Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Picton to Kaikoura

We took the bus from Nelson to Picton.  Picton is a transportation hub linking several bus routes, the ferry to Wellington on the north island, and the train down to Christchurch.  We got treats at a Dutch bakery in Picton, including the item pictured below.  It's called a Lamington - this one was sponge cake with raspberry, frosted and dipped in coconut, with cream in the middle and on top.  A secret many people may not know is that Paul likes pink food - anything with strawberry, cherry or raspberry flavor.   We found this pink treat extraordinary!
A Lamington from the Dutch bakery in Picton
Happy camper
The Interislander Ferry heads out into the Marlborough Sounds on its way to Wellington
We continued our journey on the train from Picton down to Kaikoura - Cindy had found a deal where you could add one stop to the train journey for only $10 more per ticket.  We were glad we stopped in Kaikoura - it's a beautiful place, with high mountains coming down to the beaches, and a hilly peninsula.  We hiked 15 minutes from the train station to the Dolphin Lodge Backpackers, which had been recommended to us by a fellow traveler.  We weren't disappointed - it's a small place on a hill overlooking the bay and mountains, and the views were spectacular.  It rained hard overnight, which translated to a nice layer of snow in the mountains.

Mountains outside of Kaikoura
Kaikoura is known for whale tours, but we opted for a hike around the peninsula.  We packed a lunch and started out on our four and a half hour hike.  The hike starts on roads in town and winds around the edge of the peninsula past a seal colony.  At one point we heard a cough, looked in a bush, and there was a seal pup looking at us.  We saw a number of pups and adults in and around the beach.

Boardwalk trail going out the peninsula from town (note two Norfolk Island pines)
Seal pup in bush below boardwalk
Seal colony

We then headed up onto a series of hills, and walked across pastureland.  As we moved away from the water we felt like we'd been transported to Switzerland, seeing cows, with snow capped mountains in the background.  We came down the hills on the other side of the peninsula, ate our lunch at a picnic area, and had one final hiking section through the bush and some fields to get back to our hostel.  We picked up the rest of our gear and headed to the station for our train ride back to Christchurch.

Paul breaks into "The Sound of Music"
Maori sculpture over trail

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