Saturday 9th May
We continued heading down the east coast today, with a long drive from Mapua to Kekerengu, once again passing through the holy grail of the Marlborough vineyards. Ah, Cloudy Bay, hello again! The coastal road is beautiful, and our overnight camping spot was on the shore next to The Store café/restaurant. The Store is a wonderful eatery, and we spent a happy couple of hours there, watching the sea, drinking beer, and draining their free wifi! Lots of music to download, and photos to upload!
Charlotte now owes me $40 having lost a bet – another camper van had arrived with a cat sitting on the window sill. Charlotte would not believe it was a real cat. “Who takes their cat away with them????” She said. Anyway, it certainly seemed real to me, and so the bet was struck. Brilliantly, shortly afterwards, the owners quite literally let the cat out of the bag, and off it pottered for a wander around! Nearly as strange as the dog that drove another camper van in…..
Sunday 10th May
We awoke with great excitement! Today we were booked on to a whale watching trip at Kaikoura! And the weather was perfect! The hour’s drive down the coast was spectacular, with the rocky shore being home to hundreds of Fur Seals. Amazing to see them playing and basking in themorning sun! Beautiful!
The whale watching was epic. Almost indescribable. We headed into the ocean on a lovely fast ship, only 29 of us on board and three very entertaining crew. After 20 minutes of searching and listening on the hydrophone, another ship made us aware of a Sperm whale 25 minutes away, so off we went at full speed, bouncing and smacking on the swell.there was a huge air of urgency and excitement. The other boat’s hydrophone suggested that this whale was gradually surfacing from the depths. They stay down for 60-90 minutes at a time then surface for only 10-15 minutes. So the race was on! And then we saw it! The water spout first, and then the enormous beast itself! Absolutely beautifully stunning, aprivilege beyond description! We watched it for a while before with a flick of its huge tail it dived down again. Magical. My video of it doesn’t do the majesty of it any justice at all. And then, just as we were about to head home, two more spouts sighted! Two Blue Whales! The largest animals on the planet now, and in all of history! Each the size of a Boeing 737, and weighing six times more!! It was fantastic to see how excited even the crew were at this very unexpected bonus! We tracked these two Queens Of The Sea for half an hour before they were off for good. Easily one of the greatest experiences we have EVER had, and another thing I would urge people to do. We could both quite happily spend the rest of our days watching these beautiful animals. It was hypnotic.
The Sperm whale has an enormous head, that contains two and a half tonnes of oil! It uses this oil for its sonar, and as a buoyancy aid. But this oil was also sought by the evil human, who hunted the whale almost to extinction. Even Rolls Royce proudly used it as gear box lubricant! Horrendous!!
Later, we drove another hour to Gore Bay where we camped up for the night, as usual just a few metres from the crashing surf. We never get bored of it!
Monday 11th May
I’m setting up a new organisation – Action Regarding Sandfly Extermination, or ARSE. As Brigadier In General, I will be the BIG ARSE. Charlotte is in charge of Learning and Research Development (LARD ARSE), Sam will be Photography And Training (PHAT ARSE), and Josh will be Head of Universal Global Entertainment (HUGE ARSE). Any donations will be gratefully received in my bank account. I thank you in anticipation….
Ok, so today we’ve had an urge to escape these ridiculously perfect beaches, and seek out some mountains and snow! There’s only enough sea and sand (and Sandflies) a man can take! A long long drive has seen us arrive in Lake Tepako, at 700m above sea level. The lake is a crystalline blue. I’m presuming we’re surrounded by mountains, but the clouds are down!!! This is one of only 5 officially classed Dark Skies areas in the world, for star gazing but it’s not going to happen tonight! And it’s a tad windy, so we’re sheltering comfortably in a free camping spot for the night. Following a slightly badly managed laundry stop on route (the clothes haven’t dried very well!) the van now resembles a Chinese laundry with knickers and socks hung everywhere! I daren’t put any of Charlotte’s big knickers near the windows as if the wind gets into them (which usually happens when she’s wearing them) we may take off! The heater is on full blast, and while it’s blowing a gale outside, we’re melting inside! Not to worry! The Oyster Stout will keep us cool! I’m regularly changing from 267 degrees inside, to minus 458 degrees outside whenever I go for a cigarette. No wonder smoking kills you! It gives you hypothermia!!
Tomorrow we’ll drive up to Mount Cook village, then cycle up to the Blue Lakes, then walk up to the Tasman Glacier. Cycling, walking and glacier – where did it all go wrong?? 😝
Just seen our old house up for sale again, a year after we sold it! And £35 k more! Outrageous! But newly decorated. It’s on with Verity Frearson if you want a look. You won’t recognise it! 38 Coppice Avenue. Looks weird.
The local police have just been around, and asked me to take down the marquee. How he laughed when I explained it was the wife’s knickers drying……
Tuesday 12th May
Started off the day with a new experience!!! At 6.15am an air raid siren was sounding!!! Bloody hell! What’s that all about?? In a land of fire, earthquakes, tsunamis and floods we were a bit worried! “Should we be doing something?” pondered Charlotte. After three minutes it all went quiet, and no natural disasters had yet hit us. A spot of Googling showed that it was the call out for the local volunteer fire brigade! So, let me get this right? The entire district has to wake up? Have they not heard of mobile phones? Text? Twitter? Even pagers? Is this not 2015? (No, it’s New Zealand, so it’s barely 1915).
Well, that was it. I was up and awake then, and decided we should have a better view for breakfast, so drove off to the lakeside with Charlotte still in bed! I felt like one of those extra large ambulances they have in America to ferry hugely obese people around……. (Of course I’m not saying that Charlotte is hugely obese, that’s just how I felt!) then, bacon, eggs and beans with a brilliant view over the lake and the snow topped hills. It was very Scottish looking, including the heavy cloud! The freezing level had dropped to 1000m overnight so the snow level was quite low. Beautiful!!!
update: I think we’ve spoiled ourselves by seeing Puerto Moreno glacier first off, and may be a little disappointed in all those yet to come!!!!