|Kaikoura - taken in May (lots more snow now)|
The drive through from Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura was just a short couple of hours, although if you have driven in the South Island you will know even a short drive is a long one (is there a straight road on the South Island?). We took a small detour at Mt Lyford, a small ski village, in between both towns. They had a lot of snow in this area a couple of months ago and some still remains on the ground.
Kaikoura Top 10 Park was our destination and we had found a good deal online with a stay 2 get the third night free. A tip here is to check out websites of individual parks, as they often offer deals that aren't available on the main Top 10 website.
It is a nice clean park with great amenities and fantastic views. We are in a small cabin with a tv , fridge, and some basic cutlery, pots, pans etc but no kitchen. We use the camp kitchen. Some campervans pull in late afternoon and a couple of people overnight in the ritzier motel units, but during the day it seems to just be us here. The views are quite spectacular, snowy peaks in the background and the beach next door.
|View from our cabin!|
Kaikoura is a spectacular town, only 4000 residents, but has a lot more facilities due to tourism, however it still retains that sleepy feeling of 1970s beach holidays. Nothing is rushed here and if you like wildlife then you will have arrived at your heaven. Think baby Seals, Whales, Dolphins and more. Whale watching is all year round, with the resident Sperm Whales as well as visitors such as Orca, Pilot Whales and Humpbacks.
We walked around to the seal colony yesterday, and ate some fresh grilled fish and crayfish fritters at a roadside stall. The stall is recommended by Lonely Planet and now by us as well! Fresh fish on a bed of rice and salad only $7 and a view to kill for.
|Seafood by the Sea!|
We also went geocaching, our success rate was 66.6% as we found 2/3 caches that we went searching for. I'm still working out where the third one was hidden as we searched and searched. For those on a budget, or with kids, then Geocaching is a great free family activity. Download the official app on your phone, its pricey at around $9, but will give you hours upon hours of free fun.
Tomorrow we pack up our car and head to my Aunties place, where we drop off the contents of half the car, and then continue on to Oamaru. Oamaru is one of my favourite small towns, find out why tomorrow.
|Seal pups playing in the salt water pond.|
PS by Shona
If you cannot afford Whale Watching in Kaikoura (or the weather is too rough) there is still plenty of wildlife to see. You can stroll by the ocean and see New Zealand Fur Seals frolicking in the salt water ponds, you can find them in the car park, and a short drive away, you will find a huge Seal colony and a freshwater water fall when the baby Seal play. Unfortunately due to the melting snow the water wall was huge and so the pathway was covered and we could only get about 10 metres away from the pups. When the water is not so high, you can virtually get within a metre of the playing seals which make for a great photo opportunity.
There is also an abundance of shore birds for the avid bird watcher.
Alternatively, breath in the fresh sea air, sip a coffee, and take in the amazing snow capped mountain range dipping into the sea - a truly magic place.