Seals … cute but dangerous

The New Zealand fur seal

are …  fin-footed carnivorous marine mammals and are distinguished by visible external ears and hind flippers which rotate forward.

This pointy-nosed seal has long pale whiskers and a body covered with two layers of fur. Their coat is dark grey-brown on the back, and lighter below; when wet they look almost black.

Kaikoura, New Zealand is a good place to see seals easily: read here  to see what the  NZ Dept of Conservation says about not harassing these (and other) mammals in NZ.  Dont get between them and the sea, and keep your dogs on a lead.

As you can see I was travelling in a Backpacker campervan

Keep 10 metres between you and the seals
Watch for seals all along the Kaikoura coastline
I'm so cute!
Just pull over and see the seals!

Four Victorian Bridges to visit in Christchurch, New Zealand

Getting to the other side: go for a walk and check out these old bridges

Despite its calm appearance, the Avon River claimed many lives in the past and getting to the other side was difficult so bridges were of vital importance to the settlers- here are justa few of the inner city bridges that make an intersting walk. ( See also my blog on Victoria /Market Square)

Papanui Bridge

. . . was the first to open and when it closed in 1863 because it was unsafe, it was missed even though a narrow swing bridge on Gloucester St replaced it for pedestrians and the Manchester St Bridge was built the same year for the total cost of 240 pound. (New Zealand currency used pounds shilling and pence until 1968 and when it change one pound became two dollars)

Ironwork for the new bridge was ordered from England (costing 3000 pounds) and when it reopened in 1864, the councillors arrived in a yellow wagonette drawn by four horses and officially opened the it with a bottle of champagne being broken on it to give it the new name of Victoria Bridge. It used to carry the tram towards Papanui, is now a footbridge and has been opened in the centre so the ironwork that supports it can be seen.

Worcester St

A footbridge on Worcester St was swept away in the 1868 floods and the following year it was replaced by the iron bridge that now stands there: although full-sized it now only carries pedestrians and the tram.

Antigua St

A footbridge was built here in 1868 while the Cashel St Bridge (where the various war remembrances are) is now called the Bridge of Remembrance and was completed in 1873.

Christchurch is fortunate to have these wonderful examples of Victorian work and many are under-light so their beauty can be admired at night too.

Travel Writing: from World Hum

This is a long piece about travel writing:

… so long it has sat in my ‘to read’ pile for a couple of months. It’s too late  for me to post a  comment so have decided to do it here as IT’S GREAT – and so evocative of my experiences as a travel writer it really resonated with me, that I will read it again, for sure.

If you think travel writing (not guidebook or blogs of the where-to-stay-variety) is just swanning around the world on a credit card (someone elses’ ) have a read of this – it’s Tom Swick writing (and on UTube) about the evolving role of the travel writer in the age of mass tourism Travel Writing – Not a Tourist – Features – World Hum Thanks Tom, you said it for many of us.

First New Zealand cycleway starts July 2010

First New Zealand cycleway on track for July

New Zealand’s national cycleway project is off to an exciting start – with the first of seven ‘quick start’ projects launching in July.

The RuapehuWhanganui – Nga Ara Tuhono’ trail, which runs from Ruapehu in the central North Island to Whanganui on the western coast, will form part of the ongoing ‘Great Rides’ national cycle network.

The first cycle trail, which travels through land protected by the Department of Conservation (DOC), will be launched on 2 July by New Zealand Prime Minister Mr John Key.

Riders will be able to cycle on two sections of the trail immediately after the launch, with the rest of the route to be completed before the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

Mountain to the sea
The ‘Ruapehu – Whanganui – Nga Ara Tuhono’ cycle trail is the first of the national cycleway ‘quick start’ projects to be launched.

The complete trail will traverse two iconic national parks – and is due to be finished next year (2011). It will be a four to six-day ride, with varying levels of trail difficulty.

Two large sections of the trail are ready for use from 2 July 2010 – the Old Coach Road day ride, an easy ride from Ohakune to Horopito, and a two-day ride from Raetihi to Mangapurua Landing, suitable for more adventurous cyclists.

Campsites and toilets are dotted along both sections and DOC is hoping to install more ‘track furniture’ such as bridges, seats and board-walks over the next few months.

Several tour operators are also putting together guided cycling and accommodation packages.

Historical highlights
The launch of the Ruapehu – Whanganui trail will take place at Ohakune Railway Station with a karakia or Māori blessing and an official ribbon-cutting ceremony by Mr John Key. The prime minister will be one of the first to ride a mountain bike on the new cycle trail.

The Raetihi – Mangapurua Track is a historical highlight of the cycle trail, as it crosses the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ and passes through Mangapurua Valley soldiers settlement within Whanganui National Park. The bridge was built in the 1930s for the first settlers – soldiers who were given land by the New Zealand government for their service during WWI.

Visitors with limited time will be able to do the Old Coach Road day ride, with an uphill or downhill option depending on the starting point choice of either Horopito or Ohakune.

Cycling  and pedal power must be the ultimate in eco-travel!

Thanks to NZ Tourism for this information

Christchurch’s beach suburb: Sumner

Cave Rock & Shag Rock with the central city in background

On a cold wet winter day it’s good to remember we had really great weather only a couple of weeks ago – the drought is over! Catch local bus #3 to visit this suburb.