Akaroa is a great little town on the Banks Peninsula that’s got an interesting French vibe. Marilyn and I had a few hours to kill before our amazing penguin excursion with Pohatu Penguins, so we took a walk around the bay. The weather was great once again and made our time in the town really enjoyable.
Then we joined the tour and went off-roading for even more marvelous views of Akaroa Harbor and the bays surrounding the town. It was amazing to see the expanse of the land and sea. The tour included a night’s accommodation in a cabin, a bush walk through Tutakakahikura Scenic Reserve and an evening penguin spotting tour. We’d also learn about the past and current conservation efforts as well as get to see some penguins in care. We were beyond excited, especially since we missed out on the dolphin cruise up in Kaikoura.
Marilyn and I woke up exceptionally early the next morning to make it in time for our scheduled whale watching tour. Unfortunately for us, and everyone else awake at this ungodly hour, the seas were too rough for boats to go out. Rather than wait for a few hours hoping that the wind and waves died down, we decided to head for Christchurch to get our tattoos.
Marilyn already had a couple of tattoos done, but this would be my first tattoo. I decided to put it on my upper back so I could cover it up. I decided to go with a family crest as it would be stamped in the old days. It’s unique and meaningful to me. Marilyn chose the map of New Zealand, a place that has grown very dear to her heart, with a Maori design weaving throughout it. The tattoo artist created the design especially for her to merge specific meaningful things.
The process of getting tattooed wasn’t as painful as I imagined. I think it hurt the most when the needle crossed over my spine. It felt like the needle went deeper, but it’s more likely that the bone was closer to the surface. But, overall, it wasn’t too bad.
I don’t think I’d pay to get another tattoo done though. I guess I’m a one and done kinda girl. I’ve heard that it can be addictive and once you get your first, you’re just waiting to get your second, third, fourth, etc. But, to be honest, I’d rather use that money to jump out of a plane again and again and again.
One thing you should know about New Zealand is that towns on the South Island are pretty well isolated from one another. Also, not every town has a gas station so people have to drive to a larger town to fill up their tanks and often fill up plastic fuel tanks as reserves.
What I’m leading up to is the fact that Marilyn and I were so caught up in chatting and enjoying the beautiful day that we didn’t consider stopping to refuel. We had a full tank before leaving Balclutha, but we didn’t think we needed to fill up along the way. However, several kilometers outside of Kaikoura, the low-fuel indicator light popped on as we made our way up and down some pretty large hills and wove in and out along the coastline.
It’d wouldn’t be exaggerating much to say we were freaked out. Here we were on a two-lane road in the middle of nowhere desperately looking for a gas station. We weren’t sure we would make it to Kaikoura despite all the signs announcing that we were nearly there. But, there was no way to pull over and turn around to search for the last gas station. We didn’t even know when we saw one.
In the end, we made it to Kaikoura (on fumes I imagine) and filled up immediately. Then, we checked into our hostel and dropped our bags off. We splurged on a two-bed private room, and Marilyn was excited that they gave us a bunk bed. She quickly called dibs on the top bunk to which I heartily agreed. Then we set out for some late lunch/early dinner as we’d skipped breakfast and lunch on the drive.
After a really great meal, we headed out to the Point Kean seal colony at the other end of town. When we arrived, there were many people (busloads in fact) who had the same idea. But, the seals didn’t seem to mind the paparazzi action going on all around them. Some sunned atop large rocks in the middle of the water while others preferred to be right up on shore. A few seals even managed to find a nice pile of grass to doze upon under the cover of bushes and trees.
Afterward, we walked up to Point Kean viewpoint to see the surrounding area. On one side, the Pacific Ocean extended as far as you could see. On the other, the Kaikoura Ranges stood in the background beneath the clouds. It was an amazing way to end a long day on the road. After a few peaceful moments, we headed back to the hostel to get some rest.