The South Island of New Zealand -winter 2015/16 travel blog

Couldn't download pictures again -- very spotty wifi - so I'll have to catch up with photos another time.

Terry has read almost every book available about Captain James Cook through the years. Visiting New Zealand and Australia is like walking in the footsteps of Cook and it is surprising how many towns, small and large, have a little park and statue dedicated to Captain Cook. Today we had a chance to do an Ecological scenic cruise that involved a number of rare or endangered birds, plus Hector Dolphins and "little blue" penguins.

Along the way on this four hour boat trip, the skipper pointed out the various islands named by Captain Cook and a refresher on how Queen Charlotte Sound was named (King George the Third was on the throne when Cook claimed New Zealand for the British Empire and Charlotte was his queen). One of the islands we walked on today was the location attributed to Cook as having climbed to the top and planted the flag of the Empire, declaring it was now British territory. We walked to the top of that island and climbed the stairs to the point where the monument of this historic moment is located. A view is in place that is said to be the same view Captain Cook would have seen 250 years ago when he made New Zealand part of the British Empire. We saw rare birds (King Shag and Pit Island Shag) only found in New Zealand on this island, as well as learning about the endangered plight of the kiwi. To try and save the kiwi from the introduced/invasive predators like the possum and stoke, the island has been designated as a kiwi sanctuary and they are brought there to survive --from their time as young chicks until the time they can survive on their own- then reposititioned back to someplace else in New Zealand. The Hector Dolphin is the second rarest oceanic dolphin in the world and found in these waters as well and we saw several of them today. The Blue Penguin is a little guy who also is being assisted on these sanctuary islands as efforts to increase their numbers are in place. It is the smallest penguin weighing 1-2 kilograms and 45 centimeters tall. We saw nests of these little guys on the island as well. Another rare bird seen was the Australasian Gannet --has a wing span of 1.7 meters, Queen Charlotte Sound is gorgeous and a must see if you are in the South Island. We turned the car in yesterday so no driving until the 8th and walked 13, 975 steps today, four hrs on a boat. Tomorrow we are off on the ferry to Wellington where we explore until the 8th (when we begin driving toward Auckland). Yesterday was a very rainy, stormy day so we stayed indoors most of the day. Very high winds and soaking rain -- today just windy but not rainy. We've enjoyed our four days in Picton.

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