April 17th, Papeete, Tahiti, it feels good to be back in 28degrees temperatures and closer to the boat! Our shopping possibilities were limited because all stores were closed because of Easter monday, except the Carrefour supermarket and a chinese supermarket where we could find the foodsupplies to take to Apataki tomorrow on the Cobia 3 !
Flashback to March 26th,2017: We did not stay very long in Dunedin since time was running out and we still wanted to see more of the East Coast.
We continue driving to Mount Cook village in the rain and low clouds 🙁 and spent a day at the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Center watching a 3D movie on Mount Cook, a documentary on the local mountain rescue team and the digital dome planetarium.
The next morning it was not raining but there were still a lot of low hanging clouds over our campsite. We were not sure what walk to do and decide to go to the outlook and take a decision on the way. Rainjackets, pants and backpack with some water we go on our way. When we come to a marker with the several walks we decide to take “Sealy Tarns”, only 5.2KM(one way), 3-4HR return walk, we think that is not too bad… Later we read the description of the walk,”The Sealy Tarns Track begins gently until you reach the foot of the Mueller Range. The track zigzags steeply up to Sealy Tarns.” The track consists mainly of 2200steps which have to be climbed! This was definitely one of the most challenging walks we did and we were not prepared! But the reward was incredible…
The return walk was not easy as well since it was so steep our legs were shaky. But we enjoyed the scenery so much that we did not care and arrived all happy under blue skies at the campsite. We drank and ate something. Felt stupid not to have prepared this walk better, we had no suncscreen nor a hat with us …we should know better, in the mountains the weather can change rapidly! This walk was definitely one of the highlights of our trip to NZ! We continued our route out of Mt.Cook National Park (also UNESCO world heritage) and went to Tasman glacier view and Tasman Lake…
The scenery along the drive from Mt.Cook village to Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo is really incredible.
In the visitor centre of Omarama they told us to go see the Clay Cliffs and the pictures convinced us to go. This is definitely a hidden gem in NZ! We did not have the blue skies which would have made it even more beautifull but they were incredible. We had to drive 12km on unsealed road and pay 5NZD a the gate because they are on private property, but it was worth it!
The next day we start out with rainy weather but as we continue our drive the clouds give way to sun and by the time we arrive at Rakaia Gorge it was perferct! We see a perfect camping spot but decide to do the Rakaia Gorge walkway first since the weather was so nice.
We lost our good camping spot but were happy we did the walk under blue skies as the next day it was drizling again…
Because we did not see any penguins nor an albatross in the Otago Peninsula (Dunedin) we decided to drive along the coast to Oamaru because the Rough Guide said this is a unique place to see the Yellow Eyed Penguin and the blue penguin since there is a colony within walking distance from the town centre!
We then decided to go see the blue penguin but we were informed that they only show up around 7PM, almost dark…We were at the rendez-vous a little after 7PM together with a lot of other penguin enthousiastics. We waited and waited, Stefan got a blanket, it was cold and windy, started to drizzle but we persevered and around 8PM a whole bunch came tumbling with a wave on the beach 🙂 Really funny how they then walk up the hill to their burrows. Unfortunately because it was already dark and you can not use a flash and they are far away I did not get any good enough picture…The blue penguin (Korora) is the smallest of the penguins. Cold and wet we returned back to Burnie, happy we did at least see the penguins!!
Our drive to Chrischurch was with continuous beautiful scenery and very variabel weather. Summer was over, leaves were turning to yellow and orangy colours and a lot already falling. We camp at Lyttleton harbour and the next day we decide to drive to Akaroa along a scenic route, Summit Road which traces the 600m high Akaroa crater rim. We stopped many times to take pictures and walked 30min to a viewpoint, all just in time to see the clouds roll in.
Akaroa is a little town with french roots. The first settlers came from France and a lot of the street names are still in french. It is a popular KIWI holiday destination.
Arriving in Christchurch was a surprise. We could not believe the destruction still visible from the earthquake that hit the city in February 2011! 6 years later and still so many buildings waiting to be torn down, rubble and cranes everywhere. Stefan felt sad seeing the city like this while I could sense a dynamism in the newly created parts of the city. We did not stay very long because it was already April 3rd and we had to be in Auckland by April 8th to show Burnie to a potential buyer.
Earthquakes occur very frequently in NZ because it is situated in the collision zone of two plates, the Indo-Australian and the Pacific tectonic plates. About 14000 earthquakes occur in and around the country each year and about 150 to 200 are big enough to be felt. We did not feel once the earth rumble.
We hurried back to Auckland passing by Wellington in the pouring rain from the storm Debbie and managed to sell Burnie to a french couple travelling for 2months in NZ. We rented a little camper and drove north of Auckland to Whangarei. Visited Aislado (NZ) in Marsdens Cove Marina, An and Ivan on Vaguebond in Town Basin at Whangarei. Drove to Russel ,where we had an excellent meal at the Duke of Marlborough, and stopped in Waipoua Kaori Forest to see the largest living Kaori tree from NZ. Cyclone Cook passed by…but we arrived safely and saturated with lots of nature scenery in our heads at our friend’s house late April 14! So nice to finally have the luxury of staying in a nice house, sleeping in a bedroom, toilet and bathroom next door 🙂 !
Thank you so much Sylvia, Vaughn and Zara for your hospitality, help and friendship! We hope someday to welcome you all in Ghent !!! 🙂