The drive from Motueka took us back along Route 60 to Nelson and then 6 down to Blenheim in much better conditions than our previous drive through the Richmond Range. Before we set off we fished the Motueka river for a couple of hours and later stopped at Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve where there is a beautiful stretch of river, though it was too hot and sunny for the fish. We overnighted at the Top 10 Park in Blenheim and had an excellent meal at Roccos, the Italian restaurant over the road. Sunny morning and great scenery as we headed towards Kaikoura along the coast road, stopping off to look at fur seals, a few of which we found had madetheir way up a creek to a pool by a waterfall.
We arrived at the Top 10 holiday park about midday, by which time some clouds had bubbled up over the mountains but these lifted in the afternoon to reveal the snow-capped Kaikoura range in all their glory. Supper atHislops cafe over the road was very good. Friday morning was sunny with just a few clouds over the mountains, and not too windy as we headed out to sea with Whale Watch. Expectations were high as whales had been seen the previous day, and it was not long before the first sperm whale was sighted about 5 miles out to sea. This was a resident male known as Little Nick and we watched him spouting until he dived, revealing that great tail fluke. Three different types of petrel were sighted and a Wandering Albatross glided in and landed by the boat as we looked for other whales. We were fortunate to come across two whales together, Little Nick again and Rua, another resident male, and watched them until they dived. We moved a little closer to shore and were surrounded by a large pod of about 300 dusky dolphins swimming alongside the boat and doing acrobatics, a fantastic sight.
Tim and Catherine arrived from Christchurch in the afternoon and after a few bevvies we had anothergood meal at Hislops. The following day was again hot and sunny, and we all walked round the Kaikoura peninsula taking in the spectacular views of the mountainswhich were completely clear of cloud. Plenty of wine and meat cooked on disposable barbies in the evening.
Sunday was another hot and sunny one, C&M headed off fairly early towards Arthurs Pass while J&J explored Gore Beach with T&C before also headingin that direction. We made it by the evening to Jacksons Retreat, the only proper holiday park on SH73 the dramatic Trans-Alpine Highway.