Saturday, 13 January 2018

Dunedin: 14th January 2018

The weather was better than yesterday so we went to the Eco-sanctuary. Sabine has finally given up with her old camera and as of today is officially using her new one which she's had now for way over a year, maybe a year and a half already.
Her old camera is kinda busted. It wont work on one lens and the LED screen isn't working very well at all.

The weather was nice in Dunedin but there was a lingering fast moving cloud in the mountain where the Eco-sanctuary is. It was actually quite cool to look at.

The birds were all amazing today. We decided to get yearly passes meaning we can now visit whenever we feel like it. The Tui's, Bellbird's and especially the Kaka's were at the bird feeders, and none seemed to mind humans much at all. Sabine stood on a rock near one feeder and one cheeky Kaka landed on her shoulder and stayed there for ages! It kept rubbing its head on her shoulder and then preening. It was such a cutie! Later I also saw a Red Poll and even saw a Rosella out the corner of my eye as it flew off.

After walking around we had a hot chocky at the cafe and I finally ate what they call a lolly cake. I've been eyeing these thingies up for a while now. It was okay I guess. Its a cake with hard marshmallows in it with a coconut topping. Sabines cake was a winner though. A carrot, beetroot and elderflower cake. Much better than mine. We heard some people talk about how they saw kingfishers at Allans Beach, so we inquired and headed there.

The GPS took us to the peninsular and up to this beach via gravel roads. It was an interesting ride but probably bad for the car. The beach itself was vast and quite a few tourists were parked there.

The wind was picking up the sandy beach too much. There were three sea lions but no kingfishers. Its been windy all day so I guess that couldn't be helped.

On the way back we decided to drive a different route via Portabello, and sure enough on that stretch of road we saw kingfishers on the telegraph wires. At least 2 of them. Didn't get a chance to photograph them though.


Saturday, 6 January 2018

Dunedin: Life in New Zealand. Part 10

For the first couple of days since they arrived back from the cattery, our cats meowed like normal cats. Deep hearty proper meows. They even slurped their water like crazy which was something new to me. They dont normally drink from the water bowl so vigorously, so they must have been copying what they saw from the other cats.

We have visited two more catteries now. One was small and pokey and somehow was a bit claustrophobic, however I thought it would be fine for the cats to stay in for a weekend. Sabine thinks this was a complete no go area. We have since visited another one, yesterday in fact, which was much nicer and bigger, located on top of the peninsular. It was super fantastic with lots of space for the cats to run loose in. So we have decided to book with them too in the future. I also picked up a huge cute Siamese cat there which was begging for affection as we were being shown around. I think its good for the cats to see different places when we are away, and not always go back to the same cattery. Call me mad, but the prices are all roughly the same so why not? Our kitties are not old enough to go outside yet so seeing new places would be a good idea.

Yesterday we also went to the SPCA expecting a huge influx of kittens. At least this is what they said would happen last time we were here. Not the case though. They had some, but most of them are still in foster homes with one of the viruses kittens usually get (its a bit of an issue in Dunedin at the moment). Sabine loves seeing kittens and there isn't much to do In Dunedin so why not come here and visit some cats? And yes we entertain our cats as much as possible. They are in no way neglected.

Work was only for 3 days last week and very sparse. Hardly anyone there at all. People are still away on leave it seems. For me it was just business as normal.

One evening, two "missionary" girls knocked on our door (somehow they would have had to bother undoing the latch on the gate from the other side, just to enter our property, which isn't easy). These two girls were so called "friends" of Vicky Hammond, the previous tenant, who just wanted to call by. If they are genuinely friends, they would know that they moved out over 6 months ago. Surely!

I cooked us eggs and bacon this morning. It turned out nice and crispy. The pan had a hell of a lot of set fat after it cooled down. I'm quite pleased the bacon fat wasn't all eaten to be honest. I'm not a fan of the stuff. And yeah the fat went in the bin, not down the drain.
We had fish and chips takeout this evening. First time eating fish and chips as a take away since we arrived in NZ I think.

We've watched a few movies in the evening. We also watched Night At The Museum 3 which was amazing! I cant believe they managed to make two more films of this thing AND make them as good as the first. Whats more, this film was better than number 2 and even tied off the trilogy nicely. All 3 films are highly recommended.

Oh yeah the power went out in the late morning today. We knocked on our neighbours door and had a good chat with her about it. She was affected too. other neighbours' were too. One guy told us that his granddaughter found out (from using mobile internet) it was caused from a fire down the road. Maybe the firemen turned off the power to the area in order to fix things? It was sorted out within 2 hours so it wasn't that big a deal. It was nice chatting to a few neighbours.

I took this photo for Dad really. I bet he would love it! This will be our third one. Its really yummy!

