New Zealand --South Island

Flying into Nelson, we had a great preview from the plane window of what we would be seeing on the south island of New Zealand, broad green valleys surrounded by mountains.  Following 2 days of air travel, we had a good night’s rest, and then started the drive south.  Planning to travel to the bottom of the island, about 1000 km. (600 miles) away, we headed to the coastal road.  Rolling grassy hills, an incredible diversity of luxuriant vegetation, picturesque mountains seemed to be at every turn.

Marlborough Sound, located just east of Nelson was part of the spectacular view we had seen
flying into the country.  Tours through the Sound are offered on the Pelorus Mail Boat.  The boat delivers mail and supplies to the remote homesteaders living throughout the Sound.  Arriving at the Havelock Harbor, we had cloudy skies and rain, but more important, the boat only runs 3 days a week, and not the day we were there.  After a stop to buy some freshly harvested mussels for dinner, we continued the drive by heading through sheep farmlands and on to Blenheim, center of the wine country.

South of Blenheim, we spotted our first seal of the trip, and took about 20 pictures.  We didn’t realize that a little further along the drive, north of Kaikoura, we would be at the Ohau Point Seal Colony.  For several miles along the road, we stopped to watch and photograph the New Zealand fur seals, sleeping and playing.  Alan had a close encounter with one seal after scaling the rocks to snap a couple pictures; he accidently stepped down a little too close to a seal.  With the seal barking and rearing up, Alan escaped any injury from the seal, but the rocks were not as friendly.

We stopped for the evening at Kaikoura, a popular tourist destination along the coast. 

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