|Since we left Milford Sound we’ve enjoyed fishing, two nights of camping, some good surf for Mike, and two days of touring Christchurch (the largest city on the South Island.
On the way from Milford Sound to Queenstown we noticed a truck parked next to a fence and a small sign that said “angler’s access point”. Mike slammed on the breaks and we climbed over a fence onto a sheep farm and walked out to a river and spotted the perfect hole filled with trout. After two hours and no catch (but one bite) we reluctantly left to go check out charming Queenstown.
The next day we decided to splurge on a gourmet seafood meal at Fleur’s Place in the small village of Moeraki. The seafood chowder, scallops with bacon and mushrooms, and monkfish were freshly caught and perfectly flavored. After lunch we saw a yellow-eyed penguin. This was a huge highlight for me. We walked to a special viewing hut up above the beach where we watched the cute creature jump off a rock, swim to shore, and waddle around the beach.
After camping at a great surf spot, we drove to the Banks Peninsula. A seal swam up to Mike when surfing at a very isolated spot called Magnet Bay.
We had no idea that Friday was NZ’s equivalent of July 4th and not the smartest night not to have a reservation. The first campground we tried was full and we couldn’t find anywhere to camp for free (meaning there were “no camping” signs everywhere we tried). Finally at about 8:30 after trying all the hostels and motels in the area, we called a farm that doubles as a hostel and were told we could camp in their yard. When we got there Mike accidentally backed the car into a wooden gate. So now the back of our car doesn’t open fully and there are some new dents... Thankfully you can open just the glass so we can still get back there.
Christchurch is the most European of the cities in NZ. We’re staying in a jail that’s been converted into a hostel. It’s a little strange because it was used as a jail until 1999. Not much has been altered either. Actually it’s one of the better places we’ve stayed, though, because it’s clean, bright and spacious. Plus we have a TV so we’ve wasted some brain cells watching bad American reruns.
Tomorrow we’re heading further north to an area known for dolphins, whales, albatross, penguins and other sea and bird life.