A Travellerspoint blog

Christchurch... to Kaikoura

sunny 28 °C
View Round the World in 164 days! on KerryMc's travel map.

9th January 2009

I'm not sure I'm pleased or disheartened to see the big green Kiwi Experience bus coming my way! More time on buses - bad for the soul I'm sure! BUT, I'm met by a bright and breezy Josh and I'm his first passenger of the day so get the pick of the seats - too easy!

Having picked up a full quota of people, we head north to the seaside town of Kaikoura - the first stop on this mammoth tour of New Zealand.

The first bit of good news is that we're going to be able to get some spaces for dolphin swimming this afternoon and tomorrow morning. However, Josh hands the clipboard around the other way up the bus meaning I'll be last to see it so doubt I'll get a space. Double gutted! Thankfully, fate intervenes and despite my worry, there is space for me in the afternoon.

I have pre-booked my accommodation in Kaikoura and to my dismay its about a mile out of town! Having been dropped off by Josh, I've got about 20 minutes to change into some appropriate clothing and high tail it round to the Dolphin Encounter office. My shins ache from speed walking all the way round but I manage to get to the office in time. Not sure I'll have the energy to swim now though!

We're given wet suits - oh they are so my favourite thing of all time now! We're given some hints as to how to attract the dolphins (they're wild dusky dolphins, not the Florida type that bark when you whistle they're that well trained) and we head off to the boat!

Its pretty calm but some people look green by the time we find pods of dolphins - the sights before me are something to behold. The boat's skipper reckons on about 150 dusky dolphins before us! We're allowed in the water with them about 6 tmies - each time I get in, dolphins swim up and around me, including baby ones! Despite being rocked by the strength of the Pacific Ocean current, I'm truly in my element and amazed by the level of interaction from these wild creatures. Its one of the most amazing experiences of my life!

On our return, as if we hadn't seen enough, we come across a baby humpback whale, a shark and some albatross. Spoilt or what? A little perturbed about the shark but I'm reassured by Brendan and Laura (who work on the boat), that they're not the aggressive kind!

I take my hot chocolate and enjoy the view back. I'm feeling very sorry for the ill people around me, including the Wolves fan who I resist pushing overboard!

What I haven't explained is that Kaikoura is nestled at the foot of some pretty impressive mountains. Even more impressive is that unbeknownst to most (as you can't see it!), is that just offshore, there is a shelf in the ocean floor which is about a mile deep, attracting an abundance of sea life - hence the seals, dolphins, whales et al that I have seen.

On my return I spend an hour or two looking around the town and make my way back (at a more leisurely pace) to the hostel for an early night - its been a big day!

Posted by KerryMc 21:41 Archived in New Zealand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Christchurch Day 3

sunny 35 °C
View Round the World in 164 days! on KerryMc's travel map.

8th January 2009

Can't believe where this weather has come from! Its 35 degrees - the hottest day on record in Christchurch apparently! Not that I'm really complaining, or am I (without air conditioning, this isn't so good!).

I head to the tourist information shop and get details on the gondola / tram ride. I overhear the lady saying that dolphin swimming in Kaikoura is fully booked for the next two weeks - gutted! That was the one thing I was so intent on doing but seems I fail miserably - there's always Florida!

I negotiate my way to the right bus stop and head off on the number 28 to the Gondola.. "nice mullet Mr Bus Driver". The Gondola is a cable car ride which takes you up into the hills behind Christchurch to give you a view of the South Island. You can see the Canterbury Plains, Lake Ellesmere, the Southern Alps and the City below stretching out to the Pacific Ocean.

Back in the City, I jump on the old style tram which circumnavigates around the more historic sites of the City.

It must be my day as when browsing the shops later, I finally found a fleece! I spent the rest of my time online preparing for my US visit and get my travel authorisation approved - yay! Find some good looking hostels (if there is such a thing) in LA & San Diego, plus some ideas for Chicago and Miami. Is it time to go home already? Eek!

Back to the hostel for an early night! I have an early start tomorrow!

Posted by KerryMc 21:40 Archived in New Zealand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Christchurch Day 2

sunny 32 °C
View Round the World in 164 days! on KerryMc's travel map.

7th January 2009

A free day to chillax, plus a lie in - what a treat! What is going on though - outside it looks sunny! Double prizes! I figure I should ring Kiwi Experience and sort out my departure for tomorrow, except I'm on standby so probably better to leave on Friday 9th instead which is quieter. Ok! Another day in Christchurch by the looks of it! I'm disappointed as it means my extra day in Kaikoura is no longer but that was so I could go dolphin swimming and their website says they're full on Friday anyway... :(

I spend some time chatting to Mom and Kath on the internet - we're all struggling to adjust with the extreme time difference and the blackout it gives us in communicating - arrgghh! Yet, despite being about as far away as I'll get from home, New Zealand offers a great deal of comfort in its familiar green surroundings.

