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2024 - January - Day 11 - Kaikoura

Many of the days and starts are now starting to merge into one, as again it was get up, have breakfast, pack the car and hit the road. We were moving just after 9am and decided we should look at Amberley beach before we headed further north.

 

We could see why it didn’t really advertise itself as a beach resort. There was a nice bay but the shoreline was covered in grey stones and didn’t look very inviting. There were a couple of guys fishing but that was it. We stood and wallowed in the already 25c heat before getting back in the car to start the 80-mile journey to Kaikoura.

 

After an uneventful drive for an hour apart the section over the mountains which had lots of switchbacks, twists and turns we diverted onto the tourist trail to Gore Head with their Cathedral Cliffs. No idea what they were but sounded lovely. It was only a 5-mile drive but was pretty. There were some shacks on the beachfront interspersed with some lovely looking and immaculately maintained houses with beautiful garden frontages. The head and cliffs were fine but we have seen better. Again, a bit grey and very stony. No sandy beach. Perhaps some of the novelty of the wonderful Kiwi scenery is starting to wear off on us.

 



We drove back into Cheviot to a café we had just passed before taking the tourist trail diversion. The café was very busy with the locals. We found a seat outside but in the full 27c sun and were glad when a table under some shade became available. We shared a slice of Egg & Bacon pie which was hearty.

 

On the table next to us were a local family with a couple of dogs. One was a young cockerdoodlepoodle or whatever the term is, in an apricot colour. It kept looking at me in such an appealing way. In the end I told the family that I was likely to dognap it from them. She was gorgeous and exactly the type I would have. Even Karen was agreeing it was a lovely dog. Then she pointed out it would be hardly fair to have to leave it at home whilst we went on all our trips. My argument of claiming it was a service dog and that it would have to come on the plane with me apparently was just ridiculous. I know she is right but.

 

Then we thought we push on and see if cheekily we could get into our motel room in Kaikoura early.

 

Just before we got into Kaikoura itself, Karen suddenly shrieked ‘look over there’. I couldn’t though as the road was taking all my concentration. She shouted there’s loads of dolphins and they are all jumping. I found a place to turnround and we soon joined about a dozen other people all watching this pod of about 50 dolphins playing just off the shore.

 

What made it even more magical was the fact that sometimes 3 or 4 water of them would jump out of the water in unison. Then one would jump out and do a somersault of its own free will. It was of course no more than we have seen in Dolphin shows, but they were in the wild doing it of their own free will. We felt so lucky to be able to stand and watch this natural spectacle. A few seconds either way or if Karen had not been watching and we would have missed it. It was just a shame that we were just too far away to get any clear photos although I did capture some jumping on video. It is something we have never seen before and will never forget. Hello my name’s Dory – what’s yours?

 

We were also in luck at the motel and let in very early. After we sorted ourselves out, had a cuppa and made use of the free washing machine – we decided to walk into the town.

 

It was a lovely albeit steep walk down to the town centre which stood around the bay. Once there we recognised it from our previous 2 visits. In fact, we even worked out where we had eaten each time. There were only a few shops open but most places were either closed or closing, including all the cafes. This struck us as rather strange. It was a Saturday afternoon in the height of summer on a glorious day with loads of people about. You would have thought they would have wanted to make hay whilst the sun shone. But no, and the number of people we passed as we walked back who were looking longingly into the café windows showed us they were missing out.

 



Kaikoura is now known for the 2016 earthquake that hit the town and infrastructure so badly as much as the whaling trips it offers by boat and air. Prior to that it was an infamous whaling centre and to the towns credit they don’t hide from that past. I think they are right to do so. It is certainly not acceptable in this enlightened age to support whaling but it is part of their heritage and should not be whitewashed over.

 

At the motel in our room, we had a cold drink before heading out in the car again. This time just a couple of miles down the road to South Bay which we had been told was worth seeing. We walked along one side of the bay on a walkway. It was lovely and we had the place to ourselves. Around the bay there were lovely picnic benches in the shade that would have been ideal if only we had a picnic with us.

 



Instead, we got back in the car and followed the signs to the Kaikoura Seal Colony. Once there we walked out onto hard very undulating concrete like sand that the outgoing tide had left behind to try and find the seals. It was a bit of a walk and we were happy when we came across one lone seal basking. We didn’t hang around long as we had also been warned that the tide races in here and almost daily people are cut off by the tide and then have to wade back.

 



We drove then to the New World supermarket (and we didn’t turnaround) and bought some cooked salmon to eat for our dinner. It was flipping delicious especially washed down with some local Savvy B.

 

It was an early night as we have an early start to drive the 2 hours to catch the ferry in the morning at 10am.

 

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