Kaikoura

So, if you’re just tuning in, I’m writing about a phenomenally amazing adventure my partner and I went on. We drove here and there and everywhere in the south island of New Zealand and last I left off, we were visiting a hill on a plain, by some mountains.

Tapuae-O-Ueneku snow capped in the distance from Kaikoura

For those who have been following in our adventures, here we go again…

Driving back from Mount Sunday, we made it to Christchurch just after nightfall. We gave our car a car wash, since I could almost feel it’s pain after the endless gravel roads and it made us feel better to show our car some TLC. I guess this is the downside of road tripping in your own car.

From Kaikoura!

While we stopped in Christchurch for the night, it was for the hostel and not the city. Originally we planned to spend a bit of time in Christchurch and Banks Peninsula, but we’d heard so many good things about Kaikoura, we decided to spend the day there instead. Cities are wonderful, and I am a city girl, but in New Zealand, the countryside is so much more exciting. If you recall, a couple of years ago there were a series of devastating earthquakes in Christchurch. It’s clearly still in the early stages of rebuilding, you could still see a lot of badly damaged buildings and ample construction. Some say that since there was so much devastation  Christchurch, when rebuilt, is going to to be a unique and excitingly modern city. I’d love to go back at some point to find out! For now, we just enjoyed the great variety and exquisite culinary options (a swanky burger joint for dinner and a fantastic coffee shop for breakfast) before we said see you later and drove further north to Kaikoura.

To break up the drive, we stopped at another winery I had heard much about, called Mud House and Waiau Estates Winery. Pretty good wine, accompanied by beautifully designed grounds and shrubbery. Shortly afterwards, we pulled over again at an olive stand to taste their offerings. After a nice break and pit stop (get it, pit stop?) we made it to Kaikoura. We grabbed lunch and set off for a hike around the entire peninsula.

Just stunning!

The Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway is a network of shorter paths and walks that take you around the entire peninsula, past wildlife and scenic views. The best view? The first one. Arriving in the town center, along the coast and across the water is a view of snow capped mountains. When we started along the path, it was hard to look ahead as our necks were craned to the left, spellbound by the view.

Ducks! Geese!

After turning a bend so the view was now out across the pacific, we ran into our first seal. A lonely little guy, he didn’t mind the pictures, but definitely wasn’t afraid to let Andrew know when he’d gotten too close! Next, we ran across some ducks and geese hanging out by the side of the road. About this time we found the seal colony! We saw so many seals! Some were relaxing, others sun bathing, others were passed out in the late afternoon sun. Along the path, as I walked ahead I walked right past a sleeping seal, just inches to my left. I had missed the still mass of seal as he was fast asleep. We tried to keep our distance, when we could!

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The pathWalking through the forestAfter a lot of oohing and ahhing, we continued on the path, up some stairs to the top of the peninsula. This part of the walkway continued along the top of the cliffs on the southern face of the peninsula. The path was mowed through the fields and occasionally accompanied by the sound of a hearty cow mooing. We stopped at many of the park benches strewn about and just enjoyed our second to last day on this beautiful island. Or as the south islanders call it, the mainland.

Seals everywhere! Hanging with the seals!

As we neared the end of the peninsula, we still had to cut back across town to where we parked. We continued through a small port and a path between some folks houses (yes, we did follow the signs, we’re not just going to walk through someone’s backyard on a regular Tuesday.) The path winded through a forest and about this time, we recalled how out of shape we were. How much farther?

Beautiful views Stunning!

We made it back to town and up to the hostel. Considering we were nearing the end of our trip we dipped into our emergency rations to save on food costs, some instant Ramen bowels and a packet of Oreos. One of the nicest hostels we were at, there were so many friendly backpackers staying there. One individual even made chocolate chip cookies to share!

The start of one of the walkways.

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