You could just see it's huge back, and when you consider how much of the whale is tail, it made me feel rather small! I took a few pics, but it was kind of hard to make out, so I just enjoyed watching the whale (whose name is Manu, because his tail looks like a flying bird), and trying not to fall over (it was a bit rough!). The tour guy (whose name I've forgotten, but he was really cute :p) gave us a few seconds notice before the Manu was about to go back down for more food, and so I got a video of Manu's tail doing down. Truly magnificent. We all traipsed back into the cabin, and the tour guide told us a bit about Manu, who is apparently a regular!

A fellow whale watching boat

Anyone jealous yet?

Ole Spurty



Amazingly, we then get word that another whale has been sighted, so we moseyed on over to the second whale, Tutu, named after a Maori god! Got some more pics of this one before it dove under the water and it was time for us to head back to shore.

On the way back to shore however, we spotted a HUGE pod of dolphins - mostly dusky, with a few common swimming with them. This was the highlight of the whale watching for me - I love whales, but dolphins just inspire a feeling of joy in my heart! Took LOTS of photos and a couple of videos of these as we were heading back.

I <3 New Zealand

I want a better zoom lol!

More dolphins





Once we got back to shore we disembarked and waited for a few minutes to get onto the bus.

Fresh off the boat


The bus drove us back to the 'Whaleway Station', and we met A-K and Earok there, who had been looking around Kaikoura while we were out whale watching. We all checked out the shop a bit, and our books that we'd released before the tour, and then made our way back to the cars, where we did a bit of shuffling, and took some pics of the group using Skyring's tripod.

'The Road Trippers'


MissMarkey and I ended up in K-j-h's car, so that Skyring could drop A-K and Earok at A-K's aunt and uncles place, and because K-j-h, MissMarkey and I were all staying at Base Backpackers.

Drive wasn't too bad, Kev let me choose the music so I was happy! At some point I got a text from Kirsty saying Libertine101 had been talking to Newk, who had texted Skyring, saying there had been a mistake at the backpackers. I couldn't get any more details, and thoughts that we wouldn't have anywhere to stay for the week floating through my mind :s

Stopping for the sunset


We stopped just out of Christchurch to get petrol and milk (for me), and we got into Christchurch relatively easily. Well, relatively easy for MissMarkey and I anyway. After circling around the backpackers twice, and not finding a car part, Kev dropped us off outside, and went to look for a park. We checked in, found out that the issue was that we weren't all in the same room, as requested. I couldn't be bothered finding somewhere else to stay, so figured I'd stay there, and so we got given keys etc, and went to drop our stuff off up stairs. I was on the 4th flour, and MM was on the second floor. We took the lift up (we both had a quite a collection of stuff), which was an experience in itself. The lift (and building) are REALLY old - you have to open the outer door, and then the inner door of the lift to get in, and then shut them behind you, and its not particularly fast! Problem is if someone forgets to shut both doors when they get out it gets stuck and won't go anywhere...but it was ok this time, and we both got our stuff to our rooms, and I grabbed my camera, wallet and hat to take to dinner at Ginkgo, which Newk had organised.

MM and I met Kev down on the ground floor, he checked in, and we eventually made our way to Ginkgo, after asking directions at reception! Walked the wrong way down one road, but not too far, and we were only a little late for dinner!

I let Pete's table know that they should just order something for him, as he had texted/rang/somehow communicated to me that he was running later than we were!

Was SO cool to meet heaps of new people - Gizmopuddy, Bookworm76, and the Trolls were definite highlights!! And it was great to see all the 'old' faces too!

My table decided to just tell the waitress we wanted so many vegetarian dishes and let her choose something for us, which worked out really well! We got some delicious dishes...the beans were particularly memorable :p

After I finished eating, I went over to the other table to say hi - got to meet the Trolls which was exciting!! A bit later Skyring played a nasty prank on the other table...the table we were at had an extremely spicy chicken, that only a few people had tried - he tried a bit, declared it spicy, so went and took the other tables last jug of water, taking the chicken in return...I didn't hear *too* many squeals!

Once we'd sorted out the bill (I think we were the last people left in the restaurant), we all went outside and chatted for a bit longer. Newk wanted to try on my hat, so we swapped, I got his 'dark side' glasses, and he got my 'light side' hat'! We both looked remarkable good :p

'swapping accessories'

'swapping accessories'


Eventually we got cold and I know I was feeling tired, so those of us staying at Base made our way back, and headed to bed. I felt sorry for my roommates, being kept awake by my comings and goings, late at night and fairly early in the mornings!! I fell asleep pretty quickly I think!
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Tuesday morning we were up bright and early, with the shuttle arriving to pick us up to go to the ferry terminal at about 7am. Early mornings are really not my thing, but I didn't complain too much! Got out of the house without too much drama, and got down to the ferry terminal, where we had agreed to meet Skyring. We waited around for a few minutes, I was assuming that if we all checked our luggage in together we would get all our luggage out together at the other end...unfortunately I was sadly mistaken!

Skyring arrived, and we checked our stuff in, just as boarding commenced, so we boarded the ship, with everyone following me, as I had assured everyone I was absolutely positive I knew where the good seats were. Three levels later, I was starting to doubt myself, but we finally found them, after a bit of laughing at me (well I was laughing too, so technically laughing *with* me!).

