NZ10+ : Day 27 : KAIKOURA

A day in which I went looking for seals, hundreds of them! And every single one of them decided to play hide and seek…

Saturday 12/04/08

(Writing on the 13th, on the Northbound Ferry back to Wellington. Sat on the side of the boat, nearly sunset. Gorgeous.)

The day started with the three guys in my room waking up to head out early, and me staying in bed. I half-slept through them leaving, and the cleaning lady coming in twice to change the laundry. With no plans for the day, I decided to walk to the seal colony later on.

I went for breakfast first, did some diary catch-up, then started walking. When Kane said that the colony was an hour away on foot, he wasn’t kidding. I was so bored on the walk there. It was made worse because I was following the coast, and could see the next corner ‘always’ approaching so, so slowly. Straight lines are boring, and so are coastlines when you can see the target you’re aiming at, but without the destination ever appearing to get any closer.

I suspected it would happen, and of course it did. I go there and… no Seals.
It was a good job that I had seen some seals the previous day from the coach window, when Kane had showed us where the colony was. Apparently, only an hour later, the three quiz guys (Andy, Lewis and Greg) saw hundreds of them. Great.

I took the long trudge back to the town and spent ages online. So much time in fact that I forgot to book my ferry ticket. With my credit card still not working, I was luckily able to take Greg’s offer up of buying it for me in exchange for cash. It’s cheaper online too, so turned out okay.

I went to the supermarket, and spotting some diced chicken, I decided on a pasta. It was already dark and I couldn’t be bothered with a BBQ again. By the time I made it and ate it, I only had time to sit at the table, have a sip of wine and introduce myself to all the new folks, before we headed onto the pub.

To try and get to know the new folks, I was telling Kiwi Experience stories that I’d had so far (most of these folks were just starting, doing south to north instead) which included a few anecdotes about the drivers I’d had so far. What I didn’t realise was that our new driver, Spud, was sat there! Luckily, I didn’t say anything too embarrassing about his colleagues!

We headed back to the Adelphi bar and it was full of locals. A stag party who were hammered, and members of the local rugby team, who had lost that day. Luckily, perhaps, Spud and I lost our pool game to the rugby boys, so they were chuffed with winning a drink from us. I then joined in a game of Killer with the rest of the hostel lot (most of their names escape me) until one of the stag-lot tried to create a bit of argy-bargy over nothing.

Luckily the dude he challenged didn’t realise what was going on, and just laughed. Because no offence had been taken by anyone, the Kiwi had no reason or excuse to push or escalate anything. Luckily another Kiwi then came along and calmed it all down, but we left pretty sharpish. Sharing a couple of surreal jokes about aliens, bad chat-up lines and trepanning, we called it a night.

SOUNDTRACK : “Get Back” by The Beatles.
Because the locals probably wanted us to.


It looks I did enjoy a second tranquil and content day in Kaikoura after all, though I do recall not enjoying the trek back and forth to the seal site. For context, Kaikoura is home to hundreds of seals, who at regular times during the day are meant to bask upon the rocky beach at the southern end of the town. As the Kiwi bus had driven in the day before, we had a view overlooking the beach that the seals favoured. Even from a distance, I could see a fair few hundred of them, just generally basking and chilling out.

As mentioned earlier, in the days before smart phones, it was a little bit more difficult to find things to do in any local area, or to even extend your radius a bit and risk travelling a little further out from your current base. With no other information to hand, options for other things to do in Kaikoura were seemingly thin, but the idea of going to see the seals up-close was actually a good one. However, that walk took ages. I seem to remember it was a walk through normal streets too, not even a nice country coastal walk with a scenic path to follow, just a long trek through suburbia.

After such a mission to get to the basking area, I was more than disappointed to not see a single feckin’ seal in sight. I hung around for a good long while too, and still, no sign. A complete washout – and a long return trek back to central Kaikoura.

It is underplayed in the diary, but needless to say I was incredibly peeved when Greg, Lewis and Andy popped up later that day in the internet café and told me that they had seen hundreds of seals, and only about an hour or so after I had been there too! If I was paranoid, I’d suggest the seals had been deliberately hiding from me. I’ve since seen many YouTube videos of people at that same spot, with many a seal in sight – dammit!

My credit card issues were still there, but I was working my way around them with a massive helping hand from Greg. I still assumed that I would have time to fix any problems with the credit card before I left for home. This would not prove to be the case…

Seems like I had a near miss with a social faux-pass too! Making jokes about the Kiwi-Experience drivers that I had met so far, without realising the new driver was sat with us! Indeed, I’m lucky that any jokes that I was making must have been on the lighter side of things!

Also, it was the only night that I came close to witnessing any “argy-bargy” or anything close to a fight. It was the only minor blip though, in what were otherwise two brilliant days spent in Kaikoura. Looking back, I count them amongst my favourite parts of the whole trip.

I was looking forward to returning to Wellington though, and exploring New Zealand’s capital by day.