4 May 2013

Crossing Cook Strait

The crossing was quite uneventful and smooth- going. It was a 2 and half hour crossing and quite comfortable. I saw a pod of dolphins frolicking in the water but they were too far to capture on camera.
The ferry crossing
First view of South Island as we came closer
By 11.00am we had arrived in Picton, a very small town on South Island. After lunch at a delicious Indian restaurant there we drove on towards Nelson, our stay for the night before Christchurch. Along the way were lots of beautiful views - beech and pedocarp forests gleaming golden in the sunlight, towering mountains  covered in lush vegetation, deep gorges and the Pelorous bridge, spanning the Pelorous River.

3 May 2013

Wellington- Nelson

Time really flies when you are enjoying yourself. Without realising it this is already the 5th day of our tour and we are rolling down south towards Wellington. Last night we stayed at Napier, at a scenic hotel resort. Napier is situated at Hawkes Bay and its a fairly quiet little town. The weather had turned rather chilly and even though we had time for a walk, Repin and I went only to the beach and part of the town before the chilly weather drove us back to the hotel. I think  because Napier faces the Pacific Ocean it is more open to the colder winds from the Antartic. Temperatures in Napier were down to 13 degrees Celsius.

View of Wellington from Mount Victoria 
From Napier we stopped by to visit a natural museum  which shows the way of life of the Maoris, their houses and their activities. From there it was a straight road to Wellington, with one short stop for lunch at Dannevirke, a town once dominated by Norwegians and Swedish people. In fact many of the buildings here had pictures of Norse men or Vikings with their famous hammers.
Viking town called Dannevirke

We arrived in Wellington late in the afternoon and Repin as well as the other s decided to go to the Wellington Museum or Te Papa  before it closed at 5pm. However I had developed a headache and decided to go straight to the hotel for a rest. Dinner that night was provided at the hotel and the next day would be an early start  as we would be crossing over to Picton, on South Island . Our ferry would move at 8am which means being at the pier as early as 7.30 am. 
Our hotel was called the Grand Chancellor and it was a 4 star hotel with really beautiful views of Wellington. We also were taken on a cable car ride to the top of Mount Victoria and we saw our son's university - Victoria University as well as his residence while he was studying there : Weir House.

2 May 2013

From Roturua to Napier

Driving down towards Napier we stopped by at LakeTaupo, which is the largest lake in New Zealand. Before this I should mention that we stopped by at the Huka Falls, which is a huge waterfall  fed by the mighty Waikato River. New Zealand is so full of really breath-taking sights and this one is no different. Our tour director Brian though said "Oh you haven't seen anything yet! There's more to come." I can't imagine anything more beautiful or more gorgeous. 

A street in Napier the art deco capital of NZ
Repin at the Huka Falls
Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo is a favourite summer getaway and is a beautiful tourist resort. There are lots of  pretty little boutiques, restaurants and hotels here. We stopped for lunch and continued on our way through more spectacular scenery. Now there are more sheep and cattle stations as well as huge vineyards spreading all over the rolling hills. This area is also the main fruit growing area of New Zealand though as this is the fall season, most of the fruit farms have already been picked. In fact we did stop at a fruit farm but all the peaches had been plucked and sold by then. 

Napier, where we stayed for the night is considered the art deco capital of New Zealand. It was once a flourishing city but was destroyed by an earthquake in the 1930s. When it was rebuilt, the architecture was mainly art deco.