Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Life Of Luxury

Walking has been put aside for a week or so. Gay's sister Dana has arrived from Australia for a short visit - her first to New Zealand. Normally we meet her in different parts of Australia and she is the one to arrange the itinerary and accommodation. Now it is our turn.

Dana's arrival time was switched from early evening until c. midnight so all we had time for was some quick greetings before bedtime in our Christchurch motel. The next morning we had a quick visit to the container mall I mentioned in this blog in January. Then it was out to Akaroa, where we were staying at the Criterion Motel. When I was small I was in the habit of using the word "criterion" as an insult. I don't know where that came from but there are many Criterion motels or hotels in Nww Zealand and of course I have always fancied staying in one. This one doesn't look much from the outside but, in order to have two separate bedrooms, I had booked the penthouse. This was magnificent, with spectacular views.

We spent two days in Akaroa including a boat trip round the enormous harbour - the result of volcanic eruptions. As always, we had several sightings of the tiny - just over a metre - Hector's dolphins. Because we have made this trip so often, starting in 1995 - we were given a free pass for our next dolphin cruise, hopefully in 2013.

On Monday we drove back through Christchurch and up the East coast to Kaikoura, which was a whaling station but which now is a centre for whale watching. This is one of the few places in the world where sperm whales feed and dive within a short distance of the coast - because there is a huge undersea canyon which, combined with the ideal currents, makes an ideal feeding place for them. We went out on a whale watching boat and were rewarded with two sightings of sperm whales and numerous sightings of the amazingly acrobatic Dusky dolphins.

Our accommodation was at least the equivalent of that in Akaroa but was a self-contained detached villa. We had wonderful views here as well. This was Tuesday morning's sunrise.

Today started off very wet and remained so as we drove to Picton, where we are now ensconced in the far north of South Island - this is the point of departure for ferries to North Island. We are here for two days then it will be back to Christchurch airport for Dana's departure.

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