We left Queenstown for the more sedate pleasures of Arrowtown, and to visit friends who’d moved from the UK a few years before and were now firmly established in a small community nearby. Lucky for us, a campsite was within walking distance of their house and was sparsley inhabited.
We went to dinner and were shown around their home which, although a work in progress was already a house to be proud of, not least for its wow factor of a view; mountains surrounding it. I often wonder how much our daily environment shapes us. What is it like to wake to a view of snow-topped peaks every day? Our friends were clearly not unhappy with their choice!
Rising next morning and preparing to look at tiny Arrowtown and walk Sawpit Gully, I took a couple of beer bottles to the recycling bin, where a portly man was reclining on a bench. ‘That’s a viry poor iffort’ he remarked as I dropped the two bottles in, a comment that had me chuckling for days.
Arrowtown is like a little old, wild west town with historic wooden buildings, its main street lined with rustically named stores like ‘The Golden Nugget’ against a backdrop of rocky hills. It is tiny and characterful. In the afternoon we followed the Sawpit Gully trail up into the hills for spectacular views.
Then we were on the move again, to Kaikoura, where the blues of the sky and sea are almost impossibly vivid, like jewellery and the air cool and pure. Young seal pups dotted the rocks and it was here we opted to go whale watching.
Before we left on the sturdy boat, packed into rows inside the cabin area, we were told to expect bumpy seas- and as we got underway and left the shelter of harbour I felt I could have succumbed to the boat’s movement, whci was decidedly quease-inducing. But I stared hard at the horizon and managed to stave it off, until the engines were cut to idle and we climbed up on deck to see the giants we’d come for. Two magnificent whales surfaced and hung around long enough for camera shots and gasps of pleasure from us all. On route back we also spotted an albatross- a giant of the skies with its widest wingspan.
I loved Kaikoura with its postcard perfect scenery. A subsequent earthquake tremor destroyed the beautiful coast road we drove in on and I felt lucky that we had been there at all. Yet it was quiet and we were free to stroll around the bay and sit in the sunshine with a beer and hardly another tourist in sight.
Some Brits we’d met on the Dunedin train ride, Ali and Claire, had recommended the Abel Tasman National Park to us, so it was our plan to travel there next. The skies were blue, the temperature warming, there was still so much to explore!
Grace is also known as the novelist, Jane Deans. Her new novel, The Conways at Earthsend is now out and available from Amazon, Waterstones, Goodreads, W H Smith, Pegasus Publishing and many more sites. Visit my author page on Facebook: (1) Jane Deans, Novellist, Short Fiction and Blog | Facebook