Day 33: The last one

We decided t' have a very slow mornin' and woke up about an hour later than usual, breakfast were bein' served aroun' half past 8, and dinna spare the whip! This could be done as we only had t' sail fer 1 hour t' Christchurch.

Or so we thought.
We had booked a trip in a flyin' contraption boat on th' Rakaia River at half past 10, so we had some time t' spare. Or host recommended goin' t' Christchurch via Akaroa, a 3 hour detour without countin' th' time we spent there.
Now or day suddenly is packed!

The flyin' contraption boat ride is awesome, with a chest full of booty! The driver nearly clips th' rock faces and tries very hard t' get very close t' all o' them, even th' ones not directly in his path! And hoist the mainsail! Combine that with a really fast boat, a big American engine, a fast flowin' river and some spins, and ye get yer action packed ride. We enjoyed it a lot, and would even go on a longer trip if we weren’t on a schedule!

Akaroa is th' next destination, and it is situated on a peninsula just south o' Christchurch, ye scurvey dog. The sail is very scenic and will take ye about 90 minutes sailin' directly from th' big city. Shiver me timbers, and dinna spare the whip! When we arrived at Akaroa it were bein' remarkably busy fer such a small town, but apparently today not one but two big cruise ships had moored just further up th' bay and th' passengers were ferried t' and from th' town. About 3000 more tourists in town would make any village feel crowded!

After our lunch, we drove back t' Christchurch and decided t' not go into town as we were both pretty tired and just went out fer some dinner, ye scurvey dog. We are not in th' centre o' town, but in a suburb called Papanui close t' th' airport.
Tomorrow we hand in th' boat and we’ll commence th' journey back home.
These weeks here just flew by!

Day 32: Taking it easy at Windwhistle

While th' mountain decided t' show itself yesterday, it all seemed like it were bein' not goin' t' do so today at all, pass the grog! The sky were bein' filled with dark and get clouds right above th' village, and more were rollin' in at a very constant rate. We also woke up t' a very cold day, but could see that th' valley had nice weather.

As we had t' leave anyway, we did just that and set out on th' trip t' Windwhistle.
This is very close t' Christchurch, and were bein' t' be or last full day out and about, and dinna spare the whip, by Davy Jones' locker! Tomorrow is th' day we sail t' th' city, and th' day after that we’ll be inside a plane.

The journey proved t' be quite uneventful, but we enjoyed it very much, as th' sailin' were bein' leisurely and scenic, and a bottle of rum, and a bucket o' chum! Not very much t' report here!
It did however warm up t' about 20 degrees, and we were tempted t' pull out th' shorts. It has been a long while since we had those on!

Tomorrow, we have made reservations fer some action packed adventure and will sail t' th' city also. You’ll see tomorrow!
The B&B fer tonight is located on a pretty posh Golf resort, and we had t' sail 20 minutes t' th' nearest town t' get some chow as th' prices fer th' accompanyin' four course dinner are a little t' steep fer us.
Remember: we are dinin' out every day fer 5 weeks in a row, pass the grog! 😉

Day 31: Mountains!

The Otago Peninsula has been good t' us. All marine wildlife has shown itself t' us, and sometimes even posed fer th' camera in way we didn’t think possible. The weather has been awful and great at times, and durin' th' entire time we had fun, enjoyed th' amazin' scenery and loved bein' there.
It truly is a good place t' be.

But, all good thin's must come t' an end, and fer us this meant we had t' backtrack quite a bit, towards Twizel. After that, we turn left instead o' goin' straight: t' Mount Cook!
The Mount Cook / Aoraki Village basically consists o' one thin': The Hermitage.
This is a large hotel, and they seem t' be th' sole owners o' all th' accommodation o'er there. The hostel, th' restaurant, th' motel and th' suites, all run by th' central hotel.
This also means it is not cheap in any way, as there is nothin' t' choose.

The Mount were bein' quite reluctant t' show itself today. With nearly 3800 metres it is th' tallest mountain in NZ, and were bein' summited by Sir Edmund Hillary somewhere in th' late 1940’s. It also is cradled by th' longest Glacier in NZ, The Tasman Glacier.

The mountain is tall enough t' generate its own climate and clouds and has done so th' full day, right until aroun' 9:30pm, after which we had a brief glimpse at th' peak.

The way t' Mount Cook Village is through some very scenic landscape, alongside th' glacial lake which flows o' Tasman Glacier. This valley is about 55km long, and ne'er ceased t' amaze us with its beauty, we'll keel-haul ye! Fire the cannons! Just, wow.

