Along the Away

a traveler's tales

Posts Tagged ‘ sheep ’

So having made it to Akaroa in one piece I checked into the hostel I booked online before arriving, Chez la Mer Backpackers. The next morning I woke up feeling glad that my hairy night driving adventures were behind me!

The hostel was small, a bit on the ‘lived-in’ side, and I can’t say the bathrooms were great – shower pressure, water temperature and cleanliness felt a bit poor – but the other travellers I met there were really friendly and down-to-earth. The hostel also provided hot water bottles for all, free wifi and a nice living room with armchairs to chill out in. I think you have to be flexible with the places you stay, sometimes you get better than you paid for, sometimes it doesn’t quite live up to expectations. As long as the essentials are taken care of – it all evens out!

Also, in this case, it’s pink.

Akaroa - Along the Away

Akaroa is an old British and French settlement; ships carrying both nationalities arrived in the early 1830’s and England claimed New Zealand under the British Realm in 1840. Meanwhile, a French Captain had purchased a large parcel of land here in the 1830’s and returned with French settlers in 1840 to find the British had just staked their claim. They still established a French settlement which is why there is a French influence in Akaroa.  I love finding little French corners around the globe – a favourite was Pondicherry in India – the obvious influences in Akaroa are the French street names, French Cemetery and various monuments acknowledging the early colonial past.

Akaroa is located in the heart of an ancient volcano, on the Banks Peninsula.

Akaroa - Along the Away

Akaroa - Along the Away

The waterside is so pretty, lovely for an early morning wander, which I topped off with a delicious brekkie at one of the cafés, including a hot coffee to warm me up against the outside chill.

Akaroa - Along the Away

Akaroa - Along the Away

With a free day ahead of me and no intention to get back in the car, I stopped in the post office and bought a printed walking tour map somewhat similar to this one. It took me from the centre of town across this pretty bridge.

Akaroa - Along the Away

And along the water.

Akaroa - Along the Away

It was a day for a leisurely pace, armed with my camera and rewarded with a gorgeous view at every turn.

Akaroa - Along the Away

I stopped to admire the very pretty Akaroa Lighthouse, a 140+ year old antique which was moved in three parts in the 1970’s when an automated light was installed in its place at the entrance to the harbour.

Akaroa - Along the Away

Also a good place for a timer selfie – yes I look cold!

Akaroa - Along the Away

Then I found the entrance of the little track that took me up a hill, away from the water and through a bush walk with a well worn track to follow to the town’s three cemeteries.

The Anglican Cemetery has an envious view – it was probably the perfect distance out of town when it was established in 1858. There is some historical information here in the Graves of the Gardens walking guide if you are interested in such things.

Akaroa - Along the Away

The crazy earthquake activity in New Zealand has left not even the dead unaffected – it was eery to see the destruction to 150+ year old grave stones.

Anglican Cemetery Akaroa

Daniel Watkins seemed like he was kind of a big deal in his day – Akaroa’s first Doctor, first Registrar of Birth, Deaths and Marriages, and the Surgeon Superintendent of the “famous first four ships”.

Akaroa - Along the Away

The view was certainly worth the walk, not that it had been that steep, but in the drizzling rain it was a bit slippery and cold.

Akaroa - Along the Away

I wandered back into town and that concluded the day’s walking exploration. I only stayed in Akaroa the one night so had to head off mid afternoon to get back to Christchurch. On the drive out of town I stopped by Children’s Bay and admired a rainbow from afar.

Akaroa - Along the Away

Akaroa - Along the Away

My drive out of town was all the more interesting to me seeing as the drive in had been so veiled in darkness, pouring rain and the threat of an empty tank of petrol. Who knew there had been rolling green fields around me the whole time?

Akaroa - Along the Away

And you remember that bar at the the top of the mountain I so gratefully pulled into for help? Well I was able to enjoy the view in the daylight… NOT! Just delightful fog. And a sheep. And a delicious lunch!

Akaroa - Along the Away

And this finally brings me to the end of my wonderful New Zealand adventures. I drove back to Christchurch in an uneventful 90 minutes. Checked into my hotel 5 minutes walk from the airport, leaving the rental car in the carpark for pick-up. I headed to bed super early ready for my 3am wake-up to get on the first flight out in the morning.