Having procrastinated enough for today, I decide upon a walk around the "cultural precinct" which is conveniently on my doorstep. I feel like I'm walking around Oxford University!! I come across the Dux de Lux pub which seems to have won awards so I figure a stop for lunch and drink would be rude not to - its so hot! I have the award winning nachos - I can see why, they're delish!

Shopping anyone? Oh, alright then, if I must! I'm trying to find some presents to take with me to Jo and James but realise quickly that my quest is futile - as is the one to purchase a fleece in case it gets cold (despite the fact that it is about 32 degrees). I give up and put my efforts to good use by updating my blog - although I still seem to be days behind!

Back at the hostel, the lack of air conditioning makes being in the room pretty unbearable but I persevere and read some more of my book. I find that I'm definitely better on days where I am kept busy with activities rather than having to motivate myself! Its tough work you know!!

I suddenly feel so far away from home and can't talk to anyone because of the time but I'm in touch with Jo and I'm very excited about seeing her on Saturday. Bring on the good times!

Posted by KerryMc 21:11 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Sydney... to Christchurch

semi-overcast 25 °C
View Round the World in 164 days! on KerryMc's travel map.

6th January 2009

Despite running through my head at least ten times the expected timing for getting my flight to New Zealand this morning, I must have had the biggest mental block ever as I seem to lose time everywhere. I miss the first train by a minute to Central, then I miss the airport train. When I finally reach the airport, my check in desk has to be the furthest away - about a mile from where I arrive. Typical!

I get there and join the queue for what has to be the slowest check-in ever. The more agitated I get, the more time seems to run away. I can hear my Dad's voice ringing through my head - something about being late for my own funeral! I get to the front of the queue as they're calling the last check-in for my flight. I relax.... But then I'm told that my e-ticket isn't enough evidence for New Zealand Authorities and that I'll have to get something printed from the service desk. I realise that with 30 minutes to go until my flight goes, that I'm not going to get chance for some breakfast, a relaxed look at duty free or..... will this woman ever get off her headset phone?? The Air New Zealand Service Desk agent doesn't even acknowledge me standing there for an age which irritates me immensely and appears to be busy booking someone onto a flight in two weeks time. I mean, hello? isn't there a call centre that can do this for you?? When she finally does look up and I mouth 'please, help!', I get a "I'm on the phone" short shrift.

I honestly feel that this could be my day to get violent. In my head I play out a 'monster-in-law' style scene of me grabbing her by the collar and hitting her on the head with a frying pan. Then I realise, I'm checked in, this flight will have to wait and when the despatcher is asked why the flight is late going, I can put up my hand and say that it is this idiotic, rude "call yourself Customer Service" desk girl. In the words of Donald Trump / Alan Sugar... "you're fired". Air New Zealand / Sydney Airport staff (the latter I suspect), have not made my day at all!

I finally get my slip of paper (I really don't see what all the fuss is about) and run through security where a butch security woman has it in her head that she must use her powers to annoy me even further. This time the offending article is my 100ml toothpaste - clearly contraband material! Despite it clearly being in a plastic bag and only 100ml, she is intent on taking it. Now, not that I'm emotional about keeping my toothpaste you understand but its the principle of the matter and after Little Miss Rude, I'm not taking any prisoners. Thankfully for her, my fine thread emotional state is detected by another security guard who offers to help me sort my hand luggage out and tells me to hide the afore-mentioned toothpaste quickly. "Have a nice flight miss, you take care" and that was my faith restored! But, I don't have time to exchange pleasantries, they're final calling my plane.

And that is how you leave Australia in style!!

A few hours later and the South Island of New Zealand stretches out below me. I can't see much because of the cloud cover but as we near Christchurch I feel more like I'm landing in Shannon - its also overcast!!

I take an airport shuttle over to the YHA and am amazed on my journey to see the river, parks and architecture. Saying that this place resembles England is a joke - its more English!!

After checking in, I decide on a walk around the City - very easy to navigate and helped by the drop in temperature from Sydney. I stop off at an Irish pub / restaurant for a guinness and some hotpot! You know it makes sense!!

Posted by KerryMc 20:50 Archived in New Zealand Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

My reflection on Australia....

View Round the World in 164 days! on KerryMc's travel map.

The past six weeks have been a rollercoaster during which time I feel I have come so far physically and emotionally.

I always felt that Australia would be the place that I could call home perhaps (only if it was a swanky apartment in Circular Quay) and settle; but I now see it as a place to come and explore, to enjoy, to test the senses but to ultimately leave behind and continue on on my journey.

It strikes me that I was only truly at home with Vivi in Adelaide - a City so akin to the UK / Europe and I think that says an awful lot.

Having said that, I aim to return. I don't know in what capacity (or indeed how, financially!) but there are still some explored areas for me to see (Western Australia for definite!).

In the meantime, I offer Australia thanks for letting me go walkabout, for allowing me to recapture my sense of being and above all, giving me the self-confidence to continue on my journey.

Posted by KerryMc 20:45 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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