Posts tagged: sea lions

New Zealand South: Our Arrival In Sheep Country

By , January 13, 2011 5:00 am
Panoramic View Of Queen Charlotte Sound

Panoramic View Of Queen Charlotte Sound

New Zealand was high on my list of places to see before I die. Every photograph I have seen promised raw and grand landscapes. Boris and I were both very excited to finally set foot on New Zealand. Our first stop was the Southern Island where our friends, Coralie and Damien, from France, were meeting us.

Our Home On Wheels

Our Home On Wheels

We got lucky with our caravan, as it was quite roomy for 4 people with separate sleeping and eating areas. It was a different lifestyle for us as the only things we had to pay for, on top of our rental, was food and gas, which alone was still pretty pricey. We cooked most of our meals and tried to hit the larger supermarkets, which had a larger selection and lower prices. At night, whenever we started to feel tired, we would try to find a good spot to rest, preferably right next to the beach. The mornings were the best part as we were awoken by the sounds of the waves, birds, fur seals, and sometimes ongoing traffic.

Kaikoura Coast

Kaikoura Coast

I'm Trying To Get Some Sleep

I'm Trying To Get Some Sleep

Having two boys onboard definitely calls for attention. Their instinctive behavior truly came out whenever we were parked by the beach. It began with a manhunt for wood and then building a fire. I admit it was lots of fun as we got to toast marshmallows by the fire. However, I definitely advise against cooking on the beach as we always ended up with sand in our food.

Our Friends, Damien & Coralie

Our Friends, Damien & Coralie

One of my favorite activities up north was the Puponga hilltop walk. As we stood on a wooden platform, close to the edge of the cliff, staring out into the sea and the spectacular Cape Farewell Arch, I just didn’t understand how the views were going to get any better. As we ascended up to the hilltops, the trail consisted of mostly grassy fields covered with grazing sheep just staring at us. In New Zealand, it was definitely the sheep that have the best views. It makes sense, as there is more than 20 sheep for every human!

Cape Farewell Arch

Cape Farewell Arch

Start Of Puponga Hilltop Walk

Start Of Puponga Hilltop Walk

Gazing Sheep

Gazing Sheep

Time To Relax

Time To Relax

The grass trail suddenly ended and then it felt like déjà vu and I was back in Mui Ne, Vietnam. In front of us was large sand dunes and Whariki Beach. I let the three Frenchies have some alone time. As they were sliding down the sand dunes, I found a nice spot on the soft sand to rest. While watching them from afar, it dawned on me that I was traveling the world, something I always wanted to do. Yes, I forget sometimes and when I’m reminded of it, it does shock me still.

Whariki Beach

Whariki Beach

Go Boris!

Go Boris!

I was soon awoken from my nap when it started to sprinkle. We all ran inside one of the large caves and waited for the rain to stop. Luckily, there were no sea lions hiding inside.

Be Careful Of Sea Lions In The Caves

Be Careful Of Sea Lions In The Caves

1, 2, 3 ... Freeze

1, 2, 3 ... Freeze

More to share on our next post of the South Island.

A Cuddly Teddy Bear

A Cuddly Teddy Bear

Oyster Catcher

Oyster Catcher

Heron

Heron

Golden Kiwi

Golden Kiwi

Super Yummy NZ Meat Pie

Super Yummy NZ Meat Pie

Foxglove Flowers, Beautiful But Poisonous

Foxglove Flowers, Beautiful But Poisonous

Queen Charlotte Sound

Queen Charlotte Sound

Me & The Frenchies

Me & The Frenchies

Short Walk At Te Waikoropupu Springs

Short Walk At Te Waikoropupu Springs

Te Waikoropupu Springs

Te Waikoropupu Springs

Farewell Split

Farewell Split

Amazing Views That Keep Coming

Amazing Views That Keep Coming

What We Paid: New Zealand
Dollars
USD Euro
– Caravan Rental + Mileage + Insurance (shared among 4 people) 214/day 163 126
– Fuel 46/day 35 27
– Groceries 16/pp day 12 10

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Galapagos Cruise: Day 6-7-8: Fernandina, Rabida and The End

By , December 7, 2010 9:30 pm
Sleeping Female Sea Lions

Sleeping Female Sea Lions

Day 6 – Fernandina is the far west island, which few cruise ships venture off to. We knew right away that we would see unique things on this island when we were greeted by the skeletal remains of a large whale.

