Akaroa, New Zealand
We wake this morning with clear sky’s. After watching some local news on the television we find out that the cyclonic winds from yesterday have cut a path of destruction across the South Island leaving many roads closed due to fallen tree’s and avalanches. (what the hell are we in for today). We head down to the harbor for breakfast before hitting the road.
Our journey south zig-zags across farmland and we spot downed trees everywhere as the clouds roll in and it starts to rain. We soon hit Highway 1, and the weather clears, a good omen, we hope. It is a very plain stretch of road and the drive is uneventful until we reach Timaru, the home town of one of the girls Debi works with. We drive onto the esplanade overlooking Caroline Bay when we spot a Monthieth’s Pub that looks very inviting.
Pharlap was born on a stud farm at Seadown near Timaru so we decide to visit the museum telling his story but you guessed it, closed! We forge on and to our right we spot Mt Cook in the distance with it’s glistening snow cap or at least we think it is. The further south we travel the better the weather gets and we reach an all time high of 19 degrees as we roll into Oamaru.
This town is famous for its white stone buildings. We explore the Historic Precinct where the buildings have been occupied by some of Oamaru’s eccentric characters offering European style loves of bread, quirky jewelery and lots of arty stuff. Next door is Steampunk Headquarters but you guessed it, closed also! To finish our tour we drop into a whiskey den and sample some of New Zealands finest.
Oamaru is also famous for it’s Yellow Eyed and Blue Eyed Penguins, so we purchase some tickets for the sunset parade where as many as 120 penguins make their way ashore before heading into the rookery.
We drive Thames St, the main street of Oamaru looking for suitable accommodation and decide on the Bella Vista Motel, where we wash down the dust with a couple of Gin and Tonics before heading back to the harbor for the penguin parade.
The temp has dropped and it is very cold as we patiently wait for the little rascals to come ashore. Debi spots a big seal on the rocks and wonders if he will try to eat some for dinner but he is not a predator the guide assures us. It’s not long before two arrive followed by another six or so. As we wait in the freezing conditions it takes the ones who have arrived about 30 minutes to preen themselves before they waddle past within meters of our viewing platform. We look out to sea and there is no sign of the other 112 penguins so we decide to head back for dinner and an early night.