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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Three Lighthouse Weekend

Who knew New Zealand and Australia would be so busy? As the sole TA for 45 study abroad students, plus designing and teaching two 3.5 hour biology labs every week, I have been busy trying to cram in personal time. Have no fear, I have made plans for weekends on the North and South Island galore!
After the beauty of the gannets, then the soothing Art Deco town of Napier, I wandered to a NZ brewery! TUI is kind of like the Miller of the US, complete with lots of funny advertisements in the form of “yeah right” slogans on everything from billboards to buses:

Summer is more than just beers, BBQ’s and bikinis. Yeah right.
I was reading her t-shirt. Yeah right.
I want to hear all about your day. Yeah right.
I’m really keen to see your mother again. Yeah right.
Beer doesn’t really go with that. Yeah right.
It’s getting too cold for beer. Yeah right.

Tui also likes to get in on political moves and people as well, and has been forced to retract some of their billboards. I like their bravado.

Castle Point lighthouse

Castle Rock from the lighthouse
Brewery done, and I was off to climb a giant rock at Castle Point, and spiral around my second lighthouse of the weekend. Talk about beauty! This second stop on my journey began the establishment of my love of New Zealand landscape. Climbing through 30-40 knots of wind to the modest height of Castle Rock was daunting, but the view was completely rewarding. I got to the top and relished in the view, congratulating myself on the hike, celebrating with a huge bottle of water and lots of pictures. I was also pretty excited in breaking in my new hiking boots for the first time; they were well worth the investment! However, on my hike down I realized that my small cinch bag had developed an enormous hole and slipped out 2 rechargeable batteries and chapstick. Must find them. But first, I was greeted by a young man hiking up in BARE feet who told me he had seen some “lipstick” on the trail on the way up. Then I had a bird over head cawing at seemingly no one but me, which sounded more like a laugh than anything else. Great, even the birds mock me!

That night I car camped at Whakataki (“fah-kuh-tah-kee”) beach and woke up 10 minutes before a breathtaking sunrise. Shutter a flutter and wind jacket adorned, a long bramble was inevitable. This beach generates the most unusual mudstone formations, arranged in parallel paths the length of the shore. Odd, yet spectacular!

Finally I continued my early morning to Cape Palliser, another lighthouse and a FUR SEAL colony! Here’s the summary of my first wild seal encounter:
Walk up and along the very rocky shore, looking out to the beautiful turquoise blue water, wonder where these seals are hiding. Keep walking, see a fence 100 feet away ending the public rocky shoreline. Wonder where are ALL these seals located??! Finally I look around, more vigorously, and suddenly my eyes stumble upon a huge seal a mere 30 feet away, calmly resting. Oh wow. I immediately sit down exactly where standing and watch. Take pictures. 10 minutes pass, and I want to get a little closer. The seal is up now, scratching an itch. I slyly creep forward 6 inches. Another 6 inches. Get greedy and go for a foot. Snort!! RAWR! Oh my gosh, I am now turned around and scampering up the pebbles towards the car park. I just got yelled, snorted and bellowed at by a very large fur seal, and it scared the crud out of me! After a climb and beautiful view from the lighthouse (third of the weekend!), I gave a try again with the seals, this time being a little more adventurous (up on the big rocks!), but peeking more covertly. Success!

Awesome photos!

Wellington --> Cape Kidnappers--> Napier--> Tui Brewery--> Castle Point--> Palliser Bay--> Wellington

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