Monday, December 7, 2015

Day 10 Farewell to Wellington

Today we say farewell to Wellington as we make the next step in our trip. Sure was fun while it lasted, thanks Wellington for your great Museums, super-shops and grand civic buildings. This morning we need to clean the car (ferry trip), refuel and buy another bag.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Day 9 A day in Wellington

We started the day with a sleep in, followed by a planning session for our trip. By mid morning, we ventured out into the streets of Wellington. We found Wellington to be a city of contrasts, with delightful Edwardian row houses to grunge covered buildings in the city mall to grand civic buildings. 

We found the mall to be run down, dirty and begger infested. Prices in the central part of the city was reasonable priced. The people to be friendly but not very aware of much beyond their own shop or streets. 

The civic buildings of Wellington are grand and typical of late 19th century design. Very clean. The commercial buildings and streets beyond Cuba Street mall are generally nicer than most Australia cities. 

A highlight of today was a visit to the National and the Regional Museums. The ANZAC display (national) by WETA was simply amazing and extremely moving. The soldier statues were 2 1/2 times life size and amazingly realistic, right down to the sweat on the brows and chafed dried lips. 

We also visited a very fine dining establishment, that cooked all you could eat Mongolian for $19NZ. The food was very tasty and was cooked in front of you as you waited. 

We also visited "New World" (Coles) shopping centre for some items. The prices were very reasonable, perhaps better than Australia. Very interesting.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Day 8 to the North Island and Wellington

An early start to catch inter-islander ferry. We saw it last night entering the sound off Picton, it is full size ship. The journey takes about 3 hours apparently between the islands, so some down time to plan the last phase of our journey. The girls enjoyed having Catherine over at our cabin last night as we had a spare bunk, and Peter's and Anja's was a bit cramped.
We visited a European bakery on the way to the ferry. The food made up for the previous night's meal.

The ferry loading was long but reasonably painless. Parking was very tight, but the staff assisted with directions. The ferry was equipped with lounges, cafes and observation decks. The trip between the islands was 3 hours on smooth waters. The scenery was quite outstanding leaving the South Island.

On arrival we drove to WETA studio (film makers and special effects company that made films like "The Hobbit" and Avengers etc). Ideal place for Charlotte as they use a lot of graphic design. We took a tour of the design studios, and saw an artist working on a Star Wars prop. We also won a limited edition and signed paintings/poster. Not sure how we will get it home.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Day 7 Kaikoura to Picton

Today we left lovely Kaikoura for Picton. Once again, we travelled across the beautiful landscape of New Zealand, but today we saw a lot of coast. The coastline reminded us of the great once road in Australia but on grander scale. We saw so more seals at coastal waterfall, very cute.

Blenheim and wine district was quaint. The winerys tend to charge for a taste, usually $5 or $10 for 5 tastings. The tastings however are very generous, hence the strong police RBT presence on the roads. The wines are very nice.

In Picton we arrived too late for the shops, so we went for a walk around the town and harbour. We saw the Edmond Fox - the nineth oldest ship in the world, and oldest merchant ship. Built in 1853, she is currently being restored. 

We finished our day with dinner at a local Fish and chip shop at the docks. It was recommended as a great place, but obviously we caught it on a bad day. We found it expensive and meals average. The manager and barman were functional and transactional at best with their service.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Day 6 Christchurch to Kaikoura

An interesting day, with a short enjoyable 2 hour trip north to Kaikoura. New Zealand is a land of surprises with the countryside fluxulating between rolling hills, tall mountains, dense forests, deep gourges with crystal clear creeks, all wrapped in lush greens of highly fertile land. 

The towns are clean, quaint and beautiful to the eye. Truely lovely places to pass through. We stopped briefly at Cheviot, for breakfast and take a look at Knoxs Church. 

Kaikoura is a coast town, with the smell of the ocean strong in it's clean streets. The town is small and like something out of a movie set, almost surreal in its beauty. The girls, got to swim with seals in the ocean while the adults visited a seal colony on the shore. The seals clearly wild let us get very close. The seals are in season with pups, so keen to stay put. 

The holiday park is neat and tidy, but our accomodation (IMHO) is the best so far on our trip. The cabin is large, clean and very modern. A great place to relax. Sadly, like some of the previous stops on this trip, the cost of living is high.

Personally the trip has been grand and I will be sad to leave. Today was special, because it represented the first of new places and experiences. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Day 5 Queenstown to Christchurch- the return trip

8:43am very hot today. It seems NZ weather is a bit like Toowoomba's - 4 seasons in a day. They predicting 30 degrees in Christchurch today, so we have put away our winter clothes.

The three families are all heading off separately today, but all arriving in Christchurch tonight.

The shot over top ten has been packed. Our only complaint has been the cabins are designed for winter conditions so fitted with a heater not AC. Last night we slept with the front door open, to get some relief. It worked.

10am we go under way to Arrowtown where stopped to see the ford used in the Lord of Rings. The girls were tired, stayed in the car and slept or listened to music. We got moving 11am from Arrowtown on the long road to Christchurch, and long it was, as we arrived back at Christchurch late in evening at 7pm. 

Along the way we stopped again at Lake Tepako has a tasty fish and chip lunch and took some more photos.