First off, we are not near the volcano explosion. Thanks for asking.
Day 18 Kaikoura
Went whale watching in Kaikoura. It’s very well known for it. It’s also about 3 hours from Christchurch. So we woke up very early to go there. We wanted extra time with all the motorway construction. We think NZ construction people who hold the stop and go signs for directing one lane of traffic have to be smiley and friendly as part of the job description. Every time we’d pass one they would wave to us. But also to every car.
We arrived at the whale watching place where we bought seasickness medicine because they said the conditions were choppy. They also said we’d need to transfer me to a smaller chair to then get onto the boat. Like when I board an airplane. But then they said my chair was small enough that it could just go on. Thank goodness for dieting. The lady at the center also said that because I couldn’t go onto their transport busses we could drive straight to the dock with the boat. The center is where you’re supposed to watch the safety video but she said she’d go over in person before we left. We went to the bathroom and then came back and she showed us a map of how to drive to the dock. We were worried about missing the safety instruction since we had to leave immediately. She said “oh! Life jacket is under your seat. Don’t smoke. That’s it. Common sense.” I liked our version of safety rather than watching the 20 mins long video.
We drove to the dock and the crew were all hanging out. We weren’t sure where to park since all the spots were taken and there was a no parking zone. The captain came over and said to just park next to his car in the no parking zone. I like the chill NZ mindset. No parking? No problem.
The crew helped me get onto the boat. Since I was the first one on I got the front seat by the window. The captain said whichever side I chose he’d make the priority side for the whale sightings. And the other members would make sure the window was clear of people so I could see. I thought that was really nice.
Once everyone else boarded we headed out to sea. The tour guide was a blonde woman with so many tattoos. She was obviously cool. My favorite was a whale tattoo on her leg next to a cat face. NZers are funny. Especially tour guides. They like to tease tourists about how serious and frantic they are. This one mentioned putting on seat belts because we go really fast on the water in the boat. While everyone was scrambling to find theirs (including me), she stopped and said that there are no actual seatbelts on the boat.
The first whale we saw was a baby humpback whale. They usually are underwater for a few minutes and then come up to breathe for 5-10 secs.
Then we headed out further from the coast to see a sperm whale but then one of the other boats Said it dove under. When that happens they stay under water for 45 mins before coming up to breathe. So instead of waiting around, the captain took us to see some dolphins. There were so many! They are so cute and fun. They came pretty close to our boat. And they jumped out of the water doing flips. We decided they’re the attention seekers of the ocean. And we rightfully gave it to them. Because why would backflipping your way across the ocean not be efficient?
Then we headed out to see the sperm whale. Only males are this far south. They come to eat here. Females stay in warmer waters with their babies. The sperm whale is the largest mammal with teeth. Fun fact! While we were waiting for it to pop up the captain would go out with a special whale sonar to listen to the echo location of the whale. It looked like a big megaphone on a stiick. Then it popped up! It was so cool. And we even got to see it arch it’s back and flip it’s tail while it dove under again. Very cool. On the way back to the dock becca and I were feeling sick. Only two people threw up on our boat. Luckily we were not the two. Suddenly the captain slammed on the boat brakes because he saw another humpback. We were short on time so we couldn’t hang around to observe much but right then the whale arched its back and flipped its tail to dive so it was pretty great timing. Then we headed back to the dock. It was probably my favorite experience in NZ.
We went into town for lunch. Most of the town only had burgers and crayfish. So we opted for burgers. I got a chicken burger. Becca got a fancy mushroom sandwich thing. Then we roamed around the town for a bit. We went into this fun store called Roam which has clever NZ shirts. Our favorite was a picture of a bear that said “no bears here”. And also “New Zealand, damn better than Old Zealand”.
After we wandered we headed home. We basically drove 6 hours for 2 hours of whale glory on the open water. It was worth it. We also finished the audiobook! I know you’ve all been dying to know what’s happening with that. Well. Turns out it’s the second book in a four part series. So Spensa escaped the Krell people and figured out how to defeat the Delvers but now there’s a political coup within the Superiority in the government and also spoiler alert, slugs help ships to hyperdrive. So you’ll have to wait until next road trip in 5 years to know how it ends since the other two books haven’t been written yet.