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Dunedin: Christmas Holiday!

For starters, please click here to watch my videos. I did a lot.

22 Fri-
Sabine had the day off work.
My work has been busy since wednesday due to colleagues deciding to go on holiday early, leaving only a skeleton crew to do lots of work.
Today during stand up, they decided to play a game rather than have a normal meeting. We each had to make a paper aeroplane and see how far it would travel across a room. My aeroplane travelled the furthest and I won a block of Cadburys Dairy Milk! woo go me! XD
They provided a BBQ in the basement from 11am which was really good. I went during my lunchtime. Its basically the underground delivery entrance area. They had sausages, burgers, hash browns and bacon. yummy!
Mostly everyone left at 3pm and I too left at around 3:40pm. We were allowed to go earlier but there was too much work to do.
I came home and packed and cut the grass.

23 Sat-
We packed the remainder of our luggage in the car and hung out at home with our kitties. Sabine looked online and realised that the cat hotel was open at 8am, not 9am like she initially thought. The time was 8am so we upped and left right there and then. Hermione was meowing in the car the whole way. poor thingy.
The cat/dog hotel was busy so we didn't get a proper chance to say goodbye.
The road travelling north was long and hot. We stopped over at Timaru for a Subway sandwich.
I realised just north of Christchurch where our destination was. Sabine has booked this whole trip as a surprise for me. To save face I've been telling people of whom were asking that we would be going to the Nelson Lakes, but truth be told I have no idea other than visiting Maruiya Springs tomorrow again. The sat-nav just north of Christchurch came up with a final destination flag, so I worked out that we would be going to Kaikoura. Sabine told me then that tomorrow we are swimming with Dolphins!!!!! OH MY GOD!! XD
The roads to Kaikoura were windy and mountainous. one section of road along the beach was one lane traffic only due to the landslides from the earthquake last year.
Because Sabine couldn't find any decent Air BnBs when booking, she had to make do with the YHA hostel. However when we arrived, it was a bit shabby and very basic, but two things to note, there was nobody at reception and the main fridge was warm. We decided to go looking for someplace nicer to stay and found an awesome B&B to stay for the night. Reasonably priced too. The lady is even willing to cook us a brunch instead of normal time breakfast. She does this often for those off to go whale watching at 5am, so she's used to it. That and the fact nobody is staying over tomorrow so we don't need to check out so early.

24 Sun-
Today we had to get up at 4am for a very early start, something like 5am with the Dolphin Encounter tours on the beachfront. It was only a minute drive away which was fine.
There were two boats travelling out today. Sabine did this tour when she was last here in 2011, but she says back then it wasn't as busy. Well today IS Christmas Eve after all (not that it feels like it).
Before getting on a boat we had to first get into our wetsuits which were for hire, then get on board a bus that took us out on a short journey to the harbour and then on the boat. By this point it was well and truly sunshiny so it seemed like midday.
It was only a 20min boat journey to a site with wild Dusky Dolphins. We all had to get on the back on the boat and drop into the water.
I couldn't tell who Sabine was in the garb everyone was wearing. We all had wetsuits on with full snorkel gear. Besides, there were dolphins swimming around us! looking into the water these guys were everywhere! I tried swimming and making noises to get their attention, which actually worked. Swimming with them was kinda hard as they were too fast and agile, but I did manage to circle quite a few of them. I saw one lady try to reach out and touch one, so I thought I could try too. We are not supposed to but I felt cheeky and tried. The dolphin of choice dodged my hand like it was no trouble at all. boo to it!
We swam with the dolphins twice. some people a third time too. I was getting tired quickly and felt giddy 10mins into my second encounter, so I hopped back on board the boat. I was aching and feeling worse and worse until I was actually eventually seasick. But I wasn't alone, and by no means the first. There were at least 4 of us land-lovers.
I was feeling bad during the moment it was best to view the dolphins from the front of the boat, so I couldn't move from the inside bit of the boat. Damn it!
Next we went back to the B&B where the host cooked us a special brunch. The time was just before 10am.
She was a lovely person to chat to. Very genuine and talked about her experiences with the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes.
We left and drove to the beach where two seals were hanging out. The beach has extended out since last time I was here because of the earthquake last year. After that we drove directly to Maruia Springs. The same place we visited before in September.
They have done up the rooms slightly which actually works really well. They even updated what was a set of changing rooms and turned them into spa rooms with massaging chairs and massaging foot rests that you lie down on.
We hit the spa pools and enjoyed our time in each one, again! Only this time the sandflies are out, but we still enjoyed it!
We watched Skip Trace this evening. its a really fun movie with Jackie Chan.

Sorry, no more photos of Dolphins! Twas Seasick!

