After our stint in Dunedin (Ma, I’m done eatin’!), we were pretty tired…after all, we had been on the go pretty aggressively for 3 weeks in order to fully experience all that New Zealand has to offer. So, for the next several days, we took it easy as we drove up the east coast of the south island…instead of doing a big hike in the morning and driving 4 hours in the afternoon, we chilled, checked out some sights, found some wireless hotspots, and were generally less motivated about the entire thing. But we did do and see some things I want to mention (and quite frankly, I want to remember, so I’m recording them here!).
Our next major stop after Dunedin was Christchurch. On the way there, we stopped at a place called Moreki Boulders. They are basically some large geodes on the beach. Not that exciting, but they are almost perfectly circular and people seem to have a strange fascination with them.
Christchurch town has a similar feel as Dunedin: lots of Victorian buildings…
…with a peninsula to the south of the town center. The difference is that the Banks Peninsula to the south of Christchurch is much bigger…HUGE, in fact.
We camped in a cute little town called Duvauchelle. Jeremy and I seem to prefer the holiday parks that are off the beaten path…their amenities may not be as nice, but they are generally cheaper, family-run, and they feel a little more quaint. We were one of maybe 5 camper vans in the Duvauchelle Holiday Park, and we had a spectacular view of the sunset.
The next day, we headed for Akaroa, which is a French settlement in New Zealand. Basically, some French guy sailed to New Zealand, signed a treaty with some local Maoris for the land, sailed all the way back to France with news of his conquest, and by the time he returned (with about 40 Frenchies in tow) to settle the land, he found out that the English had already beat him to it with the Treaty of Waitangi, which granted the Brits all of New Zealand. The Frenchies made a deal with the Brits to stay on the land and now it is Akaroa, New Zealand’s only French settlement and a big holiday destination, especially for Christchurch residents. We had fish and chips at a cute place right on the waterfront.
After spending a few hours in Akaroa, we checked out one of several bays on this peninsula: Le Bons Bay. We were there just long enough to have the bejeezus scared out of us. As we were walking towards the end of the beach, we heard a weird noise and turned around to see a sea lion heading straight for us! There are many signs around the beaches in this area telling you to leave them alone because they will attack. In particular, the signs warn you not to get between a sea lion and the ocean. Well, that’s exactly where we were. These guys actually move pretty fast for basically being giant inchworms. Luckily, we still outran him.
Our next stop after Christchurch was Kaikora, a place that is known mostly for dolphin and whale watching. We didn’t see either, but we were very impressed with the place anyway since it featured snow-capped mountains meeting the sea. It seems like every time we think we’ve seen all there is to see in New Zealand, this amazing country throws you another incredibly sight to behold.
And that concludes our tour of the south island. <Sniff> We will definitely be coming back here one day…