Friday 15 May 2015

Looking back to February - New Zealand from North to South

Straight after Antarctica, I flew Ushuaia to Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires to Auckland, Auckland to Queenstown...and immediately joined the group in Queenstown!  No rest for the wicked!  We had that evening in Queenstown, and then up the next day to head by bus to Milford Sound, where we boarded the MV Oceanic Discoverer that afternoon.

Having done quite a few similar trips over the years, it was nice to relax and show everyone around New Zealand.  We made some of the usual stops, several days in Fiordland National Park, Stewart Island, Dunedin, Christchurch, Kaikoura, Marlborough Sounds, Napier, etc, and then made a stop at White Island and then into the Hauraki Gulf to spend time on Waiheke Island in the morning and Tiritiri Matangi Island in the afternoon.

My 1Dx was still in with Canon being repaired, so I didn't take a lot of shots, but managed a few out of Kaikoura, and on Motuara Island in Queen Charlotte Sound.  The trip was great, we had pretty cool weather whilst we were around the south, but it gradually warmed as we headed north.

I think the New Zealand trip from the water gives a completely different perspective to what you get when you travel around New Zealand by land.  They almost don't you actually need to do both to get a real sense of the country.  Watching the land slip past as you cruise along the coast gives you a real appreciation for the extent of the coastline, and in many cases for how isolated many places on the coast are.  Having albatross cruising past the ship for almost the whole time you are at sea around the South Island (and southern North) is fantastic, and really makes you realise that we take these beautiful creatures for granted in New Zealand.  Most New Zealander's would not even have a clue that flying just off the coast are throngs of albatross and other tube-nosed seabirds...

Probable female Gibson's (New Zealand) wandering albatross off the coast of Kaikoura

Probable male and female Gibson's (New Zealand) wandering albatross displaying at sea, just off Kaikoura

Yellow-crowned parakeet drinking at a small pool on Motuara Island in the Marlborough Sounds

Immature South Island saddleback peering curiously, on Motuara Island in the Marlborough Sounds

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