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Month June 2014

NZ – Nelson to Picton

The day’s short track
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Over to the South Island. The Cook Straight can be a fierce stretch of water so actually it’s more of a ship than a ferry, despite the short hop.
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Snubbelrisk. Your guess is as good as mine. Hobbit?
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The other side, Picton
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Typical lush coastline
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Tree palms mixed in with both deciduous and conifer
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Very beautiful small villages
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It’s very quiet
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Nelson’s a pretty town
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Huge tree palms with the conifers again

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I got a cold, my third or fourth of the ride and hunkered down here to recover, then we were off to Hamner Springs
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Each day it seemed to get colder. When we left again there was a decent frost and the roads were dicey
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If I haven’t said it’s peaceful yet, it’s peaceful
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Miles of this
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There are rivers everywhere
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Lunch stop. Pastries are the thing here. Everywhere.
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These mountains are maybe 5 or 6000 feet.
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Another beautiful river valley
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Hamner Spring is as still as a tomb
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We pushed on to Christchurch
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A river every few miles
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And that was as far south as we got. There were icy patches in the shadows of the trees. Our next destination was Tekapo and it just wasn’t going to warm up. The last thing we needed was to go for a slide
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So we headed north up the coast to Kaikoura
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This is the first time on the east coast and I look for differences
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We take a detour at one point
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Does this look like winter?
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I only include this bull because it’s the biggest I’ve ever seen. Maybe 3′ high at the shoulder on the ground here. Massive
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It looks like a small island in the southern Ocean here
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Massive kelp. My boot for reference, at least a foot across
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Although it’s hard to see here but this species of gull is short and fat
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Then back to Picton, but there’s a treat in store for us
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Freezing when we wake up
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We’re headed up the coast road along this
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Nothing better
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Then we get to this creek we’re told about. There’s a small gravel parking lot and we miss it the first time. Without spoiling the surprise too much, large sea mammals crawl out of the sea here
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And head up this
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We walk up this beside the creek
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A typical mountain creek. Pools, boulders, small sluices. A difficult climb for any animal
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Then, ten minutes of climbing up through the forest, up the side of this mountain, there’s a seal by the path
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A few minutes later we’re at this waterfall with a deep pool maybe 20′ across at the base.
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And it’s stuffed with baby seals. They’re diving, jumping and playing with each other with as much joy as you’ve ever see. Pure animal bliss. Click and enlarge the video to the left.

Maybe hundreds, or thousands, of years ago a mother seal came up the creek and had her pup here. Now hundreds do. The adults come up to feed them periodically, and when the pups are grown they return to the sea. There are no adults here today, just maybe 100 pups.

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An almost perfect ride up the coast from there
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A vineyard against a river
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Cruised by black swans
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Our first sheep. Staring
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Then into Picton. So not so much of the famed South Island
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Picton waterfront
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We’ve been trying to see the Southern Cross using our StarWalk app on the iPad but it’s parked in the middle of the Milky Way, so hasn’t been clear. The constellation’s name is Crux and you can vaguely see it here.
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NZ – Auckland to Wellington

A very brief series of NZ blogs to catch up

It’s winter here and we didn’t make much southerly progress due to ice, but we’ll get to that. It’s very cold. We’re going to hit a few countries off-season and this is one of them.

The first stop is Tuaranga to get new tires. TKC 80’s since we’re not concerned with tire wear here
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Once free of Auckland it’s a dash across vividly green countryside
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Then to Hamilton
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The leaves are off the trees. It feels like winter.
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Our first view of the hills that characterize NZ. Choppy, like the southern ocean on a bad day
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Rivers everywhere
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Stocked with Rainbow trout from BC decades ago, now the dominant fresh water game fish
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Then to New Plymouth
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Our first ocean view
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A black-sand beach. It’s soft like mud
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The air is sparkling clear, always
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Mount Taranaki
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And around the coast to Wellington
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Back to the ocean
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My youngest daughter is visiting on her way through. We travel together for a while. Yes, there’s a broken leg in here somewhere
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This is what Wellington looks like when you ride/drive in. Normally this is a windy city, but today it’s stillDSC02966

We decide to check it out by air. We charter the smallest helicopter I’ve ever been in, but it has the benefit of being quiet. My daughter’s in the front, I’m crammed into what passes for a back seat
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Downtown Wellington
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Head north
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Over hills
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Beautiful little valleys
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Along the coastline
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To a small peninsula, covered in seals
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Down there
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Toy helicopter. In bike terms, this is a scooter
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Seals
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And back again
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