It's already New Years Day here in Nelson, New Zealand, but I know it's still not quite the New Year back in Los Angeles yet.
Since our last entry, we've been socked in by flooding and heavy rains en route to Westport from Fox Glacier before finally getting some decent weather (i.e. partly cloudy with on-and-off squalls) the next day. That allowed us to visit the impressive Mangatini Falls as well as the Oparara Arch and Moria Gate Arch near Karamea. That day ended off with a blustery late afternoon sighting of a fur seal colony at Cape Foulwind by Tauranga Bay.
On New Year's Eve, we left Westport for Hanmer Springs. We visited powerful Maruia Falls, the Maruia Hot Springs, and the Thermal Pools at Hanmer Springs. The Maruia Spring brought us back to our onsen experiences in Japan. It was also the first day in probably over a week that we finally got a day without rain.
Today, we left Hanmer Springs before dawn to catch a morning whale-watching tour in Kaikoura (that prevented us from staying up to do the countdown with the rest of the tourists and kiwis in town). Even though we were waitlisted with no guarantee of joining this tour, we were fortunate to be the last ones called, and boy were we glad to have done it. That's because we saw three sperms wales plus a massive school of dusky dolphins doing various jumps and backflips.
The rest of the day was spent trying out a couple of local crayfish dives while walking to Ohau Falls while seeing another fur seal colony nearby. Then, we concluded the day with a long drive all the way to Nelson. Julie had a little bit of food poisoning over dinner, but for the moment, she seems fine now. Tomorrow, we're expecting a long day exploring the Abel Tasman National Park area...
Happy New Year!