Every road is paved with good intentions, and my last morning in Kaikoura I had every intention to rise at the crack of dawn and capture a sunrise. Well the alarm went off at the ungodly hour, I peered through the curtains, saw cloud cover and rolled back over. In retrospect, for too long, but it was a very comfortable bed and I was on vacation no? The evening before a group of us had walked up to the look off to catch the sunset. On top of the old water tower, it gives you a panoramic view over the peninsula. It’s a nice half hour walk from Top Spot and the view at the top added yet another reason for Kaikoura to burrow its way into my heart. It was breath taking before the sun set and as it did, the world turned a million hues of gold, green, blue and purple and it grew even more so.
By nine our stomachs were growling so we headed to Coopers Catch. A quaint fish and chips shop on the high street and local favourite. Some argued the best in New Zealand. I couldn’t resist the scallops though and was not disappointed. My scallops and chips came bundled in heavy white paper, warm with steam billowing through the layers. The scallops were plump, juicy and full of flavour and the batter crispy and not greasy. They were my first scallops in I can’t remember how long and I saved every bite. The others tried the fish and chips, blue cod and whiting. Both types melted in your mouth and obviously were fresh from the sea. I went to bed with a very happy tummy that evening, feeling substantially better than I had that morning.
As I missed the sunrise, the only other thing left on my hit list was the Peninsula walk over looking South Bay and the Seal colonies. You need anywhere between 2.5 to 4 hours to do the hike, depending on your speed and how many photos or moments you take. I stayed in bed longer than intended that morning so I didn’t get to dilly dally as much as I would have liked or go down to Whale Bay, an old whalers route down to the beach which is a 20min return off shoot from the main walk. A wooden staircase leads down to the beach where the seal colony really begins. There are millions of seals. Standing looking over the cliffs there are hundreds of little black spots as far as the eye can see. SE aren’t rocks. They are New Zealand Fur Seals lining the shoreline, sleeping on rocks, playing in the tidal pools, and waddling along the beach and oh the sound! Their barks rang loud and clear up over the cliffs.
Most begin the walk from the main road and car park at the seal colony and head towards the South Bay; I did the walk back to front. Coming in from the back roads over the top of the hill down to the South Bay and then back up. Doing it this way, while you can’t get lost, you can miss part of the path, as I did, as it isn’t brilliantly signposted. At one point the path branches off, one leading to the residential area, and the other going along the cliffs. Somehow, I missed that and ended up along the beach in the residential area. The benefit of doing it backwards and a little earlier than most it meant that at times it was just me, the birds and the vast expanse of the Southern Ocean.
As I walked back to Top Spot, one of my reasons for doing the walk backwards came into view, the Sunday market. It was a petite market but there was a good bit of variety from local honey, cheese, wine to artisan jewellery. I tried a nut slice made with local nuts and local honey. Dessert before lunch.
From there It was time to grab my bags, grab a quick bit to eat before my bus to Christchurch and say goodbye to Kaikoura. I went to The Craypot and tried their open faced BLT with added cheese on top, perfectly melted to hold it all together. It hit the spot as I sat on their balcony taking in the little town which has firmly lodged itself into my heart.