Saturday, September 30, 2006

Mike's Day 11: Wellington and Mt Vic

We spent Tuesday walking around Wellington. After a late start, we walked to Oriental Bay Parade and had lunch at The Tugboat on the Bay. Massive and yummy.

From there we rallied our full bellies up to the Southern Walkway: one of many walkways around Wellington. This one takes you high above Oriental Bay and the harbour and up to Mt Victoria. Oh, and a playground.

We decided to take detours around Mt Vic, and stumbled upon Lord of the Rings filming locations.

Mt Victoria was used as the outer reaches of the Shire and where the Hobbits hid to escape the Nazgul.

That night I had my salsa double-header, so Mike went to see...wait for it...Snakes on a Plane. Hee.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mike's Day 10: Fur Seals at Red Rocks

After returning from Taupo, we spent early Monday afternoon back at the Visitor's Centre booking our flight to Christchurch, train ride from Christchurch to Picton, and ferry ride from Picton back to Wellington.

With some time left to spare, we decided to head out to Sinclair Head at Red Rocks to see the colony of male fur seals that camp out there.

After a little bit of a confusing bus ride, we disembarked prematurely and wound up with a heck of a walk ahead of us. It took maybe an hour to walk along Island Bay and Owhiro Bay and finally to the entrance to the beginning of the walk to the fur seals. It was a gorgeous day (although slightly windy) so we didn't mind. Yet.

One thing to bear in mind if you ever plan on doing this little trip is that you should start in the morning. Once you've started the official walk out to Sinclair Head, it's very rugged and, as is pretty normal here in Wellington, windier than a mother-effer.

Owhiro Bay, on the way to the Red Rocks/Sinclair Head walk

Owhiro Bay

I believe we got to the start of the walk around 3 or 4pm, and the walk to the actual fur seals is marketed as 40 minutes each way, but in reality is at least an hour each way; 90 minutes if the wind starts kicking up. It's a gorgeous walk, but not one you want to navigate in the dark.

Wellington waaaaaaaaaaay off in the distance

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Anyhoo, once we got there, the payoff was worth it:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

As you can see, there is no barrier between yourself and the seals. This is thrilling as it makes it quite a humblng experience. Male fur seals (bulls), however, can be very aggressive if you get too close to them, which explains the look on my face in some of the photos. I made a point of trying to give them as much space as possible, especially once they lock eyes on you.
It is a bit worriesome at the same time to think that there's no one around to protect them from meddling humans. But hopefully they're able to protect themselves...and if their bite is anything like their bark, I'd say they can.

We couldn't hang out too much with our new buddies (a slightly one-sided relationship, but that's ok), as it was getting dark and we still had to walk the hour back to the start of the walk, and then try to find our way home. And it was getting way cold and bloody windy.

Luckily, once again, my flattie Steven came to the rescue. He was able to come and pick us up after a while...

We rounded out the day with dinner at my fave restaurant here, Kai in the City. Seriously, people, the trip to NZ is worth it just for this lovely, warm, friendly, yummy restaurant.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Mike's Day 9: Taupo and Wellington

Woke up rather early and met up with the gang for breakfast at a restaurant right on the lake.

Chowed down and then took off to cheer on Brindha, who was about to jump herself out of a plane...

All of a sudden things get serious...

The nervous nellies waiting on the ground...

Hee hee!!! We were having trouble identifying which of the many parachuters was Brindha, until we heard her giggle in mid-air.

The post-jump ride home

Stopped off to see the crazies do some bungy jumps on the Waitomo River.

After lunch we headed for the Barbary: a sailboat once owned by Errol Flynn which you can hire to take you out on Lake Taupo and to see the Maori carvings.

Skipper of the Barbary

Mt Ruapehu in the distance

view of Taupo from on the lake

Shipmates Brindha, Natalie, and Jerry

Maori carvings on Lake Taupo (done in the 70s by Pakeha (non-Maori) master-carvers)

Driving home from Taupo

Mt Ngauruhoe

Me and Mt Ngauruhoe

Parting shot of Mt Ngauruhoe