Bates Family South Seas Sabbatical travel blog

Bachelor sperm whale at surface

Captain checking for whale sonar

Whale obligingly shows his tail

After our last entry we had a major bust-up with our children. Not our first, certainly not our last but the biggest to date. We insisted on little things like one adult oriented meal a day, compulsory reading and diary entry before gameboy or ipod, and less fighting. It was tense. They went bed early in tears: we went to bed early in tears. To make matters worse we discovered that our site was situated on the mainline of the South island rail netrwork so we were all woken hourly by the freight trains from Picton to Wellington.

But it was a turning point. We have had three great days since then. I will concede there were other factors: an upturn in the weather and a decision to sleep away from our van to name but two.

On Wednesday (22nd)we visited the Marlborough wine district for wine-tasting and cellar tours. In bright sunshine we visited the Frammingham and Pelorus cellars. Ness had kindly agreed to drive which meant I could enjoy the views of the flat plain between Blenheim and Renwick (as well as swallow not spit). I can thoroughly recommend the Frammingham Reisling and the Pelorus Renwick Sauvignon the rest is a bit of a blur. We paid homage to the Oyster Bay vines which were signposted. I was disappointed there was no cellar but I probably did not need to taste that one.

After a lunch of mussels, cold meats, cheese and salad and a further sauvignon we headed for Kaikoura. The drive was staggeringly beautiful. For the last 50 miles the road hugged the sea and we spotted seals on the beach. To our right the snow-capped Seaward Kaikoura range sparkled making it very hard to concentrate on the road. This last may account for Ness' penguin spot which turned out to be a similarly marked petrel.

Once in Kaikoura we upgraded to a cabin and have not looked back. Yesterdays trip to see whales yielded close views of three sperm whales but disappointingly no orca or Hectors dolphins. We estimate that 50% of the passengers on the trip vomited. Certainly our boys parted company with their breakfast. The town is full of Lions fans dressed in their red replica kits. There was a Welsh Male voice choir singing incongruously out of one of the bars.

Meanwhile the prematch tension grows. The kiwi press is full of little else with most local commentators thinking the All blacks should easily overcome the Lions. I hope this is pride before the fall. Tonight the town is quieter as the fans head for Christchurch. I am slightly disappointed to miss the match but have already identified a likely pub within walking distance. GO LIONS!

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