Saturday, 28 April 2012

Waiting for Nana and Easter in Queenstown

Nana - Welcome to NZ

Nana, Diane arriving in Christchurch. Wish I looked like this after a 15 hour flight!

Driving down to Queenstown we stopped off at Lake Tekapo.

Twizel. The town was built in the 60s for a new power plant, with a view to demolishing it oncethe building work was complete. In the meantime the residents had grown fond of their town and it stayed. Now a place on every salmon fisherman's radar.

Under the bridge in Twizel.

Digs fishing Twizel

Our beautiful homestay (house swap) with views to The Remarkables and over Lake Wakatipu. Thanks Jen and Steve for a great 3 weeks.

At the top of the Queenstown gondala.

Looking over Queenstown and the Bungy platform at the end of the day.

Easter Hunt overlooking Lake Wakatipu and choccy carnage a few minutes later!

Some Autumn colour by the lake.

Raz teaching Nana to fish for trout.


Sweet Shop in Arrowtown

to the West Coast and back over Arthur's Pass

West coast beach near Hokitata

We drove from East to West over the Lindis Pass and then came back a little further south over Arthur’s Pass. This took us through the tiny hamlet of Jacksons where there seemed to be some kind of porsche gathering happening in the car park of the Jackson Inn.
Inside the Inn were sepia prints of the 2 Jackson brothers, Adam and Micheal Jackson, who first settled the area. Apparently Mrs Jackson, not sure which one, had a garden of holly and quickly became known as Lady Jackson, whilst Mr Jackson welcomed people into the village with the family heirloom of some bagpipes from Battle of Coloden! Sadly their sons, Charles and Edward (23/28 yrs) both died in October 1917 in Belgium in WW1.

Lake Pearson

Lake Pearson Brown Trout

Sperm Whales, Seals, and Blue Cod in Kaikoura

Raz and Digs took a fishing charter and came back with a chunky Blue Cod, a couple of Crayfish and some Sea Perch. I went into the ticket office to book some tickets for the next morning's whale watch trip; when I balked at the price,  the woman behind the counter responded by saying that she had 3 children and they never went anywhere, apart from maybe the odd picnic! As I walked out of the building, I noticed groups of Japanese tourists pouring out of the office for the morning's whale show!

That evening we cooked the Crays in the campervan. It was a bit of a challenge to get them in the pot and the larger friskier one - we'll call him, Ronnie -  wasn't subdued easily.

An alarming alarm went off in the middle of the night, and as we were parked up no more than 5 metres from the ocean in the car park of whale watch, we edged out of bed wondering if it could it be a Tsunami warning? We sleepily realised it must be the local fire station calling their men into action and went back to sleep.

There is a huge trench in the bay that goes from 50m one moment to a 1700m underwater cliff face. We got up close to a couple of male sperm whales (the females hang out in the Azores), one resident called Tapuki and another than has been around for 4 months. They were tracked by following their echo locator sounds. When it goes quiet on the sonar, it means they are on their way to the surface. When the whales has dived back under, the Royal Albatrosses gave us something to point at.

A skatepark with a view in Kaikoura

8am Kaikoura: getting ready for fishing.

Raz and his Blue Cod

Out on the Kaikoura Whale Watch - check out the back-lit hair!

Sperm Whales in Kaikoura Bay.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Cloudy Bay

I really wanted to go to the lesser known, family run vineyards in the Marlborough area, so first we went to the Forrest vineyard owned by Dr Forrest. He's named a bubbly named after his wife, simply called "Bridget". Lovely stuff.

The Maori's knew this bay as Te Koko (the scoop) and Cook rebranded it, somewhat pessimistically, as Cloudy Bay. We nearly didn't go to Cloudy Bay, the vineyard, thinking we would swerve by the Louis Vuitton owned operation, that had sold out to it's kiwi roots.  But it didn't take much for us to swerve in and enjoy the Cloudy Bay fantasy for a couple of hours as the kids played croquet on the lawn under giant eucalyptus trees, swung in suspended nests, ate wood-fired pizzas and glugged on vintages and blends we don't get in the UK; like a late harvest Riesling. The UK market is the second largest after Australia, with a 20% share.
On another, less frangrant note, and with none of the lychee and gooseberry flavours, our campervan loo is really starting to honk. A heady mix of uric acid with top notes of fish oil, from the nearby bait and tackle box.

Cape Farewell and Jacques Cousteau's Floating Cafe

Magi with a pilot whale bone found at Cape Farewell.

Walking along Farewell Spit; the 35km sand spit that arches over the top of the South Island like the beak of a kiwi.

Bear getting really close to seals at Cape Farewell.

On Jacque Costeau's floating Expresso Ship in Pohara Harbour. Coffee beans ready for roasting.