First activities upon arrival in Christchurch
We were glad to arrive in Christchurch as this meant no more flying for the next four weeks. First of all, we were collected by the Jucy shuttle service and took over our camper van - a Jucy Condo suitable for four people and self-contained (prerequisite for freedom camping). After having set up the camper as our "new home", I was really glad to have chosen a camper suitable for four people. This way we could store our rucksacks and still move within the camper without having to relocate our bags all the time. You will treasure this fact as soon as you have rainy weather outside.
After having completed the camper hand-over, we headed off to the Christchurch Top 10 Holiday Park. Top 10 Holiday Parks are located in each major city within New Zealand and Australia. They are medium-priced and have clean facilities (toilet, shower, kitchen, living room, laundry). Additionally, you can get the Top 10 Holidy Park membership card which gives you discount at each Top 10 Holiday Park and also for several activities.
Next, we visited the closest supermarket to stock up our food storage. Basically nothing noteworthy but when returning the trolley, I did not realize that there was a little bump. Walking back to Martin, he suddenly shouted that the trolley was slowely rolling towards a parked car and I sprinted back just in time to prevent any damage to the car. Although I was happy that nothing happened, I was annoyed by a guy standing really close to the car, congratulating me (instead of simply reaching out his arm to stop the trolley). Anyhow, I guess this proofed that my twisted ankle was ready for hiking...
One day in Christchurch
As we had noticed that our fridge opens during driving, we had to go back to the Jucy office to have it's locking repaired. Afterwards, we drove into the inner city. Here, we visited the Te Puna O Waiwhetu Christchurch Art Gallery - worth a stop as it has some interesting things to show, offers free entrance and is also open on Sundays.
Strolling around the city, we saw a lot of demolished buildings from the earthquake in February 2011. Around the ChristChurch Cathedral at Cathedral Square illustrates the residents show their anger because of slow progress in rebuilding: You find a lot of posters with their opinion about the fact that the church still is not repaired (I will not quote any of them here because they were all not nice).
Last but not least, we visited the Christchurch Botanic Gardens where we had a look at the awesome-smelling rose garden.
Meeting the penguines in Oamaru
Leaving Christchurch behind, we started our trip to the south of New Zealand´s south island. Our first stop was in Oamaru which is well-known for it´s penguines. So, we booked two premium tickets at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony straight upon arrival. These tickets are very popular and therefore sold out pretty fast. Nevertheless, it is worth to get the premium tickets (on which you get 10% discount with the Top 10 Holiday Park membership card) as you are closer to the penguins and also have the possibility to walk through their nesting area (in appropriate distance, of course).
The "show" started after dusk: The penguines return back from their day trip out in the ocean hunting for fish and waddle towards their nests where the hungry chicks are waiting. On our way through the nesting area, we were lucky to see the feeding procedure: The adult pengiun "vomits" into the mouth of the young penguin - somehow unsettling according to our conventions but also interesting. What really impressed me about this penguin viewing is that the animals are very well protected: You are not allowed to take any pictures and everyone must stay seated while the penguins walk from the ocean to their nests (strictly ensured by rangers). In total, we saw 56 penguines waddling from the ocean to their nests (this is also counted by the rangers).
That night, we staid at the Harbour Tourist Park - about ten minutes from the penguine spotting. On our way back home, we spotted further penguines who probably wanted to chill a little bit longer outside before returning back home;-)
Steampunk Museum, Moreaki Boulders and Shag Point
The next day, we visited the Steampunk Museum in Oamaru. This is a museum full of spacy and crazy art - definitely worth to check out! You can climb on the machines or use them and take cool pictures.
In the afternoon, we drove further to the famous Moreaki Boulders. At first glance, I was not really impressed as you just see big stones on the beach. But when standing on such a big stone in the middle of the beach with the ocean in front of you...
Next stop: Shag Point - with nearly no tourists and an even better view over the beach and ocean. Here, Martin spotted the highlight of the day: Three seals taking a sun bath. They were perfect models and I even had the impression that they were showing off a bit;-) As this place was so beautiful, we decided to stay a little bit longer and eat our lunch here. Martin prepared awesome tuna sandwhiches (not sure if they were really that good or if I was just so hungry;-)).
