I wonder whether New Zealand consciously gave us today as a parting gift or whether it was just coincidence that the sun came out in the afternoon providing us with some of the most spectacular views of the harbor and the peninsula.
In addition, we had a couple of events during our travels today that reminded us that we are really in New Zealand. The first was when the road (the main interstate highway) was blocked by a huge herd of sheep. The second on an admittedly minor (but still sealed road) was a farmer dragging a dead cow along the road behind his 4×4. I kid you not.
The day had started not looking good at all as we headed out of Christchurch (Akaroa is about 75 minutes from the city), the heavens opened and the sky looked very grey indeed. That hadn’t changed before we arrived in the town; in fact we took the “scenic drive” on the way there and promptly found ourselves buried in the clouds.
Akaroa Harbour is an pretty place, with its mixed British and French heritage retained there are lots of interesting street names and buildings and (its seems) continuing French speaking population (although that may just have been the prevalence of French speaking. We had lunch in a very pleasant little Bistro that really exuded “frenchness”.
Prior to lunch and with the cloud beginning to clear we decided to take a two-hour cruise around the harbor with Akaroa Dolphins which was a really good decision as we managed to see various wildlife including some Hector’s Dolphins which is the world’s smallest Dolphin, exclusive to New Zealand and increasingly rare. The coastline around the harbor is filled with features so the cruise is well worthwhile.
As we sailed back towards harbor it seemed like someone had put a vacuum across the sky as the clouds were really starting to disappear turning what looked to be a washout of a day into a summers afternoon (although still not particularly warm). We drove back across the peninsula again including some of the roads we had driven in the morning and the place was unrecognizable. The views from the various stop off points along the scenic route are some of the most spectacular we have seen on our travels and this is definitely somewhere I would come back to. As well as the main tourist drive we also popped doown some of the less well trodden roads to visit Okains Bay and Little Akaloa Bay.
Our New Zealand journey is over and we are on an early flight back to Australia tomorrow to complete our trip with a couple of days in the Yarra valley. I’ll post a summary of our thoughts tomorrow but for now it’s goodbye New Zealand.