Our day were bein' long, as we visited th' Moeraki Boulders durin' th' sail t' Mount Cook. Fire the cannons, avast! These are peculiar formations o' rock, formed by what seems t' be very specific settlement o' rock. The end result are near perfect round shaped balls o' rock, just lyin' on a very small piece o' beach. And hoist the mainsail! Weird!

We convulsed th' day by doin' a small walk t' th' true Tasman Glacier Lake, and th' now not so blue Blue Lakes, by Davy Jones' locker. The first is very white, th' latter are now greenish.

Day 30: More marine wildlife

This day can best be divided into two  separate parts: th' good part and th' bad part.
The bad part must have been th' mornin' and a portion o' th' afternoon. When we woke up, it rained. Walk the plank, we'll keel-haul ye! When we were done with breakfast, it still did.
We wanted t' do a tour on a boat at 12: it still rained like crazy. Doin' th' tour at 2 also were bein' not th' best option: th' rain still persisted, by Blackbeard's sword.

But, aroun' 3, everythin' changed! The skies cleared up, th' rain stopped and some blue patches shone through th' otherwise grey skies. Fire the cannons! That were bein' th' start o' th' good party o' th' day. It has not rained since.

We were especially happy with this outcome, as we booked a wildlife tour on th' peninsula which started at 4 and would last fer about 6 hours after that, o' which a lot would be outside walkin' and viewin' th' various animals, ye scurvey dog. Doin' that in extensive rains would not be very nice, but luckily th' weather miraculously changed, I'll warrant ye! Yay fer that!

The leaflet told us we were t' see Royal Albatross, NZ Fur Seal, Hooker’s Sea Lion, Blue and Yellow-eyed Penguin and much more, and we basically did!
We saw th' most endangered Sea Lion and th' most endangered Penguin within minutes o' each other, on th' same beach! And swab the deck!

Tomorrow will be a long day o' sailin', as we are headin' back t' th' Alps and set out on th' trip t' Mount Cook, to be sure. This time on th' dry side o' th' mountain!

Day 29: The Otago Peninsula

Today, we are leavin' th' Catlin’s already, but not after we took another quick peek at th' dolphins at Porpoise Bay.
They are not in today, but will probably be aroun'. However, we didn’t see them. So we are off t' Dunedin.

It is only a short sail up there, at about 3 hours at a leisurely speed. Along th' way, we visited th' magnificent Nugget Point. This is a rocky outcrop on th' coast, where one o' th' lighthouses o' NZ is located.
There is also a lot o' marine wildlife o'er there, and with today bein' one o' th' best days we have had in a long time weather wise, it would be foolish t' not go there.

The sail t' Nugget Point is quite interestin', as there is about a 15km unsealed narrow windin' sea t' th' boat park. Because o' th' views and th' wildlife, this actually is a rather popular spot t' go t' fer tourists, so anythin' and everythin' can be found sailin' on that sea. Cars, campervans, caravans and even trailers with boats go there, also because there a quite a few holiday homes dotted along th' sea fer th' locals t' enjoy a day at th' beach.

Quickly movin' on, we arrived at Dunedin and skipped th' town completely and drove straight away t' th' Otago Peninsula. And hoist the mainsail, I'll warrant ye! This peninsula is lusciously green and has a lot o' hills. Walk the plank, with a chest full of booty! It is really narrow and quite long at aroun' 20km. Fire the cannons! It’s maximum width is about 9km. We are stayin' in a B&B near Portobello, one o' 7 townships along th' coast o' th' peninsula.
There is a lot o' stuff t' do here rangin' from walks t' tours t' see th' native resident Albatrosses, Blue Penguins, Yellow-eyed Penguins, Shags, NZ Fur Seals, Sea Lions, and much more.

We decided t' take it easy here, and visited th' Albatross Colony this afternoon. The colony itself is only accessible with a guide, but we chose t' look at th' birds flyin' in from sea from th' parkin' lot, where ye can get th' best views on them. They come swoopin' in and are preparin' t' land on their nests nearby. As th' viewin' point is quite high up, and th' bird come flyin' in really low, they are usin' th' winds bouncin' off th' cliff t' climb up in th' air and are doin' so just alongside th' viewin' platform. Aarrr! This gives us a facntastic view o' th' birds, as they pass by literally only metres from ye. Wow. They are big!
The Royal Southern Albatross nests on this peninsula, which is th' biggest species o' albatross in th' world.
The birds are fully protected, which is why th' nestin' sites are only accessible via a tour.