Everyone settled down, with the exception of MissMarkey, who left with her camera, and who we barely saw for the rest of the trip (although admitedly I was asleep for part of it), and chatted for a bit until the ship left. Various people left to take photos, but I've done that trip many, many times (I am so lucky to live here), so I stayed where I was and chatted/listened to the tourists across from us talk about their tour/tour food/dozed. Its really hard to find a comfortable position on those seats, so I kept waking up and falling asleep again :( Eventually I made it to the seat behind me, where Skyring and MissMarkey were *supposed* to be sitting, but had gone off adventuring, figuring I might be able to stretch out a bit, but no. The floor it was. Thanking the heavens for bringing my pillow, I got down on the floor, wondered how long it had been since it had been vacuumed, and started drifting off to the loud Australian whisper from across the aisle 'she's on the FLOOR'....no offence to the Aussies intended :-)

When I woke up we were in the Marlborough Sounds, and it had turned from a cloudy sky to a beautiful sunny day, very calm...actually thinking about it, that was the calmest sailing I've ever had, even in Cook Straight (notoriously rough) I'd barely felt any waves! I lay on the floor for a bit more, unsure of where we were in the Sounds, and thinking I might be able to fall asleep again, but Kirsty came and took my photo, and got me laughing, so I got up!

We docked soon after, and rushed down to collect our luggage, which despite my attempts to keep together, wasn't! Worth a try anyway :-) We then made our way to the hire car company, about 15 metres from the ferry terminal, where Skyring and K-j-h lined up to take possession of our two cars. I ran off to the loo, and then grabbed an apple out of my bag (I remember the most random details!).

Eventually we got our two cars, one was parked right outside, and the other a bit further along, and we divided up into cars. I chose to go with Skyring and MissMarkey, and we drove up to the supermarket, and got some food for lunch, then went back down to the waterfront to eat. It was a beautiful day, and so nice to sit in the sun (no wind!) and eat lunch, with our one knife (who got named Mack that day)!

hungry anyone?

Lunch time in Picton


Once we'd finished eating, we went to find the loo (rule one of road trips right!) and then headed off. We lost track of the other car so weren't sure if they had left Picton or not, but we kept driving and I texted Alkaline-kiwi...which was a bit pointless cos she had no money to reply!

So, we drove along, through the wineries, I got put in charge of music, and selected 'Fly My Pretties', which was nice and mellow, although a little repetitive (how had I not noticed this before?). Stopped every so often to take photos, especially once we got back on to the coast. I think our first stop was 'Half Moon Bay', where I released 'The Mermaid Chair' on a picnic table, and MissMarkey disappeared off to take photos!

'The Mermaid Chair'

Skyring with 'The Mermaid Chair'

stopping for seals

just look at the photo :p

Pete, cracking up :D


A bit further round we spotted some seals, so stopped to take more pictures. We had one seal put a bit of a show on for us...lots of fun with MissMarkey calling things out to it! I went along the road a bit where there was a concrete thing where I could stand, and took a video of a seal just going in to the water.

more seals

Seal on the rocks

seal spotting

seal spotting


A bit later Skyring and I looked up and there was MissMarkey just disappearing over the edge of path going down to the beach, so we went to see where she was going, and discovered her getting closer and closer to a seal - its no wonder she got such good photos :p

Eventually we kept going, and just before we hit Kaikoura I got a message from Kev saying they were in Kaikoura having a coffee. We pulled off the highway, and Wanda (the GPS unit) informed us that she was 'recalculating', in a VERY huffy voice! We drove up the main road, looking for their car, but didn't see it, so eventually kept on going towards Hanmer.

I'd been put in charge of music, and so far had played Fly My Pretties (good NZ stuff!), and a couple of mix cds, but once we got up into the mountains, I knew we had to listen to Lord of the Rings, so I handed MissMarkey the cd, and she put it on. Pure magic. Nothing like driving through the mountains, the sun setting, with amazing company, and a good soundtrack. One of the highlights of the week for me!

After stopping to take photos from a bridge (third time lucky again!) we hit Mouse Point Road (Me: 'why's it called that?' MissMarkey: *pointing* 'ooh look a mouse!' Me: *lol*), and turned towards Hanmer Springs.

What more could you want?

I really liked that bridge!

mmmmm, what more is there to say...

and darker

getting darker

View from 'the bridge' in one direction



A bit later we arrived in Hanmer, and after trying to remember the name of the backpackers, I texted Kev and asked him. Luckily he knew! It was up the main street, so we drove up looking for it, and arrived just after Kev and co.

They had already checked in, so we all went in to do the same, and got to meet the most fantastic hostel owner I've met! Edwin (from the Netherlands), had only owned the place for a few days then, and he was so enthusiastic, helpful, and friendly - I fully recommend Hanmer Backpackers if you are staying in Hanmer!

We got the tour, and then unpacked the cars, before heading to the pools (rhymes with cool :p). Absolute bliss! All we really wanted was about 5 or 6 books each to seal up in plastic bags and let free in the pool!!

After being asked nicely to get out (just after 9), we showered, dressedm, and went to the fish and chip shop across the road for some dinner. Neither MissMarkey or I were that hungry, so we got a scoop of kumara chips to share, which got confused somehow and we ended up with normal...slightly disappointing! But yummy nonetheless :D

We all got our orders, and walked back to the hostel, where we ate, and finished off the French champaigne. Yum!! Talked about using the internet, but it was getting too late, so we decided to do it in the morning. I crawled into bed sometime later :-) (the beds had GREAT duvets on them, really, really warm, which you need there!

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August 2011

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