New Zealand Wrap Up: South Island

I was pretty excited to get to the South Island of New Zealand.  The North Island was great, and everything I had read said that the South Island was even better.

The South Island –despite being the geographically larger of the two New Zealand islands – has only 1/3 the population of the North Island.  In fact Auckland alone is home to more people than the entire South Island.  Christchurch is the largest city on the South Island, and it is still recovering from devastating 2011 earthquakes.

Still, the people who call the South Island home live in one of the most scenic places on earth.

Day 1 (Golden Bay)

The North Island had treated us well, but it was time to move on to the South Island.  We got up early to head over to the ferry.  You have to be at the ferry and checked in at least an hour before it leaves.  And this is not a ferry like you typically think of (at least in my case).  It was huge – more like a ship at 600 feet long with 10 decks.

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Before we left Kaikoura this morning, we went whale watching.  Neither of us have done this before, and we were really looking forward to it!  Of course there are no guarantees with nature, but this company gives you 80% of your money back if you don’t see a whale so it seems like they have a very high success rate.  We got on the boat around 8 am.  I was very impressed with the boats.  They are custom made for whale watching and extremely comfortable


Basically, they drive you out into the ocean to a point where they think a whale may be.  Then, the captain puts a long horn-shaped apparatus into the water so that he can hear the sounds of the whale.  The sperm whale is only on the surface of the water for about 10 minutes at a time before they dive back down into the ocean to hunt for food.  Typically, they don’t resurface until 45 minutes- 1 hour later.

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