I spent nearly a week down in the South Island catching up with friends after my first visit to Wellington.
Becca and Christian very kindly gave me an early morning lift to the Interisland Ferry terminal and at a cold but sunny lunchtime I arrived in Picton to see Patrick waiting, picnic basket and feijoas a-ready for our drive down to the East Coast to Kaikoura for a night and then on to Christchurch.
Kaikoura is absolutely stunning – amazing views of the mountains on one side, and pebble beaches, coastal
walks and seal colonies. Patrick knew of a little secret-ish spot up a river where he showed me THIS
Aaaamaaaaazing number of baby seals playing in the waterfall pool. No mama seals anywhere - apparently the adults can't get up the river, but leave the kids to play while they go out to sea to find food.
We took an inland route down to Christchurch that the cute old couple who ran the ‘tourist flat’ we stayed in had recommended – stunning alpine scenery and lots of autumnal colours. We picnicked alongside a creek and arrived in Christchurch late afternoon.
I was pretty surprised by Christchurch – we drove straight into the city centre and to be honest, I hadn’t seen any pictures since the second big earthquake. The clean up process is well under way but the devastation the quakes have caused is awful. I have to really admire the Cantabrians who are just getting on with their everyday lives and working out how to deal with the problems that numerous aftershocks are contributing to.
We spent the night at one of Patrick’s friends who woke us up early to drive to the middle of nowhere and watch a rocket launch by Otago University. It was pretty cool, if not quite as planned (they lost the rocket somewhere.) Oh, and went to a great little bar called Darkroom that a friends of friends have set up near the CBD/stadium. They are nothing if not enthusiastic for a wide range of beers and spirits. That sounded dorkily like advertising, but they really are.
Second night we headed to the grand ol’ farming town of Ashburton to see the lovely Harriet, before an early-ish start to Nelson on the Sunday. This might be a journey I remember for a loooong time. Driving though Lewis Pass on the night of the super moon reflecting on the river and the snow-topped alps was breathtaking. Adding to this was the super awesome mist that rolled in somewhere near Springs Junction.
Then after three very relaxing days in Nelson with Pat and his family (hope your leg is doing ok Rosemary!) I flew off to Wellington to see everyone again.