Seals just off SH1On the morning of the 22nd, we left our vineyard home, and headed south to the whale watching town of Kaikoura.  It was a short, easy drive down SH1, which took us about an hour and three-quarters or so.  The drive was stunning, with the views of the hills (becoming true mountains later on), weird sci-fi like salt lakes, and seal colonies along the route.

Kaikoura itself is a nice little tourist town.  Our motel was the Anchor Inn, which was right on the sea (and the road).  We arrived pretty early, around 12.30 or so, and our motellier Craig, recommended that we pop over the road, onto the beach where there was a Kaikoura Ocean Linksmall foody caravan (think dodgy Glastonbury type thing), which was serving up fresh fish.  With more than a little trepidation, and fear for our internal organs, we ventured over and ordered up what turned out to be some stunning fish.  Brod had the “Whitebait Roll”, done an apparently kiwi way, which was fried up inside an omelette, and I managed the “fush, salad + roll combo”… both were fantastic.

After lunch, we heading back into town, via the lazy route (ie by car), as the day before, I had managed to wound myself… cracking my little toe, which is still an interesting mix of black and yellow.  I’d love to say that it was doing something heroic, like fighting off the first sighting of a giant Moa in 500 years, or running from a pack of rampaging Kiwi birds.. but no.. it was instead by kicking a fireplace on the way to turn on a lamp.  Anyhow.. in town we found another great iSite, and booked up with a trip to head off whale watching on a boat the next day.

Kaikoura RangesOn the 23rd, we had a lazy morning, (to a certain degree getting over a pretty fantastic meal at the Green Dolphin the night before.. *cough*), and headed off the Whale Watching Station type place, where alas we were informed the trip was cancelled as the weather/sea was too rough.  Cue marching back to the iSite, who promptly booked us onto a Whale Watching Flight for a couple of hours later on (for a mere $5 more or so).

So… off up again in a little plane, heading out over the ocean and we found 2 sperm whales on the surface… glide around a few times, then head on back to park on the strip of lawn, rather amusingly called Kaikoura Airport.  Fantastic trip… highly recommended!  Sorry for the shite photos… whales are big… but from 1000feet with a little compact camera and a fast little plane.. focusing = not easy!

Back to Kaikoura, for another excellent dinner, this time at 45 South for a half-cray… Kaikoura in Maori means something along the lines of Meal of Crayfish… so yep.. Kaikoura catches, cooks and sells a lot of the stuff, and damn fine it was too.

Onwards then to Christchurch.

Blenheim, South Island

After getting up at the crack of dawn, we departed our rather odd hotel-room-in-an-office-block and headed off to catch the Interislander FerryInterislander ferry from Wellington, North Island to Picton, South Island. Thankfully the predicted force 10 gales through the Cook Straight held off for our crossing, which was very calm. The journey takes about 3 hours, and the destination of Picton is one of those ferry towns where by seeing the town as you drive out, you’ve seen pretty much all you need to.

We stayed in a small cottage/shed/shack in the middle of acres of vines, just outside the town of Blenheim, in the Marlborough wine district. Bliss.  As well as miles of vines, the cottage also had deer, sheep, chickens and what sounded like hundreds of birds.

In the region were many familiar names from the world of New Zealand wine, such as Cloudy Bay, Montana, Saint Clair etc. We had a pretty wonderful lunch in Allan Scott Wine restaurant called the Twelve Trees.

This morning we departed Bleheim and headed for Kaikoura and our new base for two nights.