Doubtful Sound was another area we entered and viewed more fjords. During this scenic cruising we had many dolphins join us and put on a show. Many of them fully breached out of the water and it looked like they were having a great time.
After being at sea for several days it was nice to get to another port. We stopped at Port Chalmers which is a very small port town about 10 miles from Dunedin, the largest city in the area. Although this was a nice little town, there really wasn’t anything to do there. We took a few pictures of the train station, the cathedral and a very nice church, but that was about it. We had arrived on New Zealand Day which was somewhat ironic since our first day in Australia happened to be Australia Day.
Port Chalmers turned out to be more enjoyable even though it was smaller. It had several walking trails that we took to see some nice views of the surrounding countryside. We also walked through some of the neighborhoods that had very small homes in the hilly part of town. There was a very nice church there where we spent a little time and then we found a trail in the back of it that led to a spectacular lookout tower. The town had done a great job in putting a picture story together to tell the history of the port. You could find these pictures with a brief caption all around the town and the trails. In town we stopped at several shops that happened to be open. We did end up walking at least 9 miles before we got back on the ship and felt we had seen about everything these two towns had to offer.
We were tendered in at Akaroa and had arranged an excursion at this port with a 3rd party outfit to go sea kayaking and view the penguins and seals in a reserve. We were taken by a 4 wheel drive van to the Pohatu Marine Reserve. Along the way we had some great viewing of the surrounding landscape from the mountain tops as we crossed over to the other side of the peninsula. We learned that the whole area is basically one huge caldera from a huge volcano that had not erupted in thousands of years. We saw cattle and sheep as we headed to the reserve which was located on private land requiring special permission to access the area. Several hikers on the road were told about this private property as we drove along.
When we got to the reserve we were formally greeted by many sheep that came right over to us to say hello. We went through our kayaking orientation and headed off in our two person kayaks. We immediately saw a few penguins on the nearby shore tucked into some crevices. As we progressed further we saw some more both on the shore and in the water. The ones in the water actually looked like ducks. We were kayaking in an inlet and were supposed to go out into the ocean but the swells were too high. Instead we went along the other side of the inlet and viewed the many seals that were lounging around in the rocks. We saw a few seals swimming but most were just having a good time sunning themselves on the rocks. We headed back to shore after a nice 1 ½ hour kayak ride and then drove back into town.
We spent about an hour walking around town and checking out the many small shops and restaurants. It was a very quaint town that was nice to walk through. It was also a great place to buy the Merino wool products. The next time we go back, we will most likely try out some of the many hiking trails in the area.
Greg and Sharon