Us and NZ sea wildlife

Trip Start Jan 09, 2008
Trip End May 20, 2008

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Friday, February 15, 2008

This chapter of our trip begins with the Hump-Ridge track (3 days) which starts in Tuatapere.
The Israeli couple we met at the backpackers hostel (Benny & Inbal) and us started the track on the same day.
The first day was mostly walking in the bush (surprisingly...) and included a long and steep climb to the summit, where the upgraded hut (almost a lodge...) was located. It was a very long day and the climb was hard and despairing. Luckily, the sidewalk from the hut was very rewarding and the views were spectacular! The whole south-west shore and Stewart Island were revealed.
In the pampered hut we got a privet room with Benny and Inbal, pillows and hot oat porridge in the morning. We felt like kings :)
The next day, like the second day of the Kepler track, we woke up inside a cloud and through the whole day it was cold, cloudy and rainy, unfortunately. We descended into the bush again and beside of a Bamby and his mom, there was no excitements on the way.
The second hut was located near a bay, which is a habitat for the rare Hector dolphins. Because of the stormy weather, we couldn't see them at the afternoon, but we got to see them in the next morning, which was really great!
The last day was endless and the weather was still not on our side. When we finally finished the track and got to Dardasaba, we found out that luck was also not on our side - we forgot the light on 3 days ago and the battery was dead! But like all our stories (knock on wood), the ending was good - a nice kiwi gave us a mobile battery to start the car.
We spent the night receiving helpful tips to our upcoming wedding from Benny and Inbal who are in their honeymoon.
The next couple of days were dedicated to the Catlins - the southern part of the south Island, which is famous for the verity of the marine wildlife: We saw the Yellow-eyed Penguin, Blue Penguin, seals, sea lions, sea elephants and Yaniv even got to swim with the Hector dolphins. We also visited in the Royal Southern Albatross colony at Otago Peninsula. So these were really productive days!
Now we are staying in Omarama, waiting for the weather to give us a break so we could climb Mt. Cook (the highest mountain in NZ). Over the night there was a strong thunder storm and when we got up in the morning, we saw snow on all the mountains surrounding us. It was beautiful and made us think about you back home with all the snow you had lately.
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