Kaikoura and the Seals

Our next destination was Kaikoura on the Pacific coast of the south island. We’d heard wonderful things about Kaikoura and were looking forward to the visit. Since we had a limited amount of time, we wanted to take advantage of every moment. Kaikoura means food (kai) and crayfish (koura) in the Maori language. Ken and Mary at Coleraine B & B made us feel right at home. Ken was in the middle of harvesting honey from his beehives when we arrived. I did enjoy some at breakfast the following morning. YUMMY!!

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Once again, we were hosted by the kindest and most friendly people. Spending time with them was a delight. I highly recommend a visit to Coleraine B & B. The large room we stayed in was on the first floor with the cutest patio. Mary and Ken’s primary living area is on the second floor with an incredible view off their large balcony.

Kaikoura landscape

We headed to the Pier Hotel for dinner a bit early so we could enjoy the views while the storm rolled in.

Kaikoura Pier

Kaikoura Skyline

The waves were crashing against the shore and up on the road in places. It was spectacular.

The next morning we had breakfast with Ken and Mary and discussed our itinerary. The first activity was whale watching and then, on our way out of town to Blenheim, Ken suggested visiting the seals and in particular, the seal pups. Sounded like a great plan.

Except…once we arrived to board our boat for whale watching, the caution was up on the screen.

EXTREME SEA SICKNESS WARNING!!!!

It’s me…not you. I have motion sickness issues and have been known to feed the fishes more than once. We waited to see if conditions would improve. NOT. So, reluctantly, we decided to cancel our boat trip. I was really disappointed. Delia was very understanding.

So, it was off to see the seals. Since we headed out earlier than planned, we had plenty of extra time. I’m so glad. It was another incredible New Zealand experience. We saw the seals off the shoreline and then moved further up the highway to Ohau Stream and the seal pups that swim in the pools while moms are relaxing near the ocean. Amazing!!

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I was able to sit just off the path and above the seals. Visitors are very respectful and keep their distance while the pups play.


The waterfall is not much further up the trail and I understand that pool can be filled with seals, but today there were only two and they quickly left the water to head back down the hill. Still, it’s a beautiful area and I’m glad we were able to see it. This little guy must have played hard. We found him resting on the rocks in the middle of a dense forest.

Seal pups of Ohau

Experiences like this are just one of the many reasons I travel. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity and wonderful hosts who make sure I stop to smell the roses, or pause to appreciate the antics of baby seals. Thanks Ken and Mary!

Beach Bums Have it Made – Dunedin

After our overnight cruise in Milford Sound with Real Journeys, we had a long drive to Dunedin. Delia programed our GPS we had affectionately dubbed Harriet, and we were on our way. Harriet (GPS) threw in some interesting routes along the way and we saw more of the country than we ever expected including small gravel roads with lots of sheep and not a person in sight.

New Zealand Farmlands

Even the farming communities have beautiful scenery.

“Look at that beautiful herd of deer, Delia!”

She looked and we admired how many of them were standing in a gorgeous green field.

“There’s another herd!”

And another, and another. In New Zealand, they raise herds of deer along with sheep and cattle. That was a surprise. Venison is regularly featured on restaurant menus.

After many hours of driving, we drove over a hill and were greeted with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean. Every turn was a wonderful new scene. We were ready to find our new home for the next few nights with the Beach Bums in Brighton, just outside of Dunedin.

What a treat! Janine greeted us at the door. The end result of our journey? A jaw-dropping view of the ocean, just outside our windows and the most comfortable space imaginable.

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Dunedin

The windows were open on this beautiful afternoon and I loved hearing the waves crashing against the shore. We settled in and then went upstairs to have a glass of wine with Janine. Her husband, Ross, was out of town so we never did get a chance to meet him. We spent hours laughing with Janine. She and Ross built the house five years ago and were married on the small bit of land with the tree in the upper photo. It’s an island during high tide. Janine also loves photography so you know we had plenty of topics to cover.

We were also greeted by a few of her other family members…

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The next morning we headed to one of Janine’s favorite places, Tunnel Beach. It is a steep grade down. It’s the climb back up where you pay for the privilege of visiting and for the large lunch planned for later in the day. Well worth it.

