To my dearest friends, family and fellow culture cravers,
This post marks my last week on the Kiwi Experience (keep an eye out for some upcoming posts about my time on the bus) as well as, my last week travelling before I attempt to reemerge into the real world and find myself a job (scary stuff).
After a manic four nights in Queenstown, I headed further South for some much-needed recovery time in Dunedin. Renowned for being the ‘Edinburgh of New Zealand’ as well as, being a lively student city, Dunedin is a great place to wander around, soak up some history and chuckle enviously at drunkard students (I was there on the same day as the University’s infamous Hyde Street keg party).
Housing ancient buildings, impressive graffiti and the steepest road in the world – Baldwin Street, Dunedin oozes a lot more history than the other cities I’ve visited in New Zealand.
Unfortunately I only had one night to explore this city so, once we’d had a walk around, we headed to a Japanese restaurant I’d been recommended by my friends’ housemate… and what a recommendation it was!
Situated on Princes Street, Jizo was cheap as chips and served some of the best Japanese food I have ever eaten. For $16 (approx £8) I ordered a delicious miso soup to start, four scrumptious salmon skin rolls (cue the Friends’ quotes) and a heaped portion of fragrant chicken noodles, whilst my friends ordered an impressive looking Katsu bento box.
I left a very happy, full bunny.
The next day we made our way along the Southern coastline towards Invercargill. On route we stopped at a beach, home to a family of endangered sea lions as well as, a place where we could swim with Hector dolphins in the wild!
Bracing the absolutely freezing water, we dove head first into the sea and swam out to find one of the smallest dolphins in the world. Seeing their irregular curved fin bobbing in and out of the water, we paddled out until we were so close they swam in circles around and under us before swimming back out to sea. It was incredible!
We emerged a deeper shade of purple but chuffed that we’d been lucky enough to spontaneously swim with dolphins in their natural habitat.
Once we’d had a night to warm up, we jumped back on the bus to Milford Sounds – a natural wonder where freshwater sits atop seawater creating a very unique ocean environment.
Known in New Zealand as the eighth wonder of the world, this National Park boasts protruding forested mountains adorned in hundreds of cascading waterfalls, mesmerizing waters and hypnotizing mirror lakes.
Unfortunately, on the day we visited the weather wasn’t brilliant, meaning for a lot of the time we were engulfed in grey cloud and rain. However, when visiting Milford, rain is apparently a blessing in disguise (who would have thought it) as without it, you don’t see half the waterfalls we were able to see.
As we emerged into the Sounds on our boat, the fluffy cloud added to the majestic aura of the park and, as my friend kindly pointed out, emphasised its parallel with Peter Pan’s Neverland.
As I said in my recent Instagram post – you should never let bad weather dampen your day…
Our next stop was Christchurch – a city, which is still very much recovering from the devastating earthquakes that hit the city in 2010 and 2011 and cost the lives of 185 individuals.
Due to the vast building works and developments, Christchurch was both upsetting and intriguing to wander around.
One minute you could be passing half fallen down buildings being held up by shipping containers and the next, you could be relaxing in the pristine botanic gardens and Re:START Mall – a quirky outdoor shopping area made out of colourful shipping containers.
It is a city of contrast and development.
My final stop on the Kiwi Experience was Kaikoura, a seaside town on the East Coast of the South Island renowned for its budding marine life. Due to ocean current and continental shelf conditions the sea drops more than 800m unusually close to land, meaning it is home to an outstanding collection of sea life including whales, dolphins, albatross, seals, penguins and orcas.
As I’d been lucky enough to swim with dolphins in the wild in the Deep South and had never seen a whale, I opted to go whale watching. With a 95% success rate in spotting a sperm whale, I had high hopes…
We jetted off into the ocean with our beady eyes focused on the horizon for any signs of movement. As sperm whales only swim up to the surface for around 5 minutes, it gives you a very small window to find and admire them.
Luckily, we were very quickly informed of a sighting close by and before we knew it, we were witnessing the humongous whale gliding past the boat, spouting water. It was a phenomenal sight, made even better when he dove back under the water flaunting his impressive tail…
We were even lucky enough to then be joined by a pod of playful dolphins…
Today, I arrived back in Auckland where I will be attempting to get a temporary job to tie me over until the end of August. So, here’s hoping that in my next ‘Postcards Home’ post I am an employed lady!
Until next week…