Skeleton Of A Whale

Skeleton Of A Whale

Then for the first time, we saw marine iguanas swimming. If you remember the movie Alien 4, it looked just like aliens swimming, just a little tinier.

Marine Iguana Swimming

Marine Iguana Swimming

While we were taking pictures of sea lions, we saw a flightless cormorant. It’s not especially beautiful but it gained our respect when we learned there are only 1,000 still alive in the world and that they are all living on this one island. We eventually spotted a few more and counted over 30, which is 3% of the world population.

Flightless Cormorants

Flightless Cormorants

Afterwards, we sailed to Tagus Cove in Isabela Island. The scenery was still rocky but there was an orange hint everywhere. Our snorkel session brought us to a spot where penguins and sea lions were swimming within one meter of us. The sea lion wanted to play and would even touch us sometimes but his size was too impressive for us so we backed far away.

Sea Lion Swimming With Us

Sea Lion Swimming With Us

Sea Turtle Chilling

Sea Turtle Chilling

In the late evening, we crossed the equator line for the 3d time! Then we had a moment of whale watching as everyone onboard the ship came on deck to see the Bryde’s Whales.

Whale Watching

Whale Watching

Bryde's Whale!

Bryde's Whale!

Sunset Before Crossing The Equator

Sunset Before Crossing The Equator

Day 7 – On the 7th day, we landed on a black beach in the backside of Santiago Island. All around us were birds diving into the water looking for fishes. This was also another great spot for observing fur seals. They were very noisy and the younger ones kept fighting each other. After our 2-hour walk, some of us went snorkeling, but I went off to play soccer while MuiMui decided to tan on the beach.

Boris' Feet On The Black Sand Beach Of Santiago

Boris' Feet On The Black Sand Beach Of Santiago

Bird Going For A Dive

Bird Going For A Dive

Young Fur Seals Playing

Young Fur Seals Playing

For our afternoon excursion, we explored Rabida Island with its red beach and popularity among lazy sea lions. After a quick hike up, we found a great spot to take a group picture.

Sea Lions On Rabida Island

Sea Lions On Rabida Island

Group Shot

Group Shot

Both Pretty & Lazy

Both Pretty & Lazy

Day 8 – It was our last day and with a morning flight to catch, we woke up extra early to indulge the last of the Galapagos. We took the small boat out to black turtle cove. There were many mangrove trees so we had to maneuver our way in. Suddenly under us was a school of Eagle Spotted Rays passing through. It was a beautiful morning and the water was shallow enough to get a clear view of them. Minutes later, we realized there were also many white tip reef sharks resting in the water. As we continued further, there were two turtles mating in the water. It was a beautiful moment and I was already pleased with everything we saw, but this was definitely a great way to end the cruise.

Spotted Eagle Ray

Spotted Eagle Ray

Sea Turtles Mating

Sea Turtles Mating

*** There is a lot of hype about the Galapagos and after experiencing it ourselves, this is definitely a must do. It was one the most expensive highlights of our travel so far, but we had an amazing time so it was all worth it.

There are a few cost effective ways to reduce the price:
1. Go off peak season! The weather is still great although the water is cold, but there are usually wetsuits onboard to rent. Whatever the season, the animals are always there.
2. Don’t book overseas. Go to Quito and relax for a few days and book your cruise there.
3. If you have to book overseas or if you are in Quito, book direct and avoid the middleman. While it is hard to book directly with the owner, they usually have an agency in Quito.
4. The Galapagos is very popular especially during peak season but there are hundreds of cruise lines so if you can book last minute, you can save even more.
5. If a cruise is out of the question, fly to the Galapagos and enjoy Santa Cruz Island. There is so much to see there. You can even take a water taxi to a few other islands.

While the prices vary in the type of ship you select, no matter what the size is, bring seasickness pills!

Thanks Again Kelly, Sam, Jennifer, and Christian for your pictures!

Iguana Up Close

Iguana Up Close

Heron

Heron

Fernandina Volcanic Landscape

Fernandina Volcanic Landscape

Who's On My Head

Who's On My Head

Orange Sea Turtle

Orange Sea Turtle

Yellow Flycatcher

Yellow Flycatcher

Alpha Male Doesn't Want Us Near

Alpha Male Doesn't Want Us Near

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Panorama Theme by Themocracy