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Tunnel Beach

The tide was high, so there was no real beach to walk on, but it was beautiful with the crashing waves and hidden treasures. When we got to the bottom of the path, Janine had suggested to us that we continue through the tunnel.

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There was a roughly cut tunnel with steps. It was such a wonderful surprise.

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And through the tunnel was a very peaceful and beautiful place with fewer people. I climbed over some of the rocks and found a place to sit where I could just listen to the waves and stare out at the ocean. I love abstracts and this is a place of many textures and colors.

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After a bit of fun with some beautiful ladies from Malaysia, I headed back up the hill on the long climb.

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We spent the afternoon at the Royal Albatross Centre which is the only place in the world where the royal albatross nest on a mainland.

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It was a fascinating tour and the New Zealanders have done an incredible job in support of this majestic endangered species. Later that evening, we went back to the centre to see the small blue penguins. They didn’t seem to want to see us, so we only saw a few and it was difficult to get photos. Still, it was a beautiful night on the coast. Tired and happy, we returned to our B&B and had a great night’s sleep.

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In the morning we woke to another beautiful sunrise, sent our fond farewells to Janine and headed back across the South Island to our next adventure. I highly recommend visiting Janine and Ross if you are heading to their area of the world. We felt at home from the first hello until the last. I hope to see you again, Janine. Thanks for everything.

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Making Waterfalls from Raindrops- Milford Sound

On the way to Milford Sound

The rain seemed to be following us along this trip, but I was hopeful that we’d have some blue sky at Milford Sound. The day dawned with just a few clouds. It was a four hour trip from Queenstown and we started around 9:30am so we’d have plenty of extra time to get there before our cruise boat left the dock.

When I was planning the trip, I heard from numerous people about the beauty of the south island. Still, I was amazed. Every turn exposed another incredible view. There is little traffic so it’s easy to pull off on the side for photos. We stopped in Te Anau, which is about halfway, to pick up snacks at the local grocery store. From that point, the drive is one of the most beautiful that I’ve ever seen. The canopy of the rain forest reaches out over the road and it feels like you’re encased in a tunnel of green. Every now and then the road takes you to places where you can see the massive mountain tops.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

We made it to the port and relaxed until it was time to board. The clouds had definitely rolled in and the rain had started.

Milford Sound

The majority of pictures I’ve seen of Milford Sound include blue skies and clear mountain tops, so that’s what I expected. Now I know that it rains on Milford Sound 182 days a year, so the odds were 50/50 that we would be there during the rain. My friends who just visited told me about the increase in the number of waterfalls during the rain storms.

Milford Sound

As we moved into the sound, I stood on the open bow of the ship. By that time it was pounding rain. We slowly moved in towards a towering waterfall and I stood as close as I could to the front and closed my eyes as the wind pushed the spray into my face. It was such a magical moment. We moved on to the place where the ship would be moored overnight.

The mountains here are made of solid rock and there is no soil. Lichens and mosses take hold and an occasional tree. Once one tree finds a crack to hold onto or lichen to use as a base, other trees will start growing by intertwining their roots with the original tree. At some point, the load gets too much to bear and the original tree will give way pulling down all the trees and much of the base moss and lichen. It leaves behind a bare strip on the side of the mountain. I could see a number of places on the surrounding mountains where that had occurred.

The rain stopped briefly while we were out on a speed boat ride and we returned to the ship for dinner. We met one couple from San Francisco who were on a tour with a group of about forty people and they were the only Americans. The one question they kept hearing from people from outside the U.S. was their opinion about Donald Trump. I know Delia had a long conversation with one man, but I wasn’t really interested in discussing politics. I was actually glad to be away from all the chaos on this trip. During dinner, the rain started again. By the end of dinner, it was dark and we went back to our cabin to sleep.

It was still dark when we got up and headed to breakfast. The winds were very strong and the boat was rocking back and forth. In the distance we could see that the number of waterfalls had increased. It was difficult to open the door to the outside corridor on my way to the cabin and I held on tight every step of the way. I tend to get motion sickness and wanted to lie down for a bit. Delia managed to get a few amazing videos while I was resting.

This one shows the incredible size and amount of water from one of the larger waterfalls.