We tried to go to Kathmandu to return my sweater for a bigger size. But we arrived just as they were closing. So we went to the nearby grocery store to buy candy instead. We each bought about $100 worth of chocolate.
When we got back to the hotel, becca conked out. I spent the time while she was napping researching our dinner. We went to a nearby Vegetarian and Seafood restaurant. We both got ratatouille rolls with a green salad. Think ratatouille in a pastry puff. And polenta fries. It was quite good.
Then we went to bed.
Day 19 Christchurch
Went to free continental breakfast and ate cereal and a croissant with orange juice. Becca ate cereal and fruit and a spirulina smoothie with orange juice. We had leftover almond milk in the fridge from our camping so she brought it down and used that in her cereal. The manager of the food place saw it and said they also had almond milk if we wanted but that no one really drinks it so they keep it behind the bar instead of out with the other milks.
Our first adventure of the day was to the willowbank nature preserve. Lots of ducks and other birds. Becca bought a cup of bird pellets to feed the birds. Tuppence a bag. She wanted to feed the kiwis. But the ducks ended up getting most of it because you weren’t allowed to feed the kiwi. Ducks are obnoxious. We also saw macaws and wallabies. And of course a kiwi! They are nocturnal so we went through this really dark make shift enclosed environment where you could only see by red lights. There was one kiwi foraging. We couldn’t find it but then a little point motioned for us to come by him to see it. We were grateful.
Becca’s one regret from going to this wildlife preserve was not taking a picture when 5 geese were surrounding me and preventing me from moving forward down the little pathway. Geese are really scary when they are essentially your height, outnumber you, and not scared of you. I was very distressed.
My one regret was not taking a picture while becca fed a swan and instead of it eating her bird pellets, it taking a bite of her toe.
After the preserve we went to Kathmandu for the 4th and final time. I was able to exchange my sweater. It fits much better now. We ate at the food court because we were hungry and it was there. Becca got a katsu bowl with rice, salad, and fried tofu. I got a Chinese food buffet plate. They don’t have orange chicken but they do have lemon chicken.
After lunch we headed to the International Antarctic Center. Christchurch is a main hub for researchers to launch out of on their way to Antarctica. We saw huskies that were really excited to see me. Maybe they thought I was a sled they were supposed to pull. Or maybe it was because I dropped some jam on my shoe.
We also went into the Storm room which is made to mimic Antarctic conditions during the summer time. A best case scenario. We all wore fancy Antarctic parkas with Canadian goose feathers so I trusted it. The room went from 18 degrees to minus 1 Fahrenheit. It was very exciting. It felt like I was in Utah again.
We also got to see the penguins being fed. This center houses disabled penguins. Penguins that would otherwise not survive in the wild. My people. Some were blind, paralyzed, or amputees. One had one of its flippers torn off because he survived a shark attack. The penguins we saw were Little Blue Penguins. There are a lot in New Zealand. Apparently Daniel our kayaking guide saw one while on our trip. I think I was too distracted trying to dodge a ferry to pay attention at the time.
There was also a 4D movie showing of Antarctic landscape. It was a strange experience. You wore 3D glasses and then sat in deats that moved up and down. Sometimes water would spray at you. Or fake snow would fall. The movie itself was not informative. We mostly got wet. We saw the next movie too. Little foot synopsis. More informative.
After going to the other exhibits we left in search of dinner. We went downtown to an Italian restaurant. It was that or Indian but we decided Italian since we’d be eating Indian food on the plane and also the Indian place becca wanted to go to was out of business. I ordered pesto linguine and becca had gnocchi with vegetables. Mine was okay. I like my homemade pesto better. Becca’s was better. We also had bruschetta for appetizer. I opted for still instead of sparkling water. Poor choice.
Then we headed to the botanical gardens in the park next to our hotel. We were trying to find a place where Becca could time lapse the sunset but it was chilly and there weren’t many clouds out so the time lapse would have been lame anyways. We did meet some nice Pokémon Go players though. So overall it was a success.
Then we headed back to the hotel and packed to leave tomorrow.
We have been singing Frozen 2 songs all day.