From Melbourne we spent two full days at sea before arriving at New Zealand’s South Island. The first day was spent on the ship admiring the views and wildlife in the Milford, Doubtful and Dusky Sounds, which it turns out are actually Fjords – the on board Naturalist explained the difference between the two features. We were lucky enough to get clear views of the Milford Sound which is more commonly draped in a thick mist. The temperature at Milford was icy, with cool winds coming down off the mountains.
While cruising the sounds we were able to sea seals, dolphins and albatross in their natural environment. As well as mountain waterfalls going right into the sea, and amazing lines in the water where the freshwater from the mountains mixed with the salt water from the sea. A truly stunning welcome to New Zealand!
Onwards from the sounds was Dunedin, a city built predominantly some Scottish settlers, including the nephew of Robert Burns. The name comes from the name Edinburgh as that is where it was fashioned on. The timing of our visit could not have been better – the day of their largest annual market – Thieves’ Alley Market Day – the origins of which we’ve thus far been unable to ascertain! We were sure to visit the Cadburys’ Chocolate Factory while we were there with the awesome chocolate waterfall, although sadly pictures were not allowed on the tour 😦 Turns out the Kiwis like their chocolate with marshmallow in the middle.
Our final stop on the South Island was Akaroa, a beautiful natural harbour formed my a crater of an extinct volcano that has merged with the sea on one side. To get out of Akaroa and over to Christchurch we had to ride up and over the crater edge in a coach. Christchuch was really poignant; almost exactly six years on from the massive earthquake and there is still much evidence of the destruction that occurred. After our bus tour of the city we went to a nearby nature reserve to see the Kiwi birds and Kai Apline Parrots, as well as a Maori culture experience which included seeing original Maori huts and a performance of traditional Maori dances.