The view from our B&B

Kaikoura beach seals

Views on the Lewes Pass

25 Mon-
Christmas Day! 
We had a swim in all the pools early this morning but preferred the indoor one as there were sandflies outside. After that we exchanged presents in our room. Sabine got me the latest Pokemon game, Ultra Sun! I wasn't expecting that! She also got me a VERY cute Hello Kiwi Kakapo keyring. I got her a cute Fantail mug.
The breakfast was OUTSTANDING compared to last time! They now have a continental breakfast buffet as standard, with a cooked breakfast of a choice of 4 things listed on the menu. I chose 2 eggs, 2 sausages, salmon and 2 big mushrooms. The salmon was a huge cut of the fish. a massive slab of meat! The best salmon I've ever had!
We packed the car and checked out. We haven't had much luck with fridges and so our milk and other produce is just not being stored in cold places on this trip so far.
Sabines surprise trip took us heading north from Springs Junction. Firstly we visited Maruia Springs waterfall, then headed to the Nelson lakes. The first lake we arrived at was Rotoroa where we walked into the hills to see another waterfall. This was the place where Sabine tried her best to take a photo of a Fantail standing right in front of her in the car park on her holiday in 2011.
After that we headed to the next lake, Rotoiti, famous for its photos of the jetty. It was only a beach and a car park, more or less, but there was a little duck pond with an interesting creature called a Royal Spoonbill. We asked a lady what it was and on further research later on, realised what it was for sure. Its a funny heron type bird that has a long duck shaped bill that really is spoon shaped.
Under the famous jetty lies a whole bunch of eels. We were given bread to feed them. really incredible creatures! Though a bit slimy.
After that the mystery trip took me to north to near Nelson, in a rural Air BnB in the middle of nowhere more or less just south of Wakefield. Our room is in the basement of the house but its adequate for us. It actually kinda reminds me of the rumpus room from our old house in Silverstream as a kid. It still has an 80's decor too.
When we arrived at this place we had to wait in the car park to the property for the owners to arrive back from their christmas do in Nelson. That wasn't so bad a wait I guess. Its an older couple that owns two acres here. They later invited us to join them for dinner on their garden bench. That was nice. The lady made us all savoury croissants with ham and cheese, served with salad. It was an interesting chat. They have family from various places around the world. A neighbour of theirs came and joined us. He was around the same age who is flying to the UK tomorrow for a 2 day stay for his sons wedding, then flying back to NZ arriving on the 2nd. I think either he's nuts or he doesn't understand how much of a strain thats going to be. He seems to be a bloke who much prefers his farm. Dad would compare this guy to Barry Crump, for sure. Thats what I was thinking anyway.

Maruia Springs

Christmas dinner! Errrr Breakfast! Check out the Salmon!

Curious Weka

Maruia Waterfall- North of Springs Junction

Lake Rotoroa

Lake Rotoiti

Royal Spoonbill

Lake Rotoiti

26 Tues-
The bed here is uncomfortable. oh well.
We visited the Abel Tasman today, catching the AquaTaxi from Kaiteriteri to Torrent Bay and walking to Bark Bay. Im pretty sure I didn't walk this stretch of the walk in 2009. The weather started cool and ended up quite nice. The water taxi would have been great had it not been for stopping in the water at Torrent Bay. Sabine and I got soaked trousers which put a damper to the start of our walk (we didn't have our shoes and socks on, obviously).
The walk, northbound, was pleasant enough. We saw lots of Fantails, a few Bellbirds, a few baby birds, and heard/saw a few cicadas. There was a swing-bridge at one point and a look out point too that was also walked.
Bark Bay had an estuary with a family of Oystercatchers, a bunch of red-legged Seagulls on ground nests, and a mother ducky with her chicks that walked across a footbridge which I videoed. That was cute.
From the beach we could both see that if you carry further on with the walk, you get to another swing bridge with a waterfall. We headed that way because we still had some time left. Unfortunately, Sabine tripped up along the way and grazed her knee, ruining her jeans at the knee too. I felt really bad. I wanted to help her out with baby wipes which I had one me but she insisted on using water and tissues :/ Lucky not long after that we spotted a family of Fantails flitting about which cheered her up.
We waited on the beach for our water taxi to arrive. After that I drove us back to the Air BnB.
It was thundery this evening. We watched a bit of Night At The Museum 1.

