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Published: April 5th 2016
R: We drove away from Jane's place and headed for Kaikoura on the east coast, on our way to Christchurch to meet Dave and Shannon who we will be travelling with for a couple of weeks. First we stopped at Pelorus Bridge, which is a wooden swing bridge over the Pelorus river, and situated between Nelson and Havelock. We had already covered this section of road, but it was amazingly dramatic with steep mountain passes and beautiful forest. When we got to Blenheim, we stopped in at our previous favourite pub for some more delicious chicken wings....
Then it was down to Kaikoura via route 1, over a scenic mountain pass and along a stunningly dramatic coast line. As we wiggled our way along, there were lookout points, some with seal colonies, but given it was getting late by now, so we made a note to come back tomorrow. After a brief check in at our B&B, and a discussion with the indomitable host, Judy, we headed out for some Fish and Chips. In New Zealand, getting fish and chips is a more complicated affair than it is in the UK. There is always a list of fish
with today's prices but mainly your average Brit will never have heard of the fish types. Not wanting to sound like a newby, we confidently ordered the Gurnard (which I have heard of, but no idea what it tastes like), one and a half scoops of chips, and asked how to get to the beach. With the sun rapidly setting we drove about down lanes and back roads, searching for a place to cross the train line which blocks the beach. Eventually, we drove into town, past several other fish and chip shops and found a welcoming bench by the sea, with a cracking view of the mountains behind and the long sweeping beach in front. Sadly the sun was already gone.
On our bedroom door was a sign, warning us to keep calm if we heard a siren. The local fire service is volunteer only and they summon the troops using this siren. This didn't bother us till about 8am when apparently a car accident drew the firefighters out. So we got up.
After personally insulting another Brit around the breakfast table by telling him his Nationwide credit card was not all it
was cracked up to be, and getting a good recommendation for an Alpaca farm stay for later in our trip (and booking it) we went back up the road to the Ohau point seal colony where a colony of New Zealand fur seals lollop about on a rocky outcrop, including some very cute seal pups. After that we headed for the Kaikoura peninsular which has more seals, shags and other birds. It's a 2 hour round trip walk across pretty limestone cliffs a bit similar to Dorset.
The highlight of the walk was stopping at Kaikoura seafood BBQ which is a roadside trailer with a great reputation for its seafood BBQ in specific the Crayfish. Being poor travellers we didn't go for the crayfish, which incidentally seemed to be a massive hit with the Asian travellers, but opted for Clam chowder, grilled salmon and garlic scallops. Delicious! You could almost imagine the man with the nets and fishing rod out the back of the van, which is parked by the sea, throwing them straight onto the barbie.
Then it was off to Christchurch. Cate had got a tip off about some more wine tasting
to be had on the way at Mount Beautiful. Not the best, but a very tasty, dry Riesling. We were told we wouldn't find it in the UK as they don't discount their wine enough to make it saleable in the UK and she had nothing but vitriol to say about the big corporate giant she had only heard of called "Tes-co".
And then we settled into laundry night in Christchurch, in the rain, while eating Chicken tonight, watching Neighbours, The Undatables and more questionable British shows. This, my friends, is the high life.
(For those of you wondering where the photos are, we have slow wifi today so I will upload them another time, but imagine close ups of seals, plates if seafood and some nice chalky cliffs)
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