After a 4 hour, and final coach journey with the kiwi bus we arrived in Kaikoura.
Kaikoura in Maori language means ‘to eat crayfish’ and is mainly known for its marine life. There are many dolphins, whales, seals and obviously in the sea coast surrounding the town! This location wasn’t included on our tour, but we paid extra to go a bit further. I had heard about the dolphin swims here from Gill in Indonesia. She strongly recommended it as being the best dolphin swim/interaction in the world. How could I miss a recommendation like that?
When we worked out the dates we’d be in Kaikoura the weather was not looking good… rain and strong winds. We decided to risk it.
So we checked into our hostel where we were reunited with the girl band (Alyce, Megan and Chloe). The hostel we stayed at was The Albatross… my favourite hostel of New Zealand so far!! A quaint independently owned hostel with an arts corner, board games, musical instruments and free bike hire!!! I’m home. Sadly no free wifi but I was now used to this in New Zealand.
I checked into my room… and checked out 10 minutes later. Not because it was bad (unlike in Cambodia) but because I spotted something incredible, the hobbit room!!!! This room was magical and for an extra 3 dollars a night a bottom bunk cabin would be mine. Sold!!!
After checking in Bekki and I were off on the 3 hour Peninsula Trek around Kaikoura. It was a bit chilly and windy but we were ignoring it knowing that it meant bad news for our dolphin day. As we walked along the coast we came to a car park where I saw a lady who I’d met earlier staying at our hostel and eagerly asked her if she’d spotted any seals yet. She walked over to me, took hold of my shoulders, turned me around and said: “You’re standing next to one!” There he was, just a couple steps away. Surreal! We didn’t touch them of course (you’re supposed to stay 10 metres back from seals) but it was so close we couldn’t resist a picture with one. I’ve never been so close to a seal before, especially one in the wild. So beautiful… and lazy.
As we walked more on the trail we were amazed at how different this place looked in comparison to everywhere else in New Zealand. The coast felt arctic… but next to a golden meadow? It’s hard to describe but once again we were amazed at the views around us and below.
As we looked down at the sea from the cliff tops I was desperate to find a route down to the beach!!! After about 40 minutes of walking across we finally came to steps down. I was so excited, I felt like a kid about to play on the beach. At this moment I spotted a hill/mound, on its own in the middle of the beach, and made a bee line towards it… “I’m going to climb that!” And invited Bekki along for the fun. Bekki’s response to this was…”Really Anne? Is there an easier way up? It looks really steep and I don’t know how we’ll get down.” …I completely dismissed this comment and headed straight to the foot of the hill and got down on my hands and started to climb up the gravel.
Half way up, it got very steep. I came to a sudden halt and stopped.
I looked behind me and down at the distance below… oh noooo!! What have I done?!!? Why??? Bekki stopped too a couple steps up. Both realising this was silly (Bekki sooner than I) and after helping me turn around onto my bottom she started to make her way down.
I was still frozen. It was still very windy and I was freaking out a little (a lot). I couldn’t grip onto anything, it was just gravel so I just didn’t move. What looked like steps going up was actually a gravelly steep slope. Oh poop! Someone save me!
And there I sat…for a while. During this, people passed from below concerningly (thinking what an idiot). Not embarrassing at all. In my head I was trying to plan my route down but all I could see was a thistle bush below where if I slipped would end up in. Oh balls!! Why didn’t I listen to Bekki???
Moments later (or half an hour) I got down (like a baboon on its bum) slowly by distracting myself from the situation by singing Taylor Swift to myself. As I got to the bottom, I saw a couple of the passer byers cheering from the cliff tops. This was an achievement!!! Never doing that again! Here’s the hill from a distance. Never again!
The next day we were up at 5am ready for our once in a lifetime a swim with dolphins. Sadly it was cancelled because a cyclone was coming. Another cyclone! They follow Bekki and I around. I do wish I attracted men the way I do cyclones… Anyways we didn’t complain or let it phase us. You can’t argue with mother nature and the staff at Dolphin Encounter were very friendly and squeezed us on the next day in case the weather improved.
We spent the majority of the day chilling (literally because it was freezing) in our hostel. Then something special happened… I smelt Christmas in the air. Two German girls were cooking up some mulled wine. Great idea! This needed to happen!! So 5 minutes later Megan and I were off to the shop for wine and ingredients and we took this time to borrow some of the bikes from the hostel to get to the shop. There was just two bikes left… a normal one and a tandem.
That evening, (because Megan and I hadn’t bonded enough on this trip), she braided my hair. I looked atrocious, but it was a great end to a lazy day!
The next day we were up bright and early again for our second and last chance for a dolphin swim… but it cancelled again. The weather just wasn’t safe for us to be on the water. Again service at Dolphin Encounter was fantastic and we found some dolphins in the gift shop to make up for it.
It is a shame to miss out on the dolphin swim but we’ve been so lucky in New Zealand with weather that you can’t complain, I will just have to come back to New Zealand some day. 🙂 We also had such a fun time with the girlband in Kaikoura – Megan, Alyce and Chloe have been a great laugh over our time in New Zealand, they are all bonkers (in the best possible way) and sing as well as Bekki and I (not well at all) and I’m so lucky they live near my home town so I’ll get to see them again as soon as I’m back.
That afternoon we all headed back on a Intercity bus to Christchurch. We’d spent a night in Christchurch before coming to Kakoura (wasn’t worth writing about… we drank coffee and I went for a run, thats it). But as it was our final night in New Zealand we needed a nice meal to spend the remainder of our NZ dollars and say our goodbyes. We were joined again by James from Canada number 2 again! 🙂 🙂
We also saw a few more familiar faces at the YMCA hostel. Because it’s fun to stay at the YMCA!
As you may or may not know, Christchurch suffered earthquakes in 2011 so is still in the middle of reconstructions… but it is a ghost town – it’s on it’s way back but there isn’t very much around, no town centre but they have built a Re:Start Mall in it’s place out of container boxes.
But searching for a restaurant that night was tough… there aren’t many at all and the close by ones were pricy in the $40/50 region. But we walked for about 20 minutes and almost ate at McDonald’s before spotting Lone Star – a Western/American restaurant.
The next day we had a wander around a street art exhibition in our hostel. This was probably one of the best exhibitions I’ve seen in a while. Very clever, thought-provoking and interactive. It’s so worth seeing!! Also there’s a map of different street art to explore around the town if you have time!
Soon after this we were off to the airport… our time in New Zealand had come to an end. James got a tip from the YMCA that if we took a local bus to the airport and got off a stop before, it’s only $3.50 and just a 5 minute walk!! $8 if you go one extra stop. Best advice ever!!! I was able to buy a coffee with the cash I saved there. 🙂
Goodbye New Zealand! I’m glad I can finally stop posing in front of every beautiful back drop like this now, my arms were starting to ache…