The fabulous French Pass - Kaikora & Donegal House
Kaikora, New Zealand
Had an amazing day today - the French Pass at Marlborough Sounds was beautiful to wake up to. Jacq went to the shop where everything seems to be $5 regardless of the item, most expensive milk ever, and we headed off after breakfast back the way we came throw the windiest roads ever hangover free.
They are a death trap and it's more apparent as we pass the cliff edge noticing two seperate sections police taped from recent accidents. It's stunning but idiot drivers are the biggest problem.
We head off in search of Kaikora realising we won't make our 2.30 ferry so we push it back to tomorrow. We've heard so much about this place and it's wildlife that we decide to check it out. The drive is insane! Forget the great ocean road in OZ the road from Nelson to Kaikora is amazing it's like your driving on the sea with waves overlapping the road and sea lions lounging on grassy banks. The sea appears quite rough apparently due to the tail end of the cyclone that was going on in the north island.
We stop noticing a group of sea lions basking on the rocks by the road - so many of them and Matt gets brave grabbing some great pictures before we head to the town centre. This is a gorgeous beach town the kiwi locals flock to for holidays. We have been advised that it's great for whale watching, Jacqs convinced she can see one further ahead and makes Matt chase to the peninsula to see if they can spot it - it's not a whale ... It's a bunch of rocks - no comment! As we sit and watch the waves (and rocks) we notice more sea lions swimming around trying to get onto the rocks that are being thrown off by massive waves - it's hilarious watching the poor things climb up and getting knocked off, shouldn't laugh but Jacqs in stiches - should be a sport.
We make tracks for a campsite near Piston to catch the ferry on time tomorrow ... We notice a sign pointing left to "an irish hotel called donegal house" how could we not pop in?! So, we do - it's gorgeous - a true representation of an irish cottage in the 1800s with an iconic irish half door from the owners families cottage in Carrickfinn Donegal. The owner is Murray Boyd and has great knowledge of his roots, the famine and immigrants to NZ during that period. There are stunning old pictures of his ancestors all round the pub. He's delighted to have an O Donnell in the pub and shows Jacq the names of the O Donnells from donegal in a register from the 1800s he has recorded in a book he wrote about his ancestors the Boyds. The pub is gorgeous - log fire with traditional irish furnishings and pictures including a photo of pubs in Irealand. Jacqp spots a familiar bar from her home town in Lifford Co.Donegal - The Central Bar, with the ex proprietors Milo and Geraldine listed.
We have a drink and discover Murray plays the accordion, he belts outGalway girl and hands Matt a guitar - he plays his irish repertoire consisting of Galway Girl, Dirty old town, U2 and Paddy Casey - goes down a storm!
We could stray longer and wish we found his place earlier but have to make tracks to near our ferry at picton, for anyone looking for a free campsite the Donegal House does offer free overnight parking and water to refill your tanks - would have stayed if we had more time. We stop around 7pm for chorizo pasta and head to our campsite for the night.