On a trip like this, where we literally can not afford to “miss the boat”, we have to show up a couple of days early to work the inevitable contingency plan. And this was no different, there was a foul up getting our stuff out of customs. But it is one of those “Hurry Up and Wait” scenarios where we need to do something right away, then the rest of the system can proceed at it’s own pace. So after doing our vital part, we had some time to drive through the countryside and see some spectacular things.
Akaroa is a town on an old volcano where the caldera has opened to the sea. It is not only incredibly beautiful, but cruise ships come in here and send motor launches to the dock. From this point, you can get a Swimming with Dolphins boat to go swim with the rare Hector’s Dolphins. This is evidently popular.
Castle Hill is an impressive limestone formation that visually jumps out of the background as you approach it, demanding further exploration. The sense of contrast between these boulders and the rest of the terrain is difficult to describe.
This outcropping is just part of a layer of limestone in this region. Another nearby section is the Cave Stream. This is, surprisingly, a cave with a stream running through. We tried to explore this but were not prepared to walk in cold, waist deep water for half a mile. But this is on the to-do list if I come back. We were both impressed that such a thing is open to the public. In the US it would be blocked off because someone might get hurt.