Kaikoura

19 Feb

The morning of January 31st found the six of us piling into our minivan and hitting the road for our next destination, Kaikoura. Not long into the drive, the road joined the eastern coastline, and for the rest of the journey we were treated to scenic beach landscapes. We stopped for lunch at Nins Bin, a roadside trailer selling crayfish and other tasty items. Nothing beats a seafood IMG_5817lunch of crayfish with garlic butter, steamed mussels, french fries, and craft beer. The ocean views and mild weather only added to the enjoyment. *Fun fact: Kaikoura actually translates to “food crayfish” in Maori ~ kai (food) and koura (crayfish). This is apparently a shortened version of Te ahi Kaikoura Tama ki the Raki, “the fire that cooked the crayfish of Tama ki the Raki”, a gentleman who passed through the area while on the search for his three runaway wives. I truly wish I knew more of that story but alas…

After the delicious lunch, we checked into our hostel, and set off to visit Point Kean and its resident fur seal colony. The seals are flopped all over the rocks along the coastline, sunning themselves and IMG_5820looking adorable. Numerous signs warned not to get too close, but we found them to be pretty chill. They also blend in with the rocks really well! Wade stopped Orestes from inadvertently stepping on a well-camoflaged sleeping seal. The beach landscape was fairly fabulous; blue sky, blue ocean, cloud-topped mountains across the bay, and cliffs rising up behind us. We followed a path up from the beach that wound along the curves of the peninsula. The environment at the top of the cliffs was dry, almost drought-like with spiky plants and brown grasses. The juxtaposition between the blues of the ocean and the golden grass was gorgeous. The kids ran along the path enthusiastically, Karli and I followed taking photos, and the men grudgingly brought up the rear. Post-walk, we left the men at a pub to soothe the pain of physical exertion while Karli, the kids, and I drove around to the far side of the peninsula. We’d hoped to see more seals but instead we found mud, seaweed, and more lovely views. We wandered around for a bit collecting shells, popping seaweed, and acquiring sunburns before also retiring to the pub.

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One of the good things about staying in hostels in New Zealand was the opportunity to cook our own meals and have some relaxed nights in. When one is traveling for seventeen days, even eating in restaurants can get oddly tiring! Our hostel in Kaikoura had a really great common space and kitchen overlooking the bay and the mountains, so for New Year’s Eve, we decided to cook ourselves a classy dinner. Orestes grilled up some steaks, Karli whipped up some couscous and pasta for the kids, and IMG_3884Wade and I contributed by opening the wine and beer bottles. Cooking dinner turned in to a bit of a cooking tutorial; a Chinese couple expressed interest in learning how to grill steaks, and Orestes rose to the occasion with a full lesson on seasoning, temperatures, and letting meat rest properly before cutting. The meal was delicious, as was all of the loot from the vineyards and breweries in Marlborough. Midnight found us with sparkling wine in hand, ready to start the new year!

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