As my plane took off I kept my eyes pressed to the dark morning out the window. As we soared skyward I saw the beautiful glow of a new day peeking up on the horizon.

Goodbye New Zealand - Along the Away

I thought about all the wonderful memories I have from my time in New Zealand, I definitely look back on my Kiwi adventures with a smile.

Goodbye New Zealand - Along the Away

I never stay sad for long when I’m coming home to Sydney though; it’s still the best place on Earth. And as I landed on the glow of a sun rise, I was happy to be home.

Hello Sydney - Along the Away

The drive from Omarama towards Lake Tekapo was really beautiful – some of my fave photos from the trip were taken then, either standing on the side of the road by the bus, or from my prime position for the drive – in the front seat!

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Early mornings sure are my fave.

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We approached Lake Tekapo and saw it shining a beautiful blue turquoise colour! Even on a cloudy day the colour was so vibrant, it comes from the sediment of fine rock ground up by the glaciers.

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Sitting pretty by the lake is another of New Zealand’s most well known sites – the Church of the Good Shepherd. What a sweet building in an amazing location! It’s a shame there are so many people around (haha, darn tourists) as it’s hard to get a clear shot, but even the crowds don’t detract from the calm and peaceful vibe.

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The water is stunning, something right off the front of a postcard – oh wait, this spot is definitely on a postcard!

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Across the lake we could see rain clouds teeming with a downpour… ahhh nature! You are really something!!

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The lakeside reminded me of places I’ve been in England, such as around the Cornwall area. With the cloudy sky, the chilly bite in the air, and the wind whipping my hair and causing my eyes to stream (look how bloodshot they are, I’m squinting to keep them open!) So different to beaches at home in Sydney, but beautiful in its own way.

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It was a great spot to work my photographer magic (haha, well I try). My friend Susie got a shot of me in concentration trying to get a level shot of the lake.

A short walk along the lake away from the church is a bronze statue of a Border Collie dog, it was erected in the 60s in honour of the working dogs in the sheep industry in the area.

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Seeing as we were in the heart of New Zealand’s sheep farming land (yeah I thought that was all of NZ too!) we then went to visit a sheep farm.

It was a wonderful opportunity to see a working farm – the sheep are cute, but so are the Border Collie dogs who totally run the show. The farmer gave the dog an order and off he went to round up the sheep, who came trotting home from behind the hill.

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And into the corner just as they were told to.

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I love them, they’re so docile and sweet.

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The farmer rewarded them with some milk, this guy was trying hard to get every last little drip.

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And then off he trotted, back to graze in paradise.

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From here we continued on the last leg of the bus trip, crossing the Canterbury Plains back to Christchurch.

As enjoyable as my North Island adventuring has been, I headed off to the South Island with a skip in my step knowing that the consensus among many is that things only get better the further south you go. It’s no secret that the South Island takes the prize for jaw dropping scenery and it’s no secret that nature is my thing.

So I travelled over the Cook Strait nice and early in the morning on the inter-islander ferry.

Wellington Ferry

The trip took over three hours crossing through the Marlborough Sound, my eyes peeled for whales (which never showed). It was a relatively smooth trip though and I was there in a jiffy!

Cook Straight, Malborough Sound

For the next part of my trip I decided to do with the tour company Topdeck to make it easy to get about the icy island, particularly traveling over to the glaciers (the place I’m most looking forward to!)

There was a full bus of about 30 of us which is the biggest group of people I have ever travelled with! Everyone was really nice, a mix of Aussies, Canadians and Europeans, though I was the oldest at 32, they ranged down to about 20 which was an adjustment. I have previously travelled with Intrepid tours who have smaller groups (12 maximum), a wider age group (mid twenties to fifties, with the average around 30) and who travel on local transport not their own dedicated tour vehicle. I think by nature I’m more suited to the Intrepid style, but I enjoyed what Topdeck had to offer and had a great time.

Our first stop was to a winery I’m the Malborough region – Forrest Wines.

Forrest Wines Vineyard

Forrest Wines Vineyard

There was lots of taste testing but my favourite thing was the picturesque landscape and the first glimpses of mountain ranges along the horizon.

Forrest Wines Vineyard

Forrest Wines Vineyard

And the sheep ;-)

Forrest Wines Vineyard

From here we piled back in the bus and drove down to Nelson, via a night stopover in Christchurch. More on that in the next post!