Before I start as a few people have been asking – we’re currently in Christchurch, New Zealand doing a housesit. We fly to Singapore on December 10th.
So back to the blog, we flew to Christchurch (this is on the South Island of New Zealand) rather than take the ferry from Wellington as it was a lot cheaper to fly. Odd.
Stayed only a night in Christchurch to pick up a car and supplies before heading up the east coast to Kaikoura. You’ve probably heard of the massive earthquakes (2 different types of quakes) followed by hundreds of aftershocks recently. We were extremely lucky to have seen Kaikoura before that happened as Kaikoura is now cut off by landslips (can only get in by helicopter) and the marine life is affected, apparently one of the fur seal colonies was wiped out. For some further details and interesting diagram of how it has affected the coastline (the land has moved up by a metre!), click here.
It’s well known for seeing marine left such as whales, dolphins, seals, albatrosses etc.
Whales can be found in the area because the Hikurangi trench isn’t that far from the shore (about 80 kilometres or so) is super deep (3000 metres) and so a lot of deep water species are found here which whales like to eat.
NZ fur seals I think. One of these was snoozing behind the front passenger wheel of this lady’s car several metres away and refused to budge. It was amusing and I’m glad it wasn’t our car because they can be dangerous to approach and move quite quickly on land so be warned.
More seals below
So we took a boat trip with Whale Watch Kaikoura (a snazzy company with 5 catamarans and a slick whale watching experience). It was good fun, we saw the below male sperm whale just resting/reoxygenating after a dive. They can dive for up to an hour to about 1000 metres. They don’t get the bends because there’s no gas exchange like with humans (I’m afraid I can’t tell you the exact science because I don’t know it). I can’t remember how big this one is but males can grow to lengths of 15-20 metres and weigh between 40-60 tonnes! They like to feed on squid and interestingly can’t digest squid beaks.
So sperm whales have spermaceti oil in their heads, which is thought to be used for echolocation and buonyancy. They were called sperm whales because this oil was once thought to be sperm and was previously used for candles, Rolls Royce engines and gearboxes and early Apollo space missions.
We headed up to Nelson, which is further north.
Mmm a dinner of local hot smoked salmon salad with a ginger and wasabi dressing and sourdough bread by the beach. How posh. Although we sat in the car as there were gulls eyeing up our dinner.
Some awesome artwork. I’m loving the random art you find on the sides of buildings in NZ, it’s so cool.
Queen Charlotte’s drive was pretty misty and rainy, still looked spectacular though.
When it rains in New Zealand, there’s not a lot of indoor stuff you can do especially on the South Island as activities are predominantly based outdoors. We headed to Blenheim as they had the Omaka aviation museum holding exhibitions on WW1 and WW2 aircraft including personal memorabilia. We went to the WW1 exhibition and pretty much all the planes belong to Peter Jackson who is a WW1 plane collector!
The plane below is a Caproni and excitingly it looks like it has 2 bullet holes to the right, but nah someone put their hands through it when it was being transported and when they thought about repairing it, the fabric started to crumble when it was touched. Oops. A lot of WW1 planes were made with fabric, which made for interesting and lethal times because if it was hit by bullets it wouldn’t take long to catch on fire as the fabric would have splatters of fuel on them.
Stop – an important announcement:
So this NZ dude below is called Grid. He is famous because when your plane is shot down/on fire instead of taking usual Option 1 (go down with the plane) or Option 2 (jump off the plane) whilst remembering a lot of these pilots wouldn’t take parachutes on board as it would take up a lot of space that they could utilise for more ammo and fuel, he took Option 3: stand half in and out and steer/balance with his right arm and leg.
He survived of course.
Before I forget, we did manage a hike during the terrible weather and saw the lovely view below. It’s weird how it looks so much like the Peak/Lake Districts.
Thanks for bearing with me, the next post will be on Westland – famously known for the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers!