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Day 11, Blenheim to Christchurch

Rikohia o peke! Yes! Pack those bags! We are heading out of Marlborough, and stopping along the way, so get your hats, bags, and wine and let's boogie south.

We pack up and head to the bus, little teary eyed travelers that are the mixed with the excitement for the new adventure. Here comes Kaikoura and then Christchurch for the evening. The bus is fun today, after wiping away the tears everyone perks up when Carol and Al open the bubbles. Suddenly there's chatter, laughter and excitement for the upcoming whale watching in Kaikoura! Thank you AL and CAROL!!! You saved the bus and the tears from streaming and shared the much loved bubbles that we found in Martinborough (North Island).

We are headed to the whales, and hoping with fingers crossed (toes too) that we find some of them waiting for us! It's so beautiful along this coastal drive that it really doesn't matter, we are in a memorized-meditative state as we stare and croon over the beauty. The west coastline where we are traveling is so amazing and filled with new growth since the earthquake in February 2011. And now we are traveling on new roads and highways, built since 2018 when they finally finished and we are enjoying the smooth and rapid travel via our awesome bus driver, Trevor. He's a youngster and we've had him as our driver since the South Island arrival 3 days ago. We love him already and we will enjoy his company for the remainder of the tour.

Kaikoura! WOW, we encounter an array and abundance of wildlife, seals, seabirds, (albatross in particular) are just some of the sea creatures that we gaze upon as we travel. But the sperm whale population is what Kaikoura is known for, and we're hoping to encounter several of them as well as the famous dolphin colonies.

The legend of the name is explained to us by our guide for the area, the story goes... Tama ki Te Rangi arrived in the area many hundreds of years ago and was tired and hungry. He found an abundance of crayfish and named the area “Te Ahi Kaikoura a Tama ki Te Rangi” – the fire that cooked the crayfish of Tama ki Te Rangi.

We stroll down the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway as it winds from the town center to spectacular views and lookouts at Point Kean where rock platforms are home to a colony of New Zealand fur seals. We come upon the Fyffe House, a small pink house built in the 1800s on a foundation of whalebones. The Fyffe House is all that is left of the once-thriving Waiopuka whaling station that was erected in 1844.

We make our way to the boat that will cruise us through these intense waters, and all we can say is YES, YES, YES!!! We see our whale, once we ventured towards open water the boat veered starboard side and found two whales spouting and diving in and out of the crystal clear blue-green sea. It was 2 extremely graceful humpback whales who apparently leave the cool Antarctic waters and head north to the warmer tropical waters, stopping off in Kaikoura for a rest before continuing on their long journey. At least that's what we were told. It's so magical to see these sea mammals and their power and grace combined.

We carried on toward Christchurch after a quick lunch in Kaikoura, bellied filled, heart too, it left us sleepy and meditative, so many travelers napped while finishing our drive south. And what a drive it is, another 2 1/2 hours gets us close, but by the time we arrive at the hotel and check in it's almost dark outside.

Distinction Christchurch Hotel is, fortunately, spacious and comfortable, and we are happy to have a rest from the bus and the travel here. The hotel sits close to a cocktail bar, and alongside Latimer Square and near the Avon River. We already love this city, it's very colorful but with that European touch too. But more on this tomorrow as we are tired, hungry... again, and ready for our dreams to be of whales, dolphins, mountains and seascapes. Sleep with beauty and peace-filled moments and wake with a smile every day. Good night my travelers and friends, see you tomorrow.

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