First Stop on my South Island Circumnavigation

 After an early morning 50 minute flight from Wellington to Christchurch, I picked up my little Campervan at the airport and promptly headed north along the coast to Kaikoura, the first stop on my counter-clockwise route around the South Island.  If you haven’t yet seen my campervan and want a little giggle, check out Facebook for a photo and video tour.  And for those of you who have seen it, I can report all is going very well.  My first two nights and day in between were very comfortable though I have yet to use the kitchen or potty 🙂  

While it is storming today as predicted, I was able to enjoy some decent weather for the day and a half I’ve been here, so let’s take a look, shall we?  

The banner photo shows the north end of Kaikoura Beach, while the rest of the photos will take you along with me as I walked south along the Coast about 4-5km to the Seal Colony around the tip of the peninsula.

Kaikoura, meaning, meal of crayfish, is well known for its marine life, particularly whales.  All manner of whales pass through these nutrient rich waters (humpback, orca, pilot, sperm, etc) as they make their annual migrations.  It is the young male Sperm Whale who make Kaikoura their year round home, however, making this a very unique spot worldwide.  They congregate here because the 3km (1.86 mile) deep Kaikoura Canyon runs right up to the coast creating a rare system of sea currents that sustain an incredibly rich marine food chain.  The young males will stay in this area until they are big and strong and sexually mature, at which time they will swim away in search of a mate.

I don’t know if you know why Sperm Whales are called Sperm Whales.  I’m not sure I did, though now that I’m reminded of it, it seems I may have known.  Previous to this reminder, I may have vaguely wondered if the name referred to its ejaculatory prowess, but no silly, it has to do with the Spermaceti oil found in the Spermaceti organ located in their big, blunt head.  This waxy substance is why they were hunted so aggressively, think Moby Dick, because this wax was used to make smokeless candles during the 19th century.  As you can imagine, whale watching is a huge draw here.  I did not opt for whale watching due to my many and often personal and always incredible up close whale encounters had while living in Alaska.  Instead, I opted for a coastal walk to see the Colony of Fur Seals.  

Taken from a more southerly point looking north toward where the banner photo was taken.

I can’t remember precisely what the sign said, but this limestone is something like 125 million years old having formed on the ocean floor, layer by layer over millennia before being pushed upward by tectonic plate movement, earthquakes, and the like.  These layers of limestone seem to make up the earth’s surface all over around here.

Walking along the coast in search of seals.  Lots of limestone and wildflowers.

Its funny because the folks I passed near the trailhead coming the from the way I was headed spoke of the hundreds of seals and seal pups though I only saw one or two after walking quite a long way and folks I met way out that way said the same.  It was a mystery for sure and I wonder if something scared them en masse into the water or if it was time to feed all of a sudden, but I didn’t see the masses of seals until I was on my way back around the point heading back the way I came.  Without a proper zoom lens, they are mostly seal shaped black blobs, but you get the idea.

Who can find the seal in the immediately above photo?  It’s huge and I almost stepped on the dang thing because I was too busy looking at all the seals on the rocks. 

I really am kicking myself for not bringing my, “africa camera”, called such because it is the camera I bought to take to Africa with me in 2007, because of its great zoom capabilities.  I’m not even sure I ever thought to bring it, which is a shame because the birds of Zealandia and these seal photos would be ever so much better.  Ah well, let’s make the best of it, shall we?

After my seal adventure, I walked back into town where I saw this whale bone walkway and enjoyed a late lunch of New Zealand Green Shelled Mussels.  Apparently it is illegal to collect whale bones which have washed ashore, i imagine so they might be collected by the Māori Council/people of the area.

Do you guys remember Mary and Dan (hi guys!) who invited me to their home for tea and muffins on a rainy Monday up near the Kauri Coast?  Well, I remember Mary mentioning how delicious the Green Shelled Mussels are, so I took her recommendation and am glad I did, not only were they yummy, but they are also really pretty.

After lunch instead of heading back to the campground, I thought I’d spend the rest of the afternoon/evening relaxing in my little van next to the sea, which was thoroughly enjoyable.

On the way, I dropped down to where a freshwater stream flowed into the ocean and found a flock of seagulls splashing and bathing and having the best time.  Who knew?

Once back to my van, I opened the seaside door and commenced  to relaxing.  It wasn’t long until I was joined by a number of curious seagulls, no doubt hoping for a snack, but take a look at that view!  A definite plus to having my home with me as I travel around.

That’s it from Kaikoura.  Due to the stormy day, I’ve decided to head up the coast a day early to cut down on a 4.5 -5.5 hour drive tomorrow.  I’ve already done laundry and now gotten this post written.  I’ll head back across the street to the campground for a shower before heading out to a town called Havelock, about halfway between here and my Sunday destination of Abel Tasman National Park, one of the smallest yet most popular National Parks in NZ.  I hope I’ll have some decent weather while there so we both can see it in all its glory.  Fingers crossed!

I didn’t take the time to do much proofreading, so please excuse any errors or awkward sentences you may find and if you care to comment, which I always love and appreciate, don’t forget to fill in the Name Box. 

Until next time.

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Comments:

  • Pam

    January 7, 2023

    What a pretty place

    reply...
    • Margie

      January 7, 2023

      Yes, I agree. People keep telling me the South Island is far more beautiful than the North Island. I guess we shall see. 💖

      reply...
  • Marcia Bronson

    January 7, 2023

    I found the seal! He sure was a big one!

    reply...
    • Margie

      January 7, 2023

      Well done Marcia! He was a BIG one indeed!

      reply...
  • Rusty

    January 7, 2023

    More amazing scenery! That banner shot is phenomenal. Cute seals.

    reply...
  • Heather

    January 8, 2023

    Glad the campervan is working out! Love your wildllife photos. I don’t think the south island will disappoint!

    reply...
    • Margie

      January 16, 2023

      I don’t think anything in NZ could disappoint! The south island definitely has more dramatic beauty, but as I suspected, I’m a north island gal at heart. 🙂

      reply...
  • Anonymous

    January 14, 2023

    A bit behind with reading your posts Margie!
    Looks absolutely fabulous!

    reply...
    • Margie

      January 16, 2023

      Hello whoever you are! Glad you’re here and following along.

      reply...
  • Tena

    January 16, 2023

    Beautiful! I know you had some awful weather but before that – wow! Thanks for sharing. I assume that’s a dog barking at the seagulls in the background, right?

    reply...
    • Margie

      January 16, 2023

      I was definitely happy about the break in the weather for sure! Such a beautiful place, which really is the case just about everywhere here. Yes, that’s a dog barking in the background though I wish I could tell you it was a seal barking. 🙂

      reply...

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