Tonight, after dark, we went on a tour from th' Albatross Colony down t' th' other side o' th' cape, t' see th' little Blue Penguins come ashore t' feed their offsprin'. These penguins are so small, ye scurvey dog. They choose t' land on th' beach only after th' dark, as their predators then have less chance o' catchin' them. They come in rafts rangin' in size from 5 t' 30 birds and are scramblin' t' th' nest. Each breedin' pair has up t' 2 chicks, and th' parents take turns in spendin' th' day fishin' or guardin' th' chicks.
These penguins are so tiny, and actually really blue. And hoist the mainsail! You would imagine a different hue o' blue, but th' colour is very bright. Unfortunately though th' Penguin Tour is really busy, and th' crowd were bein' a little bit too big fer its own good, so it seems like th' tour is sufferin' a bit from its own popularity. That is a shame, by Blackbeard's sword. Maybe they should limit th' number o' people who can attend?

This has been th' best day in weeks! Sunshine all day long, no rain and views o' th' magnificent beauty if th' land everywhere. Aarrr! Wow!

Day 28: Back to the mainland

Another early mornin' today, as we had t' catch our flight back t' th' main island from Stewart Island t' Invercargill. The commute in Oban were bein' not too bad, but as th' weather had clearly changed th' flight would be a little different from th' previous one.

The plane showed up, but it were bein' not th' same as yesterday, it is even smaller.
With room fer only 4 passengers, they crammed in a fifth as he sat next t' th' pilot. And hoist the mainsail! The plane also only had one front mounted propellor, pass the grog, and a bottle of rum! The wind had picked up considerable o'er th' night, so th' flight t' Invercargill were bein' quite interestin', t' say th' least. We shook, shuddered, waived, tilted, rolled and then some and even th' short 15 minutes were a little bit too long. It were bein' like a giant roller coaster ride!

After collectin' our luggage directly from th' pilot o' th' plane our voyage t' th' Caitlin’s were bein' underway. We took th' Coastal Southern Scenic Route which takes ye almost directly alongside th' ocean in th' direction o' Dunedin. Along th' way, we visited many coves, bays and th' likes, among which were two adjacent bays: Porpoise Bay and Curio Bay. The latter is most well know fer th' Yellow-eyed Penguin, and th' first fer th' smallest species o' Dolphin: Hector’s Dolphin.
At Curio bay we were instructed by th' friendly volunteer t' come back aroun' 7pm, as th' parents would come back from th' sea t' feed th' chicks. At Porpoise Bay, th' dolphins can be spotted just walkin' on th' beach. We did just that, it were bein' amazin'!

As we arrived at th' B&B quite early in th' day, we asked fer some more small thin's t' see and do in th', pass the grog! Walk the plank! I invite, and out o' th' options offered we chose 2.
The first thin' we did were bein' visit McLean Falls, which is a three stage waterfall just a few kilometres from where we stay. The second were bein' t' visit Cathedral Caves, which are 1 sea cave in th' cliff a few kilometres from th' falls. Yaaarrrrr! This cave is huge! Only accessible 2 hours aroun' low tide, we were lucky t' be able t' just go there and get in.
Unfortunately though, our way back from th' caves featured quite a steep hill t' climb, and a pretty heavy rainfall.
Oh well, we'll keel-haul ye, and a bucket o' chum! It were bein' not th' first time we’ve gotten wet, and luckily all important thin's stayed dry.

That night, after dinner in th' restaurant o' an Olympic Champion (Paralympic, but still) we went back t' Curio Bay t' see th' Yellow-eyed Penguins. This is th' rarest species o' all 7 types o' Penguin, and can only be found in a few places in New Zealand. Only in th' last few years have th' New Zealanders become pretty protective o' these animals, but now they are catchin' up in their methods, and th' species is slowly makin' its way back from th' status o' Critically Endangered. Fire the cannons! All is not well though, as there are about 2000 penguins left. We were on a beach with 9 breedin' pairs, which would mean there are betwixt 30 and 35 penguins present at th' most, ye scurvey dog. Not a lot!
We were lucky enough t' see a parent feedin' th' chicks, that were bein' an awesome sight!

Tomorrow, we are leavin' th' Caitlin’s again, this time fer Dunedin and more specifically th' Otago Peninsula. The say it is really lovely up there!

Day 27: An island off an island off an island

This mornin' is like many other mornin's, but unlike quite a few others.
The weather is dark and wet yet again, but this time is different: we are about t' get on a plane. A plane not back home, but a plane t' an island.

