Sunday, November 19th, 2006

More goofy British spellings: Tyre. Tonnes. Cheque. Manoeuvre.

Up to Kaikoura, where there are two pastimes: whale-watching, and dolphin swimming. The water wasn’t warm yet, so we opted for the whales.

Sperm whale-pestering with 100 other people on two-meter swells in a boat spewing exhaust is not really my idea of fun. The creatures are majestic. The dolphins – “dusky” dolphins, the most promiscuous of marine creatures: they can mate seven to eight times a day, with different partners – are playful and amusing. And the birds, especially the giant albatross, are fun to watch. But the sea is not for me, nor Lisa, a child of the mountains. We were green by the end of this three-hour tour.

We got some good photos that should be up on Flickr soon; we haven’t been able to put any in the body of these posts because of some glitch we haven’t solved yet. But the Journey Map is now operational, check it out.

In the news we read that 37 whales died after beaching themselves up north, near Whangarei. The next day another 17. Front-page photo of a little girl with plastic pail dousing a blanket-covered baby sperm whale.

Morose weather. Trouble with Melba in Oamaru, between Dunedin and Christchurch: ignition locked, key won’t turn. Turns out to be a key problem. Locksmith is hours late, but we make a cannonball run and reach Christchurch before nightfall – 250 kilometers in under three hours. Good ole Melba.


Sullen skyline. Brooding. We’ve been told Christchurch is the most English of New Zealand cities and we can believe it. Dour, and dull.  Also the food is lousy.


Buskers and a giant chessboard in the city square. Potatoes and kumara – yams – from a vendor beneath the tower of the Anglican cathedral. He slaps some cheese and sour cream on top: “Eight dollars.” All-day wind and misty non-stop rain. Electric tram and red British phone booths, and a fine museum.


Guy Fawkes celebrations each night this week, in every town. Christchurch boasts the biggest. Fireworks at night to commemorate foiling the plot to blow up Parliament. Should be the other way around. We toast Fawkes from the lonely veranda of Dux de Lux, a local brewery, keeping our seditious opinions to ourselves. Good lagers at Dux de Lux by the way.


Melba gets up to 125 kph on the Southern Motorway getting out of town. A new record. Atta girl Melba.