Afterwards we moved on to Dunedin where we checked out Otago Peninsula. Here, you find albatrosses and penguines. Both, only accessible via guided tours that are exorbitant expensive. Therefore, we decided to skip them and instead bought some food at Pack'n Save. Here, my little internet junky noticed that they provide free wifi. So, our shopping tour lasted a little bit longer for the sake of checking emails and writing to our family that everything is ok.
That night, we stayed at Lake Waihola Holiday Park. This reminded me of the movie "House of Wax" when the friends arrive at the city where everything looks normal at first glance but then, they find out that nobody is there. It was the same with the camping ground: There were campers standing around but nobody was there. After Martin had paid the next morning, the camping ground owner came to us complaining that he had only charged one person (remember the guy at the filling station in "House of Wax";-))...
Nugget Point and Purpoise Bay
The next day, we continued our journey to Nugget Point. This is definitely a beautiful spot with a light house on top of the cliffs and fantastic views over bays, beaches and grasslands. From the light house, you can spot seals in the ocean (although pretty far away). In addition, there is a place for penguine spotting but also quite far away from the beach. Anyhow, we were lucky to spot a yellow-eyed penguin on his way home.
On our way to Purpoise Bay, we had a short stop at the Purakaunui Falls (well signposted). After a short walk through the rain forrest (about ten minutes), you reach a cute little waterfall.
There were many more signpostings on our way but we simply ran out of time to look at them as it was already late afternoon. Reaching Purpoise Bay, we decided to stay over night. Here, you can see see lions, penguins, dolphines and sheeps. Somehow, we were not really lucky and only saw the sheeps.
In order to increase the probability of spotting penguins, we walked to Curio Bay (with only 15 minute walk right next to Purpoise Bay). Here, you can see a petrified forrest (nothing spectacular but ok to look at if you have time anyway). Unfortunately, the penguines were still "at work" out in the ocean. The tourists armed with cameras and "reserving" stones from which you have the best view on the penguines reminded me of paparazzi. So, we decided to head back to our camper for dinner.
That night, the weather turned very rainy and windy. It was so windy that we both woke up and were scared that our camper might tilt over. Therefore, we decided to relocate to a more wind-protected area. Unfortunately, I realized only then that I needed the toilet. As we had been driving over half of the camping ground and Martin knows how bad my orientation is, he did not want me to get lost in the stormy rainy night. So, he joined me on my way to the toilet (yes, this is true love:-)).
Our way to Te Anau
The next day, it was still raining like hell and the weather forecast did not promise improvement the next days. We skipped breakfast but before departure, we spotted dolphines at the beach (or better say dolphine flippers periodically coming out of the water). I cannot tell what was more amazing: The dolphine flippers or the crazy tourists jumping into the water at about 10°C air temperature and rain. Next stop was Slope Point. This would have been a 20 minute walk (one way) but as it still was raining like hell, we both decided to stay dry and move on (yes, also we become older). Then, we had a further stop at Waipapa Point where you can spot see lions. But again, no luck... I think the see lions were also annoyed because of the bad weather. So we continued our journey to Te Anau.
Enjoying rain in Te Anau
Arriving in Te Anau, we first went to the visitor centre to get an overview of the walks. And it was still raining and raining and raining and raining. We decided to stay at the Te Anau Top 10 Holiday Park. Luckily, we got a camping ground right next to the toilet and kitchen so our ways through the rain were minimized. We had our breakfast that day at 4 p.m.: Spaghetti with tuna sauce. Although the spaghetti had accidently fallen into the sink when draining, it was delicious!
The next day, the weather had changed: Besides the rain, there were also thunderstorms right over Te Anau... So, we decided to have a good night´s rest and an unhurried breakfast: Toast, scrumbled eggs, bacon, nutella and cappuccino. Again, it was sooo good!
We had a cosy day in our camper as the rain and thunderstorms did not stop. This gave us a good opportunity to work on our travel blog and picture selection. In the afternoon, at least the thunderstorms stopped so we decided to do a little walk and test our rain equipment. Fully vested with our rain trousers and jackets, we headed off to the Te Anau Lake. About ten minutes later, the rain became weaker and further ten minutes later it fully stopped raining and the sun was shining! So we extended our walk along the lake side. We both enjoyed the sunny fresh air.