On the Road

Our last day in New Zealand.  We took the 3 hour drive back to Christchurch and the scenery continued to be amazing! 

We loved these purple flowers that we saw in many gardens in New Zealand.

We even had an animal encounter along the way.  We came around a curve to find a herd of cows crossing the road!  Their owner wasn’t too concerned with getting them out of the way very quickly.

But the most common animal sight along the road?  Sheep!  New Zealand might be famous for sheep, but until you are there, you have no idea how many you will see!  It was great to be there in spring because the little lambs were everywhere.  Sheep seem to have a lot of twins, and it was so cute to see them frolicking next to their mothers while we drove past!

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Birthday in Picton

We spent the next two nights in Picton, New Zealand.  Picton is at the very northern tip of the south island of New Zealand, and from there you can actually take a boat to the northern island.  Our full day in Picton was a very special day, my birthday!  I felt very lucky to get to spend it in such a beautiful place, and with my parents and Josh.

Picton is on the water, surrounded by many other inlets and bays.   Dad and I thought the landscape looked a lot like lakes in Kentucky.

On this day, we took a boat out to Endeavor Bay, a spot that Captain Cook used as a base when exploring the area.  The island had a monument to Captain Cook, and some native carvings.

Our boat left us at Endeavor Bay, and we had the day to hike down the Queen Charlotte Track to another inlet where the boat would pick us up in the afternoon.  An eight mile hike might not be everyone’s idea of a good birthday activity, but I love hiking on my birthday!  Mom and Dad choose to be dropped off at a different spot, so they had a shorter walk.

Along the way we encountered some New Zealand birds, including this one.  It’s not a kiwi (they are very shy and rarely seen) but seemed to be a similar flightless bird.

From one overlook, we could just barely make out the snow-capped peaks of the mountains we had seen earlier.

Here’s Josh at our lunch spot.

I’m not sure what it is about New Zealand, but Josh was just glowing!

We made it to our rendez-vous spot after our hike about 10 minutes before the boat was leaving for Picton!  That evening, we enjoyed a delicious dinner and overall it was a very happy birthday!

(I think mom is ready for bed after our day of hiking!)

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A Wildlife Adventure

The next morning, before we left Kaikoura, my dad talked to the owner of the cottage that we had stayed in the night before.  He gave us a great tip for our trip as we continued north.

A few kilometers up the road from Kaikoura, we pulled into a small parking lot to the left of the road.  To the right of the main road was the ocean.  Near the parking lot was a small path that lead away from the coast, following a creek upstream.  As we walked further up the path, we began to see some baby seals–sleeping near the path, splashing in the creek.  But just a few minutes walk from the parking lot brought us to our destination–a pool created by a waterfall at the head of the creek.  And in the pool?  A dozen baby seals, frolicking, swimming, wrestling and playing!  The pool acts as a sort of nursery for them–they come up to the pool during the day when their mothers are out at sea fishing.  There, they are protected from the dangers of the ocean, and they can grow and learn from their play.  But all my words can’t really describe the magical scene–but you can see it for yourself!

Baby Seals from Jessie T on Vimeo.

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Our destination for night two in Australia was Kaikoura, a coastal town north of Christchurch.  As we headed up the road and approached Kaikoura, we were amazed by the beauty all around.  Snow-capped mountains, black sand beaches, and the ocean!

Soon after we arrived at our cozy cottage in Kaikoura, we headed out for a chilly but lovely sunset.

The next morning, we took a coastal walk outside of town.  The scenery continued to be stunning.  It was amazing to be standing on the beach and admire beautiful mountains at the same time!

In addition to the scenery, there was also wildlife—lazy fur seals!  Looking down on them from the cliffs, they looked like slugs, and they seemed to act like them too.

Later that day, though, we saw some seals that were much more active….

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Coming Home!

Sorry, my dear readers, that there have been few updates lately. It has been difficult to use the internet at the library and I can’t upload pictures from our mobile internet. Anyway, I wanted to let you know that we are coming home tomorrow–well, we are leaving Australia tomorrow, which will put us at home Sunday morning. Once I am home and have reliable internet again, I’ll be updating regularly with all the pictures from New Zealand and our last few adventures in Sydney and Tasmania!

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New Zealand!

Our next adventures took us over the ocean to New Zealand!  We arrived in Christchurch very late at night.  We were all sleeping peacefully in our room at the hostel when…..the shaking began!!  It was pretty mild but definitely an earthquake!  Dad sat straight up in bed and yelled, “Get out of the building!!”  I replied, “It’s just a little one, it will stop soon.”  It did and we all went back to sleep.  But in the morning, we (of course) gave Dad a hard time about his orders to evacuate the building!  He informed us that he was just leaving us all behind next time! 

He proceeded to interrogate every Christchurch resident we meet about the quake that night.  They all replied, as if it was no big deal, “Oh, it was just an aftershock!”  They were pretty used to them at that point.  But Dad was not.  I’m not sure he slept soundly the rest of the time we were in New Zealand, although that was the only tremor we experienced.

We spent our morning in Christchurch at the beautiful botanic gardens.  Spring had certainly arrived with green grass, bright flowers, and ducklings!  I think I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Adventures in the Dandenongs

I took my parents to the closest mountains to Melbourne: the Dandenongs. Near the “car park” (parking lot) tourists were feeding the resident parrots and cockatiels, and we joined in the fun.

Then we took off on our hike through the Australian rainforest.
A little ways up the trail, we heard what sounded like a variety of different birds off in the woods near us. All the birds seemed to be coming from one place, though, and we heard and saw some rustling in the woods. We tromped off the trail a bit and realized we had come across a Superb Lyrebird doing his mating dance! It was absolutely amazing, and I’m so glad I had the presence of mind to take a video of him. You can see the female he’s trying to impress as well, and make sure to turn up the volume so that you can hear his amazing song. Lyrebirds don’t have their own call–they imitate all the other birds and even other every day noises that they heard and combine them with their mating dance. Dad and I agreed we felt like we were starting in our own Nature documentary while watching.
 Click HERE to watch the video!




We encountered even more wildlife not far up the trail.

We rewarded ourselves after our hike with delicious avocado and cheese sandwiches grilled on the convenient Aussie “barbies” in the picnic area, and we were watched over by even more native wildlife, this little kookabura.

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