Thursday, November 11, 2010

Things Are Going South

Jonathan relied on the 'ancient' alarm clock to get us up in time to catch our 8am ferry from Wellington on NZ`s North Island to Picton, on the south. We discovered just before we were headed to bed that our alarm watch didn`t work. So Jonathan took one for the team and drank three bottles of water assuring that he would be up bright and early, if not before. The truth behind this 'bladder alarm' has yet to be verified, but, sure enough, at 6am on the dot my darling husband was awake and racing to the bathroom.

The ferry ride from Wellington to Picton is a photographers dream. I found a spot of morning sun on the front deck and happily clicked away for the next 3 hours. Wellington's harbour is a sight in itself, but then in the distance snow capped mountains come into view, and finally you are in the Marlborough Sounds. Like the Island Queen in Parry Sound our massive ferry squeezed its way through narrow passages into pristine waters and in between towering green mountains. A Christchurch native pops into our conversation by pointing out a salmon fishery on the coast. He tells us all about the massive earthquake that devastated CHristchurch about 8 weeks ago. The earthquake was a result of a fault line that no one even knew about until the quake. He says the earth quake only lasted 30 seconds but it felt like an hour. It was 4 am, so like most he was in bed. He said the quake was so strong that he couldn't even get up. Houses on the lake opposite his literally slid into the lake and the people who lived in them still don't know if they will be able to re-build at the site.

Straight from the ferry we drove south down the most gorgeously distracting highway to Kaikoura. The wind swept the massive waves along the huge sandy beaches or tossed them dramatically into cliff alongside the road. Ocean spray from the tips of waves in the distance completed the magical atmosphere. I held my camera out the window clicking in hopes of capturing at least a smidge of the wild, seemingly abandoned coast. The abandoned feeling probably comes from the fact that only 1 million people live on the whole of the south island. The road, of course, is the main highway to Christchurch, the biggest city on the south island. It's a whole new world down here.

Before the 1980s no one wanted to even come to Kaikoura. It was nothing but a small fishing town Kai (meaning 'food') and Koura (meaning 'crayfish', aka lobster). Once word got out that there was a whole lot of accessible sea life in this tiny seaside village. The tides changed, coming in full of tourists. I fell in love with the town before we even got there. Twenty or so kilometers north was a small roadside sign saying 'Seal Colony.' We pulled over, even though the clearly self explanatory sign should have prepared us, we were delighted to see and actual seal colony frolicking just below. Seeing animals in their natural habitat is extraordinary.

In Kaikoura, snow capped mountains practically fall into the ocean. There are few places in the world where mountains are so close to the sea. It is spectacular. The problem is deciding where to look. You look at the sparkling water and feel guilty for not paying more attention to the majestic mountains. So you turn to the mountains and you miss the dolphin just off shore. What's a girl to do?

Other reasons I love Kaikoura include the magnificent Kaikoura Peninsula Cliff Walk, the FREE ocean-front camping, accessible fresh water tap, friendly i-site ladies and, of course, the seals. After our cliff walk we settled ourselves at the Kean Point carpark and watched another seal colony for the entire afternoon. The seals played and lazed and lazed and played (emphasis on the lazing) and so we followed suit. We set up our beach chairs on the edge of their colony and became, for a few hours anyway, honourary seals. Don't you feel bad for us?

ps. We finally got around to trying the Hokey Pokey ice cream (solely because of your request, mom). These are the flavours in our cone: Hokey Pokey, Goodie Goodie Gum Drop and Mint Chocolate Cookie Smash!

pps. We are starting to gather contacts for Southeast Asia. If anyone knows anyone we could meet up with or any volunteer opportunities we could piggy back, please let us know. Thanks!


Gina said...

Hi Kristen, your mom and my mom have both sent me your blog address. New Zealand is amazing! This entry describes a bunch of places I saw when I was there 2 years ago... now I want to go back! I ended up staying for a couple of days in Kaikura and went swimming with the dolphins and whale watching. During "whale watching" I found out that I get horribly, ridiculously seasick. So I missed all the whales. But I did see the seal colony (from land) :)

karly said...

omg that look soo amazing!! sounds like you guys are having a great time!! i want some of the goodie goodie gum drop!! i think you should express it home to me!!! lol luv you!! miss you!

Mom and Dad Mooney said...

Wow - looks like you should be sending your pics to National Geographic! The differences between the north and south are outstanding - We would have never quessed - NZ is definately on our bucket list. Miss you - keep safe

Sarah said...

you're such a talented photog pomey, great shots! Plus your story telling is top shelf. I'm so proud of you two for doing all this.

Roy and Margaret said...

Love reading your blog, it is better than anything I have read in a long time. Keep on having fun and posting those amazing things you are doing. Reading your blog is just like being there with you.