Kaikoura – crayfish capital of NZ

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May 10th 2010
Published: June 23rd 2017
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Geo: -42.4023, 173.681

Left Christchurch after breakfast and drove to Kaikoura. This was our first long drive in NZ. The journey took about 3 hours and the road was single track most of the way. But what they said about NZ roads was true. There was VERY little traffic – if you can see two cars it counts as a traffic jam. We drove through rich farm land and then some dramatic scenery up and down hills and mountains. As we got near to Kaikoura, the road dropped down to sea level and followed the coastline. The view was amazing.

Our motel had a view out over Kaikoura Bay – deep blue sea with mountains beyond. Lunch was at a local hotel and I (Alan) had the famous Marlborough Green Lipped Mussels. They were delicious. Much bigger than the usual black ones we have but also a bit chewier.

The afternoon was one of the highlights of this holiday so far. We had booked a Maori Culture Tour. Not one of the large "culture performances show and meal", but an intimate tour led by a Maori who told stories about his tribe and also explained some of his cultural heritage. It was a very private tour – 3 people and so we had an unparallelled opportunity to ask questions and find out about old ways of life and life in more recent times.

We first visited a Pā – a fortified place used in times of war. We received a formal welcome (karanga), said by a woman of the tribe, followed by the welcome speech (powhiri). We were given an explanation of the Maori way of introducing oneself – first acknowledging one's ancestral mountain, river and canoe, followed by tribe and personal name. We then introduced ourselves in a similar fashion (Victoria Peak/Pearl River for me Mendips and the Avon for Hamish..). Then we were taught the hongi, the nose touching greeting. Afterwards, we went to have a look at the marae, which was the meeting house of the tribe, built on the site of an earlier one which had been destroyed in a fire. There we were treated to more stories about the various Maori tribes who had inhabited the area and in particular, how there was a peaceful takeover of the land by the Ngati Kuri. Alas we were not allowed to see the inside of the marae because some unscrupulous photographers once went in, took photos and started selling postcards of the carvings. Never heard of copyright ! So he did us out of the pleasure of seeing the carvings.

The guide then took us to South Bay. On the way, we practised a Maori song. In South Bay he showed us sculptures of Maori legends, especially one about the legendary hero Maui fishing up the North Island out of the sea and the place where he braced his foot became the Kaikoura peninsula. Here he also talked more about Maori culture, family relationship, the medicine men/women and also the land his tribe owned and lost. Many tribes are still in dispute over the way their lands were seized after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. The local tribe finally received compensation which has been invested for use in education, health and for cases of hardship.

This was the end of the first part of the tour. Our guide then invited back to his home and met some of his family. We had tea, sang our song and even wove flax. We have the pictures to prove it !

The second part of the tour is a walk in the Puhi Puhi Valley Reserve. Our guide explained the various plants which the Maori used for food and for herbal remedies – we tried some tea made from the New Zealand Pepper Plant which has cleansing properties. We also saw the three oldest trees growing in the area two of which were over 500 years old and the oldest was over 800 years old. If they could only talk, they could tell us a thing or two. Actually we had to sing our song to honour them but Hamish was worried that his singing might kill them. The forest was heavily logged but these survived because they were growing close to the school for the loggers. For the latter part of our walk, we were accompanied by a Fan Tail. A bright little bird that gets its name from the way it spreads and closes his tail very quickly.

The whole day was a real eye-opener and gave us a small insight into traditional Maori ways.

But our guide is a man of today too – he wanted to know if we watched Coronation Street and could tell him what was going to happen as they are a year or so behind the UK ! Bizarre !

Additional photos below
Photos: 13, Displayed: 13


12th May 2010

This place is soooo blue! Will you be making your rendition of the Maori song available on youtube?
12th May 2010

Can't wait to see your hand-woven flax garments...
12th May 2010

Tena korua!Dat zouden jullie nu moeten verstaan... ;-)Wat een bijzondere ervaring bij de Maori's. Dat is iets wat wij niet hebben gedaan helaas. Uiteraard zijn wij wel op een walvisexpeditie geweest. Gaan jullie dat nog doen?Mooie foto's!Ge
niet lekker verder. Het weer is hier bar: koud en regen. Het lijkt wel herfst!Groeten vanuit een koud en nat Nederland van Koen en Wim.
12th May 2010

Hej Alan og Hamish. Tak for de hyggelige rapporter fra NZ - det er spndende at flge jeres rejse og vi nyder de flotte billeder. God fornjelse med den videre tur! Mange krlige hilsner fra jvind og Allan
16th May 2010

All the pictures your posting are wonderful!Somebody is doing a great job.Keep enjoying this wonderful journey! It's fun to read all about it.
21st May 2010

Is NZ the only other place in the world that screens Coronation Street?

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