Hello, again...

You remember I talked about the Australian money and how they did away with the 1 cent coin?  Well in NZ, they have abolished the 1 cent and 5 cent coins.  They have a 10 cent coin that is the size and color of the 1 cent US coin...and about as useful.  Then they have a 20 cent coin about the size of a US 5 cent piece, and a 50 cent coin about the size of a US quarter.  They also have $1 and $2 gold coloured coins, and they are about the size of the NZ 10 cent piece and 50 cent piece respectively, only twice as thick.  You might remember that these are just the opposite sizes from the Australia $1 and $2 coins...a bit confusing at first, but you get used to it.

Since there are no 1 cent and 5 cent coins, when you pay cash for something that costs $6.94, you only pay $6.90.  Of course if the total is $6.96, you pay $7.00!

We've been on the South Island now for over a week...and it has been a week packed with an amazing variety of experiences.  On our way from Picton down to Kaikoura we went by a salt processing plant.  It appeared that they were recovering salt from the sea...and they were pretty successful!

Yes, that's full size machinery moving the pile of salt around...I thought it was an interesting sight.

The highlight of our stay in Kaikoura was a boat trip out on the Southern Ocean to see if we could spot any whales or dolphins...

And, as you can see, we did encounter a few Sperm Whales...this pair stayed around for a few minutes, and we eventually saw six or seven others while we were out.  There were also a number of Albatross flying around...here's one that got close enough for me to get a picture.  Without some reference point, it's hard to tell that the wingspan is seven or eight feet!

Of course, no whale watch adventure is complete without a tail shot...so here's one.

I'm pretty sure he wasn't swatting at the sea bird flying by!  Amazing the stuff you find in your photos when you finally get to look at them closely.

In between spotting the whales we also came across a very large pod of Dusky Dolphins.  There must have been two or three hundred because they were all around us...very playful and acrobatic.

Lots of them would jump all the way out of the water and do flips in the air.  They were amazing!

Near Kaikoura there was a good size New Zealand Fur Seal colony that we visited.  There seems to be a very good crop of young ones, as you can see by this shot of ten or so of them enjoying this tidal pool among the rocks.

They were great fun to watch.  Every now and then a big wave would come along and knock several of them out of the pool...and they would climb right back in amidst much encouragement from their mates.

We've also spent time in Christchurch, taken a train ride across the Southern Alps from one side of the island to the other, visited Dunedin, Invercargill and Bluff (the southern tip of the South Island), and spent two wonderful days in Fiordland National Park.  Most days were sunny and warm...except for a three day stretch in Dunedin and Invercargill...temperatures were in the single digits, we had hail, we had sleet, we even had a bit of snow...but that's all behind us now...and our adventure continues...on to Queenstown! 


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