Punting on the Avon River is a popular tourist activity in Christchurch. We had booked a ride Tuesday afternoon but the high winds forced them to close for the day. We managed to rebook for early this morning so we could still squeeze it in.
Our punter took us about 20 minutes up the Avon through the Botanical Garden where he pointed out various types of ducks and their fluffy little ducklings. Neither the Black Scaup (a diving teal) nor the Paradise Shelduck actually quack like our Mallards do.
Invariably, we found a small family of Canada Geese. They are thought of as a major pest, as they decimate the local food sources. It is legal in NZ to shoot Canada Geese!
After our punt we drove out the Banks Peninsula to the towns of Duvauchelle and Akaroa. The peninsula is a huge volcanic promontory southeast of Christchurch. Most of the towns here were founded around 1840 by French settlers; many of the towns and streets in them have French names. We even heard the some of the locals conversing in French.
On the way we stopped at Barry’s Bay Cheese shop in Duvauchelle. Now we have picnic cheeses for the early part of our trip.
We have been told that Akaroa is the best place in New Zealand to see Hector’s dolphins.
They are only found around the inshore waters of the South Island. About 900 dolphins live around the Banks Peninsula. The dolphins have a fairly small territorial range, never going too far away from where they were born.
Sadly they were further out to sea today and we didn’t see any.
Lunch was at the French Farm Winery, which, despite its name, is no longer a winery. They are mostly a wedding venue now, which makes sense given how beautiful their property is!
Then for our first tramping (hiking) experience in New Zealand, we walked the Onawe Pa Track to a former Maori Pa site – a hillfort or fortified settlement with palisades and defensive terraces. Most of these Pa are found on the North Island, so we were fortunate to be able to see it today.
Tomorrow we are off to Arthur’s Pass.