In the lead up to going to New Zealand I was told by every Welsh person who had ever been, just how similar it was to Wales. While it was on a far more epic scale, I have to say I agree with them, and nowhere was as similar as beautiful Kaikoura. This coastal town was the perfect replica of some of the beautiful seaside towns and clifftop walks you can find at home, with the added bonus of an abundance of marine wildlife, including a New Zealand fur seal colony and the opportunity to whale watch and dive with dolphins too!
It had been a long drive up to Kaikoura through the South Island. We stopped in Christchurch for the evening on route, and finally made it on a sunny Thursday afternoon. Shane had loved it when he last visited and we also wanted to go whale watching as that was on my travel bucket list, so we decided to book into the Kaikoura Top 10 Holiday Park for two nights. We definitely felt as if we wanted to have two full days to explore and also to wind down a little.
Up until now, we had been in a new location every day, and while it was awesome to be waking up in a new place filled with opportunity to explore, we both agreed that we just wanted to slow the pace down and relax a little. We’d been on the road for 12 days, so it was nice to have a bit of a breather. It was also our last desination in the South Island which made me a little sad. I had absolutely loved the South Island, and it felt as though our adventure was slowly coming to an end. I truly wish I’d had more time to be able to explore and spend with Shane in NZ.
Kaikoura is magical. This small town is steep in history, and while it is a tourist destination, there is an air of Mauri magic. We spent our first evening walking along the rocky sea edge to the New Zealand fur seal colony situated on the Southern tip of the town. At first there were no seals to be found, apart from one lazy guy who had flopped onto the boardwalk by the carpark, but as we turned a corner we found hundreds of them, basking in the early evening sunlight. It was an amazing sight, even more so as there were lots of baby seal pups splashing about and showing off in the rock pools. They would swim right up to you, and would flip and dive as if to grab your attention. It was totally surreal, and one of my most favourite experiences in New Zealand, made even better by the beautiful pink skies that settled over the calm sea waters as the sun set.
The next day we were up early and down at the beach ready to catch our Whale Watch Kaikoura experience. I had been so, so excited for this trip. I absolutely love whales. They are such gorgeous, majestic creatures and it had been my dream to do a whale watching trip whilst in NZ. This was a little short lived when I found myself looking very green and feeling as though I was about to barf at any given moment, as our boat stormed through the waves of the Kaikoura Peninsula (completely regretted gloatingly telling Shane “I’d never experienced seasickness before”…), but it was definitely worth it. The crew onboard were fantastic, and used sonar equipment to track down a sperm whale by listening to his clicks as he hunted prey, and followed the sound so that we’d spot him when he appeared at the surface.
Sperm whales can grow up to 20 metres in length and can weigh up to 45 tonnes, and as they can be seen all year round, Kaikoura is one of the world’s leading whale watch destinations. Sperm whales come to the surface to breathe and recharge ahead of diving deep down under water to hunt and eat again, so we had about ten minutes of admiring this amazing creature before he did an almighty dive and we saw his beautiful big tail before he disappeared once more. It was an amazing sight, to see one of these creatures in the wild is something I feel everyone should do if they have the chance, and while it would have been awesome to see a couple more whales, I’m so grateful we got to see just one.
The rest of our day in Kaikoura was spent walking along the shoreline and clifftops overlooking the town itself. It was the perfect day (also because it ended with a delicious pizza) because it really felt like a home from home. It was peaceful, pretty and it was so nice to just take some time to hike and to breathe a little, after what had already been an epic journey through the South Island. There is so much to do in Kaikoura, and if time had allowed we would have definitely gone sunset kayaking or swimming with seals, but it was time to say goodbye to the South and head to the North Island.
Lots of love. xoxo