The drive into Kaikoura was arguably one of the most scenic I’ve ever taken. It felt cinematic, a little bit surreal and hugely atmospheric (when I wasn’t singing Mysterious Girl at full volume, but maybe that’s atmospheric in itself. The judge is still out)…
With the roads stooped upon sloping valleys, winding around mountain corners- everything about it boasted the definition of what I’d always imagined a road trip to be like- old cars included.
Although there was something eerily beautiful about the mist rolling around the trees, it was the sticky fingers from jam donuts and hours of sing-alongs that really fuelled the trip there.
As the hours went by, it was after about three hours that the sun began to break through the mist and cloud, and we finally caught the sea peeking through the skyline and onto the horizon, which could only mean we had nearly arrived.
Now, Kaikoura has a real surfer town feel to it. Although I’ve never been to places like Newquay, there’s something about being Oceanside that truly gives somewhere a real relaxed feeling to it. With shops, cafes and motels lining the front, there was something very shoes off about it (well, the whole of New Zealand in fact)- and it wasn’t long after we’d checked in that we were back in the van and off to hang with some new friends at The Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway.
Home to colonies of fur seals, the sea and the walkway come dusk was pretty magical indeed. With a haze bouncing from a background of mountains, watching the seals snoozing in their natural habitat was unrivalled. We strolled along the walkway, catching endless snaps (as well as naturally cooing at every pup we saw) before turning in for the evening before a big day the following morning.
Waking up bright and early, our agenda of a boat trip and potential whale watching was the perfect way to round up our short but sweet stay in the town. With a seasickness warning having been announced due to the choppy waters, we loaded up on tablets and braced ourselves for the risk that came with the hope of seeing some of the seas most beautiful creatures.
After cruising into the swathes of deep blue for over half an hour, it was only after about forty minutes that we began to slow down. Bundling on top of that boat, it was moments before someone had spotted a sperm whale and we couldn’t believe our luck. But believe me when I say that was just the tip of an incredible journey. We continued to keep our eyes peeled, and to our amazement (and the staffs on board) we also ended up seeing a blue whale too.
You can’t quite fathom the enormity of seeing a creature so incredible up close next to your boat like that (especially knowing it’s bigger than the boat itself). But seeing it next to us, blowing out water and floating alongside was something else (and my inner Blue Planet fan girl had a totally meltdown too, naturally). It sounds fickle, and a little obvious- but it truly made me realise how lucky we are to have these animals on our planet- and learning about how much they suffer from our plastic consumption really opened my eyes a lot too.
On our way back to shore we also caught a glimpse of some very playful dolphins bounding alongside us, which couldn’t have made for a fonder farewell to this gorgeous spot. I know I’ll always have such fond memories from our stay here… Now onto Christchurch!
I was a lucky guest of Tourism New Zealand, but love of NZ all very much my own