15.10.2010 - 20.10.2010 18 °C
We leave Glen's early in the morning, and our car weaves its way north up the east coast, our destination is Kaikoura. Everything looks reasonably close on the map, but some roads wind up through countless saddle passes and back down to sea level. Gore Bay and its Cathedral Cliffs catches our attention on the map so we take the scenic detour. It's a very cloudy day and our views are limited.
As we approach Kaikoura, the mountains get bigger and are situated closer to the shoreline than we have seen thus far. In Kaikoura marine animals are abundant due to ocean-current and continental-shelf conditions where the sea bed gradually slopes away from the land to about 90 m deep, then plunges to more than 800 m. Here warm and cold water converge and create an upwelling bringing nutrients from the ocean floor into the feeding zone. Kaikoura's proliferation of wildlife include whales, dolphins, seals, penguins, shearwaters, petrels and albatross.
Kaikoura can be split into two words: kai meaning food and koura meaning crayfish. So the first thing we did was buy a whole crayfish (similar to a lobster) for dinner at our wwoofer's house. Our wwoofing host Jaunita, lives just north of Kaikoura across the road from one of NZ's best surfing beaches. The beach is busy with a small community of surfers living in vans that come and go. Juanita's home is amazing and full of creativity. Thirty years ago, Juanita and her husband at the time built their house. Shortly after they bought the property macrocarpa trees blew down and they used them for beams, counter-tops, and all sorts of furniture in the home. To add to the creativity and beauty of the home, there is pottery everywhere, as Juanita is a potter. Her cupboards are full of beautiful handcrafted bowls, mugs, plates and even a juicer. After our fabulous crayfish dinner Juanita sets us up in our accommodations which basically is our own apartment on the first floor of her home. We have a queen size bed, full bathroom, and kitchenette complete with a set of pottery dishware. We listen to the sound of the roaring waves from our spacious room as we fall into a deep sleep.
The next morning we awake to an amazing sight out our patio door, the Seaward Kaikoura mountain range. The hazy day before was hiding these picturesque snow capped mountains along the coast. What an amazing property Jaunita owns, panoramic mountains out the back door and a surfing beach out the front. The food Juanita cooks for us is fabulous, including curries, roasted veggies and chicken, and she even made us Paua, an amazing bivalve from the sea. In exchange for our fabulous accommodations and food, Jaunita has us pruning fruit trees, washing windows, weeding, and cleaning up the gardens. One day we head into Kaikoura and do some pruning at the Little Laundromat, a property her and her friend own. This is the coolest laundromat I've ever seen. They have a retro washing machine at the end of the drive, a retro ironing board at the front door, and inside its painted bright, fun colours. I just wish I had a photo. When Jaunita isn't potting, she is chatting with us and teaching us about life. She is a very unique and interesting person full of insight and strong opinions on many worldly things. We really have a good time getting to know her and her friends, who often stop in for dinner, wine, and a smoke.
During our stay here we spend some time exploring the area in and around Kaikoura. First, we hike partway up Mount Fife to view the braided Kowhai River and its wide gravel riverbed. The views are one of a kind and we can even see Kaikoura and the peninsula off in the distance.
Second, we hike the Kaikoura Peninsula's National Walk at low tide, exploring along the shoreline and taking pics of the squawking red-billed gull breeding/nesting colony.
Third, just up the road from Juanita's we check out the Oahu Seal Colony. The adult fur seals are passed out all over the rocks, basking in the afternoon sun, while the pups play in pools of sea water. We follow a stream inland to Oahu Waterfall, where only seal pups can climb to. They swim about playfully below the waterfall, interacting socially with each other as we watch in awe.
We really enjoy wwoofing at Seaward Pottery with Jaunita especially the spectacular views, hanging out with her and her friends, morning and evening walks along the beach, and relaxing on the deck with great food. It is tough to move on but the road is calling again.