Ferry Crossing/Picton/Kaikoura/Christchurch

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Friday, February 16th started out overcast with light rain, but by the time we were waiting to drive our car onto the ferry the rain had stopped and there were a few patches of blue sky.  The ride through the Cook Strait was rough when we got out of Wellington Harbor and walking around was a challenge.  After a three hour ride we arrived in the small town of Picton and drove to A Sea View, the B & B where we stayed for one night.  We had great seafood at Skipper’s restaurant, a short drive from the B & B.  We started Saturday with a full breakfast at A Sea View , which is located on Whatamango Bay, overlooking the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound.  We left the Picton area and drove south toward Kaikoura.  The landscape changed dramatically during the 2 1/2 hour drive.  It quickly became brown hills and vineyards around the Blenheim area, then the mountains appeared and soon we had the Pacific ocean on our left.  Just north of Kaikoura we stopped at Ohau Point, where we saw the seal colony.  The highlight of the day was the whale watch.  We traveled out to sea in a very nice catamaran--very comfortable airline-type seats in an enclosed cabin on our way to where the whales are.  We were told it was quite choppy before we left, and we didn’t have any problems, but some people needed barf bags.  The sperm whale is the species in these waters this time of year, and we saw two.  We were very close to them, following along as they stayed on the surface (usually 5-15 minutes).  You have time to get your camera ready, as they arch their body before they dive, making it easier to get a shot of that great tail flip as they go under.  The males average about 60 feet long and eat about a ton of food a day.  They are smaller than the blue whale that can be as long as a 737 jet and have a heart as big as a VW.  Wow!  We also saw a lot of dolphins, which were much harder to photograph, as they are very quick and they didn’t jump very high out of the water.  We stayed at the Anchor Inn in Kaikoura, which was right on the ocean.  We had dinner at the White Morph, where they served crayfish.  Since the word Kaikoura means “meal of crayfish” we had to try it.  It’s like lobster, but in our opinion, not quite as tasty.  Sunday, February 18th, was a beautiful day for our drive south from Kaikoura to Christchurch.  We stopped at a pretty spot called Gore Bay, where many people were swimming and enjoying the beach.  We arrived in Christchurch in early afternoon, checked into the Hotel Grand Chancellor and started exploring the city.  Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island but driving around is easy, and you can walk to almost anywhere.  We walked along the Avon River, a very scenic spot where there were small boats “punting” along the river.  We took a break from our sightseeing to spend some time at the Christchurch casino, where we won about $200 NZD.  We walked through Victoria Square with its statues, famous flower clock and other pretty gardens on our way back to the hotel.  The Anglican Christ Church Cathedral, considered the city’s most important landmark, was also on the way.  Christchurch has a distinctly British feel, as it was founded as a Church of England settlement.  We didn’t spend our casino winnings on a nice dinner, but had some delicious fish and chips and a few pints at The Tap Room.  Monday, February 19th, was the third consecutive sunny warm day on the South Island.  We took a tour to the Banks Peninsula where we visited the beautiful town of Akaroa, which is on a harbor of the same name.  We rode on a bus to the town, which was nice as Jay could enjoy the scenery more than when driving.  Akaroa was founded by a small band of French settlers in 1840, making it the oldest town in the Canterbury region.  We walked around the town, had some lunch and then took a 2 hour cruise around the harbor.  We saw lots of wildlife, including Hector’s dolphins, seals, many birds and a yellow-eyed penguin.  Then back to Christchurch where we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant.  All the places we’ve visited this far have been wonderful, but we especially liked Christchurch because of the ease of getting around, the pedestrian walkways, the Avon River and Victoria Square.

Interislander to Picton

Leaving Wellington

View from deck of A Sea View B & B

Waikawa Bay near Picton

On Hwy. 1 Picton to Kaikoura

On Hwy. 1 Picton to Kaikoura

Ohau Point Seal Colony

Sister ship from Whale Watch fleet

"Little Nick"

"Tiaki" diving

Pacific from Anchor Inn

Pacific from Anchor Inn

From Kaikoura Lookout

From Kaikoura Lookout

Surfer at Gore Bay

Cathedral Cliffs at Gore Bay

City Mall - Christchurch

Avon River

James Cook statue in Victoria Square

Flower clock in Victoria Square

Anglican Christ Church Cathedral

Village and harbor from Akaroa Village Lookout

Harbor Cruise - Hector's dolphins

Harbor cruise - yellow-eyed penguin

Old Arakoa Lighthouse

Akaroa Harbor

© Jay Deitch 2020