RTW05 #4.3: south island, new zealand

back to the mainland (i was so used to being on an uninhabited island that i forgot looking left before crossing a street) there was a markus&julieanne-reunion, and we …how should i put it… basically, we drove all over the place. :-)

we didn’t get a spot on a doubtful sound cruise right away (milford sound’s little brother; it’s less popular, and therefore less overrun), so we drove into the east first, and came back later.

petrified log, at curio bay scientific reserve

on the way from invercargill [G] to dunedin [G], we paid a visit to curio bay (catlins) to see the petrified forest, which is (said to be) 180 million years old.
apart from old dead trees, there’s also a colony of yellow-eyed penguins (megadyptes antipodes) and a …pack of hector’s dolphins (cephalorhynchus hectori) living close by.
given the timing and time-frame when we were there, the odds for seeing a dolphin were very long. we did get to see one penguin, though*.
*the “singular tendency” that i mentioned persisted. by then, we had stopped being surprised to see just one animal of every kind…

[view photos: invercargill to dunedin]

on the otago peninsula

the following day, we made a visit to the otago peninsula, and then drove back west on a different route.
in the early afternoon, i wrote down this note:

    memo to self: the universe is out to get me today.

i tried booking the domestic flights for fiji, and one by one, the means of communication broke down, keeping me from reaching the airline’s booking office:

    written down 2005-12-30 23:28
    it’s just unbelievable. better even than any story or movie:
    today i decided to finally book my domestic fiji-flights from nadi to taveuni and back.
    first i tried to book online, but the booking interface of sun air fiji doesn’t even say if there’s actually a free seat on the flight you’re about to pay for.

    when i wanted to call the reservation office in fiji, my calling card, which had worked fine until then, suddenly didn’t work anymore. at all. i had looked up the fijian phone number through julieanne’s laptop (using her highspeed data card).
    not even 15 minutes later, i decided to send an email to that office, and guess what? from that point on, we weren’t able to log on to the wireless connection anymore.

    as soon as we got to te anau [G] around half past 7 (after about 4 hours of trying to get the data card to work again), we went for a city walk, looking for an internet cafe – ideally one that would allow us to plug our notebooks in directly. of course, the one that could have offered that service had already closed, but there were still three other places.
    we went straight to the laundromat, which had many free computers when we passed just before. it was closed.
    i was able to grab a seat in the second internetcafe and was about to get the right coins, when the operator told me that he was closing and we had to leave.
    but there still was the little restaurant/snackbar which had two internet computers.

    we walked over there, and right before my nose, the waitress turned the “yes, we’re open”-sign around, which now showed “closed”.
    julieanne and i burst into laughter, just before the waitress noticed us. i could tell that she was really sorry to disappoint me, but at that stage, we couldn’t stop laughing about it. when i asked her if i could just log on to send one email, she explained to me that the internet connection hadn’t worked all day.

    i could stop here, but it gets even better:
    we had dinner at a little italian restaurant, called “la toscana”. when we went to pay, the little card-reading device (which is also connected through a telephone line!) didn’t accept my credit card.

    the universe obviously didn’t want me to book my flight to taveuni. now, i’m just curious to see why…

i never actually found out why… i called them the next business day (jan. 2nd, since we were on a ship all day on dec. 31st), made the reservations, and when i got to the ticket office in fiji, they didn’t have any record of me.

doubtful sound

ANYWAY, we went on a doubtful sound cruise with real journeys on december 31st.
doubtful sound, similar to milford sound, is a fjord in the south-west of new zealand and part of fiordland national park. it’s extremely humid – there are more than 180 days a year when it rains, alltogether about 6813 liters per square meter!
one of its attractions (apart from the landscape and waterfalls) is the small southernmost population of bottlenose dolphins (tursiops truncatus).

[view photos: dunedin to manapouri]
[view photos: doubtful sound cruise]

rail track

we drove on north that evening, and stopped in wanaka [G] to celebrate new year’s eve, before driving on to twizel.
who would have thought that no accommodation is open on january 1st at 4am? ;-)

[view photos: manapouri to twizel]
[view photos: twizel to christchurch]

heading north

in kaikoura, we had made reservations for a whale-watch tour, which was cancelled last-minute due to strong winds. being on the tight schedule that we were, all i could do was file whale-watching under “reasons for coming back here”…
we had lunch at 42.25 south (a very nice cafe/bar) before leaving kaikoura, and then headed north again. our last south-island destination: picton.

[view photos: christchurch to picton]

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