The road to Kaikoura

After an eventful morning farewelling Hanmer Springs in the best possible style – coffee at a Yak shack – aka an animal farm cafe complete with llamas, alpacas and what we think was a yak. We’re unsure because we weren’t prepared to pay the $10 each to leave the confines of the cafe for the greener pastures of a series of animal enclosures.
We hit the road – route 70 to be precise – although that’s from memory so it’s probably wrong and started the journey to the coast. We took a “scenic route” although I am unsure whether there are any non-scenic routes in New Zealand. I was struck by the lack of suitable shoulder areas on the road for drivers to stop to take photos. As my passengers were sleeping in the seats around me I was composing a letter to Tourism New Zealand suggesting they create better “lookout” facilities for drivers wanting to capitalise on the rolling hills and forests. But then I realised creating lookouts the whole way along would be an inefficient use of taxpayers’ money. We did stop for a few happy snaps – including the obligatory photos of sheep. Robyn thinks that sheep in New Zealand have reached plague proportions as every mountain is littered with them.
As we drove past a number of farmsteads heading into our eventual destination – the township of Kaikoura – I noticed that each had a unique letterbox – some where weatherboard, others were 40 gallon drums. I thought about commissioning a coffee table book of photos of the letterboxes of New Zealand – but didn’t want to end up with a collection of photos of bins (litter boxes). Something may get lost in translation there.

Tonight we’re in Kaikoura. I’m still unsure how that should be pronounced. We’re staying at a reasonable (both in price and quality) “Holiday Park” that’s Maori for Caravan Park. It’s The Alpine-Pacific Holiday Park. It’s an appropriate name. Kaikoura is situated at the base of snow capped mountains and on the coast – a blend I’ve never before experienced. The combination of New Zealand’s long twilight, the rocky beaches and a combination moonrise/sunset made for some great photos. Fish and chips on the beach is not the same without sand – but I’m happy to report the seagulls here are just as pesky as those in Australia.

We spent an inordinate amount of time throwing rocks at the ocean – well the brother-in-law-in-law, and I, started off trying to skim rocks, but that was an abominable failure. Then it became a chance to be like the children sitting next to us who were chastised by their family for throwing stones only minutes earlier. There was no fear of corporal punishment though – so it was an impressive effort by the parents to get their offspring under control. Robyn’s discus prowess was equally impressive. She could hurl a stone a mile (that’s a small bit of hyperbole) and it glided through the air with perfect form.

We’re going “swimming with the seals” tomorrow morning – so tonight was a great opportunity to scout out our prospective swimming buddies with a trip to the seal colony on Kaikoura’s headland. There was an impressive array of seals “sunning” themselves on the rocks by the water – and a bunch of really smelly kelp to add to the atmosphere. At this point the sun started to go down leading to a pretty spectacular photo opportunity on top of the hill.

I’ll have to add all the photos I plan to insert in this post at a later date, we’re about 4 minutes off running out of our hour of prepaid wireless. Hopefully some of them will be up on the picasa album before our time is through – tonight’s time that is. You should check it out now.

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