Saturday, 11 February 2017

Christchurch and Kaikoura

Christchurch had a lovely vibe to it, despite half the city centre being in ruins, there seems to be a good sense of people getting on with life, and not letting a little earthquake ruin everything. From he shopping mall made out of containers, to the cardboard cathedral, they are very much open for business. We stayed out to the north of town, in an airbnb, which enabled us do do our own cooking and be more independent. We ate pasta in the evening, and more interesting things for lunch in town.

On the Friday we picked up the hire car, which is an ancient Nissan bluebird, with over 325000 miles on the clock, clock hasn't already gone round once or twice. It gave us a mild worry when in the first 20km the fuel gauge had dropped about 20%, so I worked out we would be filling it up every 100km. By the time we got to the parkrun, we realised that it just had a funny shaped fuel tank.

Pegasus parkrun was lovely, quite small, and two laps of a pretty lake. Afterwards we had a massive breakfast, to prepare us for the long journey north.

Kaikoura was amazing. Again, a lot of earthquake damage, with lots of notable buildings closed because of it. We found the nicest Indian restaurant in the world, and booked some tours.

On the first full day we went kayaking around the seal habitats (I think they were actually sea lions, but I'm not totally sure) which was amazing, getting really close to seals and seeing the occasional penguin. Is is where I managed to drop my phone in the sea, losing most of the photos we had taken so far. It was an old phone, and would have died soon anyway, but still very foolish of me.

On the second day we hopped on a boat, after putting on wetsuits and flippers, and the took us out on a pancake flat sea to find the dolphins. Once we were amongst them, half the boat jumped off the back, and we all whooped and hollered through our snorkels and  made ourselves as interesting as possible. Getting face to face with dolphins, as they eyed us up, and wondered what on earth we were doing, and noticing them appear over our heads with enough bubbles to realise they had just jumped over us, was the most wonderful experience I've ever known.

Our guides reckoned there were around 300 or more, and we did four or five sessions in the water with them, moving back to them when they swam further up the coast. After we all got out, we stayed nearby, and the dolphins carried on playing, doing jumps and generally pissing about. Quite spectacular. We are at the Indian again that night (it really was that good) and then packed up to head north, by going south the next morning.

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