As part of our New Zealand road trip, while in the South Island, we drove over Arthur’s Pass to Christchurch and the Banks Peninsula. There is stunning scenery over Arthur’s Pass, it’s a shame it was raining so much we really didn’t want to do any walking.
We spent a couple of days in the wilderness of the Banks peninsula, with the little blue penguins at Pohatu Penguin Plunge, in Akaroa. Shireen is a fourth generation farmer in the Banks peninsula, and has noticed over the years that the penguin population has declined. So she decided to do something about it. She has worked hard over the years, setting traps for the introduced predators such as ferrets and stoats, and her efforts have been rewarded by an increase in the penguin population.
Penguins are easily disturbed by people, so Shireen limits human access to their nesting areas on her farm, and the organized tours enable carefully controlled numbers of people to view the penguins and bring in revenue to support their conservation efforts. We enjoyed staying in the old cottage on the farm, and seeing the penguins at dusk.
Christchurch and Lyttelton have suffered a great deal from the earthquakes a few years ago, but there’s lots of building work going on, and business is coming back.
Christchurch is still a vibrant city, with a beautiful botanical garden, quirky street art and an interesting museum. We were delighted to see more shopping areas constructed quickly from shipping containers!
A must-see in Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula is the delightful Giants House and garden. The artist Josie Martin started incorporating mosaic sculptures into her garden…. and it just grew from there! As well as the gardens being open to the public, it’s also a small B&B. Wonderful place!
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