Text read by Mary Peters

Kaikoura is a small town located north of Christchurch. It’s a world away from the West Coast of the South Island. It is all about the ocean and its activities here. It is having a good time with water.

We left Christchurch and drove 180 kilometres north to the small town of Kaikoura. It is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and the Pacific Ocean. It does, however, have an agricultural landscape and a marine reserve.

Whales, dolphins, and seals spend their entire lives in coastal waters. There are daily boat trips to swim with dolphins and watch whales. The rugged coastal landscape was crowded with sleeping seals. 

The West Coast, with its rough seas and climate influenced by the South Pole, stands in stark contrast to the East Coast. With its calmer waters, the Pacific Ocean is serene.

We took a boat ride to see the dolphins. You can also swim with the dolphins if you rent a boat. They swim to you as soon as you dive into the water because they are so curious.

You can also take a walk along the Kaikoura coastal trail. Although the area is small, the variety of landscapes is extensive. This is what we did. From the top of the cliffs, you can see a beautiful beach. It is the most convenient and cost-effective way to enjoy this view. You could also go on a flying tour. On one side, there is the sea, and on the other, there are sheep fields. Everything is lush and green, especially in the spring.

You can also rent a kayak and paddle along the beach to see the seals and dolphins, as well as go fishing.

When dolphins and whales die, their carcasses may wash up on the beach. It is illegal to remove the carcass. Instead, it is left to decompose and return to nature, a relatively quick process. If there are bones on the beach, they are also left alone. It’s a safe haven.

Kaikoura is well-known for its crayfish. Our host was a crayfish catcher. Catching is limited to certain seasons and is price dependent. It is not worth going out if the price is too low. The most famous place to eat crayfish is at the “Nins Bin Beach Side Caravan.” It is known for having the freshest crayfish in the area.

However, preparing the food is not for the faint of heart. The crayfish is cut down the middle before being placed on a hot stone to fry. The chef covers it with a cloche after a few minutes. When the crayfish is cooked, it develops a thick crust. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Picton – Kaikoura.

The first 50 kilometres are along the coast. The road was being repaired as we drove by. People told us that Scots and Irishmen frequently do this because they are accustomed to working in all weather conditions.

We drove through Marlborough, New Zealand’s most popular wine region.

There’s an unusual way to get around the area. Bicycle tours of wineries are available. Participating in a wine tasting can take place in a pleasant setting, often with a small snack, rather than just dry bread as in Europe. The climate is favourable to the sauvignon blanc grape. However, many other grape varieties are grown by winemakers, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Gewürztraminer. The grapes grow on gently sloping hillsides. The vignerons also create wines with regional differences and local tastes. The combination of Pacific Ocean air and mountain air allows for a wide range of styles.

 We couldn’t go to the vineyards as much as we wanted to because we didn’t have a car. In the winter and spring, public transportation was infrequent enough to allow for an extra trip. During the summer and early autumn, there are more opportunities.

As you travel north, you will come to the small winemaking town of Blenheim.

But we kept going to Picton, where we stayed for two days.

Picton has a population of around 3000 people. It is the Marlborough Sound’s beating heart. It is a charming harbour town. The town has an attractive seafront that wraps around this well-protected harbour and is lined with cafés, restaurants, and various types of art galleries. A floating maritime museum and an aquarium are also open. You can go deep-sea fishing with local operators. Dolphin watching and sea kayaking. This town has a lot to offer.

The town serves as the South Island hub for the Interliner Ferries, which connect both of the country’s islands.

The Queen Charlotte Track is the main attraction in the area. You can do it on foot or by mountain bike.

We only hiked for one day, but the trail is long enough to last a week or more. There are also stunning views of the sounds.

What is the difference between a Sound and a Fjord? Both words conjure images of magic and untamed landscapes. The allure of the scenery attracts travellers to the end of the world of such dramatic and wild landscapes. 

A Fjord is an underwater valley carved by glaciers. It is filled with seawater and there are steep mountains on each side. Most of the time, they are V or U-shaped valleys which were cut by ancient ice flows which have now long disappeared. The valleys are below sea level and surrounded by outstanding mountain scenes. 

A sound is wider than a fjord and it runs parallel to the coastline and is often described as a large sea or ocean inlet. The sea can also invade a glacier valley and create the sound. A sound can also be formed when the glacier recedes and carves the valley. The inlet is characterised by sloping valleys, hillsides which sink to current sea levels and deeper underwater.

We strolled through Picton in the evening and ate some New Zealand mussels.

The second day was spent on a boat tour of Motuara Island. This is an island that also serves as a bird sanctuary. It also has the reputation of being a “nature treasure” island that is pest-free.

You must disinfect your shoes when you disembark from the boat. A guide will ensure that this is done and will accompany you around the island. It is illegal to walk around by yourself. New Zealand is ahead of the game. They recognize the importance of preserving flora and fauna.

We came across the lovely tui bird and had a lively conversation with the Bellbird. It is the world’s loudest bird.

There is also a small colony of blue penguins.

A view from an observation tower of the island to the mainland.

 

Picton has other attractions that we were unable to visit because we did not have enough time.

Then there’s the EcoWorld. The staff members share their knowledge of New Zealand animals. You can come face to face with the Cook Strait Tuatara (also known as the “living dinosaur”).

Picton serves as a vital transportation hub because it connects both islands by boat across the Cook Straits.

GoDive provides the opportunity for diving enthusiasts to go shipwreck diving and view the Mikhail Lermontov on the seabed, approximately 30 meters below the surface.

Other activities and their links are listed below:

Marlborough Flyer (a heritage steam train) 

Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary 

The Snout Track (A hiking path, ideal for people who are staying only a few hours.) 

Whale watching (May-August (winter)) the annual migration from south to north) check this. 

Edwin Fox Museum

Hop on – hop off beer tours Marlborough. 

Gourmet wine experience

Lochmara Lodge Wildlife Recovery & arts centre. 

Beaches (Bob’s Bay

Tirohanga Track & Beach 

Picton Heritage and Whaling Museum

We spent the evening packing for the trip to the North Island.