Dear friends,

This will be the first of several blogs about my road trip around New Zealand.  Starting in Christchurch, I will take you with me across through the MacKenzie Country with glimpses of our highest mountain – Aorangi (Mt Cook), along the Otago coastline and Dunedin, into Central Otago and the beauutiful Lakes Wakatipu and Wanaka, through the Haast Pass to the West Coast and up to Nelson.  From there we will take the ferry across to the North Island.  But more about that later…..

Flying into Christchurch over the Canterbury Plains with the Southern Alps in the distance.

One of the magnificent braided rivers of Canterbury

I spent about a week in Christchurch with my family and friends before my road trip, so not many photos but I do want to report on a wonderful little restaurant we went to for a reunion dinner – ‘The Old Vicarage’ at Halswell to the west of the city. We were very well looked after by the Duty Manager, Mason, and by our waitress for the evening, Alisha.  I can definitely recommend this restaurant for an evening out.

‘The Old Vicarage’ – a lovely old wooden house with roses galore

One of the private dining rooms, ready for a group of eight

Patrons enjoying a drink at the bar.

Lovely colours shining through the stained glass panels in one of the larger dining rooms.

Signs for the restrooms, befitting the previous status of the house!

When my friend John arrived to join me on the road trip, our first port of call was to the little town of Akaroa on Bank’s Peninsula, which is where there was briefly a French settlement back in the 1800s. Banks Peninsula was formed several million years ago by a volcanic eruption and you can clearly still see ‘the plug, the uplifted edges of the vast crater and the collapsed wall which is the entrance to the harbour.

Akaroa Harbour with ‘the plug’ of the volcano as an exclamation mark at centre, the harbour entrance off to the right.

Boats moored in the anchorage off the town.

And further out, the ‘Emerald Princess’ one of the two huge cruise liners visiting the port that day.

We took a boat ride with ‘Akaroa Dolphins’ to see Hectors dolphins, the smallest of the dolphin species.  This is Jet, our spotter dog but even with his help we only managed to see a couple of the elusive dolphins, and didn’t manage a photo.

But we did see some Blue Penguins who were cruising nearby.

And also seals basking in the sun on the rocks.

Back in town, we wandered a little and this is an example of some of the quaint old cottages around town.

A beautifully painted doorway on another cottage.

When a new automatic lighthouse was built as the harbour entrance, the old lighthouse was removed in three sections and rebuilt in a spot overlooking the boat harbour.

My next posting will follow the trip from Christchurch through the MacKenzie Country, passing by Lakes Tekapo and Pukaki with magnificent mountain views.

So, until very soon,