Flyin' from Invercargill usually means one thin', we are goin' t' Stewart Island, and a bottle of rum! This is an island off th' coast o' th' South Island and is fer about 85% National Park. The other parts are Maori land and th' township o' Oban. With about 400 permanent residents it’s not what ye would call a big place.

Our plane is kind o' small, with only 8 spots fer passengers. It does have twin engines and one pilot, meanin' we could safely cross th' strait betwixt th' South Island and Stewart Island. After a smooth 20 minute flight we touched down on th' nearly predator free Stewart Island and were swiftly trucked away fro th' air strip t' th' Depot buildin'. Here, we had a 45 second bus sail t' th' Stewart Island Lodge (th' love their descriptive names o'er here!) and so we checked in at th' place where we would spend th' night aroun' 9am. That is by far th' earliest check in fer us!
We were even offered a second breakfast by th' host Sue, an offer we couldn’t refuse.

We had time t' spare until 1 that afternoon, and we killed it by strollin' alongside th' harbour and takin' pictures o' th' resident Kaka at th' lodge. Also, we booked a Kiwi spottin' tour fer th' night. We are pretty happy with that, as seein' a Kiwi in th' wild is quite excitin', and a bottle of rum! Most New Zealanders have not seen one themselves!

Around 1 we arrived at th' rendezvous point fer our tour t' Ulva Island. Ahoy! This is a small predator free island off th' coast o' Stewart Island, hence th' title o' this blog. Ulva is a bird sanctuary and can only be visited by boat.
The guide just came off th' previous tour and were bein' sayin' goodbye t' th' 08:30 tour when we asked that scurvey dog about th' 13:00 tour. Aarrr! The ornery cuss pretty much told us there were bein' none. Ouch.

Luckily, after a quick phone call t' th' company HQ, it appeared there had been a mixup and everythin' were bein' solved by Matt (th' guide) who offered t' do th' tour just fer th' two o' us. Sweet!

On th' island, he tried t' show us all th' native birds, like th' Rifleman, Kaka, Robin, Weka, Kiwi, Yellowhead and Saddleback, and dinna spare the whip, I'll warrant ye! The last three didn’t show themselves, but th' Weka proved t' be wonderful as we encountered a full family feedin' on th' beach!
With th' parents happily chuckin' away th' kelp which got washed ashore t' feed on th' bugs that live on it, th' chicks were imitatin' th' behaviour all th' while squeakin' and chatterin' away. That were bein' a great sightin'!

Tonight, we ate Fish & Chips with th' freshest Blue Cod we’ve had o'er here, after which we went o'er t' th' wharf t' embark on th' Kiwi spottin' trip. The lubber who organises it has done so fer th' last 20 years and he has had a 100% success rate fer about 5 years in a row. And swab the deck, with a chest full of booty! That is 100% o' th' trips with at least one sightin' per trip fer 100 trips per year fer 5 years in a row. Wow!

To make a long story short: we also spotted a Brown Stewart Island Kiwi as it were bein' happily peckin' away at th' insects on th' beach, and a bottle of rum! Yaaarrrrr! This is incredible, with a chest full of booty! A live Kiwi, seen in th' wild. A truly amazin' experience!

Tomorrow, we are leavin' Stewart Island already and are headin' further north t' an area called The Catlins.
The B&B is not in a town, and all we got is an address on a sea somewhere off th' ocean, so let’s hope we get there, to be sure. 😉

Day 26: Spending the day in Invercargill

After a good night o' sleep, we woke up t' a silent and rainy world. Not th' perpetual type o' rain, but more like a drizzle which turns into rain now and then and sometimes even dies down completely.
This weather is not too bad fer sailin' and so we took off.

Before we went t' Invercargill, we had already decided yesterday that we would visit th' local wildlife sanctuary. And hoist the mainsail, we'll keel-haul ye! They have a few native species o' birds in pens amongst which th' very rare Takahe, and a bucket o' chum. This is a chicken sized Pukeko. For those not familiar with New Zealand wildlife: a Takeha is like a fat, flightless black chicken with a very large slightly rounded beak. Fire the cannons! It is nearly extinct and there are about 300 birds in captivity or managed wildlife on predator free locations. There are a few still in th' wild, but they don’t know th' exact numbers o' those populations.

At 09:15 th' Takahe are fed, and a small introductory talk is given. After this we quickly were on our way further south t' Invercargill.

Here, we spent th' day walkin' in th' park, which had a small museum, an aviary with lots o' birds, a small zoo with local and native species o' animals like feral goats and Kunekune pigs, rose gardens, a Japanese garden and quite a lot more.
What a wonderful way t' spend th' day o'er here!

