New Zealand Fur Seal pup, with mama in the background. Photo by Eric.
We traveled over the Cook Strait from the North Island to the South Island by way of the Interislander Ferry. Aside from the fact that they will not insure cars, necessitating leaving your car on one island and pick up a different one on the other, it was a super easy form of travel, no hassles at all. It is supposed to be one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world, and it may indeed have been the best we've ever seen, and we've been fortunate enough to have had some very beautiful ferry rides.
Southernmost parts of the North Island.
Interesting rock formations at the southern end of the North Island.
Once we left the North Island and headed out into the open Cook Strait, the observation deck became impossibly windy. We met a research scientist from Zurich, Daniel, who took our picture in the wind. Daniel is studying ribosomes at the atomic level, with an eye to developing new antibiotics.
The ferry route travels through a bunch of smaller islands before it reaches the main South Island.
We had had such an easy time in the acquisition of Fezzik, we thought maybe in New Zealand, the rental car company always gives you the sort of car you reserved. Not so. They tried to give us a Toyota Highlander. We wanted a trunk to hide our luggage. They didn't have any sedans, they told us, but the SUV had a luggage cover. I looked at the vehicle, and saw that the luggage cover did not come all the way to the back seat! There was a large gap you could see right through! Why on earth did Toyota design the vehicle this way? I ranted so much that they magically produced another Holden Commodore for us. This one was a V6 rather than a V8, but it was green. We called it Fenway, since it was a green monster.
After that debacle, we headed south to Kaikoura, through some amazing scenery.
Smoothly-polished rocks on the beach.
Eric took a picture of me on the beach.
You can see these snowy mountains right from the beach! All those pine trees were introduced.
Fenway at the beach.
We stopped to find a geocache at a wildlife viewing area close to Kaikoura. I found this vertebra on the rocks. Did it belong to a seal?
I believe I've learned to recognize honeycomb weathering, where water swishes sand particles around in a hole in a rock, enlarging the hole.
There was supposed to be a waterfall there, but it was dry.
Eric took my picture hiking on the rocks. The terrain was rough. Should have put on my boots.
Eric took a picture of these Red-Billed Gulls, which are endemic to New Zealand.
We saw this New Zealand Fur Seal.
And this pup and mama!
We were excited to see these Variable Oystercatchers, also endemic to New Zealand.
This was the day that we had a little extra time, and so planned to do mid-trip laundry and shopping. We were staying a bit outside of the beach town of Kaikoura, which is just as well because it looked like a tourist trap. We were greeted at the desk by Lynn, who smelled of beer and cigarettes but was extremely helpful. She arranged for our dinner at a local pub (which turned out to be more expensive than she had implied), and arranged to put a continental breakfast in our refrigerator while we were out at dinner. We had a little trouble with the laundry, because her machine was flooding and a repairman was trying to fix it. So, that made for a delay, which prevented our accomplishing our shopping, and Lynn had to get our laundry out of the dryer and put it in our room for us while we were out at dinner.
We really loved our room, which was large and had a complete kitchenette.
View from the porch of our room.
The pub was nice but relatively expensive. We got to sample some of the local crayfish, which was very good, in a less expensive chowder form. It was more like our lobster than one of our crayfish.
After dinner, we walked along the beach back to the motel. Eric took a picture of some interesting rocks.
In spite of some frustrations, we had a lovely day and saw some fantastic wildlife. But our day ended very badly. I don't want to dwell on this, because this is a vacation page, but this was Election Day in the US. We were both emotionally devastated by the results, and didn't know how we were going to go on when we got back home. We were trying to enjoy ourselves and make the most of our time in New Zealand, but we felt like we'd been punched in the gut. Things weren't supposed to be this way.
On to Kaikoura.