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  April 22nd
Kaikoura->Picton->Wellington

Kaikoura Met up with some nice people from England at the hostel (Geri and Matt) whose recommendation was to go do a whale watch. I duly booked myself in, and to kill time went to visit the seal colony which was actually the best of the trip. By wading through thigh deep water you can get out to the rocks where they lay in the sun, and can actually approach to within five metres of them (provided you don't get between them and the sea).

Kaikoura Seals Kaikoura Seals Kaikoura Seals

I rocked up to the office for my whale watch booking, only to find that due to a wind change the sea was too choppy and the passengers were taking it so badly that all further boats were off for the day. This was a bit disappointing since I had all my camera gear ready to go see what I could come up with but unfortunately it couldn't be helped. I guess the moral is if you go to Kaikoura to do the dolphin swim or whale watch then have a few days in hand in case this happens...

Charlotte Sounds I headed straight up to Picton, taking a hitchhiker as far as Blenheim (a mistake as she proceeded to talk my ear off). Changing to an earlier ferry cost yet more money but figured there might be a chance of a nice day in Wellington. I had booked the slow ferry (InterIslander, 3.5 hours) going back which I wasn't looking forward to. However it actually wasn't too bad as it was such a nice day that you could sit outside and view the beautiful Queen Charlotte sounds on the way out, and the sea was reasonably calm across the strait.

Leaving Sth Island Unfortunately Wellington lived up to it's reputation of being wet and windy again so the desired photo shot from Mt Victoria didn't happen as desired. Crashed the night at my aunt's place again... she intends for me to return the favour when I have a place in London one day...

 
  April 23rd
Wellington->Masterton->Wanganui->New Plymouth

Mt Taranaki I would have liked to go south-east to either Cape Palliser or Castlepoint but the weather remained grotty on the east coast. Instead I stopped off to see an old workmate (Sarah) at Wanganui, and then headed to where I grew up in the mecca of Midhirst (pop ~ 100). Drove up to visit the old house and took a few photos to show the parents when I visited them in Aus a few weeks later. Bit of nostalgia more than anything - made me realise how grateful I was we moved though!

Paritutu Mt Egmont then proceeded to clear away so I raced up the north side for a few quick walks around and photo shots. Close to New Plymouth is Lake Mangamahoe which supposedly offers nice reflection opportunities of the mountain, however it was far too windy today. My last action activity for the day was to climb up Paritutu, a signature rock in New Plymouth which offers views over the city, coast and surrounding countryside. It is a bit of a dodgy climb though - be warned that this is not an easy ascent or descent, particularly while carrying tripod and camera gear...

Dinner with the grandparents and some uncles/aunts to bore them like you with the tale of the trip was a nice finish as will be the last chance to see them for a few years I would guess.

 
  April 24th
New Plymouth->Urenui->Auckland

Sheep Last farewells to the grandparents and then off to Sandra & Ken's place near Urenui (old family friends). Ended up chatting away most of the day, as well as a spot of tennis at the local court with the "country folk". Drove out to the White Cliffs but got there too late to do the famous walk along the coastal cliffs and beach. So it was back into the car and the long haul back to Auckland, to arrive just in time for a rugby game in front of the big screen...

So endeth the trip... my first play with my camera but more importantly the first and last chance to really see NZ for a few years. Connie compared it to Colorado (only without the people, pollution, cost and a more diverse range of environments). As far as I am concerned, there may be some beautiful countries out there, but you have to feel proud to be able to call yourself a Kiwi...

 
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  Last Updated June 22nd, 2002
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