We started our whistle stop tour of the South Island by flying to Christchurch, hiring a car and driving down to Timaru where we stayed the night in a drizzly Top Ten cabin. We felt just like we were on the Isle of Wight and wondered why we’d bothered.
In Dunedin we saw the most incredible array of wildlife. Hoihoi, or yellow eyed penguins at The Penguin Place, albatross at the Royal Albatross Centre and on a Monarch cruise, dolphins, porpoising seals, shags and a little blue penguin, bobbing about in the water. We also saw sea lions in Sandfly bay and I saw a blue penguin waddling into his nest on Pilot beach.
The Otago museum had lots of bones to handle, a good display about farming in New Zealand and the popular with the children animal attic with it’s Christmas decorations and Father Christmas’ chair, waiting for his visit.
Steve and the children braved the ‘heated’ saltwater pool in the drizzle, apparently Dunedin has some of the worst weather in New Zealand.
We flew in a helicopter to the top of Mount Brown where we played in the snow and had a great view of Mount Cook. The Aoraki/Mt Cook visitor centre and Sir Edmund Hillary museum were very good places to while away a shockingly rainy morning. We went in a 4WD and an Argo (8WD) to see the Tasman glacier and the icebergs in the lake. The children learnt about Maori tattooing and face painting with rocks.
In Christchurch we learnt more about snow and ice at the Antarctic Centre. Highlights were the blizzard room, the bumpy Hagglund ride and the 4D film about the Antarctic.
The Ron Mueck exhibition at the Christchurch Art Gallery was fantastic, as was the children’s gallery, with its blue theme.
The tranz scenic train from Christchurch to Picton was indeed very scenic. Dickon and Ned loved the open carriage, which was very windy.