Honeymoon Day 2: Christchurch to Kaikoura, via Hamner Springs

The second day of our honey moon we left Christchurch nice and early for the first leg of our journey. As soon as you drive out of Christchurch’s surrounding suburbs you find aqua coloured rivers and at this time of the year orange and golden autumn leaves. Already within an hour of Christchurch the South Islands main landscape starts appearing, green fields with large outcrops of rocks, in this area being granite. Amongst these fields are plenty of white specs, which give Australians many laughs.

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Our first destination was somewhat of a disapointment. Hamnar Springs. Hamnar springs from we thought had natural springs that you could swim and relax in and we thought that would be a fantastic place to start our honeymoon. These whether natural or not springs we set up in an area like a giant swimming pool complex with spas and lap pools scattered round. No hiking through the bush to sit in a naturally occurring pool. Just spas that smelt like chlorine. Regardless it was fairly relaxing.

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Our next section of driving was down a mountain road and through even more green hills. By now late afternoon the above shot shows some of the light rays peaking over the tops of these hills. (1ds, 17-40, f8,1/200). Soon we arrived at the very spectacular area of Kaikoura (meaning “meal of crayfish”). The below shot is a fairly typical view of the main beach at Kaikoura. Instead of sand the beach is covered in different size black stones. The mountains in the background are the Seaward Kaikoura mountains, a branch of the Southern Alps. (1ds, f9, 2 sec, ND400 filter).

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A quaint little suburb, Kaikoura thrives on tourism, in particular its marine wildlife. This area is has a peninsula somewhat similar to Long Reef in shape. The difference being, approximately 1000m metres off the coast the ocean depth drops down to well of 1000m deep. This results in upwelling currents rich in plankton, thus attracting many mammals, fish and birds to the area. The first animals we were lucky enough to sea were the seals. These seals are New Zealand fur seals. There is a colony right on the other tip of the plateau. You can walk up very close to these animals. This is really when I start to realise to problems of only taking one lens. Whilst others can stand 10-20m away in safety my seal shots were taken well under 5m. For anyone who knows seals (described by a NZ comedian as “gang members in sleeping bags”, this isnt the best scenario. Oh well. The below shot was taken near dusk (1ds, 17-40, f11, 1/80).

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On a quick side note, NZ fur seals were hunted to near extinction. Their numbers are now in the 50-60000 range and increasing. These seals live amonst the giant kelp forests and eat crustaceans and molluscs such as octopus. They can swim out to sea on feeding trips for up to 8 days. Seal dives have been recorded to depths of 238m and for over 11 minutes. Pretty amazing, but seemingly lazy animals! Below is a photo of the kelp that had been washed up on the shore. Some of this kelp was well over 5m long (1ds, 17-40, f5.6, 1/180)

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Sorry this trip could take all year to process =]

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~ by adamrose on May 23, 2009.

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