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Published: March 18th 2018
Our bedroom overlooks the beach so we wake up to the most glorious view of the sun rising over the ocean. I take a stroll along the beach while the old man sleeps.
The plan for today is to drive the 94 miles along the coastal SH1 to Kaikoura, stopping for lunch at a vineyard on the way. SH1 has only recently partially reopened following the huge earthquake which hit the region in 2016, and has been shut again over the past few days following Cyclone Gita. If it’s shut, we will have a 6+ hour detour so we are on tenterhooks awaiting the traffic update.
Luckily the road opens and we set off for the huge wine estate of Yealands. It’s a cutting edge eco friendly vineyard (it even plays classical music to the vines to help them thrive) set on a clifftop. We take a self guided tour through the vineyard which heads out to a lookout past the ‘over friendly chickens’ and back via a wetland and butterfly gully.
We finish off at the cellar door for a tasting and buy a bottle of sparkling wine for later. They are very proud of their new
invention of a resealable bottle top.
On to Kaikoura along the broken highway; it alternates between beautiful scenery and scene from disaster movie and back as we drive along. Sometimes the road disappears completely and we end up picking our way through a dirt track poised precariously on the cliff top with banks of shipping containers holding the mountain debris at bay on the other side.
We arrive at Kaikoura and head for Point Kean which is allegedly a popular place for seal colonies. Unfortunately no one seems to have informed the seals. There is one rather sorry looking seal lying in a pool of its own poo on the boardwalk by the car park.
We check into our hotel. I can’t make the WiFi work. The old man can make his work and takes great pleasure in telling me this. Multiple times.
Once I have regained my composure we return to point Kean. There are plenty of seals on a rock in the distance but too far away to be more than black dots on the horizon. Just as we give up hope and drive off, a seal pops out of the wetlands and wanders
down the boardwalk, finds a nice sunny spot and settled down for a nap in the evening sun.
We head back into town to get some dinner. I choose an awesome smoked fish pie. Kaikoura is a lovely little seaside town but still bears the scars of the 2016 earthquake and ensuing tsunami. Many of the shops and restaurants are still too damaged to reopen. We eat supper at our motel washed down with the very nice wine we bought earlier. The resealable cork is not required.
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