It was a fine morning when we left Hamner Springs so decided to take the scenic route to Kaikoura, set on a peninsula on the east coast. And, at the risk of repeating ourselves yet again, it definitely was scenic - so many oohs and aahs as we drove through rolling mountains and along lush green valleys carved out by wide, wide rivers sparkling in the sun. But as we neared the coast the weather changed and became overcast with heavy, grey, rain filled-clouds. Even though it was raining as we drove into Kaikoura it didn't disguise the attractiveness of the town and its fine setting beneath coastal cliffs. E negotiated a good price for a very comfy studio unit in the Panorama Motel right on the front with a view over the bay. Quickly settling in, we were soon ready for our 1.15pm pick-up for our tour with Maori Tours Kaikoura.After six weeks in New Zealand we were really looking to finding out more about the Maori people and their history.We couldn't have had a better introduction and thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon with Maurice and Jacqui.Maurice was a very entertaining and knowledgeable guide with a lovely relaxed attitude.He and Jacqui made us feel totally at ease and gave us a wonderful insight into Maori history, culture and their family backgrounds. We felt really thrilled and privileged to be welcomed into Maurice's family home to meet his wife Heather who laid on a delicious afternoon tea. The combination of our hosts and the interesting content of the tour and activities made for a wonderful day. The weather improved as the afternoon wore on and the cloud lifted to reveal high mountains sloping right down into the sea right across the bay from our motel.What an unexpected but glorious sight!
After our afternoon tea at Maurice and Heather's (plus a bacon and egg roll earlier in the day just as we reached the outskirts of Kaikoura) neither of us was up for a meal (or for cooking it), so had something we hadn't had for yonks - beans on toast, yummy.Those of you who know us will not be surprised that E didn't demean himself by doing the 'cooking'!Anyway that's just an aside, because what we really want to say is that the next morning we woke up to find that the mountains opposite were covered in snow!We did a bit of business in the morning then set off to do the walk round the peninsula via the seal colony at Key Point. The coast here is so similar to that around St Abbs Head on the east coast south of Edinburgh, except that here the cliffs are white limestone but was just as bracing with cool southerly wet and windy fronts sweeping over us in between clear sunny spells. As Crowded House sang - "four seasons in one day" perhaps? .
One of the delicacies of this area is crayfish and we bought one for tonight's starter.Although we do still eat out more than we should, but when there's something nice which takes our fancy, we are enjoying cooking and fending for ourselves as often as we can.
Sunday, we woke up to a glorious morning of clear, sunny skies and we decided to have a leisurely day. Along the road towards the end of the peninsula is little pink Fyffe House, an old whaler's cottage now owned by the NZ National Trust. We had intended to go there before or after our walk the previous day but didn't make it.So we headed for this historic building -and a little treasure it was. The history is documented right back to the original owners -George Fyffe originally from Perthshire who unfortunately had a short life in NZ - and the two subsequent families who lived in the house.We then headed to Marlborough country's southernmost winery on the outskirts of Kaikoura where we didn't take the tour (seen enough vineyards) but bought a couple of bottles instead.
We'd heard from Jeremy a few weeks ago that he had managed to schedule in a flight to Christchurch in April. Being in Kaikoura, 200kms or so north of Christchurch on our way top the north of the Island, we decided to stay a further day in town in case we heard from Jeremy about meeting up.We therefore took advantage of our extra day (and a glorious one it was too) to embark on a challenging hike up Mount Fyffe, a constant and incessant climb of 1,000 metres. Our objective was to reach the saddle at about 750 metres but with weather conditions being excellent and E feeling on top form (with the help of painkillers) we pressed on gallantly and were delighted to make the hut, which is the overnight stop for those going on to the summit and further.The views all around were just absolutely stupendous and helped to keep us going on the way up by providing lots of stops to take in the scenery.We made the up and down trek in four and half hours which is less than the suggested time so we didn't do too badly, and in fact we were rather pleased with our day out - it was just exceptional.
It was time for a meal out so we went to the Pier Hotel - just down the road (having been moved many years ago from its original position next to Fyffe House) - for a thoroughly enjoyable meal of scallops, salmon, venison and grouper.Delicious!Checking our emails and finding no word from Jeremy, who by now would have been piloting his Emirates flight from the Middle East, we knew that tomorrow we would be heading north.
E & M xxxx