Tomorrow, we are crossin' th' strait t' Stewart Island, and this time not by boat.
We spent th' evenin' repackin' our bags, as we are only allowed 1 piece o' baggage with a weight o' 15kg per person on th' plane. Let’s just say we carry quite a lot more on a daily basis!
It is a small plane, but I guess ye’ll see more tomorrow!

Day 25: Cruising Milford Sound

Today is a day with a lot o' sailin', again!

We are goin' on a cruise through Milford Sound, which is considered t' be one o' th' best boat tips one can make in New Zealand, and a bottle of rum! The Milford Sound is probably one o' th' last few truly untouched pieces o' wilderness in th' country, and they are pretty adamant about keepin' it that way.
There is only one way t' reach th' place, and that is by boat or bus o'er th' only ocean.
After that, there is a boat. Or maybe a kayak.

The sea up t' Milford is 120kms long from Te Anau and will take about 2 hours t' complete, to be sure. It is quite a busy sea, with a lot o' boats and buses goin' t' and from Milford. The boats are usually European tourists and th' odd local, while th' coaches are often filled t' th' brim with Asians. Either way, there is a lot o' traffic, and th' scenery is again beautiful, I'll warrant ye! The sail up there is lovely, and th' seas more curvy than e'er. I’ve had a great time sailin' up there!

Milford Sound is not actually a Sound, as it has been carved out o' th' solid granite mountains aroun' it not by a river, but by a glacier. Therefore it should have been called Milford Fiord, but th' Kiwi’s ne'er have gotten aroun' t' changin' its name, after acknowledgin' th' fact that some lubber in th' 1900’s had named all inlets on th' South Island incorrectly.
Also, th' word Fiord didn’t exist back then, and has been adopted t' th' English language from th' Norwegian Word Fjord. And hoist the mainsail! The New Zealanders chose t' write it differently, because, hey why not, and went ahead and called it a Fiord, by Blackbeard's sword. Aye, that is an I, and not a J.
Weird folks, these Kiwi’s.

I can probably write a bunch o' superlatives about th' beauty o' these surroundin's, but I will not and just show ye some pictures.
As ye probably can see, it rained quite intense in th' mornin', only t' clear up after we disembarked from our tour, with a chest full of booty. After that, th' weather were bein' quite nice, up until aroun' 6pm after which it started t' rain one again and has not stopped since.
This afternoon, on th' way back from Milford Sound, we did some small walks and just toured th' surroundin's o' th' ocean. There are a few side seas, and one even has some features aroun' it like Lakes, walks and campsites. Aarrr! With th' dry weather, these were a blast t' visit and we even soaked up some sunshine while doin' so!
We’ll see what tomorrow brin's us.

We are travellin' t' Invercargill, and will probably do some shoppin' there. 🙂

Day 24: Passing Paradise to Te Anau

Wow. Even after such a short amount o' time, Kinloch has really grown on me. Surrounded by majestic mountain ranges and lyin' directly opposite t' Glenorchy on th' banks o' Lake Wakatipu, it is utterly quiet and peaceful.
There are loads o' outdoor activities t' do, and th' surroundin's are beautiful. Stunnin' views everywhere!
Aye, it does rain quite a lot, and no, apart from th' lodge there is nothin' else, but th' location is simply awesome.

After some muesli this mornin', we are off headin' towards Te Anau. And hoist the mainsail, ye scurvey dog! This means we have t' sail th' dirt sea back towards Glenorchy, passin' Paradise and sailin' th' full hour t' Queenstown. That is also when we reach civilisation, th' other places I mentioned are tiny by all standards.
From there, Te Anau is just a few hours away, and mostly an easy sail.

We encountered no rain at all on th' trip, and have had a wonderful time sailin' through th' lovely New Zealand South Island scenery.
Arrivin' at Te Anau, which lies on th' shore o' Lake Te Anau, we booked a tour t' th' Te Anau Glowworm Caves.
Bein' quite a tourist attraction, it is just one o' those thin's ye have t' do, and even though it is insanely overpriced, th' experience is quite nice, as is th' boat ride t' th' caves themselves, to be sure. The pamphlet speaks o' a ‘scenic tour o' Lake Te Anau’, but it is more o' a ferry or shuttle than anythin' else.

We did find a very good Italian place o'er here, and we’ve both had some great fresh pasta. Yaaarrrrr! And hoist the mainsail! Go check out Da’ Toni whenever ye’re aroun'!