On the plane from Queenstown to Christchurch was the most interesting air sickness bag we’ve ever seen. It was interesting enough to share.
This time our Air B&B was perched on top of a cliff with very winding roads. The sea views were amazing from some areas along the road. At our unit the advertised sea views were visible only when standing on the bench in the yard. The apt though was well set up with a washer & dryer and a pretty private garden. We drove back down the winding road to get groceries and past a pair of peacocks walking across the road. We later found out that the birds belonged to a neighbor.
We left the North Island by ferry and headed to explore the South Island
We had very rough passage on the ferry through the Cooks strait. The waves were crashing up over the bough at times.
We were happy when we docked and were off the ferry , picked up by our wine tour representative who whisked us away to catch up with our wine tour group. This was the Marlborough region in the Valley known as a white wine, Sauvignon Blanc, region. We visited four wineries. One of them, Lawson’s, was a family run winery known for creating the first screw cap for wines to save the cork trees. After our tour we were dropped off at our motel near the Picton Harbour. We settled in and walked the few blocks to town to find some groceries for the next few morning meals and a dinner. Picton’s Harbour area is a beautiful spot filled with boats and green mountains in the background.
In the morning, we set off for the harbor for kayak adventure. Double kayaks, OH NO! Remembering our experience in Vietnam, we hoped this one would work out better. It turned out that this kayak was much sturdier than the other complete with a rudder and protective wet proof gear. We successfully kayaked 6 miles through the waters of the Queen Charlotte Sound past sea birds and beautiful mountains.
We had lunch and wandered the town in the afternoon. We liked our lunch restaurant enough to go back there for dinner.
We arrived in Christchurch and got to our hotel where we’d stay for one night. We had an early morning bus to catch to Mt. Cook National Park.
Waiting for the bus to Mt. Cook
We were able to leave some of our luggage at the hotel to retrieve it when we returned from Queenstown, which we were visiting after our Mt. Cook experience.
Mt Cook is the tallest mt. in New Zealand, used by climbers readying themselves for Mt Everest. The cloud cover prevented us from seeing the peak,but we were in awe of the beautiful scenery. We stayed at the Hermitage Hotel in Mt. Cook National Park.
Walking around the park we saw these ducks walking everywhere together. We found out that they are paradise ducks and they mate for life. The feather colors are so pretty.
The next morning after breakfast we set off for glacier exploration. On the way to Lake Tasman, the glacier lake, we drove through the Tasman Valley, past mountains that were used in Lord of the Ring films, past Mt. Wakefield with a waterfall streaming down the mountain. We had a 20 minute walk to the lake where we got on the boats to see icebergs and Tasman Glacier up close. The waters in the icebergs had a deep blue color which we learned was from glacier rocks forming a rock flour.
Disclaimer: Sorry that some photos might be sideways. It will depend if you’re viewing on a PC or tablet. They’re all properly oriented when we post but we’ve noticed the switch when we look at the blog on our Ipad and/or PC.
Continuing on in Cairns:
We woke up early the next morning and used the available bicycles & helmets and ride into town for a breakfast.
We returned , packed up and got ready to picked up by Malcolm, our gracious host. Not only did he drive us to Yorkeys Knob but also stopped at a few markets so we could pick up some groceries and fresh seafood. We were very grateful for his generosity. Malcolm and Anna rented us an apartment that was lovely, spacious, clean and the air conditioning worked well. It was directly across from a pretty beach where there were safety nets set up to keep out jellyfish.
We had hoped to kayak but the water was too rough to risk staying upright with so many jellyfish in the waters. We cooked at the apartment they evening. Hank’s foot had been bothering him and Malcolm recommended a podiatrist he could see the next day. We woke up early to see the sunrise but it was raining, so we walked on the beach with umbrellas. We set off for Hank’s doctor appointment via a bus that picked us up directly across the street from our apartment. Very convenient! After the doctor visit we walked to a nearby cafe and discovered a display of a HUGE local crocodile.
The next morning we set off at 7:30 am for a tour of the Daintree Rain forest area. The tour bus picked us up and we traveled on the Captain Cook highway along the beach to Mossman, The Daintree River & Rainforest area and Cape Tribulation. We passed a sign: “Croc feeding – bring your children” Ha ha!
Mossman is a sugar cane refining town where there are lots of sugar cane fields, which are harvested May through December. The trees lining the main road in town were planted in 1904 – South American Raintrees with lots of moss and ferns growing on them.
past intermediate egrets flying from trees
The Daintree Rainforest area is a world heritage sight.
We walked on a boardwalk through the forest
and saw two Boyd’s rainforest dragons ( lizards)
and a 400 year old Cycad Tree Fan Palm.
We had lunch at a spot that was a wallaby and bird sanctuary. It was exciting to see a baby in it’s momma’s pouch.
and then past Thornton Beach to Cooper Creek on Cape Tribulation for a swim in a cold creek that Shelley actually jumped in! Too cold for crocodiles also.
We tasted different fruits & had billy tea made by swinging the tea pot around the cook’s head to settle the tea leaves.
Back in the bus & drove to Cape Tribulation beach named by James Cook who explored Australia from his ship, The Endeavor, and claimed it for the British.
A stop at Daintree ice creamery for exotic fruit ice cream where the fruit is grown in local orchards.
We drove to the river & were carried over on the cable pulled ferry.
We got up early the next morning to watch the sunrise across the street at the beach. We sat on rocks and watched the lovely hues. It was a great surprise to see a drone rise up over the water flying in front of us. Maybe someone wanted to see the sunrise without getting out of bed?
Hank had a swim in the ocean in the portion that is netted off for jellyfish protection. Our next adventure was the Cairns Botanical Gardens.We caught a bus first to the marina for more prawns & mud bugs from the trawler restaurant we enjoyed the other day.
We then took a bus to the FREE Cairns Botanical Gardens.
We saw phenomenal trees, bushes and flowers . We got to see an aboriginal Medicine forest , an interesting tree called a sausage tree.
We also saw the Titan Arum, the tallest blooming plant in the world, which bloomed in January, 2016. Its bloom has an odor likened to rotting flesh, which is why it is called “the corpse flower.” It had be written up in the local papers a few months back.
We saw a kookaburra perched on a sign post at the gardens. It was exciting to see one in the wild.
After the bus back to downtown Cairns we found a restaurant right across from the tree of parrots where thousands of the birds would descend on the tree at dusk.
We were up early for another magnificent sunrise. Malcolm cut a coconut for Hank to drink the water.
More to come soon!