Saturday, September 30, 2006

Sheep and Seals

Tim has just said for the 5th time, “shall we go to Puzzling world?”. The first time I thought he saw the advert and thought it looked funny, the second I thought he'd maybe forgotten he'd told me. The third and fourth I kind of ignored him, but now the 5th time he has said it whilst showing me the picture of it I am sure he really wants to go. I don't. I don't need puzzling any more.

Puzzle world or not we are still having a great time. I thought our New Zealand trip was going to be limited up to and including Dunedin when we drove round and round for an hour trying to get out of the place. Tim got very annoyed and said he was going home. I reminded him that even if he wanted to he couldn't as it appeared we could not leave Dunedin-ever. Not that Dunedin was a bad place, in fact as towns go it was quite nice, but I wanted to be in the middle of nowhere. It all got better when Tim bought a road map and we managed to find the way out. (We had done o.k without a map up 'til then (well, apart from trying to get out of Christchurch where the same happened, but anyway...) no thanks to the road signs that lead to nowhere.

It's true what they say, New Zealand is very beautiful. It's also true that there are lots of sheep. It's lambing season at the moment and every other minute me and Tim can be heard cooing and awwwwing other some cute little lamb bounding along after it's mum. Often witty remarks containing the words mint sauce, shame and dinner follow the cooing and in Tim's case bad dad jokes (no offence Roger) like “oh there's the black sheep of the family” is said when an odd black one skips past.

We have kind of got in to a routine everyday now. Well, I guess it's some kind of routine. We get up, try to leave before 9am (often failing) drive for about 4-5 hours to next destination, on the way stopping at various beautiful spots. I sound blasé about the beautiful spots, but obviously they are what makes this part of the trip and it is made every 5 minutes with many beautiful spots. Since Mount Cook there hasn't been so many Mountains, but lots of telly tubby hills which although is farmland is still beautiful. Interspersing the hills are wild woodlands of the Catlins, where the wind has left it's mark on a lot of trees which permanently look like a strong wind is blowing them, even on a very still day.

Yesterday we saw some stunning coast line, in particular, Nugget point which had a number of picturesque outcroppings dotted in the wild, giant seaweed strewn turquoise sea at the bottom of a sheer cliff. New Zealand fur seals, hooker sea lions and elephant seals all live here together, the only place this occurs on mainland New Zealand. Yellow eyed penguins also live here but are only really seen at sunrise or dusk. We saw what we think were NZ fur seals and hooker sea lions. We think we may have seen an elephant seal too, but as he was in the water could not tell.

The beaches we have seen so far are beautiful wild stretches of sand and turquoise sea. Yesterday we saw seals at Cannibal Bay so called because human bones were found here. Maybe the seals here are particularly ferocious and it was those that caused the fate of the humans. Maybe this is why we didn't get too close or maybe it was their size which put us off; even so we gave them their space.

Our camp site last night was at a no facilities (just toilets) conservation area. These places are dotted around and for a small fee you can camp. It was good to be back, camping (albeit it in a plush van!) in the middle of nowhere. (I found I loved this when we were in Tasmania and other parts of Australia a few years ago). We plan to do more of this whilst in NZ but up until now we have stayed in serviced camp sites. This camp at Parakaunui Bay was right next to one of those wild looking beaches I mentioned earlier. I parked our van pointing towards the beach separated from us by a creek. Later we found ourselves watching sea lions which were pointed out to us by an older couple who were also camping. They were massive.(Not the couple, the sea lions) There were about 5 of them and we tried to get over the creek to get closer, but didn't fancy getting wet and cold so decided to watch them from the comfort of our van. The couple had also seen a leopard seal chasing white bait up the creek which was just in front of us. That would have been cool to have seen. They are scary seals. Apparently they are not common here. Never mind, I was happy enough with what we saw. It was great this morning when I opened our front curtain and the first thing I saw apart from the beautiful sea and sand was one of the seals waddling towards the sea. This is what it's all about.

N.B I think Tim has got over his desire to go to “Puzzling world”. He is now talking about the Sausage capital.....

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