A mute day in the wilderness of Rangitata did nothing but prepare us for the scenic ride to Kaikoura. The all-encompassing coastal views got hearts racing as the Stray bus veered towards the edges of cliffs and back. We had become accustomed to the erratic driving of certain tour guides by now, so the mine-cart steering did not detract from the aerial view of Seals bathing in the fading sun. We stopped at one of the Southern Fur Seal family hangouts and managed to get within feet of the wild slobs. But behind the puppy dog eyes and flabby love handles hide extremely protective parents, who wouldn't think twice before waddling toward intruders, teeth unsheathed and flippers flapping. A bit touchy if you ask me, but a great experience nonetheless.
Kaikoura has a rather grim history of whaling, but recent times have seen the giants being watched rather than slaughtered. It is one of the best places in the world for Sperm Whale sighting, and the dolphin dives are unrivalled. A shame then that none of these activities were on offer during our stay due to inclement weather. This almost sums up our time in Kaikoura. We just missed the boat - literally and figuratively. The weather was on the turn, so it was neither glowing in summer sun nor gleaming from the surrounding snow covered peaks. We arrived in the interim period of seasons. The beauty of the area was clear from what we had seen, but it felt like we were in Lapland in August - it's just not right.
The Adelphi was our board for a couple of nights. There was a bargain on double rooms and we relished the peace and privacy after Rafting Borstal in Rangitata. The Olde English B&B theme was perfectly captured down to the minutest detail - the dusty lampshades, offensive carpets, weird trinkets and that stale smell of Bisto. It was a family run place and had bundles of character but it was in dire need of a deep clean. The most impressive part was the retro VHS collection in the communal lounge. There were literally hundreds of recorded movies (adverts and all) stacked around the place. It is too easy to forget how quickly the VHS format fell from grace, and how inconvenient they seem compared with modern DVDs and Blu-rays. I had to rewind Patch Adams before watching it for heavens sake! And Robin Williams' face was even more disjointed through most of it.
We spent our first morning walking on the beach and through the town. We sat on the pebbled bay looking out at the rough sea, up at the snow-capped mountains and back at the lively town. There are definitely worse places to spend a day. We were heading towards the southern end of the beach when we came across a stream that was blocking our path. After some debate Steph decided to take off her shoes and socks and walked across. I couldn't be bothered with that fuss so I said I'd leap over. You can see where this is going… I got wet. Luckily for me Steph caught the moment on camera for all to see.
Now, I may have already put aside a little too much space on this blog for food related nonsense, but this is important: If you ever get the chance to have a Tornado Potato, DO!
Well that's it for New Zealand - except for a nail-biting race to Wellington, via choppy seas, chronic nausea and sleeping truck drivers, followed by dirty sheets, inconsiderate roomies and stingy meal portions. We will miss the land of the long white cloud, but Steph is very much looking forward to arriving in a land of long icy pina coladas.