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New Zealand

Meenal and I took a winter trip to New Zealand and visited my sister, Krista, who lives in Christchurch, NZ. Below are general photos with one page devoted to our time on the Kepler Track (to be added soon).

Christchurch, Littleton, Akaroa, and Willowbank

We spent the most time of our trip in the areas surrounding Christchurch, which is a moderate-sized city. (By the way, the population of all of New Zealand is about the same as LA: 4 million.) Our first couple days were spent wandering through Christchurch with a stop over in Littleton (a small bay town with a very good ice cream place). We made it to Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, which was perhaps more like a zoo than a reserve. That said, we both found it to be better than the Kiwi House in downtown Christchurch for viewing kiwis and they also had a variety of animals. The wallabies weren't caged separately from visitors, and they also were not afraid of people.

From Christchurch, Meenal and I stopped over to Akaroa (ah-kah-row-ah, not ah-car-oh-ah, which was my first guess) for a night and took a guided tour at the Pohatu Marine Reserve where we were able to see wild penguins.


Kaikoura is a small town a couple hours north of Christchurch. Krista, Meenal, and I stopped through twice. We had reservations for whale watching on our first day through, which is the primary draw of Kaikoura, however, the seas were a bit rough so we postponed. Instead we took a (short) cave tour. On our second run through Kaikoura, Krista and Meenal braved the seas for the whale watching. Krista: "It was amazing but I'm never doing that again."


Southern south island

On our way to the Kepler Track, we stopped at a wildlife refuge near the Remarkables (the mountains in the background).


Milford Sound

We got lucky and our one day in Milford Sound -- known both for its beauty and its regular rain -- was amazing. Of course, this was after our 4 days on the Kepler Track, meaning we were also exhausted. I could barely walk.