Split Rock- Abel Tasman

Torrent Bay

27 Wed-
This morning I knocked on the door of the owners to ask for a plaster for Sabines knee which is bad. She gave us a wound dressing pack which was nice.
Sabine realised when dealing with the GPS that going to Karamea wouldn't be so straight forward as cutting across from where we are at Wakefield to the west coast in a straight line. What she thought would be a 2 hour drive turned into a 4 1/2 hour drive one way, firstly via going south to Westport then driving north again along the coastal mountains. The drive even took us on a gravel road to the absolute very north end of Karamea where the Heaphy track starts. We walked this track as far north as Scotts Beach. The birds such as the fantails were more curious of us than usual which was cute. At Scotts Beach we got caught in a huge wave which soaked up as we were trapped between a huge rock and the sea without much escape. Sabine was laughing so much! She was soaked more than yesterday.
I drove the road out of Karamea, all the way south to Westports New World where we bought plasters.
Our hiking shoes are soaked. I had to use a whole newspaper in her shoes to hopefully dry them out.
I forgot to mention that we stopped off at the place with NZs longest swing-bridge, on the road going south. The entrance price was $10 so we didn't bother. Besides I did this in 2009.

Kahurangi National Park

Heaphy track

Scotts Beach

28 Thu-
I Skyped my parents then packed the rest of my things.
Today we are travelling south (again) and we firstly had a pit stop in Murchison for an early lunch, then stopping to take a photo of the longest swing-bridge, then continuing the journey down past Greymouth and over the crazy railway bridge. Past Hotitika and back to Lake Mahinapua where we went for a walk in the adjacent forest. That was nice, apart from the bugs biting us. Mosquitos this time. Talking of which, one that bit me on the wrist yesterday has caused an inflammation. I'll keep my eye on it. We are staying on a farm in a valley in the middle of nowhere called Kakapotahi (576 Waitaha road, not as far south as Pukekura). Its a really well maintained small outhouse similar in size to the one we stayed in Wanaka. We arrived around 2:30pm.
We watched the rest of Night At The Museum 1, connecting the computer to their tele which is cool. Also whilst eating christmas pudding with passionfruit. Very tasty!
Also skyped my parents.

NZ's longest Swing Bridge

Lake Mahinapua forest walk

A rather cut back tree I would say. Compared to to whats found on Street View at least. Located behind out Air BnB

29 Fri-
We left at around 7am to go to the Franz Josef town. We visited their iSite briefly in order to know which of the two glaciers would be best to visit. We learned that you can do both, so we did. We started with the Franz Josef Glacier first, then walked the Fox Glacier next. Both were good long walks into their respective valleys with a view of whats left of their glaciers in the far distance. Its such a shame. In 10 years these things will be gone. No question about it. I was last here in 2009 and we got pretty close to Fox. Now, both have receded too far back up the mountains to walk too.
After walking them we visited Lake Matherson. There is now a huge cafe at the car park area / entrance to the lake. The view of Mt Cook was obscured and the water wasn't behaving like a mirror. Never mind.
We checked the fuel prices in the area today (per litre):
Harihari: $2.25
Whataroa: $2.21
Franz J: $2.36
Fox G: $2.26
Yup. Franz Josef really is a crap tourist trap.
We watched Night At The Museum 2 this evening.

One of the lakes on the way to Franz Josef Town

Before and after- Franz Josef

Franz Josef

Before and After- Fox

a swallows nest at Lake Matherson

Lake Matherson- not so great for the views at this moment.

30 Sat-
Today we drove to Franz Josef again to enjoy the hot pools. Another one of Sabines nice surprises. This was more commercial then Maruia Springs, and the price was £33 each, so not that unreasonable to be honest for a day pass. It had 3 outdoor spa pools each at different temperatures. It was really enjoyable and we chatted to this south african woman who, like us, was trying to make it work over here in NZ.
The lunch was rip off prices, but thats to be expected here. I highly doubt the tourist industry will be sustainable in these areas without the glaciers. I give it ten years. Maybe they will do some type of mountain excursions with a cable car to the top for mountain hikes. That would be cool.
I did the driving back. A Kereru flue into the windscreen with a spat but bounced off. I doubt he died. It was during the windy roads in the mountains.
We will pack tonight and leave early tomorrow morning.

31 Sun-

Sabine set the alarm for 2.45am. We packed the rest of our stuff and did the dishes, and left around 4am. The GPS took us north to Arthurs Pass. We were both thinking it would take us south via the Haast Pass. Maybe if we were heading directly home then it would have taken us south, but we needed to pick up the kitties which is in a place north of Dunedin. So in fact Arthurs Pass was for the best. We shared the driving and even had a Subway sandwich at Ashburton. Towards home, Sabine checked the opening times for the cat hotel. Turns out they open at 3pm. The time was approaching 12pm. Alas we had to come home first. Its raining a bit in Dunedin. Not that it matters, but it does indicate that we didn't see much rain, if any, during our holiday so that's a plus! We shopped at Pac N Save then went to collect our kitties. Hermione has grown quite a lot, even though it's only been 8 days!
We don't plan on drinking or going nuts for New Years. Not today. We need our sleep.

Anthers Pass this morning

Big Salmon at Rakaia