The second video shows the strength of the wind pushing the water back up and parallel to the ground until it finally falls further out over the water instead of directly down.

On the return trip to shore, there were dolphins near the bow of one of the other ships. I did get to watch them leap out of the water. They were amazing.

On the road after our cruise, I managed to get a few pictures along the way.

Milford Sound

While Milford Sound involved a lot of rain, it was still incredibly beautiful and we had wonderful waterfalls to enjoy. I don’t have many pictures to share, but I’ll treasure the memories. 

New Mexico Road Trip Part 2 – Found Treasures

Road trips bring me up close and personal with the many treasures that I would  otherwise miss looking down from an airplane at 35,000 feet, like…

local wildlife.

Deer

stepping over the state line.
Welcome to New Mexico

unusual art that makes me smile.

Metal Giraffes

places with a lot to say.

Hollywood Rejects

a sight for sore eyes.

Eyes Graffiti

“moo”ving moments.

Lone Cow

We even saw a road runner, but it was too quick to capture on camera. What’s better than a road trip? A road trip with plenty of time to stop to appreciate those magical moments.

Enjoy!

New Mexico Road Trip Part 1 – White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument

It was still dark on Saturday morning when I picked up my friend Emelyn and all her photography equipment and started the long drive. We were meeting a small group of photographers down in Alamogordo, New Mexico to visit White Sands National Monument.

I love road trips.

We started in Denver, which is a large and very busy city. The metropolitan area stretches almost twenty miles and after that there are very few sections of Interstate 25 where you won’t see at least one house or in the distance for the next hour and a half drive. It’s a beautiful area of the country and we have the Rocky Mountains that stand as sentinels overlooking the front range.

After the almost constant presence of people in Colorado along I-25, it was fascinating drive for hours without seeing any indication of people except for fences on the long stretch of roadway. The countryside is arid and filled with the shorter piñon pines, yucca plants and grasses moving in the wind. New Mexico has its own unique beauty of simplicity and shadow.

After a brief stop in Sante Fe, we finished the long drive and checked into the White Sands Motel. Sunset was still more than an hour away and we didn’t waste time headed to the White Sands National Monument. One word…INCREDIBLE!

I’ll be adding more updates and photos over the next week.

Sisters’ Trip Update – New England It Is

New England  Lighthouse
The results are in!

Thank you for all of your input and votes. My sisters and I are headed to the New England area for our sisters’ trip. Now we just need to decide on our itinerary and what areas we will be traveling.

The initial plan is to fly into Boston or Bangor, rent a car and then drive through a number of states. Each one of us is going to pick two places we want to see and then we’ll set up the schedule. From lighthouses, to specific towns, covered bridges and a Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory Tour, we’ve already received some great suggestions from those who recommended New England.

Being landlocked in Colorado, the a visit to the Atlantic Ocean is a definite. The rest will develop as we select our must sees. We are still intending to try to keep to our budget of $500 each, not including airfare. I’m finding that renting a car at one airport and dropping it off at another adds to the expense, so we’ll see what discounts are available.

Travel Budget Plan

  1. Do our research on places to stay and book in advance
  2. Select B&B’s, motels or hotels that serve breakfast and are not in the costly city centers
  3. Buy a cheap cooler when we arrive and fill it with snacks so we can limit our eating out
  4. Select and budget in the key places we want to see and then fill in with low cost or free places to visit
  5. Rent a small car that gets better gas mileage, but is still comfortable enough for three people and luggage
  6. Utilize discounts that may be available to us: senior discounts, AAA, online booking

If there is anyone who can spot a discount, it’s Wendy. I know she is already on the hunt. Do you have any tips that you use to stay on a travel budget?

In Other Travel News:

I’m headed to White Sands National Monument  in New Mexico this weekend with a small group of my photographer friends. When they say “white sands” they mean it. What a beautiful place. I can’t wait to share the pictures.

With my trip to Namibia less than two months away, I visited the Global Travel Clinic and recieved one shot in each arm yesterday afternoon. One to prevent Typhoid and the other Hepatitis A. Ouch! I have a couple prescriptions to fill, including anti-malaria pills, Cipro and motion sickness prevention patches. Planning continues…