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Our Backyard

Posted Oct 15 2009 10:04pm

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As Hamish and I both managed to organise some annual leave at the same time, I organised a surprise trip to Akaroa and a Penguin tour at a little bay just further around called ‘Flea Bay’. We spent Wednesday night in an authentic colonial cottage with no electricity and just candles for light. Water was heated by the large open fire and cooking was by gas (or fire). We couldn’t do much as far as scenery goes on Wednesday as the weather was terrible with thick fog, though we did get some brilliant pictures of the Akaroa Heads.

We had some time to kill after we got settled into the cottage and got the fire going, so decided to go for a walk up the valley to find a waterfall we were told about.  Some of the ground was extremely boggy and we had to be a bit creative to get through parts of the track.

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We came to a gate that was keeping in about 7 cows and their calves.  To the left through another gate was the bull in another paddock. I was unsure how the cows would react with us near their babies, but the track went through their paddock and we weren’t going to go say hi to the bull!  We decided they were OK and went through, locking the gate after us.

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We had been walking for about ten minutes when we both heard a thumping sound coming from behind us.  I was first to look and words wouldn’t come out…all I said was “ahhhh ahhhhhhh”.  Hamish looked around and realised what I was screaming about, the bull was running straight for us!

We ran for the fence line and I had my hand on it ready to clamber over, but he decided to go past us and head towards his ladies.  It wasn’t until afterwards I realised it was an electric fence, but at the time I didn’t care, there was 600kg of prime rib-eye running straight for us!  I could have run a marathon with the amount of adrenalin surging through my body!  We headed up a slope to a fence on the opposite side of the paddock, a safe distance from said bull but the bull and cows had blocked off our next gate and there was no way we were going down there to push them out of our way!

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So we decided to head back, we were running out of time anyway with the evening penguin tour coming up.  It wasn’t until we got back to the first gate that we realised what had happened.  The gate was lying on the ground.  Mighty Angus must have run down the gate in order to get closer to his girls when we scared them away!  The gate was only attached by the bottom hinge, the top one pulled cleanly out of the post.  So we put the gate back up as best we could and continued back down the track to tell the farm owner (also the tour organiser).

The penguin tour was great!  We saw lots of White-Flippered Penguins and even a pair of Yellow-Eyed Penguins in lurrrve.  The tour guide (Shireen Helps) and her husband own the land and have set up nesting boxes all around for the wee penguins.  She was saying they will walk 600m from the shoreline and 200m uphill to nest.  They have gone from roughly 750 breeding pairs to 1063 in 12 years.

We headed back to the cottage in the dark (luckily we took a torch as it was quite a hike).  Reset the fire and lit all the candles.  We took taties to bake in the fire boyscout style, but burned them to a crisp (thought they’d take much longer than they did), so stuck with the good ol’ staple kiwi camping tucker, Baked Beans on toast ;-)

In the morning we were set to go sea kayaking but we decided it was a bit cool out for that, so decided we’d do the bush walk that we missed out on the day before instead, followed by some panoramic views on the way back to Akaroa.

The bush walk is part of the Banks Peninsula Track.

Had a bite to eat in Akaroa, then headed home :-)

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