Nature Calls

Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Friday, February 25, 2005

The last few days have been very pleasant - well most of them have anyway (for some of us). Apart from enjoying the peacefulness of the Riverlands and generally chilling out, I've been in to Christchurch a few times to catch up with emails and net stuff, and to have a general, peaceful meander around the town.

I was even able to see Dean before he left. He's been doing great and looks so well. It was really good to catch up with him. He texted me a few days ago to say that he was leaving Christchurch in half an hour to embark on an exciting road trip and to ask if I fancied meeting up before he left. That I did. We sat outside in the grounds of the Occidental backpackers in the hot sun with a cold beer and had a quality thirty-five minutes. After sharing our third emotional goodbye we went our separate ways. Looking back now I wish I'd have spent more time with Dean while I was in Christchurch. He has the freshest outlook on life that seems to inspire me more than most people I've encountered on this trip. Maybe it's because he is so open and proud of who he is, maybe it's because he sees only the good in things, or the fact that he 'chooses' to be totally fulfilled with each moment that passes him, however small, or maybe it's because he is all this at only eighteen years old. He's a good example of how a lot of us 'should' be. Also, for some reason I find it harder to say goodbye to Dean than most people I've said goodbye to. Odd. But for now, I'll look forward to seeing him again at some point.

It's also been good having a few days with the girls again, getting back into the old routine of pranks, giggles and good times. We've all been staying here at the Riverlands over the last few days. It's really peaceful here and we now know most of our 'neighbours', it's quite funny really.

The 'not so good' day was Sineads. Her foot has been getting worse over the last few days following its initial improvement and after a lot of pestering from the rest of us, she finally gave in and went to the hospital for her long overdue X-ray. After successfully talking herself out of having a plaster cast, she's now on crutches - hobbling up and down the campsite like a geriatric. A stretched ligament she was informed and plenty of rest she was told.

So on to the main point - there are exciting times to come. Very exciting times. Last night, we sat around the van discussing our personal circumstances regarding our short term plans. The real issue is that the summer is coming to an end and we're in the South Island. There are things that simply cannot be missed and so we need to get a wriggle on. After a few 'umms' and 'aahs' it was decided. Not only is the next leg of the adventure just around the corner, it has also now been planned and I'm VERY excited. It's time to get close to New Zealands nature.

So here's the basic plan, well the immediate plan anyway (I'll save the rest for later). Tomorrow, we drive our modest little mobile abodes North, a couple of hours up the coast to a small village by the name of Kaikoura. For this is one of the best chances we'll ever get to see such a wonderful abundance of marine life. I've been reading up on this a little and was very surprised to find that there are 76 species of whales and dolphins on this planet and New Zealand (as small as it is) is blessed with 35 of them, nearly half of which have been seen in waters along the shores of Kaikoura. Fantastic. But even better, you can go out on a boat, right out there to take a look at some of these magnificent creatures. So yes, I'm starting to get very excited, especially as it's also possible to swim with the playful pods of Dusky dolphins or amongst the cheeky inquisitiveness of the fur seals. You can also dive there which I'm really excited about as I haven't dived since the end of November (just before my foot went through its metamorphosis) so I'm just itching to get back under the water and if I can see any seals, dolphins or even whales then I'll be a very happy boy.

One of the main attractions there is the sperm whale, and so I've read, Kaikoura is the most accessible spot on the planet to see one. Other animals that we're likely to see are the Hectors dolphin (the smallest and rarest), the Dusky dolphin (found only in the Southern hemisphere), the Bottlenose and the NZ fur seal - excellent. So there's quite a lot out there to be seen not to mention the abundance of sea birds. The only thing that can ruin it is the weather conditions but as we're in no real rush we should be able to get round it. We leave tomorrow and this is one adventure I'm very excited about.
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