Sunday, January 31, 2016

New Zealand 2016 Day 9. Swimming with dolphins.

Anna may only be 28 years old, but she already has a bucket list the size of my arm, and among the top items was to swim with dolphins, which just happens to be one of the attractions offered to innocent tourists here in Akaroa. So at 6 am in the morning I took her to the peer and wished her the best of lucks for her 3-hour adventure. She did get to see dolphins, and was a few feet from them in the water, but they did not circle around her, nor did she get to tag on the fin of one and swim. Schade! She also saw penguins, which was kind of cool. In the meantime I took a leisurely shower, had a big breakfast, and did laundry.

After I picked her up from the wharf we headed back to Christchurch, intent on spending a few hours visiting the downtown area. It feels like a very British city, and in the past must have had many stone churches, government buildings, and schools. Unfortunately these stone buildings fared poorly during the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, so now there are quite a few empty blocks and sites where ultramodern steel and glass buildings are being erected.

The museum somehow survived, and I spent a happy hour wandering through its galleries. It is a small, eclectic museum, which tells you about the first Maori settlers, dinosaurs, their Egyptian mummy, and old Christchurch in one breath. There was also a very cool special exhibit on Leonardo Da Vinci, his paintings, his fantastic machines, and his gruesome but very detailed anatomical studies.

The rest of the city looks modern and comfortable, and overall shines with optimism and prosperity, as if decided not to let the earthquake damage get the better of it.

In a bit of panic for the time lost window shopping, we took off about 4 pm, headed for the central portion of the island. I had written in the schedule that we were going to send the night in Lake Pukaki, 200 km away, and we made it. We still had another hour of light, time enough to fix a nice dinner. Since Anna has dangerous leanings toward vegetarianism we have been eating lots of salad and veggies, but I always make sure that there is some animal protein included in the menu. We parked our little van under a clump of trees overlooking the lake, and slept soundly without a care on the world. 

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